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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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RAF Crest
16.06.1941 No. 15 OTU Wellington IC R3293 Sgt. Bolton

Operation: Ferry flight

Date: 16th June 1941 (Monday)

Unit: No. 15 Operational Training Unit (6 Group)

Type: Wellington IC

Serial: R3293

Code: Not known

Base: RAF Harwell, Berkshire

Location: Mediterranean Sea

Pilot: Sgt. John Randolph Bolton 903615 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Pilot: Sgt. Evan Bruce Beattie 964587 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Obs: P/O. Donald Cameron J/3267 RCAF Age 22. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Leslie Booker Butler 1051918 RAFVR Age 25. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Cyril Raymond Sanders 1251297 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Francis Ernest Drake 1261133 RAF Age 20. Missing - believed killed


Understood to be on a ferry flight from RAF Harwell to Malta - via Gibraltar. After taking off from Gibraltar and on final approach to the landing strip in Malta the aircraft came down in the Mediterranean Sea just off Kalafrana at 02:15 hrs.

Despite searching for the body of Sgt. Drake no trace could be found, the remainder were buried on the Island. No cause of the accident has been found (see note below)

Note: This aircraft was involved in an accident earlier in August 1940 near Filey, Yorkshire. It was sent to Vickers to be dismantled and repaired - then sent to No. 15 OTU when it subsequently was lost as described within this page.

Burial details:

Sgt. John Randolph Bolton. Malta Naval Cemetery (Capuccini) Prot. Sec. (Men's). Plot F. No further details - are you able to assist?

Sgt. Evan Bruce Beattie. Malta Naval Cemetery (Capuccini) Prot. Sec. (Men's). Plot F. Son of Robert Bruce Beattie, and of Vera Marian Beattie (nee Leggatt), of Nelson, New Zealand. Born in Singapore then moved to New Zealand as child. Joined the RAF in 1938 and had completed 2 operational sorties.

P/O. Donald Cameron. Malta Naval Cemetery (Capuccini) Prot. Sec. (Men's). Plot F. Understood to be from Westboro, Ontario, Canada - no further details - are you able to assist?

Images courtesy Images courtesy of the Representative Church Body - used with permission, see acknowledgement/link below.

Sgt. Leslie Booker Butler. Malta Naval Cemetery (Capuccini) Prot. Sec. (Men's). Plot F. Born on the 15th May 1916 in Dublin, the son of George Booker Butler and Annie Maud Butler (née Hamilton), brother of Arthur who served as a senior military chaplain 1939-1945 and received the MBE at the end of the war, of Cherryfield Avenue, Ranelagh, Dublin, Irish Republic.

No memorial service appears to have taken place as no mention of such a service is recorded in the preacher’s books of either St Philip’s Milltown or Sandford churches. However the family later presented a case and contents of embroidered liturgical colours (used on the communion table, pulpit and reading desk in accordance with the changing liturgical calendar) ‘to the parish church of St Philip Milltown in proud and happy memory’ of their fallen son which has been in the vestry room of that church since. The staff of the RCB also chose to remember their lost colleague, and the following year in 1942, the Leslie Butler Trophy was presented ‘in proud and happy memory…by his colleagues on the staff of the Representative Church Body for annual competition’. The trophy is poignantly also inscribed with the key dates of Leslie’s life, and, as well as the names of all the winning golfers of the trophy in the seventy years since its presentation.

Sgt. Leslie Booker Butler. Malta Naval Cemetery (Capuccini) Prot. Sec. (Men's). Plot F. Son of George Booker Butler and Annie Maud Butler, of Dublin, Irish Republic.

Sgt. Cyril Raymond Sanders. Malta Naval Cemetery (Capuccini) Prot. Sec. (Men's). Plot F. Born on the 27th June 1920 at Addiscombe, the son of Frederick Collier Sanders of 14 Barnfield Avenue, Croydon, Surrey, England.

Sgt. Francis Ernest Drake. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 42. Son of Emanuel Oreti Drake and I. Maud Drake, of Orakei, Auckland, New Zealand. Had completed 2 operational sorties.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Weekly News of New Zealand. We are indebted to Dr. Susan Hood Librarian and Archivist RCB Library for her valuable assistance with details on Sgt, Butler - August 2018, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 02.08.2018

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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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