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Wing Commander John Woodburn GILLAN (26010) of the Royal Air Force


Circumstances of Death: Lost in aircraft Spitfire Vb W3715

Death of Death 1941-08-29 Age : 34 years.

Served in N Weald Wing

Burial/Commemoration Details : Plot 2 Row 2 Grave 41. at Dunkirk Town Cemetery, France (Map)


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Career Details

Events and Dates
Fg Offr on 1929-01-30Flt Lt on 1932-06-01Sqn Ldr on 1937-06-01Wg Cdr on 1940-06-01

Awards for John Woodburn Gillan 26010

DateAwardRankName (Number)UnitRibbon
1940-07-30DFCWg CdrJohn Woodburn GILLAN (26010)615 Sqdn
Notification only London Gazette No. 34910, Dated 1940-07-30
1941-09-09DFCBarIWg CdrJohn Woodburn GILLAN (26010)49 Sqdn
Wing Commander John Woodburn GILLAN, D.F.C., A.F.C. (26010) (missing). This officer has led the wing on nineteen occasions since July, 1941, and his fine leadership and cool courage have been an inspiration to his fellow pilots throughput all operations. On three recent escort missions Wing Commander Gillan has displayed especial skill and determination. He has destroyed one and damaged another enemy aircraft. London Gazette No. 35270, Dated 1941-09-09

London Gazette Entries

This is a "Fuzzy Search" and is not guaranteed to fetch the exact entries.

NumberName /Text London Gazette Details
26010Wing Commander John Woodburn GILLAN A F CLondon Gazette issue : 34910 , Dated 1940-07-30 , Download #34910
26010John Woodburn GILLAN A F CLondon Gazette issue : 34866 , Dated 1940-06-07 , Download #34866
26010John Woodburn GILLAN A F CLondon Gazette issue : 34870 , Dated 1940-06-11 , Download #34870

National Archives AIR81 - Fuzzy Search

Citation AIR81 Casualty File Description Link
AIR81/8676Wing Commander J W Gillan: killed; shot down, aerial combat over northern France, Spitfire W3715, North Weald Wing Leader, 29 August 1941.C16924518


DateAircraftUnitPilot NameLocationSource
29 Aug 41 Spitfire Vb W3715 111 Sqdn Wg Cdr John Woodburn GILLAN + (26010) France/Sea?Henk Welting's Database

Aircraft Accident / Loss Entry

Date: 29 Aug 41 Aircraft: Spitfire Vb W3715 Unit 111 Sqdn Airfield /Crash Location , France/Sea?
SourceHenk Welting's Database
Aircrew details Wg Cdr John Woodburn GILLAN +(26010)
Recorded in CWGC
Rank Name, Number, Trade & Details DateUnit Country Cemetery/Memorial & Loc Ref
Wing CommanderJohn Woodburn GILLAN (26010) Pilot Spitfire Vb W3715  AIR81/8676 1941-08-29N Weald Wing FranceDunkirk Town Cemetery

