13.03.1941 No. 112 Squadron Gladiator II N5913 F/O. Edwin Thomas "Teddy" Banks
Operation: Gunnery Test
Date: 13 March 1941 (Thursday)
Unit: No. 112 Squadron - Motto: Swift in destruction
Badge: A cat sejant
Type: Gloster Gladiator Mk II
Code: Not known
Base: Yannina, Greece
Location: Yannina Lake
Pilot: F/O. Edwin Thomas "Teddy" Banks 40978 RAF Age 21 - Killed
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REASON FOR LOSS:
Flying Officer Banks took off from Yannina aerodrome to test his guns shooting at ducks in the safe environment of Yannina Lake that for once was dead calm and mirror-like. He dived towards the lake but flying at 300 mph on levelling out failed to recover adequately and the Gladiator's wheels hit the water causing the aircraft to somersault onto its back and sink in about 10 feet of water. Teddy Banks had made no attempt to get out of the aircraft and it was later discovered that he had suffered a broken neck in the crash.
Edwin Thomas "Teddy" Banks was born in 1920 at Basford, Nottinghamshire the son of Albert Banks and Margaret Cameron Banks nee Walker of 71 Rutland Road, West Bridgford, Nottingham. His father, a Marine Engineer, died in 1928 and three years later aged 11, Teddy entered Nottingham High School. He was a member of the Officer Training Corps rising to the rank of Sergeant. He won the OTC Camp Prize in 1935 and the Musketry Prize in 1936 and 1937. He also got his colours for first XV Rugby and first IV Rowing and was a School Prefect in 1936. He left school in 1937. He is commemorated on the Nottingham High School War Memorial. (Details courtesy of Nottingham High School Archives)
He was granted a short service commission in the RAF as an Acting Pilot Officer on probation with effect from 20 August 1938 (London Gazette 6 September 1938).
Having been disbanded in 1919, 112 Squadron was reformed aboard the aircraft carrier HMS Argus at Portsmouth on 16 May 1939 and immediately sailed for Egypt. Among the newly posted pilots of the squadron was Acting Pilot Officer Banks.
HMS Argus arrived in Egypt ten days later and from then until July 1940 the squadron was based at RAF Helwan. The squadron was equipped with the Gloster Gladiator. The RAF's last biplane fighter aircraft it was rendered obsolete by the newer monoplane designs even as it was being introduced. But although often pitted against more formidable foes during the early days of the Second World War, it acquitted itself reasonably well in combat.
Whilst at Helwan, Teddy Banks' appointment was confirmed and he was graded a Pilot Officer on 27 June (London Gazette 4 July 1939).
The Italian declaration of war on 10 June 1940 brought to an end the squadron's peaceful existence and the following month moved west to RAF Gerawla near Mersa Matruh.
On September 15 at 13:00 hours Banks was flying as part of a six aircraft defensive patrol at 16000' thirty miles out to sea when they encountered ten Italian Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero bombers. In the ensuing attack Banks damaged one of the bombers but his own aircraft having sustained damage when hit by cross fire from the bombers he was forced to break off the action.
On 3 September 1940 he was promoted to Flying Officer (London Gazette of 4 October 1940).
Having moved to Sidi Haneish airfield in September, 112 Squadron started on 1 December, to ferry Gladiators to the Royal Hellenic Air Force with 12 of the 16 pilots employed, including Banks returning to Sid Haneish. On 30 December he was one of five pilots of 112 squadron that carried out its last patrol in the Western Desert before moving to Greece. Teddy Banks force landed in a severe dust storm but eventually arrived home safely and accompanied the squadron to Yannina (Ionnina) Greece.
On 20 February whilst on escort duty he claimed an Italian Fiat G50 fighter damaged but the following week he was to have the first of his two most successful sorties.
On 28 February following intelligence reports of much activity by Italian aircraft in the area all available aircraft were ordered to patrol between Tepelenë in Albania and the coast between 15:30 and 16:30 hours. During the ensuing combat Banks claimed a Fiat BR20 Cigogna medium bomber, a Fiat CR.42 fighter damaged and another CR.42 destroyed, his first kill.
On 4 March five Italian warships with a strong fighter escort sailed down the coast and started shelling the road near Himare and Port Palermo (Albania). The RAF responded with a similarly large force and engaged the Italians. Banks attacked a Fiat G.50 bis fighter that went into a spin and as he saw a parachute in the vicinity he claimed a probable.
On 9 March a new Italian offensive begun in Greece and two days later 15 Gladiators of 112 squadron were escorting Blenheims on a raid in the Boussi (Buzë) area (about 10 miles north of Tepelenë) when they were attacked by 9 Fiat GR50 fighters who shot down a Gladiator and a Blenheim. The Gladiators turned on the Italians and in the following encounter Banks claimed two damaged and one destroyed.
Two days later Teddy Banks was killed: his record of victories was 2 destroyed, 1 probable and 6 damag
Flying Officer Edwin Thomas "Teddy" Banks was initially buried at Yannina Greek Military Cemetery and re-interred at Phaleron War Cemetery, Athens, Greece on 23 August 1945. Grave Ref: 5.D.18
His epitaph reads:
God keep his soul
In eternal peace
Photograph of grave courtesy Dimitrios Corcodilos (Find-A-Grave)
Researched by Aircrew Remembered researcher Roy Wilcock for Nottingham High School and all the relatives and friends of Edwin Thomas "Teddy" Banks - March 2016
With thanks to March of the Gladiators by J F Fraser for details of the crash and thanks also to the sources quoted below.