Born: 13th January 1915, Carlton Colville, Suffolk.

Died: 16th March 1940; age: 24; aircraft crashed at Overton, Hampshire.

Residence: 14, Little’s Crescent, Ipswich.

Based: Fuka, Egypt.


Rank: Sergeant/Observer; Service Number: 564649.

Regiment: Royal Air Force, 45 Squadron.


Buried with full military honours.

Grave Reference:

X.H. 429.

Ipswich Old Cemetery,



Relatives Notified & Address: Son of Cornelius & Emma Gillings; husband of Vera May Gillings, of Ipswich.


Father: Cornelius Gillings, born 1891, Blundeston, Suffolk – died – KiA 13th October 1915, a Private, Service Number 18528, of the 7th Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment. Cornelius is commemorated on the Loos Memorial, France.

Mother: Emma Melinda Gillings (nee Atkins), born April 1891.


John was educated at Carlton Colville Village School, near Lowestoft, and a scholarship took him to an Air Force training school. At fifteen he was already in the Air Force.


On the 24th February 1940, at Ipswich Register Office, John married by special licence Vera May Rose, a glove machinist, born February 1918, Ipswich – daughter of Thomas William Rose and Edith Rose (nee Read), of 14, Little’s Crescent, Ipswich.

John was killed just three weeks after the wedding – Vera never re-married.


Probate to Vera May Gillings – widow.


16th March 1940


Aircraft: Bristol Blenheim IV, serial number L9385. The aircraft was on a delivery flight from No. 20 Maintenance Unit, Aston Down, Gloucestershire to No. 203 Squadron. L9385 went out of control while flying in cloud and crashed at Overton killing the 4 crew members.


Edward Vincent Morgan; Leading Aircraftman/W/T.O.; age 21; R.A.F.

Eric William Pizzey; Leading Aircraftman/Fitter; age 23; R.A.F.

William John Swire-Griffiths; Flying Officer/Pilot; age 26; R.A.F.


Aircraft information courtesy of John Allan.

The Evening star 1940.

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