In the beautiful churchyard of St Peter's Church in Little Rissington rest 48 airmen from Britain and her Empire, along with one Royal Engineer, from the Second World War. There are also several other Commonwealth graves from before and after the war. On Armistice day the branch lay a wreath and crosses on the graves of those who died in and around Chipping Norton. As I am always asked about the men who lie there I have put their stories here, in order of the dates they died.
19th September 1939:
Pilot Officer JAMES EDWARD HULL Royal Air Force, pilot 207 Squadron aged 24.
The son of Francis and Kathleen Hull of Hastings, Hawke Bay, New Zealand. He had visited the UK in 1929 as part of the Empire Scout Jamboree. He enlisted into the RAF in New Zealand and came to England and joined 207 Squadron, qualifying as a pilot. He took off from RAF Cranfield, in Bedfordshire, on 19th September 1939 on a direction finding and homing exercise. He was killed when his Fairey Battle Mk1 K9448 crashed into a hill near Winchcombe in bad visibility. His air gunner, Robert Malcolm, 18,was also killed in the accident and is buried in Glasgow.
7th November 1939:
Pilot Officer DONALD KERR ROBERTSON Royal Air Force, pilot 207 Squadron, aged 20.
He was the son of John Kerr and Beatrice Mabel Robertson, of Sutton Poyntz, Dorset. He was the pilot of Fairey Battle K9238 that had taken off from RAF Cranfield in Bedfordshire. Whilst carrying out low flying he ran into cloud and flew into the ground near Stow-on-the-Wold. Sergeant Ronald Harrison and Aircraftman 2nd Class Francis Wilkes were also killed, being buried in Liverpool and Birmingham respectively.
17th August 1940:
Sergeant DONALD DUNCAN Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, pilot 6 Flying Training School, aged 20.
He was the son of George and Alice Duncan, of Hull. He was with 6 FTS based at Little Rissington and was killed when low flying in Avro Anson L7907, hitting trees and crashing at Lodge Park, Eastington, Gloucestershire. Sergeant Pilot Eric Osborne was also killed in the crash, and is buried in Worcester.
2oth September 1940:
Leading Aircraftman MALCOLM ALAN ROBERT SUTHERLAND, Royal Air Force, pilot under training, 6 Flying Training School, aged 28.
He lived in Wingreen Colehill, Wimborne, Dorset, the son of Mr & Mrs D Sutherland of Twickenham, London. He was a pupil pilot, under Sergeant Toby Sturgis, of 6 FTS based at Little Rissington. They took off from there in Avro Anson Mk 1 N9821 and at 1430 were in collision with an Airspeed Oxford from 20 SFTS at RAF Brize Norton, 3 miles South of Little Rissington. The Oxford which had taken off from RAF Windrush was piloted by Leading Aircraftman Benjamin High, on a blind flying exercise with the cockpit blacked out. Both aircraft crashed near Great Barrington, all 3 men being killed. Sergeant Howard is buried in Glynde, Sussex and LAC High in Milford Haven. Benjamin High was training for to be a bomber pilot and had one week to go before he had his wings.
23rd October 1940:
Flying Officer IAN FORBES DAVIES, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 8 Maintenance Unit, aged 23.
He was the son of William and Alice Davies, of 126 Stockwell Rd, Lambeth, London. He was based with 8 MU at Little Rissington.
Flying Officer REGINALD TREVOR SHAW, Royal Air Force, pilot, 8 Maintenance Unit, aged 28.
He had married Anna Brunnsteiner in 1939. He was based with 8 MU at Little Rissington.
They were both killed when their Percival Proctor P6274 flew into the ground in bad visibility at Hillcot Wood, Andoversford at 1730.
3rd November 1940:
Leading Aircraftman DOUGLAS RONALD NOEL TOOTH, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, pilot under training, 6 Flying Training School, aged 28.
He was the son of Adolphus and Margaret Tooth, of Torquay, and lived at 56, Curzon Street in London, where he worked as an architect's assistant. He had taken off from Little Rissington in Avro Anson Mk 1 L7926 on a training flight and flew into high ground 3 miles North East of Laycock, Wiltshire. The ashes of his elder brother Eric, who had served in the RNAS and RAF during the First World War are also interred in the grave, pictured with Douglas below.
14th April 1941:
Leading Aircraftman FREDERICK HARRY JAMES HUCKS, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, aged 45.
