Having got all excited by a search term on the blog statistics page yesterday for ‘Adrian Warburton’ the probable reality of that search has dawned on me and I am, to be honest, gutted.
My initial reaction to seeing it was to think this was going to be a repeat of my experience of making contact with Paul, the nephew of Tom Darbyshire – this time I was going to be able to finally put a christian name to Sgt. Warburton.
In hindsight, I rather naively spent most of yesterday checking my email for a contact from this searcher, but of course, by the evening, the absence of an email and a search on the internet made me realise that the ‘Adrian Warburton’ the searcher was probably looking for was in fact ;
Wing Commander Adrian “Warby” Warburton DSO & Bar, DFC & Two Bars (10 March 1918 – 12 April 1944) was a Royal Air Force (RAF) pilot during World War II. He became legendary in the RAF for his role in the defence of Malta. His gallantry was recognised by the award of the Distinguished Service Order and Bar, the Distinguished Flying Cross and two Bars and an American Distinguished Flying Cross.
By the beginning of 1944, he had been promoted to the rank of Wing Commander and his gallantry recognised by the award of the Distinguished Service Order and Bar, the Distinguished Flying Cross and two Bars, and an American Distinguished Flying Cross. By this time he had flown nearly 400 operations and claimed 9 enemy aircraft destroyed.
On 1 April 1944, he was posted as the RAF Liaison Officer to the 7th Photographic Reconnaissance Group, US 8th Army Air Force, then based at RAF Mount Farm in Oxfordshire.
Warburton was the pilot of one of two Lockheed F-5B photo-reconnaissance aircraft (a version of the Lockheed P-38 Lightning fighter) that took off together from Mount Farm on the morning of 12 April 1944 to photograph targets in Germany. The aircraft separated approximately 100 miles north of Munich to carry out their respective tasks; it was planned that they would meet and fly on to a USAAF airfield in Sardinia. He failed to arrive at the rendezvous point and was not seen again.
Years of speculation about his fate came to an end in 2002, when his remains were found in the cockpit of his plane, buried about 2 m (6 ft 7 in) deep in a field near the Bavarian village of Egling an der Paar, 34 miles west of Munich. According to witnesses, the aircraft fell there on 12 April 1944, around 11:45. One of the propellers had bullet holes in it, which suggests that Warburton had been shot down. Parts of the wreck can be seen today in the Malta Aviation Museum.
Only a few pieces of bone and the odd part of flying clothing were actually found. As Warburton was flying a USAAF plane with USAAF markings he was thought to be an American. Most of Warburton’s body was removed from the P-38 and buried in a grave in the town of Kaufering’s cemetery. The grave was marked “unknown American Airman” and was right next to a Halifax crew that were shot down and died on the night of 6–7 September 1943. When the area came under Allied control (particularly American), the graves were moved.
A memorial service was held on 14 May 2003, in the St Aegidius Parish church, Gmund am Tegernsee, followed by burial at the Dürnbach Commonwealth War Cemetery.The ceremony was attended by his widow, Eileen (known as Betty) and by Jack Vowles, a former colleague who had served with him in Malta in the early 1940s.
Source Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adrian_Warburton
What annoys me more is that when I originally began looking for information on the boys Dad flew with, I came across ‘Warby’.
Yesterday, I really did think that I had finally, at least, found out all the names of the boys from Bob’s first tour in 1943……….It seems I was premature……….