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Purity of Arms

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Spencer Andrew Boyd  E-mail

Spencer Andrew Boyd was born on August 16th 1923 in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A., the son of a minister. He was highly educated, talented in mathematics, and interested in flying. When England declared war on Germany, he volunteered and was mobilized into the Royal Canadian Air Force. He advanced very quickly as a navigator and within 18 months served on a submarine in the Alaska area. He reached the rank of warrant officer and was sent for additional training; in 1940 he was promoted to flight officer and instructor to officers and officer cadets in navigation.

In 1942 he resigned from the RCAF and returned to the U.S.A., where he became an instructor at the Naval Academy. After spending three months instructing naval cadets, with excellent results, he transferred to the United States Air Force. To his great sorrow, he did not get an appointment as a navigator, but served as an air photographer on a B-29 bomber based in Florida.

After the war, he co-operated with a well-known navigation officer in publishing an instruction book on flying, became interested in the subject, and eventually qualified for a civilian private pilot license.

In 1946 he became director of an airport in New Jersey. During his tenure he qualified as a pilot on heavy aircraft. From there he returned to Chicago, entered university and excelled in mathematics.

In the spring of 1948 he volunteered for the Israel Air Force. On July 18th in the pre-dawn darkness he made a forced landing on the sands near Nebi Rubin on the road to Tel Aviv. Five persons, amongst them Spencer, were murdered by a Bedouin gang. After his death he was promoted to flight commander. He was buried in a Protestant cemetery: alongside the cross on his gravestone is an Israel Army insignia. On April 4th 1951 his body was reburied in the Christian section of the IDF Carmel Military Cemetery.

Prepared by Joe Woolf


Addendum from the AVI Newsletter October 1996:

On the eve of Israel’s Remembrance Day in 1996, Israel Television showed a film about how an American non-Jewish pilot, Spencer Andrew Boyd, was killed in 1948 along with others of his crew after the plane he was piloting crash-landed. The only survivor of the incident agreed for the first time in 49 years to be interviewed.

It was told how Andrew was asked to fly down from Tel Aviv to the Dead Sea Works at Sdom at night. There he picked up a number of passengers, including one woman.

The plane developed engine trouble on the way back and Boyd landed it on the sands, the interviewee thought about 30 miles south of Tel Aviv. They got out more or less intact, but as they were walking north along the shore they were intercepted by a band of Bedouin. The pilot was knifed to death and the others shot. One of the group was not fatally wounded, but played dead. He was rescued later that day. The woman medic with the rescue force described on TV how she saw the pilot’s body on the shore with its blond hair ruffled by the sea breeze.