He was married to Lillian Hucks and lived in Norwood Road, Southall. He had seen service with The Middlesex Regiment in World War One. His son Cyril Hucks died whilst serving with The Royal Corps of Signals, aged 24.
18th May 1941:
Corporal DAVID SAMUEL TEMPLE, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, aged 18.
Killed on active service, he was the son of Mya and Rebecca Temple, of Harrow, Middlesex.
23rd May 1941:
Leading Aircraftman GORDON JAMES BURKLE, Royal Air Force, pilot, 6 Flying Training School, aged 25.
He had married Sylvia Sweet in Barnet, Middlesex in 1939. He was the pilot of an Airspeed Oxford Mk 11 V3777 when he was in collision with another Oxford and crashed near Little Rissington airfield. Leading Aircraftman Brian Richards (below) piloting the other Oxford was also killed and is buried in Helston, Cornwall.
26th August 1941:
Leading Aircraftman VINCENT CHESTER STEWART RHODES NEWMAN, Royal Air Force, Pilot under training, 6 Flying Training School, aged 25.
He was married to Margaret and lived at 12, Oaklands, Isleworth, Middlesex. He was flying Airspeed Oxford Mk11 R6396 along with Norwegian pilot instructor leading aircraftman Rudolf Herland when the plane hit trees whist attempting a night landing at RAF Chipping Norton.
9th September 1941:
Leading Aircraftman PETER REYNOLDS WEST, Royal Air Force, Pilot under training, aged 22.
He was the son of William Reynolds and Adeline West, of 41, Lowther Drive, Harrow, Middlesex. As a trainee pilot he was flying an Oxford Airspeed Mk 1 from Little Rissington and crashed while attempting to land at Chipping Norton airfield.
14th October 1941:
Sergeant WILLIAM LESLIE FALARDEAU, Royal Canadian Air Force, pilot aged 19.
He was the son of Earl and Hilda Falardeau of Winnipeg, Canada. William Falardeau was a camera grip on the 1940 Powell and Pressburger film "49th Parallel" and also played an aviator on the rescue floatplane as it arrives at Cape Wolstenholme (below right). A second role for him was as a double for Raymond Massey in a few scenes. He died before the film was released. He had been a keen aviation enthusiast and won cups for his model aircraft. He joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in November 1940 and arrived in England in August 1941.
Sergeant BILL INGALLS HOESE, Royal Canadian Air Force, aged 26.
Bill Hoese was from Worthington, Indiana in the United States.
They were aboard Vickers Wellington Mk 1C serial no R1654 of 22 Operational Training Unit which took off from Wellesbourne for a navigation exercise. Encountered poor weather conditions and while flying in cloud lost control and dived into the ground at 1044 not far from the Gloucestershire-Oxfordshire border about 1 mile west of Cornwell, 3 miles west of Chipping Norton. Three other crew members also died.
21st October 1941:
Corporal SIDNEY FRANCIS ANDREWS, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, aged 25.
He was the son of Sidney Herbert and Lilian Andrews and the husband of Sheila Andrews of Ealing, Middlesex, England.
Aircraftman 2nd Class JOHN BASELEY, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, aged 31.
He was the son of W. T. and Isobella Baseley, of Notting Hill, London.
Leading Aircraftman MICHEL BRADY DE MAYNARD, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, Pilot under training, aged 18.
Aircraftman 2nd Class ROBERT LESLIE COPPIN, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 6 Service Flying Training School, aged 27.
He was the husband of Elsie May Coppin, of The Causeway, Langenhoe. They had a son, Michael.
Aircraftman KENNETH JOHN FULLER, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, aged 20
He was the son of Guy and Hester Fuller of Mosterton, Dorset.
Leading Aircraftman SYDNEY GEORGE PETER MEDWIN, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, pilot under training, aged 19.
He was the son of Sidney Alfred and Florence Medwin, of Cookham, Berkshire.
Aircraftman 2nd Class FRED POULTER, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, aged 36.
He was the son of George William and Fanny Poulter and lived at 22 Carnley St, West Melton with his wife Beatrice and a daughter. He had just returned from leave with them when he died.
Leading Aircraftman HAROLD THOMAS STOKES, Royal Air Force, aged 60.
He was married to Laura and lived in Cheltenham where he had worked as a photographer.
