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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
15.12.1941 No. 11 OTU Wellington Ic X3170 Sgt. Albert L. Sanderson

Operation: Training

Date: 15th December 1941 (Monday)

Unit: No. 11 OTU (Operational Training Unit)

Type: Wellington Ic

Serial: X3170

Code: -

Base: RAF Bassingbourn, Cambridgeshire

Location: Whittlesey Mere

Pilot: Sgt. Albert Leonard Sanderson NZ/41363 RNZAF Age 22. Killed

Pilot 2: Sgt. Dennis James Dempsey NZ/405240 RNZAF Age 22. Killed

Obs: Sgt. Harold Bryan Livingstone Gittins R/74283 RCAF Age 24. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Basil Leonard Grove-Palmer 916275 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Reginald Myles AUS/404636 RAAF Age 31. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Peter Norman Lister 1202558 RAFVR Age 21. Killed


Taking off from RAF Bassingbourn in Cambridgeshire (then Hertfordshire) for night cross country training exercise.

Whilst descending at high speed in a shallow dive the aircraft flew into the ground at around 23:00 hrs at Whittlesey Mere. The aircraft disintegrated on impact - killing all the crew.

Whittlesey Mere was once land covered in water (in fact the largest freshwater area in Southern England - covering some 3000 acres) before being drained to turn into farmland in around 1848. Still named the same today although no longer a Mere - the only water being an irrigation dyke running alongside the road.

Rear: T.J. Lyons, S.G.J. Yarnell (1), G.A.C. Carington (2), H.F. Tomalin (3), A.E. Coleman, R.T. Bowen (4), J.S. Stillwell, I.A. Flower (5), R.E. Curtis, K.A. Evans (6), W.E. Collis (7), J.V.C. Booth, D.A. Pebworth (8), J.E. Oram, P.E. Poulson (9), F.J. Goodwin (10), J.H. Fuller (11), W.G. Fissenden (12), W.L. Dark, L.S. Stewart (13).

Front: A.R. McCoy (14), S.L. Meadows, J.N.R. Nadeau, J. Hall, L.D. Orbuck (15), H.R. Wright, H.B.L. Gittins (16), H. Brooks, L.J. Tighe (17), T.J. Mills, W.R. Cooper, W.J.A. Shapter (18), A. Flint (19), A.G.J. Chandler, W.R. Lance, K.F.H. Hale, B. Weller.

(See below for notes)

Burial details:

Sgt. Albert Leonard Sanderson. Bassingbourn Cum Kneesworth Cemetery, Cambridgeshire. Row DD. Grave 10. Son of John and Sarah Annie Sanderson, husband of Avis Mary Sanderson, of 21 Lochend Street, Tainul, Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand. 214 total flying hours logged, with 85 of these solo - 26 on Wellingtons.

Sgt. Dennis James Dempsey. Bassingbourn Cum Kneesworth Cemetery, Cambridgeshire. Row DD. Grave 9. Son of James and Annie Dempsey, of Te Kuiti, Auckland, New Zealand. 202 total flying hours logged.

Sgt. Harold Bryan Livingstone Gittins. Bassingbourn Cum Kneesworth Cemetery, Cambridgeshire. Row EE. Grave 7. Son of George Leopold Carlyle Gittins and Rosa Elizabeth Magdalene Gittins, of Curumalan, Argentina. Left Argentina for Canada in 1941 to join the RCAF.

Sgt. Basil Leonard Grove-Palmer. Bassingbourn Cum Kneesworth Cemetery, Cambridgeshire. Row DD. Grave 11. Son of Mervyn and Josefina Grove-Palmer, of Twickenham, Middlesex, England.

Sgt. William Reginald Myles. Bassingbourn Cum Kneesworth Cemetery, Cambridgeshire. Row EE. Grave 8. Son of William and Lucy Myles, husband of Margaret Sylvia Myles, of East Malvern, Victoria, Australia. Born in Liverpool, England on the 18th January 1910 - enlisted Brisbane, Australia.

