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The Airmen's Stories - F/O D A Willans


Derek Alan Willans was born on 5th August 1920 in Rugby, the son of Gilbert Rolland Sylvester Willans (1889-1931) and Ida Abigail Willans (nee Izod 1878-1931).

His grandfather Peter William Willans (1851-1892) was an outstanding engineer and founder of the Willans and Robinson company in Rugby.

DA Willans was educated at St. Pauls School and awarded Aero Certificate 15250 at Norfolk & Norwich Aero Club on 23rd August 1937, his occupation recorded as 'Student'.



Willans joined the RAF on a short service commission in June 1938. He was posted to 12 Group Pool, Aston Down for further training on 28th January 1940 and after converting to Blenheims joined 23 Squadron at Wittering on 6th April.

He served with this squadron throughout the Battle.



He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 18th February 1941), the citation stating that one night in January 1941 he displayed great courage in attacking an enemy aircraft over the aerodrome at Poix, continuing his attack down to 500 feet, although aware of the heavy anti-aircraft defences.

Willans was killed on 28th May 1941, as a Flying Officer with 23 Squadron. He was flying Havoc BB893 when it spun in during a low-level practice dogfight near RAF Manston.

Sgt. GB Johnson and Sgt. L Jones were also killed.

He is buried in St Mary's churchyard, Clymping, Sussex.






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