On 21 October 1941 a RAF bus was in collision with a stationary lorry on the London Road, Charlton Kings, near Cheltenham. The bus caught fire and 9 airmen died, in addition to the above AC2 Ronald Rosenthall died being buried in Hull, with 13 others being injured. The men has been in Cheltenham for a night out and were on the way back to Little Rissington when the crowded bus hit a broken down lorry at shortly after 11pm. Although the lorry did have a red lamp on the back as a warning it was a dark night and wartime blackout conditions meant that the road was unlit. At the inquest held on Monday 3 November a verdict of accidental death found by the jury in a unanimous decision. They said that they would like to exonerate the driver of the coach from all blame but though the authorities should have had a older and experienced man driving the bus, especially at night, than the young man carrying out the duty. The coroner intimated that he agreed with the verdict of accidental death, but entirely disagreed that no blame attached the driver.
8th February 1942:
Driver BERNARD HAROLD SPARROW, Royal Engineers 701 General Construction Company, aged 28.
The Royal Engineers were laying three new asphalt runways at RAF Little Rissington in 1942.
25th March 1942:
Sergeant EDWARD JOHN BIDDULPH, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, pilot, 14 Operational Training Unit, aged 20.
He was the son of Frederick and Mabel Biddulph of Salisbury, South Rhodesia.
Sergeant RAYMOND VIVIEN DANIELS, Royal Australian Air Force, 14 Operational Training Unit, aged 27.
He was the son of George and Florence of Nanya Siding, Queensland, Australia.
Sergeant BERTRAM NOSEWORTHY, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 14 Operational Training Unit, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner aged 20.
He was the son of Kenneth and Elizabeth Noseworthy of St John's, Newfoundland.
Sergeant ARTHUR WILLIAM WESTGATE, Royal New Zealand Air Force, 14 Operational Training Unit, Air Gunner aged 25.
He was the son of William and Alice Westgate of Tikitiki, Auckland, New Zealand.
They were the crew of Handley-Page Hampden P5398 which took off from RAF Cottesmore on a night navigation sortie. At 2110 the aircraft plunged into the ground and caught fire at Whittle Farm, Brockhampton, 5 miles east of Cheltenham.
8th April 1942:
Sergeant WALTER FRANK GOOD, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 15 Operational Training Unit, Observer, aged 34.
He was the son of Walter and Marion Good and husband of Phyllis Good, of Church Lawton, Staffordshire.
Pilot Officer JAMES ROBERT LEE, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 57 Operational Training Unit, Pilot aged 21.
He was the son of George and Anna Bell Lee, of Cormanche, Texas, United States.
Sergeant Good was aboard Vickers Wellington Mk1C L7818 which took off from RAF Harwell for a cross-country excercise. During a rainstorm it collided with a Supermarine Spitfire Mk1 R6686 from 57 OTU based at RAF Harwarden and flown by PO Lee. Out of control both aircraft crashed a few hundred yard apart in the valley of the Broadwater Stream, near Cold Ashton, Gloucestershire with the loss of all crew.
15th May 1942:
Flying Officer RONALD HENRY IMESON, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, pilot instructor, 6 (Pilot) Advanced Flying Unit, aged 21.
He was the son of Frank and Annie Imeson, of Hayes, Kent. Flying Officer Imeson was an instructor with 6(P)AFU based at Little Rissington. He had worked in the civilian staff section of the Metropolitan Police for the S1 (firearms branch) at Scotland Yard since August 1939. As a member of the RAFVR he was called up in August 1940. He was commissioned in May 1941 and was posted to 6 FTS from No 2 Central Flying School in July that year. He was promoted to acting Flying Officer on 31st December 1941. He was killed aboard Airspeed Oxford AP476, along with Sergeant pupil pilots Fox and Carthew, when it crashed at Glyme Farm near Chipping Norton Relief Landing Ground.
24th July 1942:
Sergeant DAVID GORDON HENDERSON, Royal Canadian Air Force, 6 (Pilot) Advanced Flying Unit, pilot aged 22.
He was the son of David Gauld Henderson and Ann Henderson, of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He was the pilot of Airspeed Oxford I DF253 which took off from Chipping Norton on a night flying exercise. Shortly after take-off it plunged into the ground near the airfield.
17th August 1942:
Pilot Officer WILLIAM ALEXANDER MILLAR, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, pilot, 6 (Pilot) Advanced Flying Unit, aged 21.
