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WILLIAM GORDON DALE Sgt.     RAF.VR  d. 15 October 1942  aged 20   1124729    


WILLIAM GORDON DALE was the only son of Charles Richard Dale (33), an Accounts Clerk, who married Lucy Sykes (28) at St.Paul's, Walkden, on 15 November 1919. William Gordon was born on 4 June 1922 and was baptised at the same church on 9 July 1922. The family was living at that time at 41 Memorial Road, Walkden.

William Gordon Dale was the Wireless Operator/Air Gunner on an Avro Anson Mk 1 (serial number L7968) which was returning to Cranage, mistaking a navigation beacon. Instead of flying towards the airfield, the aircraft flew away from it towards high ground around Buxton. Before they were able to correct this error, the aircraft struck  the hillside and crashed at Moss House Farm, Moss Ridge, Long Hill, NW of Buxton, Derbyshire. Sadly, if the aircraft had been a little higher it would have cleared the hill. The aircraft was officially written off as damaged beyond repair. There was a crew of four on board. They were:

Pilot: Sgt 1312846 Paul Joseph Woodcock, 20
Pilot-UT: Sgt R/121913 James Munro Matheson, 22 RCAF
Pilot-UT: Sgt R/113428 Richard James Reay 20, RCAF
WOp/AG: Sgt 1124729 William Gordon Dale, 20


The two Canadians on the aircraft were qualified pilots, but were onboard as navigators under-training. RAF Cranage was situated just to the north of Middlewich, Cheshire, and was opened in August 1939. The first flying unit was No. 2 School of Air Navigation RAF, which was formed on 21 October 1940. It operated the Avro Anson for training navigators. The aim of the navigation school (renamed the Central Navigation School in 1942) was to raise the standard of practical air navigation and to train navigation specialists. By the end of the war, accuracy had improved five-fold. The airfield remained operational only for the duration of the war.

Researched and written by Paul R Speakman

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