Related Posts in RAF Commands Forum - Fuzzy Search

ThreadPost TextAuthor
RAF North Weald Wing CommandersHello Pavel, Appendix E Wing Leaders 1941 North Weald: 90082 W/C Ronald Gustave KELLETT DSO, DFC. RAF - March 1941 26010 W/C John Woodburn GILLAN DFC*, AFC. RAF - July 1941 16089 W/C Francis Victor BEAMISH DSO, DFC, AFC. RAF - August 1941 See: Royal Air Force Fighter Command Losses of the Second World War Volume 1 Operational Losses:Aircraft and Crews 1939-1941. Franks,Norman L R Hersham:Midland Publishing,2008(2nd rev.& updated ed.) p.160 Col. ....Read More.COL BRUGGY on 5th October 2009 06:19:27
W3715 29/08/1941 Wing Commander GillanHello, I have found no evidence so far in French archives about the location of W/C Gillan's crash, but there are many pilots buried in Dunkirk cemetery whose bodies were washed ashore. The R.A.F. fighters found against both JG2 and JG26 and we don't have many precise locations. Oblt Seegatz (4./JG 26) claimed a Spitfire at/near Nieuport, that Caldwell has attributed to No.72 Squadron. According to FCL volume 1 Sgt P.T. Grisdale was the only casualty of the Squadron that day, and is buried in Zandwoorde British Cemetery, 10 km SE of Ypres (Ieper) in Belgium. I found this location is quite far from Nieuport, unless it's an homonymous village / hamlet. Oblt Müncherberg's claims is given as "10 km NE of Dunkirk" and Oblt Meyer's is "unknown" According to Mombeeck and Roba's book on JG 2 in 1941, the Richtofen pilots claimed 5 (plus a sixth which was not confirmed). The authors state that indeed 5 Spitfires were shot down (No. 72, 306, 308, 315 and 485 Sqn), plus W.C Denys GILLAM (sic) who was leading the North Weald Wing. Obviously you have to substitue "Kill'em GILLAM" by John Woodburn GILLAN. The only location given is that of Uffz Friedriech RIETZLER, 5 to 7 km north of Dunkirk. What is very interesting is the text of his combat report : On 29th August 1941, at about 08:27, I attacked a Spitfire at 7000 meters, in the area Dunkirk-Ypres. After my first shoots, he skidded on his left wing. I followed him and kept on firing at short range. The air battle ended at 5 meters high. Then the Spitfire hit the sea at about 5 or 7 km off Dunkirk." I have "near Bray-Dunes" for the crash site of S/L J.K.J. SLONSKI of No. 306 Squadron. There's a picture of the recovered wreckage of MICKIEWICZ's Spitfire P8713 coded PK-O, so it's unlikely that it was this Spitfire that came down in the North Sea. There was a previous thread in which the late Régis Decobeck added the location : I have no clue about BETTCHER of No. 308 Squadron, and Sgt GRIFFITH of No. 485 Squadron baled out and was rescued. Until new information emerge, I think that W/C GILLAN's Spitfire came down in the North Sea off Dunkirk. Joss ....Read More.jossleclercq on 7th December 2010 11:20:27
Mystery Bale-out January 30th 1929 or 1930 F/O J. W. Gillan Diss NorfolkAll Another mystery I have F/O John Woodburn Gillan (he off "Downwind" Gillan Hurricane flight of 111 Sqn to Scotland in 1938) having a bale out over Diss, Norfolk in 1929 or 1930 - Duplicate entry in my source. I can't find any reference to this and the year may be way out (already found one record in my source out by 2 years to the day) Can anyone ID a bale out for F/O John Woodburn Gillan around this time he was later W/C #26010 DFC and AFC killed in action 29/08/1941 in Spitfire W3715. His postings around this time were 111 Sqn Hornchurch in 1927, 601 (County of London Sqn) Auxiliary Air Force in 1929, Signals Course at the Electrical and Wireless School in 1931, flying boat and aeroplane course at Calshot in 1932 Many thanks ....Read More.paulmcmillan on 2nd May 2012 02:55:08
