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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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Staff Pilot Training Unit Anson I N4953 Sgt. Pittendrigh

Operation: Training Flight

Date: 21st April 1943 (Wednesday)

Unit: Staff Pilot Training Unit. 29 Group

Type: Anson I

Serial: N4953

Code: -

Base: RAF Cark, Lancashire

Location: Warton, Lancashire

Pilot: Sgt. Noel Leonard Pittendrigh NZ/42502 Age 21. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off at abut 16:15 hrs for a practice flight.

45 minutes later the aircraft began to suffer a port wing failure over the village of Warton. As the wreckage began to fall on the main street the New Zealand pilot was thrown out of the aircraft at about 300 ft. with no parachute the pilot was killed instantly.

He was buried on the 24th of April in a private grave rather than that of a CWGC headstone with the whole village turning out. The grave headstone was possibly by a girlfriend from the village of Flookburgh, a short distance from the RAF base at Cark.

After this incident, the RAF inspected the other Anson's, a further 4 were discovered to have a similar defect.

On the 30th of July 2018, the Westmorland Gazette reported that a local man 82 year old Frank Lomas had discovered the grave of the pilot in a collapsed state. No contact with relatives could be found so they contacted the CWGC for assistance to finance a new headstone. Although they maintain all service graves that used the CWGC services they are not liable or indeed permitted to erect a new headstone.

The CWGC commented:

'In this instance, if the private memorial is broken and beyond repair and therefore ceasing to commemorate the war casualty properly we would look to identify the grave owner to see if we can offer them one of our grave markers. We have to go through that process to ensure we are abiding by the legal ownership of the grave and the memorial'.

None could be found and so the village collected the funds to erect a new headstone. There was no shortage of funds and soon the costs were easily covered with the excess donated to local charities.

Burial and personal details:

Sgt. Noel Leonard Pittendrigh. Flookburgh Churchyard (St. John The Baptist). Grave 87. Born on the 19th June 1921 in Auckland. Educated at Auckland Grammar School. A machinist for J. Grant and Company in Auckland. Served 3 months in the territorial army. Enlisted at Levin on the 11th of January as a pilot under training. With No. 2 Elementary Flying Training School on the 07th March 1942. Embarked for Canada on the 10th of May 1942. With No. 3 Service Flying Training School 20th June 1942. Pilot badge awarded on the 09th October 1942 and promoted to sergeant. Embarked for England on the 28th of October 1942. With Pilot Advanced Flying Unit on the 28th December 1942. With Staff Pilot Training Unit on the 05th April 1942. A total of 333 flying hours logged.

Son of Harold Oliver (died in 1968, age 85) and Florence Edith Pittendrigh (née Cramp - died 09th May 1974, age 86), of Auckland City, New Zealand

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, Weekly News of New Zealand, Air Museum of New Zealand, Museum of Transport and Technology, Auckland, the Westmorland Gazette, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 12-06-2022

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Acknowledgements
Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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