LEST WE FORGET

Flying Officer John Leonard RACKHAM

Service No: 422351
Born: Gillingham, England, 28 December 1909
Enlisted in the RAAF: 26 April 1942
Unit: No. 179 Squadron (RAF), RAF Station St Eval
Died: Aircraft Accident (No. 179 Squadron Warwick aircraft PM750), Cornwall, 31 December 1944, Aged 35 Years
Buried: Bath (Haycombe) Cemetery, Somerset
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Leonard Albert and Jeannie Rackham; husband of Amy Maude Rackham, of Katoomba, New South Wales, Australia
Roll of Honour: Katoomba NSW
Remembered: Panel 129, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: NSW Department of Education Teachers and Trainees WWII Honour Roll, Sydney NSW

At 0924 hours on 31 December 1944 Warwick PN750 took off from St Eval detailed to carry out a non-operational daytime air test. After take-off the aircraft climbed straight ahead to about 2,000 feet in a north westerly direction, turned onto a reciprocal course, flew back across the aerodrome at the same height, then suddenly went into a steep dice and crashed at 0945 hours about five miles from the aerodrome on Trewallis Farm, St Colomb Major, Cornwall. All the crew members were killed.

The crew members of PN750 were:

Flight Sergeant Thomas John Davies (1416099) (RAFVR) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Peter Patrick Funnell (1334825) (RAFVR) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Charles Kingsley Johns (1585640) (RAFVR) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Pilot Officer Bennett Graham Kinsman (J/93051) (RCAF) (Second Pilot)
Flight Lieutenant Percy George Sargent (124474) (RAFVR) (Pilot)
Flying Officer John Leonard Rackham (422351) (Navigator Bomb Aimer)
Leading Aircraftman Christopher Hubert Rumble (1833784) (RAFVR) (Fitter II Airframe)

A later Court of Inquiry considered that “the aircraft was flying between 1,500 and 2,000 feet and the Pilot was air testing controls when suddenly a high speed stall occurred causing the aircraft to flick into a steep dive A stall of this nature would require at least 1,000 feet to effect recovery.”

References:

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, 166/35/436
Register of War Memorials in New South Wales On-Line