LEST WE FORGET
Warrant Officer William James ATKINSON
Service No: 413332
Born: North Sydney NSW, 14 August 1922
Enlisted in the RAAF: 17 August 1941
Unit: No. 131 Squadron (RAF) RAF Station Culmhead, Somerset
Died: Air Operations (No. 131 Squadron Spitfire aircraft MB877), France, 1 June 1944, Aged 21 Years
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Clifford and Elsie May Atkinson, of Cremorne, New South Wales, Australia.
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Panel 259, Runnymede Memorial, Surrey UK
Remembered: Panel 118, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
On 1 June 1944 Spitfire MB877 RAF took off from Culmhead flying No. 4 in a formation of 4 aircraft. The formation was detailed to attack an enemy target at St Brieuc, France. The formation crossed the French coast west of St Malo. At Lamballe, Bretagne, the formation turned west and followed the railway line. About 5 miles from St Brieuc a goods train was seen which the formation attacked. The Formation Leader was hit by anti-aircraft fire from trucks at the end of the train. The Leader called on the formation to accompany him home. He received 2 replies but none from MB877. After repeated calling and no replies, the Leader called up Distress Control to try and locate MB 877. No.3 in the formation stated that just before turning into the attack he noticed MB877 turn starboard also, but he could not see MB877 after the attack. Following post war enquiries and investigations, when no trace of the missing aircraft or pilot could be found, it was recorded in 1948 that Warrant Officer Atkinson had no known grave.
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 Veterans’ Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/4/125