W/C Gillan No. 26010 CO 49 SqPavel According to John Ward’s “Beware of the Dog at War – An operational diary of 49 Squadron”, W/Cdr. JW Gillan DFC AFC was C/O between 1 April – 21 December 1940. According to Nick and Carol Carter’s “The Distinguished Flying Cross and how it was won”, The London Gazette recorded the AFC for WC John Woodburn Gillan 26010 as 30/7/1940 : 4675. His DFC citation is as follows : - Gillan, John Woodburn DFC AFC W/Cdr. (26010) RAF 615 Squadron London Gazette 9/9/41 : 5217 (missing) This officer has lead the wing on nineteen occasions since July 1941 and his fine leadership and cool courage have been an inspiration to his fellow pilots throughout all operations. On three recent escort missions, Wing Commander Gillan has displayed especial skill and determination. He has destroyed one and damaged another enemy aircraft. The CWGC site records his death as 29/8/1941 at the age of 34 and his decorations as DFC and bar, AFC. He is buried in Dunkirk Town Cemetery and was the son of Revd. David Gillan and Helen Gillan (nee Drummond) of Edinburgh. -- Douglas ....Read More.Theletterwriter on 24th May 2012 09:03:06
Demon K3796 Crash Hendon June 17th 1937 601 SqnAnyone have a pilot for this aircraft? Sqdn Ldr John Woodburn Gillan of 601 Sqn was arrested for alleged drink driving in Daventry Street, London around August/Sept 1937. anyway he had a 'Crash at Hendon 6 weeks before which injured him in his legs and would have render him suspectible to the effects of alcohol" I do not know the result of the trial but I know he had 'form' in this area which seems to have been missed. ....Read More.paulmcmillan on 5th November 2012 01:30:00
RAF Deaths and Incidents January 1929From this site (the "Errol Martyn" List) and others Provided so others may like to add detail or details Deaths 2 Jan 1929 P/O Raymond Russell Carroll Killed at Hinaidi, Iraq in a 55 Sqn DH 9A (ID unknown). P/O Colin Edward Victor L'Estrange Feasey Injured (Pilot), Caroll was a passenger. 20 Jan 1929 F/O Edward Gordon Cayley Killed in de Havilland DH.60 Moth G-EBPS which crashed at Duxford. Mr Philip Aubrey Wells seriously injured. Debate about who was Pilot and who was the Passenger. Wells was under instruction but Cayley (who was with 19 Sqn) was not authorised to provide it. 26 Jan 29 Flt/Lt John Joseph Walsh (RAFO) (Medical Branch) Died - Found dead in room in a hotel in Buchanan Street, Glasgow 30 Jan 29 F/O Geoffrey Hugh Conningsby Ingle Killed in a Fairey 3D of the Bomber of Armament and Gunnery School Eastchurch at Eastchurch Aerodrome. Also killed Leading Aircraftsman George Henry Johnstone #359819 and Leading Aircraftsman Frank Nelson Howick #357373. Howick, was initially seriously injured but died later in Hospital the same day. Other incidents I have in January 1929 did not involve deaths 3 Jan 1929 DH.9A J7009 of 1FTS force-landed in bad weather, overturned in soft ground, Hunger Hill, near Pulborough, Sussex. 12 Jan 1929 Pilot Officer Harold Thomas Lines, of Sealand, near Chester, crashed in field near Hinckley he was thrown clear 14 Jan 1929 Avro 504K J731 of 3FTS hit by J8709 while stationary, Spittlegate. 21 Jan 1929 Seaplane crash near Felixstowe, Suffolk. The pilot, "Flying Officer" Roy S, Darbyshire, was slightly cut over the eye and Flight Sergeant Crouch, the observer was unhurt. Darbyshire actually a P/O (Acting Sub.-Lt. R.N.R) at this type and maybe a 5 FTS Machine at Sealand 26 Jan 1929 F/O Paul Gardner Thomson baled out of an aircraft at Grantham, Lincs 29 Jan 1929 F/O John Woodburn Gillan baled out of a No 111 Sqn aircraft (maybe Siskin) at Diss Norfolk in Fog maybe occurred January 30, 1929 ....Read More.paulmcmillan on 15th March 2013 03:39:46
5 Group 1940J C Sisson = John Clayton Sisson J W Gillan = John Woodburn Gillan ....Read More.paulmcmillan on 14th February 2014 12:36:09
