Flying Officer Mervyn Durham GILLMAN DFC

Service No: 404333
Born: York WA, 19 December 1918
Enlisted in the RAAF: 16 August 1940 (at Brisbane QLD)
Unit: No. 12 Squadron (RAF)
Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), 19 October 1943
Died: Aircraft Accident (No. 12 Squadron Oxford aircraft MP462), near Church Lawford, 16 January 1944, Aged 25 Years
Buried: Oxford (Botley) Cemetery, Oxfordshire
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Charles Denne Gillman and Emilie Opal Gillman; husband of Isabel Jean Taubman Gillman, of Roseville, New South Wales, Australia
Roll of Honour: Brisbane QLD
Remembered: Panel 122, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

DFC Citation: “Pilot Officer Gillman is an exceptionally able captain of aircraft who has consistently completed successful sorties during his operational tour. On a recent raid on Hamburg he displayed outstanding determination to reach and bomb the target. He was compelled to fly through very adverse weather on the outward journey and after reaching the objective he searched for twenty minutes before establishing the target and releasing his bombs. This officer’s skilful handling and splendid records of achievement have been an example to all the Squadron.” (London Gazette 19 October 1943 Page 4619)

On 16 January 1944, Oxford MP462 took off from RAF Ludford Magna on a solo non-operational day flight to Sleighford. The weather conditions deteriorated very rapidly, and Flying Officer Gillman, flying solo, became lost and called for Darky. Church Lawford answered and although visibility was only 100 yards gave him permission to land, firing rockets, and turning on all necessary lighting for his assistance. Honiley contacted him on the radio and gave him permission to land, firing rockets and turning on all lights. The Pilot saw the rockets but lost the aerodrome again, and made off in the direction of Church Lawford once again. At 1800 hours the aircraft crashed into a tree, two miles west of Church Lawford. The aircraft was a total wreck but did not burn. The Pilot was thrown clear. A Court of Inquiry into the accident found that: “The accident was caused by the Pilot attempting ground in the thick fog. It was considered that the Pilot should not have taken off for the flight owing to the adverse weather conditions which rapidly deteriorated. Under the circumstances the accident could only be attributed to his lack of foresight. The flight was authorised to start at 1600 hours, but the Pilot did not take off until 1630 hours. It was considered that both Ludford Magna and Honiley did all in their power to assist.”


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, 166/15/179


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