LEST WE FORGET

Flight Sergeant Francis Leslie HICKS

Service No: 408207
Born: Latrobe TAS, 12 August 1912
Enlisted in the RAAF: 25 April 1941
Unit: No. 263 Squadron (RAF)
Died: Aircraft Accident (No. 263 Squadron Whirlwind aircraft P7062), Wiltshire, 19 February 1943, Aged 30 Years
Buried: Wroughton (St John the Baptist and Helen) Churchyard, Wiltshire
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Mr. and Mrs. L. Hicks, of Latrobe, Tasmania; husband of Mavis Ellie Hicks, of Moonah, Tasmania, Australia
Roll of Honour: Latrobe TAS
Remembered: Panel 123, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

On 19 February 1943, Whirlwind P7062 crashed near the aerodrome at Wroughton on a daytime non-operational exercise and Flight Sergeant Hicks was killed.

A Report into the Flying Accident stated: “Hicks was on “Mock” readiness at Wormwell as No 2 to Flying Officer King. Two sections were standing by as part of Army cooperation exercise “Longford”. Both sections were ordered to scramble to Wroughton and attack Army transports on the Wroughton-Swinden road. At approximately 1550 hours Yellow Section (King and Hicks) followed Red Section to attack their targets. Three attacks were made, the aircraft pulling up on each occasion to about 500 feet – Flying Officer King saw Hicks follow him round on only one occasion as Hicks was flying line astern. Red 1 states that he saw Hicks about 500 feet behind King then after taking his eyes off him momentarily, he saw Hicks aircraft half rolling half spinning and crash into a field a few miles north of Wroughton airfield. Other witnesses state that the wing of Hicks aircraft hit a tree causing the pilot to lose control and crash.” A Squadron Leader of No. 263 Squadron stated “In my opinion the accident was due to an error of judgement by the Pilot. He was a capable Pilot, and competent to undertake the exercise on which he was engaged.” The Wing Commander Commanding Officer stated: “The accident was apparently due to an error of judgement, possibly due to the prevalent lack of appreciation of the sink experience when pulling out of high speed dives unless the “pull out” is very gentle indeed.”

References:

Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veterans’ Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 1166/17/52

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