Flight Sergeant Cecil Gordon ECKERSLEY

Service No: 416210
Born: Adelaide SA, 27 October 1919
Enlisted in the RAAF: 24 April 1941
Unit: No. 4 Air Observers’ School (RAF)
Died: Aircraft Accident (No. 4 Air Observers’ School Anson aircraft N5026), Isle of Man, 30 December 1943, Aged 24 Years
Buried: Andreas (St Andrew) Churchyard, Isle of Man
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Frank Cecil Stirling Eckersley and Fanny Dora Eckersley, of St. Peter’s, South Australia
Roll of Honour: St Peters SA
Remembered: Panel 121, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: World War II Honour Roll, National War Memorial of SA, North Terrace, Adelaide

While in transit to the UK, Flight Sergeant Eckersley, together with Warrant Officer Brian William Gorman (409108), Flight Sergeant Victor William Manuel (401986) and Flight Lieutenant John Blight Suttor DFC (411969) (Discharged: 30 November 1945), were in the troop ship Oronsay that was torpedoed off the African Coast on 9 October 1942. They were rescued and interned by Vichy French authorities in Dakar and then freed on 15 December 1942.

On the 30 December 1943, Anson N5026 took off from West Freugh at 1953 hours, on a non-operational night navigation exercise. It hit a cliff at 2100 hours, and crashed 1.5 miles from Port Soderick, Isle of Man. All on board were killed.

The crew members of N5026 were:

Flight Sergeant Cecil Gordon Eckersley (416210) (Pilot)
Sergeant Lewis James John Henly (1585996) (RAFVR) (Staff Wireless Operator)
Sergeant Harold Peters (428533) (Navigator)
Sergeant Henry St George Thompson (425073) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Sergeant Geoffrey Robert Tippett (429362) (Bomb Aimer)

An Inquiry into the accident found that the primary cause of the accident was “the shearing of one of the propeller Boss belts, which caused spasmodic and intense vibration, and loss of engine revs as it came into contact with the nuts of the front cover. It was though that the Pilot decided to make an immediate forced landing, preferably on water near the coast, but that he overshot aiming north while flying in bad visibility, and faced with cliffs ahead, he opened up to try and clear them, but crashed head on into them.”


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, 163/105/143

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