Flying Officer Edward Francis APPLETON

Service No: 400067
Born: Perth WA, 26 July 1917
Enlisted in the RAAF: 26 May 1940 (at Melbourne VIC)
Unit: No. 11 Squadron (RAF), Feni, Bangladesh
Died: Air Operations: (No. 11 Squadron Blenheim aircraft Z7967), Myanmar, 5 April 1943, Aged 25 Years
Buried: Taukkyan War Cemetery, Myanmar
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Edward Cecil and Irene Amy Appleton, of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Panel 118, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

On 5 April 1943, Squadron Leader Mathieson was flying Blenheim Z9667 in No 7 position in a formation of nine Blenheims, detailed to bomb the aerodrome at Meiktila, Burma. The formation was flying at about 15,000 feet, and the formation had made two runs over the town which bore some resemblance to Meiktila, and Squadron Leader Mathieson was moving to starboard for a third run, when his gunner cried out “look out”, and immediately after there was a collision with No 5 aircraft in the formation.(Z7648). Squadron Leader Mathieson ordered bale out but received no reply.

For some time there was a fire in the cockpit, and the aircraft remained locked together. As soon as the planes broke free and the fire subsided, Squadron Leader Mathieson escaped through the front hatch, the aircraft then being in an inverted spin and minus the rear portion of the fuselage. The bombs detonated when Z 9667 hit the ground. The aircraft crashed at about 1600 hours at a location south of Tarma and 13 kms east south east of Meiktila.

The crew members of Z9667 were:

Flying Officer Edward Francis Appleton (400067) (Navigator Bomb Aimer)
Squadron Leader William Ronald Matheson (406253) (Pilot) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 30 November 1945
Flight Sergeant Thomas Joseph Wixted (404225) (Wireless Air Gunner)

The crew members of Z7648 were:

Warrant Officer David Thomas Andrew (400247) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Harvey Besley MM (402942) (Pilot) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 15 November 1945
Flight Sergeant George Atkinson Foster (407418) (Navigator Bomb Aimer)

Warrant Officer Besley reported in 1945 “I baled out at 10,000 feet and saw the aircraft crash and explode. The two aircraft were locked together in flames, spun and fell to pieces. I also saw another chute at about 1,000 feet and then it disappeared in cloud. I landed about one mile from the crash and was captured two hours later. Squadron Leader Matheson a member of the other aircraft was brought in later the same evening. The Japanese said that four bodies had been found and buried.”


Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
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, 166/4/26

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