CLELAND William Robert 415006

LEST WE FORGET 

Flying Officer William Robert CLELAND

Service No: 415006
Born: Perth WA, 27 September 1908
Enlisted in the RAAF: 23 June 1941
Unit: No. 10 Squadron, RAF Mount Batten, Plymouth
Died: Air Operations: Crisis in the Atlantic (No. 10 Squadron Sunderland aircraft W3986), off the UK Coast, 20 May 1943, Aged 34 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Robert and Lilian Elsie Cleland; husband of Patricia Margaret Cleland, of Scarborough, Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: Perth WA
Remembered: Panel 187, Runnymede Memorial, Surrey UK
Remembered: Panel 99, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA
Remembered: Rathmines Memorial Bowling Club, Rathmines NSW

Approximately 12 minutes after W 3986 had taken off from Mount Batten on a ‘Derange’ patrol (an operation from 6 April to 13 June 1943 to cover the approaches to the Bay of Biscay), coast guard personnel from Rame Head and Looe reported seeing a flash followed by an explosion approximately four miles north west off Eddystone Lighthouse at 0520 hours. Later that afternoon a destroyer searching the area found wreckage including floats thought to be from the Sunderland. Half an hour later the bodies of two crew members (Sergeants Dewhurst and Owen) were recovered from the sea by a pinnace sent to the area from Mount Batten.  Nothing else was discovered.

Extract from Baff, K.C. (Kevin Charles) Maritime is Number Ten: the Sunderland era, K.C. Baff, 1983 – Page 285

The crew members of W3986 were:

Flying Officer William Robert Cleland (415006) (Navigator)
Sergeant Edgar Dewhurst (32960) (Air Gunner)
Sergeant Ronald William Bruce Dowell (5933) (Fitter IIE)
Sergeant Irwin Hunter (19070) (Air Gunner)
Sergeant Patrick McCombie (32523) (Flight Engineer)
Sergeant Reginald Stanley Moore (20127) (Fitter IIA)
Sergeant Norman James Owen (32847) (Wireless Maintenance Mechanic)
Flying Officer Vincent John Patston (412831) (First Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Norman Donald Pollock (409741) (Radio Operator)
Flight Lieutenant Denis Saunders (401836) (Pilot)
Flying Officer Graham Lloyd Thorneloe Smith (405524) (Second Pilot)
Sergeant Graham Montgomery Walker (17654) (Wireless Maintenance Mechanic)

References:

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, 166/7/108
Register of War Memorials in New South Wales On-Line

Bibliography:

Ashworth, N. (Norman) The ANZAC Squadron: A history of No. 461 Squadron RAAF 1942-5, Hesperian Press Victoria Park WA 6100, 1994
Joubert, P.B. (Sir Phillip Bennet) Birds and Fishes: the story of Coastal Command, Hutchinson and Company London, 1960
Southall, I.F. (Ivan Francis) (418900) They Shall Not Pass Unseen, Angus and Robertson Sydney NSW, 1956
Wilson, S. (Stewart) Anson, Hudson and Sunderland in Australian Service, Aerospace Publications Weston Creek ACT 2611, 1992