ANDERSON Alexander Henry 427788

LEST WE FORGET 

Sergeant Alexander Henry ANDERSON

Service No: 427788
Born: Morphett Vale SA, 26 July 1923
Enlisted in the RAAF: 6 October 1942 (at Perth WA)
Unit: No. 27 Operational Training Unit (RAF), RAF Lichfield, Staffordshire
Died: Aircraft Accident (No. 27 Operational Training Unit Wellington aircraft LN295), Huntingdonshire, 6 November 1943, Aged 20 Years
Buried: Cambridge City Cemetery, Cambridgeshire
CWGC Additional Information: Son of David George and Ivy Lilian Anderson, of Northam, Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: Goomalling WA
Remembered: Panel 118, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

On the 6th November 1943, Wellington LN295 took off from RAF Lichfield for an evening cross-country training.  At 2208 hours when flying on a south easterly course at an altitude of 16,000 feet, the aircraft collided with Wellington aircraft X3924 (Sergeant R B Main (RCAF) (Pilot)) from No 26 Operational Training Unit flying on a north easterly course at the same altitude, .with both machines falling near the main gate at Alconbury airfield in Huntingdonshire, and not far from the village of Abbots Ripton.

Both Pilots had their attention momentarily distracted and on looking up simultaneously they each saw the other aircraft extremely close and too late to avoid a collision.  The pilot of X3924 in attempting to avoid a collision pushed the control column forward, which it was thought caused the tail unit to come into collision with LN295 on the starboard side in the forward part of the aircraft near the pilot’s cockpit.  X3924 then developed an uncontrolled steep spiral dive to port, which finally resulted into an inverted spin, throwing the pilot through the roof of the cockpit.  The aircraft continued to dive at very high speed and it disintegrated due to stress on the airframe.  It would have been extremely difficult for the crew to abandon the aircraft, although the Captain had ordered abandon.

After the collision, LN295 went into a dive from which the pilot was unable to recover.  He gave orders to abandon the aircraft, but the inter-com was useless and the call light could not be found. He did not know whether any of the crew had received the order to bale out. The pilot was injured in the collision and finally baled out at 7,000 feet. Both pilots wore their chutes. Five of the crew in LN 295 were killed and Group Captain Heffernan was injured.  Five (three RAF and two RCAF) crew members from X3924 were killed and the Aircraft Captain was injured.

Those on board LN295 were:

Sergeant Alexander Henry Anderson (427788) (Air Gunner)
Pilot Officer Colin Geoffrey Finch (403864) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Group Captain Patrick George Heffernan (O318) (Pilot) Injured, Discharged from the RAAF: 15 September 1956
Section Officer Karin Lia Hughes (6552) (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force)
Pilot Officer Jeffrey Felgate Parker (416886) (Observer)
Pilot Officer Lorraine John Quaite DFM (425053) (Navigator)

No. 27 Operational Training Unit lost Wellington X3637 Flying Officer Douglas Alexander McKechnie (400328) (Screened Pilot)) on 6 November 1943.

References:

Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Chorley W R, Royal Air Force Bomber Command Losses – Volume 7 Operational Training Units 1940-1947, Midland Publishing, 2002
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/3/130