FLETCHER John Percival 406476

LEST WE FORGET

Sergeant William John Percival FLETCHER

Service No: 406476
Born: Fremantle WA, 25 June 1921
Enlisted in the RAAF: 6 January 1941
Unit: No. 27 Operational Training Unit (RAF), RAF Lichfield, Staffordshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 27 Operational Training Unit Wellington aircraft L7815), Staffordshire, 13 September 1942, Aged 21 Years
Buried: Fradley (St.Stephen’s) Churchyard, Staffordshire
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Percival Harold and Avis Emily Fletcher, of Fremantle, Western Australia
Roll of Honour: Fremantle WA
Remembered: Panel 122, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

On 13 September 1942, Wellington L7815 took off at 2331 hours from RAF Lichfield and carrying 4 x 500 lb (pound) (225 kg) GP (general purpose) bombs, was detailed to carry out an attack on Bremen, Germany. Within minutes of lifting off, the port engine began to falter and the crew made an immediate to base. Tragically, while turning finals, the aircraft spun out of control and crashed. A mere nine minutes had elapsed from the time of their departure. On impact the aircraft became a mass of flames and the crew of five were killed.

The crew members of L7815 were:

Sergeant William John Percival Fletcher (406476) (Pilot)
Sergeant Frederick William Lewis (1053802) (RAFVR) (Air Bomber)
Sergeant James Gordon Milne (408774) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Sergeant Joseph Albert Turnbull (411555) (Observer)
Sergeant Fairfield Thompson (1354657) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner)

In the aftermath of the accident, a party of RAF ground staff were detailed to mount guard on the wreckage. At 0320 hours, there was a tremendous explosion and the following four RAF members guarding the crash site were killed:

Aircraftman First Class Colin Aveyard (1028776) (RAFVR)
Aircraftman First Class Alfred Marten (1296177) (RAFVR)
Leading Aircraftman Kenneth Ward (577760) (RAF)
Corporal Ronald Moses Simon Zucker (938506) (RAFVR)

References:

Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 163/112/161

Bibliography:

Gaston, Bruce DFC (406646), Harry Horner DFC OAM (406595), Raymond Storer (406666) (Editors), Aircrew for the Duration: of and by members of RAAF EATS Courses 10, 11, 12 & 13, Gaston Horner and Storer, Nedlands WA, 1990