Pilot Officer James Frederick MINETT (62330)
No 2 School of Air Navigation Royal Air Force

Date of birth: 20th January 1915
Date of death: 21st March 1941

Killed on active service aged 26
Buried at St Stephen's Church, Hackington, Canterbury
He was born in London on the 20th of January 1915 the younger son of Frederick Harold Minett, civil servant, and Leonora May (nee Pearce) of "Whiteposts", Meopham, Kent.

He was educated at the Junior King's School from May 1925 and at the King’s School Canterbury from January 1929 to July 1931 where he gained a Junior Scholarship in 1929 and a Senior Scholarship in June 1930. After school he went temporarily to a Polytechnic before going on to the London School of Economics.

He was married in late 1938 to Winifred Mary (nee Wilkinson); they lived at 23 Sinclair Road, Hammersmith. Prior to the outbreak of war, he was editor of the trade paper "Store".

He enlisted in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and rose to the rank of Sergeant before being commissioned as a probationary Pilot Officer on the 9th of March 1941.

On 21st of March 1941 James Minett and his crew took off from RAF Cranage in Shropshire in Avro Anson Mk X K6248 for a navigation training flight. While undertaking a practice landing at a Hawkswood Farm, at Rednal near Oswestry the aircraft’s tail struck an oak tree some 100 yards from a thick wood and crashed a further 100 yards into the wood, killing all on board.

The crew was: -

Flying Officer Eric Walwyn Padfield (Pilot)
Pilot Officer James Frederick Minett (Pilot)
Sergeant Frederick Ralph Percival Burgess (Pilot)
Sergeant Wilfred Hewish (Wireless Operator)
Sergeant Peter Rowland Hill (Under training)

His wife received the following telegram dated the 22nd of March 1941: - "Deeply regret to inform you that your husband Pilot Officer James Frederick Minett is reported to have lost his life as the result of an aircraft accident on 21st March 1941. Letter follows. The Air Council express their profound sympathy."

A Court of Inquiry into the accident concluded, in a report dated the 10th of June 1941, that: - "The accident is suitably summed up in the following finding of the court: - The pilot failed to see and/or negotiate the oak tree whilst carrying out a dummy run for a precautionary landing practice. This practice was not authorised and he must be allotted full responsibility for the accident".

The Air Officer Commanding added: - "The evidence, although conflicting, tends to support the fact that the undercarriage was lowered, therefore considers that the pilot was, for some obscure reason, attempting to land".

His funeral took place on the 28th of March 1941.

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