Rank & Name: Cpt. James Anderson Craig DFC

Date of Death: 1941


"My father-in-law, Captain James Anderson Craig DFC, transferred from an infantry regiment during World War I to the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) in late 1916 and joined No. 59 Squadron in France in March 1917. He failed to leave any record of his service with the RFC and, after joining the RAF at the beginning of World War II; he was killed in September 1941 when he crashed his Hawker 'Hector' whilst returning to his Service Ferry Flight unit in Dumfries. Unfortunately his flying logbook went missing after the war..

...On promotion to Captain, James Craig was transferred to No. 15 Squadron as its `B' Flight Commander. He always carried with him, whilst flying, a `golliwog' mascot, except on his last flight in 1941 when he crashed and was killed on a mountain in the Lake District after accruing a total of 1,655 hours, most of it with the RFC during World War I."

Vic Campden MBE. source

Lt. Richard Sheraton was his observer on 59 Sqn.



Hector K8096 on Red Pike, Wasdale.Only 179 Hawker Hectors were ever built. After the prototype the first batch of 78 (K8090-K8167) were built by Westland and the second batch of 100 (K9687-K9786) were later also built by Westland.

On 8th September 1941 the pilot of this aircraft was instructed to ferry the Hector from Binbrook airfield to Dumphries airfield where it is believed that it would then be converted to a glider tug by 18 M.U. then assigned to No.10 Bombing and Gunnery School for their training activities. After taking off from Binbrook the pilot should have flown up the eastern side of England and landed at Catterick to re-fuel before crossing the Pennines and continuing to Dumphries with a common route following the railway / A66 road over Stainmore. The Hector carried enough fuel for around 2.5 hours flying which, in theory, would have allowed just enough time to fly direct from Binbrook to Dumphries but a stop at Catterick would have allowed enough fuel for time in the air should any problems with navigation come about during the flight. After taking off little is known about the flight and much of the text below is somewhat speculation but feasable.

For what ever reason the very experienced pilot opted to try and fly direct to Dumphries missing out the Catterick stop, it could be that the weather appeared good as the aircraft headed north-west and the pilot opted to try and fly direct with good weather seen over the Pennines. The aircraft then somehow ended up towards the western side of the Lake District with visibilty reduced by low cloud at the time. It is possible that the pilot had flown over the Pennines much further south and was trying to make his way up the west coast of England to cross the Solway Firth and land at Dumphries. The aircraft struck Red Pike around two thirds of the way up the mountain and was destroyed with the pilot being killed instantly. The crash investigation concluded that the aircraft must have been running low on fuel at the time of the crash and that the pilot was probably attempting to find somewhere to land the aircraft, the aircraft struck the ground after he descended below the height of the surrounding mountains. It would appear that almost nothing of the aircraft was recovered following the crash other than the pilot's body, which was taken down to Wasdale and later away for burial. The crash site still shows the signs of the post-crash fire and of the force the aircraft struck the mountain in the badly damaged Napier Dagger engine.

Pilot - F/O James A "Jimmy" Craig DFC RAFO (70146), aged 50, of Glengarnock, North Ayrshire. Buried Beith New Burial Ground, Ayrshire.

James Craig was a very experienced military pilot having flown in both World Wars. When he transferred to the RFC in 1916 he had already seen service with the Royal Fusiliers. After pilot training he saw serve in France in 1917 and flew with 59 Squadron. He is believed to have been recommended for the Military Cross on afew occasions for his RFC flying though none of these recommendations came through. He was wounded prior to 5th July 1917 when notification was printed in Flight Magazine and was awarded the DFC holding the rank of Lieutenant but serving as Acting Captain, for service in France, the citation for his DFC reads..

"On August 24th (1917) this officer performed gallant service on a special reconnaissance. Having located our line and the enemy positions, despite very heavy hostile fire and under adverse weather conditions, he proceeded over the enemy lines at a very low attitude to try and find some of our troops that were believed to be cut off. His machine being hit in many places, he returned, made his report and proceeded again on a further contact patrol."

He was later posted to 15 Squadron as B-Flight Commander and survived the First World War. He was granted a commission in the Reserve of Air Force Officers on 15th May 1923 to the rank of F/O and took up a role in the General Duties Branch. As F/O he transferred from the General Duties Branch of the RAF to the Administration and Special Duties Branch on 29th August 1939 and later back to the General Duties Branch on 28th October 1940. At the time of his death he had logged over 1600 hours flying time. source



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