Flight Lieutenant Desmond Edward James GARDINER

Service No: 251432
Born: 27 November 1902, Location unavailable
Enlisted in the RAAF: Date unavailable
Unit: No. 267 Squadron (RAF)
Died: Air Operations: (No. 267 Squadron Dakota aircraft KG472), Yugoslavia, 16 July 1944, Aged 41 Years
Buried: Belgrade War Cemetery, Serbia
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Edgar Robert Watson Gardiner and Lucy Margaret Gardiner; husband of Rose Irene Gardiner, of St. Kilda, Victoria, Australia
Roll of Honour: Melbourne VIC
Remembered: Panel 122, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

On the night of 16 July 1944, Dakota KG472 was detailed to carry out a special operation of Infiltration and Evacuation in Yugoslavia. The aircraft attempted to go around again and took normal overshoot procedures. The aircraft gained height rapidly for a short distance then rapidly lost height and crashed about 500 yards beyond the end of the flare path. The aircraft hit the ground on an even keel with both motors under power and crashed. All the crew members were killed.

The crew members of KG472 were:

Flight Sergeant Henry Alfred Burrill (1386667) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator Air)
Flying Officer Francis Alexander Barclay Cameron (161028) (RAFVR) (Navigator)
Flight Lieutenant Desmond Edward James Gardiner (251432) (Pilot)
Corporal George Holroyd (989279) (RAFVR) (Fitter II Airframe)
Captain H W Solms (47863V) (SAAF) (Second Pilot)

The passengers were:

Air Commodore Guy Lloyd Carter DSO AFC (RAF) Fatally injured, Died: 18 July 1944
Corporal George Holroyd (989279) (RAFVR)
Leading Aircraftman Leslie John Holt (929173) (RAFVR)
Corporal Harry Pell-Ilderton (646585) (RAFVR)

A Court of Inquiry found that: “the accident was caused by the retraction of the flaps when the aircraft was at a low speed near the ground.” A press cutting at Enclosure 6A on the Casualty File 166/15/282 from The Sun newspaper dated 25 July 1944, reported: “Major Randolf Churchill son of Winston and Captain Evelyn Waugh, Novelist, who is now a Commando, had a narrow escape when the plane in which they were flying to Tito’s Headquarters in Yugoslavia, crashed and caught fire. Members of the crew included an Australian were killed in the crash.”


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, 166/15/282
Website: LostAircraft.com

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