John Dallas CROSSMAN


CROSSMAN, John Dallas

Service Number: 43283
Enlisted: 12 August 1939, Granted a short-service commission in the RAF
Last Rank: Pilot Officer
Last Unit: No. 46 Squadron (RAF)
Born: Mossman, Queensland, Australia, 20 March 1918
Home Town: New Lambton, Lake Macquarie Shire, New South Wales
Schooling: Cooks Hill Primary School, Newcastle Boys' High School
Occupation: Not yet discovered
Died: Killed in Action Battle of Britain, Tablehurst Farm, Forrest Row, United Kingdom, 30 September 1940, aged 22 years
Cemetery: St. Giles' Churchyard, Chalfont St Giles, Buckinghamshire
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World War 2 Service

12 Aug 1939: Enlisted Royal Air Force (WW2), SN 43283, Aircrew Training Units, Granted a short-service commission in the RAF
14 Jul 1940: Involvement Royal Air Force (WW2), Pilot Officer, SN 43283, No. 32 Squadron (RAF), Air War NW Europe 1939-45
12 Sep 1940: Involvement Royal Air Force (WW2), Pilot Officer, SN 43283, No. 46 Squadron (RAF), Air War NW Europe 1939-45

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Biography contributed by Steve Larkins

Pilot Officer John Dallas Crossman (1919-1940)

John Dallas Crossman was born on 20th March 1919 at Mossman, Queensland, Australia. He was educated at Cook's Hill Primary School and Newcastle Boys' High School in New South Wales.
In early 1939 Crossman unsuccessfully applied for a short service commission. A second attempt six months later was accepted and on 12th August 1939 he sailed for Britain.

Crossman arrived at 9 EFTS Ansty on 30th October for his initial training. He moved to 1 FTS at RAF Cranwell on 10th April 1940.

The following insights into his experience there was gleaned by Kristen Alexander in her book 'Australia's Few', from letters Crossman had sent home.

Every service pilot dreaded being ejected from his training course, and John Crossman was no different. When he arrived at 9 Elementary Flying Training School at Ansty in Warwickshire on 30 October, he immediately felt the pressure to fly quickly and well. He was in the air that afternoon, and took over the controls of a Tiger Moth almost as soon as his instructor, Sergeant Webb, cleared the aerodrome. He then flew ‘35 minutes strait and level. At least I tried hard to do that. It was great’. He marvelled at the sights from the dual cockpit: ‘The aerodrome and buildings are wonderfully camouflaged and to see the ‘drome from the air it looks as though it is all fields with hedges dividing them off. England from the air is just like a patchwork quilt, all shades of green and the roads look like white ribbons.’

Next morning, he was in the front seat of Tiger Moth N5472. Under Sergeant Webb’s careful guidance from the instructor’s seat behind him, he taxied into position to take off. When they were airborne, Sergeant Webb said, ‘You’ve got it’. John then ‘took over and flew it straight and level for a while and then the instructor brought it down and I taxied back to the tarmac’. It was a grand moment for John. After 65 minutes total dual, Sergeant Webb was pleased with John’s progress and the young Australian hoped to advance to turns the next day. As it happened, he had two training sessions on 2 November, again practising straight and level flying as well as climbing, gliding and stalling, and, finally, medium turns. He was quietly pleased that his ‘climbing and gliding is quite good now and also my turns’.

John progressed satisfactorily in his first flying week. Sergeant Webb told him he was ‘doing quite well and wants me to do some more landings and a few spins and then go solo’. Despite this vote of confidence, and the fact that ‘I have had no trouble flying up to date’, John was a perfectionist and wanted more dual hours under his belt. In particular, ‘I feel I’d like to do a few more landings myself ... and get fairly proficient at it before I do go solo. But as the Point Cook boys had found, the pressure was on to solo as fast as possible but the English weather more often than not conspired to keep him out of the air. And when John was grounded, his impatience grew. To make matters worse, like Pat Hughes, he did not take to the English weather. ‘This place is a damp, cold and miserable one (I mean England) and at times I’d give anything for a good old Australian sun. We wouldn’t mind so much if the weather didn’t stop our flying.

....John continued dual instruction until 20 November when, with 14 hours 35 minutes notched up—10 minutes less than Pat Hughes at Point Cook in March 1936—he retook the solo test, again with Flight Lieutenant Williams. This time he was successful and was allowed a 10 minute solo flight. Not only was it good not to have someone telling him what to do when he made a mistake, but ‘it is absolutely marvellous to think that at last I’ve flown a plane on my own as I’ve wanted to do for a very long time now.’

At the end of the course he was posted directly to 32 Squadron at Biggin Hill on 14th July but after monoplane flying experience in a Magister, the CO sent Crossman to 5 OTU Aston Down on August 3 for conversion to Hurricanes.

Crossman rejoined 32 Squadron on 26th August. He went north with it to Acklington but on 12th September was posted to 46 Squadron at Stapleford Tawney. On the 15th he probably destroyed a Do17 in an engagement south-east of London.

On 30th September 46 Squadron was jumped by Me109's and Crossman was shot down and killed, his Hurricane V6748 crashing in flames at Tablehurst Farm, Forest Row, where he is commemorated.

He is buried in Chalfont St Giles churchyard, Buckinghamshire where he had relatives.

With the thanks to the Battle of Britain London Monument, and Author Kristen Alexander

Kristen Alexander Blogspot: (/admin/biographies/48456/