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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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488 Squadron Crest
31.08.1943 488 Squadron Mosquito NF.XII HK182 Plt.Off. Rawlings

Operation: Air firing practice

Date: 31st August 1943 (Tuesday)

Unit: 488 Squadron (13 Group)

Type: Mosquito NF.XII

Serial: HK182

Code: ME-?

Base: RAF Drem, East Lothian, Scotland

Location: Concleton Farm, Near Kingston

Pilot: Plt.Off. Leslie McDonald Rawlings 413474 RNZAF Age 20. Killed

Nav: Plt.Off. Samuel John Gordon 155089 RAFVR Age 25. Killed


Taking off at 15:16 hrs to take part in an air firing practice when, just 6 minutes later the aircraft stalled during a steep turn to port and crashed in the grounds of Concleton Farm, near Kingston. Both crew members were killed.

It is thought possible that they had entered the slipstream of a Beaufighter and the pilot possibly lost control during the turn.

The family of Plt.Off. Rawlings were to lose another son:

27 year old, Flt.Lt. Raymond Charles Rawlings DFC. 416164 RNZAF was killed on the 9th October 1943 during a cross country exercise with 20 OTU, Wellington X HE283 flown by 30 year old, Plt.Off. Raymond Albert Lewis Young 142551 RAFVR from Harrow - killed with 3 other crew, 1 other survived with serious burns. (Flt.Lt. Rawlings' DFC was awarded whilst with 158 Sqn) Both boys were cremated and buried side by side at Cambridge City Cemetery.

Burial details:

Plt.Off. Leslie McDonald Rawlings. Cambridge City Cemetery. Grave 15969. Son of Alfred William and Flora McDonald Rawlings, of Ravensbourne, Otago, New Zealand. A total of 579 flying hours logged and had completed some 5 solo flights on the Mosquito.

Plt.Off. Samuel John Gordon. Armagh Church of Ireland Churchyard (St. Mark). No. 5 Hollow. Grave 10. Son of William Freckleton Gordon and Sarah Jane Gordon and husband of Mary Mildred Esther Gordon, and father to 7 month old Shelagh of Finaghy, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Grave inscription reads: "His Was The Path Of Duty That Leads To Glory".

1393021 Flt.Sgt. Gordon was commissioned on the 9th July 1943, gazetted on the 21st September 1943. The Royal Air Force Association very kindly paid extra fees for Shelagh's education up until the age of 18. Shelagh McCauley grew up in northern Ireland but now lives in the United States.

Flt.Lt. Raymond Charles Rawlings DFC, Cambridge City Cemetery. Grave 15969. Next of kin details as shown for his brother. A total of 606 flying hours logged and had completed 31 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, other sources as quoted below:

RS 03.03.2020 - Editorial update

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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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