SGT. A. MATHISON
FIRST NAMES: Alan
UNIT: 207 Squadron RAF
DATE OF DEATH: 15th September 1941
WHERE BURIED: Northallerton Cemetery
MEDALS: 1939-45 Star, Aircrew Europe Star, Defence Medal, War Medal
Alan Mathison was born in Northallerton in 1921 and was the son of Alf and Phoebe Mathison and brother to Doreen. Alan first went to the national school and then won a scholarship to the Grammar School. There along with many of his contemporaries he joined the 2nd Grammar School Scout Troop. After leaving school he worked for the County Council as a clerk. Alan was an extremely popular young man, especially with the girls, and had many friends in and around Northallerton. One such friend was Doug Shields who had joined the navy in 1939.
On the outbreak of war Alan volunteered for the RAF and was accepted for training as an air gunner. He began his flying training at an RAF base in Wiltshire and it was from there that he wrote a letter to Mr Palmer, the headmaster of the Grammar School, describing one of his first flights, one in which he crashed. This is how Alan described it:
1058529 Mathison. N.A.
Hut 54 W.
'A' Squadron. 4 Wing.
28th April 1941.
Dear Mr Palmer,
I received a copy of the school magazine which was addressed to me at home and I am grateful for it. Various parts bring back pleasant memories and I often think of my old school days and the good times I had.
Many of the things I was taught at school are now proving useful to me. Scouting and the experiences gained in camp life have also proved a wonderful help in my training. I am thoroughly enjoying myself and have had no dull moments. I experienced my first crash last week when a Polish instructor and myself went up in an unserviceable plane without realising it. We crashed on attempting to land. I was most fortunate and escaped with only a cut hand.
I am looking forward to 14 days leave which I have been promised. I am due to get it on or about May 9th. I am working exceptionally hard to make sure I do get it.
Kind regards to all.
Alan continued his training as an air gunner and was posted to No 207 Squadron at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire which was operating Manchester bombers. Serving with No 44 (Rhodesia) at the base and sharing the same billet as Alan was Arnold Pearson also from Northallerton. Arnold served right through the war, reaching the rank of Squadron Leader and being awarded the DSO and the DFC.
The Manchester aircraft of 207 Squadron was a twin engined bomber which proved to be a failure as many of them crashed due to their two under-powered Vulture engines. The aircraft was redeveloped with four Merlin engines and emerged as the legendary Lancaster, the most successful heavy lift bomber of WW2.
On the 15th of September 1941 Alan was detailed to act as duty air gunner on Manchester L7318, for a routine cross country flight to Cumberland with a ground servicing crew. Their task was to service another Manchester which had been forced to land due to engine trouble.
The crew and ground staff were;
P/O Crump Pilot.
P/O Sawyer 2nd Pilot.
P/O Clements Air Observer.
Sgt Mathison Wop/ Air gunner.
The aircraft took off from Waddington en-route for the north of England but on the return journey at 1810 hours the aircraft dived steeply into the ground at South Hykeham, Lincolnshire, killing the entire crew. Alan's body was claimed by his parents and he was buried in Northallerton in a private ceremony.
Alan Mathison lies buried in a private grave in Northallerton Cemetery. He is also remembered on the Northallerton War Memorial, the All Saints Parish Church Memorial, the Grammar School Plaque, the NALGO Plaque in County Hall and the Central Church of the Royal Air Force, St.Clement Danes, London. Alan was aged 20 years.