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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
24.05.1940 No. 12 OTU Battle I K9481 P/O. William D. Finlayson

Operation: Training

Date: 24th May 1940 (Friday)

Unit: No. 12 Operational Training Unit (6 Group)

Type: Fairey Battle I

Serial: K9481

Code: Not known

Base: RAF Benson, Oxfordshire

Location: Sidmouth, Devonshire

Pilot: P/O. William David Finlayson 36268 RAF Age 25. Killed

Obs: Sgt. Ernest Wigham 580852 RAF Age 23. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: AC2. Angus William Adams Coull 552518 RAF Age 18. Killed


With the great research carried out by Errol Martyn on the Royal New Zealand Airforce losses we have been able to compile this page. If you have further information and or photographs we would welcome contact from you.

Taking off at 11:40 hrs on a cross country training exercise taking the route: Benson - Frome - Tiverton - Holsworthy - Exeter - Lyme Regis - Frome - Benson.

During low cloud and poor visibility the aircraft flew into a hill near Sidmouth. The OTU also lost another crew during the exercise. Battle I L4977 Flown by 24 year old, P/O. Peter Knox Sigley 36276 RAF - killed with all his crew under similar circumstances. Both the pilots trained together in New Zealand prior to joining the RAF.

Above: Course No 9 Pilot training course New Zealand. Tragically all seven pilots were to lose their lives, 5 of them within months of this photo being taken! Rear L-R: P/O. Eric Orgias 36272 RAAF - killed 25th September 1940, P/O. William David Finlayson 36268 RAF - killed 24th May 1940, P/O. Herbert Gregory Ballantyne 36265 RAF - killed 14th August 1940, Front: P/O. Peter Knox Sigley 36276 RAF - killed 24th May 1940, Sq/Ldr. Peter Bettley Robinson 36274 RAF - killed 10th September 1942, F/O. Noel Carrol Pettit 36273 RAF - killed 28th August 1941, P/O. William Oscar George Krogh NZ/2521 RNZAF - killed 22nd July 1940.

Burial details:

P/O. William David Finlayson. Plymouth Cemetery (Ford Park) Gen. Sec. K. Row 4. Grave 1. Son of William McLennan Finlayson and Isabel Mason Finlayson, of Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand. A total of 200 flying hours logged (103 solo with 12 on the Battle).

Sgt. Ernest Wigham. Darlington West Cemetery. Sec. W.7G. Grave 370. Son of George and Lilian Wigham, of Darlington, County Durham, England. Grave inscription reads: "The Son That Was Loved And Lost Is Gone From Our Home But Not From Our Hearts".

AC2. Angus William Adams Coull. Dunnottar Cemetery, Stonehaven. Sec. A. Grave 269. Son of Charles and Jessie T. Coull, of Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Grave inscription reads: "He Was One Of The Many But He Was Ours".

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, other sources as quoted below:

KTY - 05.12.2107

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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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