David PULLINGER

Serial Number: NZ405507
RNZAF Trade: Wireless Operator-Air Gunner/Air Bomber
Date of Enlistment: 21st of December 1940
Rank Achieved: Sergeant
Flying Hours: 142 hours
Operational Sorties: Nil

Date of Birth: 25th of May 1912, at Cambridge
Personal Details: David was the son of William Laurence Pullenger and Hilda May Pullenger (nee Malcolm). He was born in Cambridge but apparently grew up in Gisborne, attending Gisborne High School. Following school he moved to Townsville where he became the Head Shepherd on Mr. E. Anderson's sheep station.

Service Details: David joined the RNZAF in December 1940 as an Air Gunner u/t, at the Ground Training School, Levin. He embarked for Canada on the 30th of January 1941, and on arrival on the 16th of February he was attached to the Royal Canadian Air Force for training at No. 3 Wireless School, arriving there two days later.

On the 7th of July 1941 he began his next phase of training at No. 4 Bombing and Gunnery School. On the 4th of August 1941 he completed his training, and was promoted to Sergeant, awarded his Air Gunners badge, and remustered to the Wireless Operator-Air Gunner trade.

Six days later on the 10th of August, David proceeded to 1 Y Depot at Halifax, Nova Scotia, to board a troopship for Britain. There he was attached to the Royal Air Force, and embarked on a ship for England on the 20th of August 1941.

Arriving on the 15th of September, David was posted to No. 3 Personnel Reception Centre, Bournemouth, to await a further posting. This came on the 29th of September when he went onto No. 1 Signal School, and then on the 27th of December 1941 he was posted to No. 10 Operational Training Unit, where he would have crewed up and began flying in Armstrong Whitworth Whitley bombers.

On the 23rd of May 1942, David was posted to No. 44 Squadron RAF at RAF Waddington. The squadron was flying Avro Lancaster I's.

Date of Death : 16th of August 1942, aged 30. David and his crew were on approach to land at Waddington following an air test in Lancaster I, serial number R5489, codes KM-X, when the pilot suddenly lost control of the aircraft. The Lancaster crashed at Branston village, 3 miles (5km) north-east of RAF Waddington, and four miles South-East of Lincoln. David and the Flight Engineer were both killed, whilst the other member of the crew, the injured Sgt R. Easom, was pulled free of the wreckage by a farmer and a butcher from the village.
Buried: Lincoln (Newport) Cemetery, South Lincolnshire, UK.

David Pullinger's Grave at Lincoln - Copyright Brian Blay, April 2011 

The Lancaster R5489: Additional information about the aircraft in which David was killed has been sent in by Brian Blay of the UK, who gathered the information from David Brammer of the Branston History Group. He found that Lancaster R5489 was delivered to No. 44 Squadron in March 1942. The aircraft had apparently been officially named 'George' by King George VI.

R5489 took part in the following Key Operations, before David flew in it:
- Atlantic Convoy Patrol from Nutts Corner 15/16 June 1942, the crew claimed a U-Boat as sunk;
- Nickelling in Angers area 23/24 June 1942;
- Gardening, Deodar 5/6 August 1942;
- Raid on Duisburg 6/7August 1942;
- Raid on Osnabruck 9/10 August 1942;
- Raid on Mainz 11/12 August 1942
When it was written off the aircraft had a total of 115 hours.

The Crash at Branston: Brian Blay also received and passed on this interesting information on the crash from David Brammer. David Brammer wrote: "I have also copied an email sent to the group in 2002 by Ewan Semper:

" The story is familier to me as it is i think part of my family history as my late Grandfather,Cyril Semper was involved. At the time he lived at 52 Sleaford road Branston, no more than 100 yards from the crash site which was in the gardens behind Mill Row, and according to family memory he too was one of the first persons on site and helped using an axe in the attempted rescue of the airmen. Interestingly and important to me I have in my possesion a silver cigarette case hallmarked Birmingham 1941 inscribed .....

Presented to
Cyril Raymond Semper
by
RAF Station Waddington
in recognition of
services rendered on
16th August 1942


Ewan Semper"

The above is an abridged version of the letter, but it concludes where the aircraft crashed. Brian Blay visited the site in April 2011, and he has kindly sent this photo of the homes in Mill Row behind which the Lancaster crashed.

Mill Row, Branston - Copyright Brian Blay April 2011

Connection with Cambridge: David was born in Cambridge, and probably spent some of his early years in the town before moving to Gisborne.

Thanks To: Errol Martyn for providing information on this airman, and further details from his books For Your Tomorrow Volumes 1 to 3. Also many thanks to Brian Blay, David Brammer and Ewan Semper for the info on the aircraft and the crashsite, and Brian's photos.

 

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