Sergeant John Richard GILBERT

Service No: 412611
Born: Coogee NSW, 23 October 1922
Enlisted in the RAAF: 20 July 1941
Unit: No. 611 Squadron (RAF)
Died: Aircraft Accident: (No. 611 Squadron Spitfire aircraft EN822), Kent, 27 January 1943, Aged 20 Years
Buried: Orpington (St Mary Cray) Cemetery, Kent
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Harold William and Ada Mary Emma Gilbert, of Coogee, New South Wales, Australia
Roll of Honour: Coogee NSW
Remembered: Panel 122, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Commonwealth Bank of Australia Honour Rolls, Sydney NSW

At 1055 hours on 27 January 1943, Spitfire EN822 flown by Sergeant Gilbert took off detailed to carry out cine gun training exercise with Sergeant Mackay in Spitfire BL69. The take-off was normal and at 1105 hours information was received that both aircraft had crashed at Westerham Water Works. EN822 had crashed near Hawley Farm, Westerham soon after take-off killing Sergeant Gilbert. BL691 apparently stalled and spun in from approximately 5/700 feet and crashed near the Water Works killing Sergeant Mackay.

An enquiry into the accident stated: “there was no technical failure BL691 stalled and spun in while searching for EN822.” The Group Captain RAF Station, Biggin Hill said: “it would seem that the aircraft may have hit each other in mid-air.” Witnesses state that EN822 came out of clouds and was on fire before impact with the ground. Group Captain Malan of Biggin Hill remarked: “the investigating officer believes that EN822 was on fire before impact.”

The pilots were:

Sergeant John Richard Gilbert (412611) (Pilot) (EN822)
Sergeant Alton Ronald Mackay (409163) (Pilot) (BL691)


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, 166/15/9
Register of War Memorials in New South Wales On-Line

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