He was the son of William and Agnes Millar of Chickerell, Dorset. He took off from RAF Little Rissington in Airspeed Oxford Mk1 N6321. On board were two Air Cadets, brothers Edwin and Donald Sims, aged 17 and 16, from 149 (Poole) Squadron, on a flight experience. The aircraft was seen to be losing height over Northleach and hit the ground 3 miles North of the town, with the loss of all three aboard.
21st August 1942:
Sergeant MALCOLM STEVENSON HAYNES, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 15 Operational Training Unit, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner aged 21.
He was the son of Evan and Elizabeth Haynes, of Whitchurch, Glamorgan.
Pilot Officer ALAN MACDONALD HENDERSON, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 15 Operational Training Unit, 2nd Pilot aged 30.
He was the eldest son of Major Ian Macdonald and Kathleen Mary Henderson of Woking, Surrey. He was at Charterhouse 1926 – 1929 and worked for Dennis Bros in Guildford. He served as a Lieutenant in the London Scottish until 1941, before transferring to the RAFVR to train as a pilot.
Sergeant JOHN MACDONALD RANKIN, Royal Australian Air Force, 6 (Pilot) Advaced Flying Unit, pupil Pilot aged 25.
The son of Donald Stephen and Ruby Augusta Rankin, of Longueville, New South St Wales, Australia.
In the early hours of 21st August 1942 a Vickers Wellington Mk1C T2557 bomber and an Airspeed Oxford Mk11 T1339 trainer were involved in a mid-air collision North-West of Chipping Norton over open country. The Oxford was on a pilot training flight from No 6 (Pilot) Advanced Flying Unit, Little Rissington, whilst the Wellington was on a crew night training flight from No 15 Operational Training Unit based at Harwell. Both aircraft were destroyed by the impact. The pilot of the Oxford and four other crew members of the Wellington all died. See chipping-norton-air-crash-1942.php
16th September 1942:
Sergeant WILLIAM JOHN FERGUSON, Royal Air Force, 12 Operational Training Unit, 2nd Pilot, aged 23.
He was the son of William and Rose Ferguson, of Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand.
Sergeant ROBERT GEORGE McCARTHY, Royal New Zealand Air Force,12 Operational Training Unit, pilot, aged 27.
He was the son of Robert and Margaret McCarthy of Haumoana, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand.
They were on board Vickers Wellington Mk 111 BJ728 which took off from RAF Chipping Warden for a night navigation excercise. At around 0610, while over the town of Conway in Caernarvonshire, the starboard engine failed. They set course for base, but just over an hour later the pilot announced he was going to make a precautionary landing at Little Rissington. However, soon after entering the circuit, the port engine faltered and at 0710 the aircraft came down at Lower Farm, Milton-under Wychwood and burst into flames. The tail gunner was pulled from the wreckage by a civilian worker but the rest of the crew of five perished.
6th November 1942:
Sergeant HECTOR WILLIAM FARQUHARSON, Royal New Zealand Air Force, 6 (Pilot) Advanced Flying Unit, Pilot aged 20.
He was the son of William Farquharson and Bessie Farquharson of Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand.
Sergeant Farquharson was piloting Airspeed Oxford AP473 on a night flying excercise when he was in collision with another Oxford, BG551. Both aircraft fell to the ground locked together and burst into flames. The pilot of the other Oxford, Sergeant Forrester also died.
24th November 1942:
Warrant Officer GEORGE LARDNER, Royal Air Force, aged 38.
He was the son of Percy and Fanny Lardner of Selly Oak, Worcestershire and husband to Ada Lardener of Selly Hill Road, Bournbrook, Birmingham. He died in Slade Isolation Hospital in Oxford.
12th June 1943;
Sergeant PETER FRANCIS BAKER, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, Pilot aged 20.
He was the son of Edward and Winifred Baker, of Blackheath, London.
14th June 1943:
Sergeant ARTHUR JOSEPH GREATBATCH, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 6 (Pilot) Advanced Flying Unit, Pilot,aged 22.
He was the son of Ernest and Alice Greatbatch, of Yardley, Birmingham. He was killed when his Airspeed Oxford Mk11 P8968 was in collision with Oxford Mk1 piloted by Sergeant Boyd, who also died.
17th June 1943:
Sergeant MICHAEL GARDNER, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve,1656 Heavy Conversion Unit, Air Bomber, aged 21.
