Sergeant John DONALDSON

Service No: 400619
Born: Calcutta, India, 27 October 1918
Enlisted in the RAAF: 18 September 1940 (at Melbourne VIC)
Unit: No. 61 Operational Training Unit (RAF)
Died: Aircraft Accident (No. 61 Operational Training Unit Master aircraft W8452), Wiltshire, 14 January 1942, Aged 23 Years
Buried: Upavon Cemetery, Wiltshire
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Roy Charles and Una Vivienne Grace Donaldson, of Brighton, Victoria. Australia. B.Com.
Roll of Honour: Brighton VIC
Remembered: Panel 121, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

On 14 January 1942, at approximately 1530 hours, the two pilots in Master W8452 were each authorised to carry out 30 minutes of instrument flying in the aircraft. The aircraft crashed at Manor Wood, West Lavington, Wiltshire, and both the crew members were killed. The weather was very good, and at 1700 hours it was heard that the aircraft was doing aerobatics. Eye witnesses saw the aircraft flying in a north easterly direction toward Market Lavington at a height of approximately 1,200 feet. The aircraft commenced a dive towards the village of Market Lavington increasing in speed until it was doing over 250 mph. At the bottom of its dive the aircraft disappeared from view behind trees about half a mile away. It then re-appeared in a steep climb followed by a climbing turn to the left, which continued at a steep angle of bank until it had done a complete circle. The aircraft then straightened out and dived at a high speed towards Manor House, disappeared behind trees. Then a crash was heard followed by an explosion.”

The crew members of W8452 were:

Sergeant John Donaldson (400619) (Second Pilot)
Pilot Officer Augustus Herbert Durant Harley Firman (103556) (RAFVR) (Pilot)


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, 163/103/154


Ilbery, P.L.T. (Peter Leslie Thomas) (422957) Hatching an Air Force: 2SFTS, 5SFTS, 1BFTS Uranquinty and Wagga Wagga, Banner Books Maryborough QLD 4650, 2002

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