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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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Coastal Command Crest
15.03.1943 No 1 OADU Wellington VIII HX771 F/O. Major

Operation: Ferry Flight

Date: 15th March 1943 (Monday)

Unit: No. 1 Overseas Aircraft Dispatch Unit. 44 Group

Type: Wellington VIII

Serial: HX771

Code: Not issued

Base: RAF Portreath, Cornwall)

Location: At airfield, Portreath

Pilot: F/O. Follett Keith Major AUS/403222 RAAF Age 23. Killed

Pilot: Sgt. Robert Keith Cunningham NZ/414597 RNZAF Age 30. Killed

Pilot: Sgt. Reginald Arnold Powell NZ/412733 RNZAF Age 28. Killed

Nav: Sgt. Ian Stuart Gibson AUS/409065 RAAF Age 33. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Pettigrew AUS/405602 RAAF Age 31. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Hugh Miller Williamson 973896 RAFVR Age 30. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Donald Leo Mcdonald AUS/405598 RAAF Age 24. Killed


On a ferry flight to take the aircraft to Gibraltar, taking off at 03:27 hrs.

The Wellington failed to gain height and crashed in flames a mile east of the airfield killing all the crew.

The brother of Sgt. Powell, F/O. Harold Llewellyn Powell also lost his life on the 04th November 1944. Flying Mosquito HP967 - Details can be found here.

Burial details:

Funerals to the crew held on Thursday, the 18th of March at 14:30 hrs.

F/O. Follett Keith Major. Illogan Churchyard (St. Illogan). Row 2. Grave 12. Born on the 17th February 1920 at Haberfield, the son of Follett Newton Major and Mabel Major, of Haberfield, New South Wales, Australia. Grave inscription: "To Live Within Our Hearts Is Not To Die"

Sgt. Robert Keith Cunningham. Illogan Churchyard (St. Illogan). Row 2. Grave 8. Born on the 15th January 1913 at Kiwitahi, the son of Robert Cunningham and of Ellie Josephine Cunningham (née Bellingham), of Te Awamutu, Auckland, New Zealand. A farmer prior to service.

Sgt. Reginald Arnold Powell. Illogan Churchyard (St. Illogan). Row 2. Grave 11. Born on the 01st October 1914 at Taumarunal, the son of John Reginald Powell and of Eileen Powell (née Street), of Taumarunui, Auckland, New Zealand. A farmer prior to service. A total of 419 flying hours logged.

Sgt. Ian Stuart Gibson. Illogan Churchyard (St. Illogan). Row 2. Grave 9. Born on the 17th February 1910 at Oakleigh, the son of David and Francis Gertrude Gibson, of 13 Florence Street, Mentone, Victoria, Australia.

Sgt. William Pettigrew. Illogan Churchyard (St. Illogan). Row 2. Grave 7. Born on the 10th May 1911 at Hamilton in Scotland, the son of Matthew and Annie Pettigrew, of Windsor, Queensland, Australia. Grave inscription: "Silent Thoughts Bring Many A Tear For One We Loved So Dear".

Fl/Sgt. Hugh Miller Williamson. Illogan Churchyard (St. Illogan). Row 2. Grave 23. Husband of Margaret C. Williamson, of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Fl/Sgt. Donald Leo Mcdonald. Illogan Churchyard (St. Illogan). Row 2. Grave 10. Born on the 24th June 1918 at Victoria, the son of Arthur James Andrew and Irene Vera Elfrieda McDonald, of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia and husband of Sybil Gertrude McDonald, of Podmore, Worcestershire, England. Grave inscription: "Loved By All, Sadly Missed And Deeply Mourned By His Dear Ones".

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 16.08.2018

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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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