He was the son of Squadron Leader George and Mrs. G. M. Gardner, of Maidenhead, Berkshire. He was the bomb aimer on Avro Lancaster Mk1 ED318 which had taken off from RAF Lindeholme, Yorkshire at 2145 for a night time cross-country training exercise. At about 0140 the Lancaster collided with a Vickers Wellington BJ485 from of 27 OTU over Brize Norton. The stricken Lancaster crashed at Wigstead Farm, Highworth in Wiltshire. All aboard were killed.
22nd July 1943:
Sergeant PETER ROSSE HOPE, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, pilot, 6 (Pilot) Advanced Flying Unit, aged 19.
He was the son of of Sydney and Elsie Hope, of Brighton, Sussex.
Flight Lieutenant JACK FRANCIS PAGE, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, Navigator/Instructor, 6 (Pilot) Advanced Flying Unit, aged 29.
He was the son of Samuel and Lucy Page and husband of Edith Vera Page, of South Ruislip, Middlesex.
They were both aboard Airspeed Oxford Mk11 X7254 when it collided with Oxford N4834 piloted by Warrant Officer Brian Walmsley. Both aircraft crashed at Heythorp Park, killing all three men.
11th September 1943:
Cadet 1st class GEORGE EDWARD KENNETH STONE, Air Training Corps, aged 16.
Known as Kenny, he was the son of Frederick and Beatrice Stone, of Bourton on the Water. On the 11th September 1943 at 1650 an Airspeed Oxford DF277 from 1525 Beam Approach Training flight based at Brize Norton collided with another Oxford, from 1539 BAT flight, out of South Cerney. Oxford DF277 crashed at Eastleach in Gloucestershire with the loss of all aboard, including Kenny Stone who was on a flying experience trip.
7th October 1943:
Flight Sergeant JACK ARCHER HAZELDENE, Royal Australian Air Force, 21 Operational Training Unit, Pilot, aged 24.
He was the son of Sydney and Mary Hazeldene, of Kangaroo Flat, Victoria, Australia. He was the pilot of Vickers Wellington 1C R1028 which had taken off from RAF Moreton-in-Marsh at 1856 for an evening detail. He lost power from the port engine whilst on finals to land at Little Rissington at 2100 and crashed into the back garden of the Lamb Inn, Great Rissington, with the loss of 5 crew, only the tail gunner surviving.
22nd November 1944:
Flying Officer LAWRENCE WILLIAM HARWARD CRAIG, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, Pilot aged 20.
He was the son of Harward and Elizabeth Alice Craig, of Horley, Surrey. He was the pilot of Short Stirling III EF201 0f 1660 HCU which took off from RAF Swindeby at 1015 for a cross-country exercise, an exercise that soon became dogged with engine problems. Initially, the difficulties were confined to the port outer, which was feathered but soon after the inner port began to over speed and F/O Craig, the pilot, attempted to restart the outer motor. Unfortunately, due to a fuel cock being left off, he was unsuccessful and the windmilling blades created such a drag that he lost control. Thus, at 1120, the Stirling came down near Northleach airfield in Gloucestershire. Out of the crew of nine five were killed.
25th July 1945:
Squadron Leader LYNN GREGORY, Royal Air Force, Pilot aged 37.
H was the son of Harold and Mary Louise Gregory, of Cheltenham and husband of Gwendoline Gregory, of Cheltenham. He had joined the RAF after leaving school in 1926 and served in Iraq, India and Egypt returning home as a sergeant pilot in 1933. He was commissioned in 1933, serving as a flying instructor and armaments officer. At the outbreak of war he saw action in Iraq returning home to an appointment in the Ministry of Aircraft Production. He then joined the staff of RAF Boscombe Down experimental establishment in Wiltshire. He took off from Boscombe Down in Hawker Tempest Mk V serial NV946 for a sortie at Enford ranges. The aircraft stalled at 1115 after firing several rockets from 1500 feet in a steep 40 degree dive, as part of a firing test to check rocket tail clearance using zero length launchers. The aircraft went into a stall during a banking turn to port, flipping over before hitting the ground at 400 mph and exploding in flames.
As a token of our gratitude to Little Rissington, the information above has been made into two memorial boards. They were presented to the Reverend Christopher Etherton and the Parochial Church Council on Sunday 31st July.
The Memorial boards will be officially dedicated at a service to commemorate the Central Flying School at Little Rissington on Sunday 11th September at 1500.