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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. J S Gilders


John Stanley Gilders was born in Deal, Kent on 4th October 1919, the son of George Garnham Gilders (1886-1969) and Ivy Wallace Jordan (1890-1978).

Mr. Gilders senior, an accountant, went to Brazil to work for Unilever in the early twenties and Gilders' early years were spent there. On return to Britain, he finished his education at Bancrofts School, Woodford Green.

On 21st May 1938 Gilders joined the RAFVR and began flying at 18 E&RFTS Fairoaks, he soloed on 11th June.

Called up on 1st September 1939, he was posted to No. 1 ITW at Cambridge on 6th November. Gilders went to 3 ITS South Cerney on 1st February 1940 and with the course completed he joined 72 Squadron at Acklington on 15th June.

On 22nd August 1940 Gilders was flying Spitfire N3221 on a night flying exercise from Acklington. At 2200 he landed and went through a hedge. The fuselage and tail unit were badly strained and the engine was shock loaded, all three blades were damaged. Gilders suffered a cut hand and miscellaneous bruises.

The squadron moved south to Biggin Hill on the 31st. Gilders claimed a Do17 damaged on 2nd September, a Me110 destroyed on the 4th, he shared a Do215 on the 10th, claimed a Me109 destroyed on the 11th and a He111 forced down on the 15th.

He damaged Do17s on the 24th and 25th and claimed a Me109 and a Ju88 destroyed over Sevenoaks on the 27th.

72 Squadron moved to Leconfield on 19th October. Gilders went to 616 Squadron at Kirton-in-Lindsey on 8th November but on the 26th he joined 41 Squadron at Hornchurch.

Gilders was killed on 21st February 1941 when his Spitfire P7816 dived into soft ground near the Great Stour River at Chilham, Kent and buried itself.



Above: 72 Squadron:

Gilders J, Males E, Rolls W

White J, Glew N


Although Gilders is remembered on the Runnymede Memorial, Panel 43, it always seemed certain that he went in with his aircraft. In 1990 the crash site was located but in spite of requests by Gilders' family for the wreckage to be excavated and for him to be given a proper burial, the owner of the land would not permit access, even for family members to place flowers.

In April 1994 the site was investigated with a new owners permission and Gilders' body was found. The recovery operation (by Mark Kirby) was done with the co-operation of the Gilders family. On 12th May 1995 Gilders was buried in Brookwood Military Cemetery, with full military honours.



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