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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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412 Squadron Spitfire LF.IX MJ275 Fl/Lt. William James Anderson

Operation: Patrol

Date: 30th March 1945 (Friday)

Unit: No. 412 Squadron (motto: Promptus Ad Vindictam - 'Swift to Avenge')

Type: Spitfire LF.IX

Serial: MJ275

Code: VZ-J

Base: B.88 Heesch, Holland

Location: Nijemansdijk Road, Zelhem, Holland

Pilot: Fl/Lt. 'Andy' William James Anderson J/16562 (R/82659) RCAF Age 22. Killed


Whilst with 416 squadron on the 25th June 1942 flying Spitfire Vb BL808 Sgt. Anderson was landing at RAF Digby on a trip from Peterhead to Tangmere at 10:45 hrs. He made a normal circuit and approach but he evidently misjudged height and levelled off high. It was his first landing on a grass aerodrome. As aircraft stalled, dropped and aircraft landed heavily port oleo leg shearing it off. The aircraft skidded along on the port mainplane. The aircraft suffered Category B damage. (For repair at contractor's works or RAF Depot)

The following enquiry stated:

The pilot's inexperience in landing on a grass aerodrome might have been the cause of the accident, the pilot never having landed on a grass aerodrome before. The accident was due to an error of judgement on the part of the pilot. In view of the fact that he has done 114 hrs on the type I recommend that his log book should be endorsed.

Whilst with 416 squadron on the 27th March 1943 flying Spitfire IX BR637 P/O. Anderson came Into land but the approach was too fast. Noticed the air pressure had gone and informed Banic Control. Was told to circle the aerodrome with wheels down and flaps up in order to build up pressure. This was done and the pilot was informed to come in the flaps up, but when the pilot touched down speed was still about 95mph and he went up again.

Circled airfield to build up air pressure. Banic Control informed him to land at Biggin Hill Airfield. As pressure was built up again and flaps down, the pilot requested permission to try and land at Kenley which was given.

Touched down on three points at yellow, bar and Banjo Control said 'Okay'. The Pilot thought he was down safely, but the aircraft kept rolling quite fast. Considered pulling up the undercarriage, but due to carrying long-range fuel tanks this was impossible, and the aircraft ran off the end of the runway at 18:30hrs.

The pilot was unaware of the fact that flaps did not lock down once they were in the down position.

The cause of the failure of the air system was the flap control valve diaphragm split. Special instructions R.D.A. 362 had been carried out to flap valves. The damage was the bending of the propellor blades two mainplanes and the under-carriage. AC Category damage. (For repair at contractor's works or RAF Depot)

The following enquiry stated:

The accident appears to be due to two causes. These are (a) faulty cockpit drill ensuring that not only were the flaps not working but the brakes were also ineffective disobedience of a standing order backed by instructions of the control officer to land at Biggin Hill which has bigger runways. Necessary instructions have already been given to the control staff to contact a Senior Officer in a similar case whenever possible. I recommend that the pilot be reproved and an entry be made in his log book in red ink.

Taking off at 10:55 hrs using long-range fuel tanks 12 aircraft took off on a patrol; between Neede in the Netherlands and Burgsteinfurt in Germany.

Whilst over Zelhem they came under intense anti-aircraft fire, Fl/Lt. Anderson flying as 'Yellow 1' at 2.500' just under the clouds. MJ275 was hit, probably in one of the drop tanks as his aircraft burst into flames. At the same time, PT357 was also hit. The pilot, Fl/Lt. W.R. James J/22969 RCAF managed to bale out over 'friendly' territory and was later picked up by the army. (some sources state that he was made a PoW, but the squadron operational record books stated that he was in safe hands)

Above: MJ275 at B.88 Heesch Airfield. Spitfire MJ452 VZ-L in the background understood to have been taken in February 1945.

Fl/Lt. Anderson failed to answer when called on the r/t and the aircraft was seen to behave as though the pilot was either unconscious or had been killed.

As it lost height and began flick-rolling before it crashed on fire. The pilot was not seen to bale out.

The remainder of the squadron landed safely back at base at 12:40 hrs. They carried out another patrol in the same area that afternoon, then a further patrol between Neede and Borken with no further losses.

Burial details:

Fl/Lt. William James Anderson. Zelhem General Cemetery. Plot E. Row 2. Grave 14. Also remembered on parents' grave in Lowry Cemetery, Carp, Ontario, Canada. Born on the 21st of September 1922 in Ontario, Canada. Educated at Kilburn Continuation School. Worked as an office boy in the civil service in Ontario. Enlisted on the 22nd January 1941. Trained at No. 3 Initial Training School, No. 13 Elementary Flying Training School, No. 9 Service Flying Training School.

Awarded pilot wings on the 24th of October 1941. Embarked from Canada to England on the 13th of October 1941. At no. 3 Personnel Reception Centre on the 23rd November 1941. Further training with No. 57 Operational Training Unit. joined 416 squadron on the 01st October 1942. Served a tour of 30 operational sorties in Malta with 143 squadron. Wounded in combat and sent back to Canada for a leave of 30 days before returning to England. Commissioned on the 19th of November 1942. Flying Officer on the 19th of June 1943. Flight Lieutenant on the 19th December 1944. Joined 412 squadron on the 25th of November 1944. A total of 60 hours of operational sorties.

Son of William Gilmour Anderson (died 1950, age 68) and of Annie Euphie Anderson (nee Ross - died 1968, age 81), of RR No. 1, Woodlawn, Ontario, Canada. Brother of Gilmour Ross (died 19th January 2000, age 84), Hugh Haig (died 2010, age 91), Ethel Beatrice (died 1996, age 83), Margaret Elinor and Marion Elaine. Friend of Miss Edna Wipp of 123 Longthornton Road, Streatham, London SW.16. Epitaph: 'Be Ye Also Ready: For In Such An Hour As Ye Think Not The Son Of Man Cometh'.

Note: CWGC has his age at death as 26, indeed his grave is engraved as 26. His records state that he was 22.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the National Archives, Kew, AIR-27-1806-30. Government of Canada, Paradie RCAF Archive.

Pages regarding 1945 Losses
Pages detailing RCAF Losses

Other sources as quoted below:

KTY 14-07-2023

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Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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