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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. R T Thomas


Robert Tudor Thomas was born in Chester in January 1919, the son of Robert Arthur Thomas and Eira Pownall Thomas (nee Hughes). He attended Towyn Grammar School, on the north Wales coast near Rhyl.

He joined the RAFVR in June 1939 as an Airman u/t Pilot.

Called up on 1st September 1939, Thomas completed his elementary training at 10 EFTS Yatesbury and moved on to 3 FTS South Cerney on No. 34 Course, which ran from 28th April to 3rd August 1940.

Thomas arrived at 5 OTU Aston Down on 3rd August, converted to Gladiators and then joined 247 Squadron at Roborough on the 14th.

He wrote off Gladiator N5701 on 27th August after flying through trees at Werrington, Devon on a landing approach after a night patrol over Plymouth. He was unhurt.

Thomas took off on a night patrol on 21st November in Gladiator II N5644. It did not return and was thought to have crashed into the sea. Members of the Home Guard were asked to keep a look out. On the 22nd the wreckage of the Gladiator was found with the body of the pilot. It ws presumed that the pilot had made an error of navigation and flown into a hillside at some 2,000 feet on High Willhays (2,038 ft.), Okehampton, Devon, the Gladiator breaking up over a distance of 200 yards.

Thomas was 22 and is buried in St Stephens churchyard, Bodfari, Flintshire.


One of the search aircraft was Avro Anson I R9701 MW-L of 217 Squadron from St. Eval. The Anson suffered failure of the starboard engine, lost height and ditched 5 miles NE of Trevose Head. The crew of F/O Holgate, Sgt. Hickson, Sgt. Taylor and Sgt. Cowley were rescued by the trawlers of the River Camel Patrol.


Above image courtesy of Richard Andrew Roberts.


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