AR banner
Search Tips Advanced Search
Back to Top

• Kracker Archive
• Allied Losses
• Archiwum Polish
• Paradie Canadian
• Searchable Lists

Info LogoAdd to or correct this story with a few clicks.
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.
Check our Research databases: Database List


We seek additional information and photographs. Please contact us via the Helpdesk.

256 crest
Defiant I N3424 Sgt. John Denis Harold Cunningham

Operation: Training

Date: 08th April 1941 (Tuesday)

Unit: No. 256 Squadron (motto: Addimus vim viribus - 'we add strength to strength'). 9 Group

Type: Defiant I

Serial: N3424

Code: JT-?

Base: RAF Squires Gate, Lancashire

Location: Marton Moss, Blackpool

Pilot: Sgt. John Denis Harold Cunningham 923918 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Air/Gnr. Sgt. Albert Douglas Wood NZ/401819 RNZAF Age 24. Killed


The squadron was celebrating the downing of a Ju88 A5 8138 of 5/KG-54 by Fl/Lt. Donald Rock West and Sgt. Reginald Thomas Adams during the night but they were shocked when they heard that a crew had been killed during a take-off incident. The pilot of the Ju88 Oblt. Gunther Klemm and another crew member were taken PoW with the other two killed.

Taking off at 04:50 hrs on a training fight but quickly lost height and crashed into some greenhouses off Midgeland Road, almost in a direct line with the extended runway line.

It is thought that the engine had cut out possibly because it was not run up to temperature before take off.

Sgt. Cunningham had only been posted in on the 05th March. On the 10th April his body was p[aced on a train and returned to his home town. His funeral took place on the 14th of April after a service at St. Lawrence church.

Sgt Wood's funeral was held on the 12th of April and attended by Sq/Ldr. George Howie Gatherall (shown left) as well as 12 other officers from 256 squadron.

Burial details:

Sgt. John Denis Harold Cunningham. Ramsgate Cemetry. St. Lawrence Div. Section A. Grave 146. Worked as a clerk for Hudson Mill. Enlisted in July 1940. Son of Hugh and Dorothy E. Cunningham (died 09th January 1973), of Grange Road, Ramsgate, Kent, England.

Sgt. Albert Douglas Wood. Lytham St. Anne's Cemetery (Park). Section D. Nonconformist. Grave 723. Born on the 26th of June 1916 at Otahuhu. Studied at Otahuhu Technical High School. Worked as a porter for the New Zealand Railways before enlisting. Enlisted at Levin on the 02nd July 1940 as an air gunner. Air gunner badge was awarded on the 22nd of August 1940. Promoted to sergeant on the 23rd August 1940. Embarked for England via Pitcairn Island and Halifax, Nova Scotia, on the SS Tamaroa (shown below) on the 14th of September 1940. Joined 256 squadron on the 10th January 1941. Son of Norman Cecil (died in 1983, age 89) and Violet May Wood (née Rogers - died 28th February 1972, age 71), of Helensville, Auckland, New Zealand. A total of 72 flying hours logged and completed 3 operational sorties.

SS Tamaroa

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, Weekly News of New Zealand, Air Museum of New Zealand, Museum of Transport and Technology, Auckland, 'For Such Deeds' Gp. Cpt. C.M Hanson, AirForce Museum of New ZealandForce Museum of New Zealand, Wigram, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 07-04-2022

Pages of Outstanding Interest
History Airborne Forces •  Soviet Night Witches •  Bomber Command Memories •  Abbreviations •  Gardening Codenames
CWGC: Your Relative's Grave Explained •  USA Flygirls •  Axis Awards Descriptions •  'Lack Of Moral Fibre'
Concept of Colonial Discrimination  •  Unauthorised First Long Range Mustang Attack
RAAF Bomb Aimer Evades with Maquis •  SOE Heroine Nancy Wake •  Fane: Motor Racing PRU Legend
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.
Click any image to enlarge it

Click to add your info via ticket on Helpdesk •Click to let us know via ticket on Helpdesk• Click to buy research books from Amazon •Click to explore the entire site
If you would like to comment on this page, please do so via our Helpdesk. Use the Submit a Ticket option to send your comments. After review, our Editors will publish your comment below with your first name, but not your email address.

A word from the Editor: your contribution is important. We welcome your comments and information. Thanks in advance.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember them. - Laurence Binyon
All site material (except as noted elsewhere) is owned or managed by Aircrew Remembered and should not be used without prior permission.
© Aircrew Remembered 2012 - 2024
Last Modified: 07 April 2022, 17:59

Monitor Additions/Changes?Click to be informed of changes to this page. Create account for first monitor only, thereafter very fast. Click to close without creating monitor