LEST WE FORGET

Flying Officer Gordon Francis WOOD DFC

Service No: 402980
Born: Roseville NSW, 29 September 1913
Enlisted in the RAAF: 11 November 1940
Unit: No. 53 Squadron (RAF) (attached to Central Gunnery School (RAF))
Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), 23 July 1943 (Citation Title: No. 53 Squadron RAF)
Died: Aircraft Accident (Central Gunnery School Wellington aircraft P9228), Suffolk, 13 August 1943, Aged 29 Years
Buried: Beck Row (St John) Churchyard, Suffolk
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Samuel Robert and Ethel Wood, of Roseville, New South Wales, Australia
Roll of Honour: Roseville NSW
Remembered: Panel 132, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Ku-ring-gai World War 2 Book of Remembrance, Sydney NSW

At 0827 hours on 13 August 1943 Wellington P9228 crashed one mile north west of Lakenheath, Suffolk after colliding with Spitfire P7530. P9228 took off at 1005 hours with an instructor and 4 experienced air gunners on board Including Flying Officer Wood who was on a Gunnery Leaders’ course. Another Wellington and Spitfire P7530 took off about the same time. All three aircraft were detailed to carry out quarter attacks. During the exercise while the leading Wellington was being attacked by the Spitfire, P9228 started changing position from port to starboard. At the time P9228 was slightly to the rear and to starboard, and the Spitfire, when breaking away downwards and to also to starboard, collided with P9228. The starboard wing of the Spitfire caught the starboard wing of P9228 and the Spitfire burst into flames and the Wellington dived to earth. Both aircraft crashed about one quarter of a mile from each other. An accident report later stated “the primary cause of the accident was that the Spitfire pilot misjudged his forward momentum on the break away. A contributory cause was the Wellington changed over its position whilst the Spitfire was committed to the attack thus confusing the Spitfire pilot. The aircraft collided before the recovery could be made.” The crews of both aircraft were killed.

The crew members of P9228 were:

Pilot Officer Robert Peter Townend Akeroyd (1006350) (RAFVR) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Pilot Officer Bruce Colin Dreaver DFC (40916) (RNZAF) (Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Harry Nuttridge (643689) (RAF) (Air Gunner)
Flight Lieutenant Edward Martyn Shannon (86419) (RAFVR) (Pilot)
Pilot Officer McDonald Smith (50974) (RAF) (Instructor)
Flying Officer Gordon Francis Wood DFC (402980) (Air Gunner)

The Spitfire P7530 pilot was Flight Lieutenant Harry Curd Bennett (J/1390) (RCAF).

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, 166/44/47
Register of War Memorials in New South Wales On-Line