Sgt. Peter Norman Lister. Arnold Cemetery (Also known as Redhill). Class B. Uncons. Grave 2655, Nottinghamshire. Son of Herbert Norman and Agnes Jane Lister (née Hobbs) of 102 Leslie Road, Nottingham, England.

For Chris Gardner in New Zealand and his colleagues who are preparing an article for Anzac Day on 25th April. For further details our thanks to the following sources shown below. Also to Julia and Keld for grave photographs.

Photograph notes:

(1) Believed to be P/O. Stanley Gordon James Yarnell 109034 RAFVR a member of 215 Squadron - killed on the 21st May 1942 - commemorated on the Singapore Memorial Column 413.

(2) Believed to be Fl/Lt. Graham Arthur Cecil Carington DFM 156449 RAFVR - killed on the 25th October 1945 - Commemorated on the Woking Crematorium. Panel 1.

(3) Believed to be P/O. Herbert Frederick Tomalin 159417 RAFVR a member of 51 Squadron - killed on the 15th March 1944 - Buried at the Choloy War Cemetery.

(4) Believed to be Fl/Lt. Raymond Thomas Bowen 109017 RAFVR - killed on the 13th September 1943 and buried at Chester (Blacon) Cemetery.

(5) Believed to be Sgt. Ian Arthur Flower 1166146 RAFVR a member of 214 Squadron - killed on the 30th November 1941 - Commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, Panel 43.

(6) Believed to be Sgt. Kenneth Archibald Evans 1166119 RAFVR a member of 15 Squadron - killed on the 09th May 1942 - buried at Kiel War Cemetery.

(7) Believed to be Sgt. William Edward Collis 930440 RAFVR a member of 57 Squadron - killed on the 20th June 1942 - buried at Hellendoorn General Cemetery.

(8) Believed to be Fl/Lt. Denis Arthur Pebworth DFC 110304 RAFVR a member of 149 Squadron - killed on the 24th August 1942 - Buried at Swindon (Whitworth Road) Cemetery.

(9) Believed to be Fl/Sgt. Peter Ernest Poulson 1250821 RAFVR a member of 103 Squadron - killed on the 20th December 1942 - buried at Bergen-Op-Zoom Canadian War Cemetery.

(10) Believed to be Sgt. Frederick James Goodwin 1162826 RAFVR - killed on the 27th September 1941 - buried at Smethwick (Uplands) Cemetery

(11) Believed to be F/O. John Henry Fuller 108127 RAFVR - killed on the 06th November 1942 - buried at City Of London Cemetery And Crematorium, Manor Park

(12) Believed to be Fl/Sgt. William George Fissenden 1250543 RAFVR a member of 38 Squadron - killed on the 13th July 1942 - buried at Heliopolis War Cemetery.

(13) Believed to be P/O. Leonard Scott Stewart 116891 RAFVR a member of 226 Squadron - killed on the 19th July 1942 - buried at Boulogne Eastern Cemetery.

(14) Believed to be Sgt. Anthony Richard McCoy 1166019 RAFVR - killed on the 05th December 1941 - buried at Wick Cemetery.

(15) Believed to be Sgt. Laurance David Orbuck AUS/400029 RAAF - killed on the 10th April 1942 - buried at Rheinberg War Cemetery.

(16) Believed to be Sgt. Harold Bryan Livingstone Gittins R/74283 RCAF a member of 11 OTU - killed on the 15th December 1941 - buried at Bassingbourn Cum Kneesworth Cemetery.

(17) Believed to be W/O. II Lawrence Joseph Tighe R/61115 RCAF a member of 149 Squadron - killed on the 30th September 1942 - Commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial Panel 102.

(18) Believed to be W/O. II William James Aubrey Shapter R/78148 RCAF a member of 207 Squadron - killed on the 06TH August 1942 - buried at Uden War Cemetery.

(19) Believed to be Sgt. Alfred Flint 1163046 RAFVR - killed on the 05th December 1941 - buried at Braunstone (St. Peter) Churchyard.

KTY 16.04.2016

KTY Updated 11-03-2021

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