The Airmen's Stories - P/O G F C Pledger
Geoffrey Frank Colman Pledger, of Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, was born in Manor Park, London on 19th December 1905, the son of Charles James Norman and Mabel Estelle Pledger.
He joined the RAF in May 1940 with a Direct-Entry commission as an Air Gunner.
He had been awarded Aero Certificate 19502 at Southend Flying Club on 12th August 1939 but by the standards of the time was probably considered too old for pilot training.
With training completed he joined 141 Squadron at
Turnhouse in June 1940.
He teamed up with Flying Officer DC Williams.
On 24th March 1941 Williams and Pledger took off From Gravesend to perform an air test in Defiant N1795 after it had received a 30 hour service. The engine failed just after they lifted off. The Defiant rapidly lost height, skidded across a field, and crashed into an embankment on Watling Street, not far off the end of the runway.
The wings were tom off, as was the propeller assembly, and the fuselage ended up on its port side, with the tail section twisted upside down. Luckily it did not catch fire and they managed to escape with minor injuries (below).
They were killed together on an operational flight on 4th April 1941.
Their Defiant T3913 had taken off at about 11pm with one other but both were recalled to Gravesend due to very bad weather and poor radio reception.
In descending through cloud the aircraft struck the ground near Little Hermitage, two miles from Gravesend.
Pledger was 35.
He is buried in Sutton Road Cemetery, Southend-on-Sea, Essex.
Pledger is shown above (left) with his pilot Dennis Williams
January 2021 - the grave has been recently restored.