Leading Aircraftman Robert James AITKEN

Service No: 32510
Born: Dulwich Hill NSW, 16 April 1912
Enlisted in the RAAF: 23 July 1940
Unit: No. 459 Squadron, Landing Ground 40, Egypt
Died: Aircraft Accident (No. 459 Squadron Hudson IIIB V8897), 1 June 1942, Aged 30 Years
Buried: El Alamein War Cemetery, Egypt
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Robert Rodney and Minnie Aitken, of Gunnedah, New South Wales, Australia; husband of Jessie May Aitken
Roll of Honour: Gunnedah NSW
Remembered: Panel 106, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Gunnedah Cenotaph, Gunnedah NSW
Remembered: Remembrance Grove, Gunnedah NSW

On 1 June 1942, No. 459 Squadron began to operate from its own landing ground and the first patrol was off at 12:17 hours. The day was marred by the loss of seven Squadron members when Hudson V8897 crashed on the edge of the landing ground and burned. No Court of Inquiry was held. In Desert Scorpions, an eyewitness (1) report of the crash states “The pilot overshot the strip, then on banking with the large flap extended, turned into the wind for the second approach. According to those watching at 150 feet that was inviting disaster. The port wing stalled, the nose dipped and it was all over.” Those lost were:

Leading Aircraftman Robert James Aitken (32510) (Fitter IIE)
Sergeant Arthur Leslie Chirnside (12302) (Fitter)
Sergeant Francis Joseph Leavey (402445) (Pilot)
Sergeant Oliver Willis Osborne (402950) (Wireless Operator / Air Gunner)
Leading Aircraftman Wallace David Reid (2281) (Fitter IIE)
Flight Sergeant Campbell Stephen (402888) (Wireless Operator / Air Gunner)
Sergeant Stanley Andrew Unger (403469) (Navigator)

(1) Sergeant Stanley Robert Thomas Charington (6184) Discharged from the RAAF: 25 September 1945


Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A9816, 145 (No. 459 Squadron Unit History)
Register of War Memorials in New South Wales On-Line


Kane-Maguire L. (Leon) Desert Scorpions: 459 Squadron RAAF 1942-1945, Australian Military History Publications Loftus NSW 2232, 2007
Vincent, D. (David) The RAAF Hudson Story Book 1, D. Vincent Highbury SA 5089, 1989

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