Siskin J8395 Serial Look Up from J File PleaseJagan I was hoping it would say 111 Sqn - But no matter I know what happened to it! My oldest bale out mystery was till today that involving F/O John Woodburn Gillan (he off down wind Gillan fame) while he was with 111 Sqn in 1929 The ORB has a single line 111 Sqn ORB Hornchurch: During the month of January (1929) the fog appeared to be permanent, consequently whenever a clear patch appeared pilots took off and endeavoured to practice as much as possible. On the 31st January one pilot was caught in the fog an was forced to abandon the aircraft by parachute in Norfolk. (Irvin has 'Diss') I knew from Irvin list the pilot was F/O John Woodburn Gillan but they had two different dates January 30, 1929 or January 30, 1930 (both I believed wrong) but I could not prove the right one nor find a likely Siskin.. Until today! Bury Free Press - Saturday 09 February 1929 Aeroplane Descends at Coney Weston Pilot Unhurt An aeroplane, J8395 attached to the "Royal Navy" (sic), crashed into some meadow ground known as the Fen, about 20 yards off the highway of Coney Weston (Suffolk), about 4.30 on Thursday afternoon (i.e 31st Jan 1929) Much consternation was experience by the local inhabitants when no pilot could be found and parties with lanterns turned out in the fog searching the woods and land roundabout. After several hours searching, news came along that the pilot was safe and sound. He had descended, though engine trouble in a parachute between Garboldisham and South Lopham. The aeroplane a Siskin-Jaguar built in 1925 (? difficult to read) started from Hornchurch Essex. Fortunately, with the exception of one tree no damage was one but the 'plane was a complete wreck QED Thanks Paul ....Read More.paulmcmillan on 8th March 2016 01:11:40
Court Martial ImpactsF/O John Woodburn Gillan (he off "Downwind" Gillan 111 Sqn Hurricane) was also involved in a fatal motor car accident in Singapore on 22 December 1934 while serving on HMS Eagle in which a Chinese Cyclist Ter Kim Hock was killed. He was initially charged with causing death my reckless act - but was discharged by coroner on 30rth Dec - apparently Gillian claimed cyclist was on wrong side of road and he had denied being drunk (though breath smelled of alcohol - he was able to walk steady. write name clearly) - the aircraft carrier was also leaving in a few days - I don't think he would have got off so lightly now without a more thorough investigation and had the victim been European ....Read More.paulmcmillan on 4th August 2021 08:25:14
Pre War 32 Sqn Hurricane Accidents - Bale Out Query!Martin Thanks…. 29 March 1939 L1666 F/O H. a'B. Russell Taxying accident at Biggin Hill F/O Humphrey a'Beckett Russell 37692 12 May 1939 L1667 P/O H.S. Olding Crashed on landing P/O Harold Stewart Olding Later killed Hawker Hurricane I L1567, 32 Squadron, RAF Biggin Hill, Bromley, Kent: Written off 11/8/39 when crashed into a field at night at The Grange, Tatsfield, Surrey. Pilot - Pilot Officer Harold Stewart Olding (aged 19) - was killed. 20 June 1939 L1836 P/O T.W Gillen Crashed on landing Thomas William 'Jock' Gillen 70245 note NOT John Woodburn GILLAN (26010) 11 August 1939 L1658 Sgt. R.T. Ware Engine failure crashed on landing. A civilian lorry said to have run into the wreck, causing further damage. Pilot may have suffered some injury, though this is unclear. While not recorded explicitly this accident seems to have occurred in daylight hours. 516276 Ralph Taverham WARE (52938) ....Read More.paulmcmillan on 4th December 2021 07:08:43
W3715 29/08/1941 Wing Commander GillanHi ! On 29/08/1941 Wing Commander Gillan was shot down,flying Spitfire W3715, during a Blenheim escort to Hazebrouck. He is buried at Dunkirk town cemetery. He was possibly shot down by JG26. Did he crash in Belgium (near Ieper) or in France ? Many thanks and best regards Luc ....Read More.Luc Vervoort on 4th December 2010 06:23:27
W3715 29/08/1941 Wing Commander GillanHi Luc, I found in the Combats & Casualties RAF Fighter Command, "Cat.Em 29.08.41, W/Cdr. J.W. Gillan DFC AFC: KIA, 11 Group N. Weald, Spitfire Vb: W3715, Me 109s 5 sm. N. Dunkirk" (sm – statute mile?) Was the body of the pilot washed ashore? Regards Mojmir ....Read More.vrajm on 5th December 2010 12:08:14

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