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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. J C Cheetham


John Cowper Cheetham of Belper, Derbyshire was born in 1909 and attended Herbert Strutt School there. He joined the RAF as a direct-entry pilot on 26th August 1935.

He is recorded as marrying Margaret MS Dann in late 1939.



He was serving with 23 Squadron at Wittering on 1st January 1940 but there is no record of him making any flights until 5th April, when he was pilot on an anti-aircraft co-operation flight. Cheetham’s next recorded flight was an operational sortie on 24th July 1940, on which he acted as Air Gunner, with 23’s CO, S/Ldr. LC Bicknell flying the Blenheim.

After this sortie there is no further mention of Cheetham in the squadron ORB.

He was next with 9 Ferry Pilot Pool in late 1940 and on 29th December made a forced-landing at Squires Gate in poor visibility, in Spitfire L1045.

Cheetham was commissioned in July 1941 but his subsequent postings are currently unknown until 15th July 1944. On this date Cheetham was killed when serving with 46 MU at Lossiemouth. While on a flight test Beaufighter X7875 crashed into the sea.

There was no other crew, his body was not recovered and he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, panel 201.




Above image courtesy of Dean Sumner


Above: he is commemorated at Herbert Strutt School.



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