Bio / Text:
This pilot flew Spitfire fighter aircraft for the RCAF / RAF (60% of all RCAF personnel served in RAF units at some point) in WWII, this record has come from the database of Mr. Halliday, a Canadian military historian.
This Pilot's entry: cause of death was flying accident, burial location North Africa, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (www.cwgc.org) may have more information on family.
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The records for this pilot in various places are full of contradictions but I think this makes the most sense. Querino Di Persio (understandably Dipersio in some records and known as Merino) was born in Canada in 1918 to two Italian immigrants, Rosario and Secondina Di Persio. He completed initial training in Canada before travelling to the UK. During his training in Canada he married Mary Bryden.
The date given for the transfer to the UK is 10 October 1941 which is six days after his award of the rank of Sergeant.
In the UK he would have continued his training and on 14 April 1942 joined the Canadian 416 Squadron based in Scotland directly from an OTU. He was only with 416 briefly as on 16 May he was posted overseas. He travelled to Malta and then on to Egypt. Records on Malta service are sparse and details are therefore based on the information that is available. According to the Nova Scotia Casualties record he left the UK on 24 May 1942 arriving in Malta on 9 June. This is consistent with him sailing to Gibraltar and then flying one of the Spitfires off HMS Eagle to land in Malta under Operation Salient. There is a reference to him flying on the earlier Operation Style in 'Spitfires over Malta' which is only just about possible as the convoy from the UK arrived in Gibraltar on 2 June, which is when the Style Spitfires arrived in Malta.
Later in June it was decided that Egypt needed Spitfires more than Malta and so some 601 Squadron pilots and Spitfires were flown to Aboukir. Some pilots flew directly (in Spitfires including BR459) and some pilots were flown as spare bods in other aircraft. Again there is only partial records of who arrived when, other than the CO.
After the move from Malta 601 started operations on 1 July. Querino's first flight in Egypt was an air test of BR459 on the 11th, with a patrol the following day. His next flight was to be his final one on the 16th. 601's Operation Record Book (ORB) has him flying BR363 which cannot be correct as that flew again on the following day. BR459 is recorded as category E OPs on the 16th which makes more sense.
The ORB confirms that a Hurricane from 33 Squadron took off crosswind and collided with Querino's Spitfire. Querino was killed instantly along with the Canadian pilot of the Hurricane, Pilot Officer Erle Walter Ollen-Bittle. Both pilots are buried in the Alexandria (Chatby) Military And War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt.
As well as his widow, Mary, Querino left a daughter Marina (according to the CWGC). One brother, Patsy, also served in the RCAF and another, Henry, was wounded in action twice while serving with the Cape Breton Highlanders.