Date of Birth: 18th of January 1917, at Netherton
Personal Details: John was the son of Hugh and Margaret Gilmer of Cambridge. He was educated at New Plymouth Boys High School before becoming a clerk with the Public Trust Office in Wellington.
Service Details: Johnwas selected for a Short Service Commission in the Royal Air Force on the 10th of November 1938, and embarked for Britain on the 19th of November, just nine days later. At this stage he is recorded as being from Wellington.
On arrival in britain on the 23rd of December 1938, John was posted to No. 4 Elementary & Reserve Flying Training School at Brough, before proceeding to 1 Depot on the 4th of March 1939.
Advanced flying training began for John at No. 3 Flying training School on the 18th of March 1939, and he gained his Pilots Badge (or wings) on the 23rd of September 1939. On the same day he was posted to No. 1 Group Pool, and was attached from there to No. 97 Squadron which was flying Armstrong Whitworth Whitleys. On the 4th of December 1939 he moved on to join No. 78 Squadron (also on Whitleys).
Then another move on the 1st of January 1940 saw him attached to the School of Air Navigation, flying Avro Ansons, and the course concluded on the 24th of February 1940. Following a break John was then posted to No. 51 Squadron, again flying Whitleys.
On the 1st of May 1940 John was badly injured during an operation against enemy targets at Fornebu.
Date of Death: 2nd of May 1940, aged 23. John Gilmer had taken off in the role of 2nd pilot aboard Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk. IV (serial no. K9039) at 19.00 hours from Dishforth, Yorkshire, on the 30th of April 1940. Captained by Pilot Officer E. Cotton, RAF, the intent was to bomb Fornebu Airfield, Oslo. The crew became lost in bad weather on return to England after the raid, and were forced to make an emergency landing when they ran out of fuel. Upon touching down the Whitley struck a coll between Burnside Fell and Dunsop Fell, three miles west-north-west of Slaidburn on the Yorkshire Moors. An RAF Sergeant on the crew was killed in the impact, with the other four crew members being injured, with John's injuries proving fatal. He died at the Queen Victoria Hospital, in Lancashire, on the 2nd of May 1940.
Buried: John is buried at Dishforth Cemetery, Yorkshire, England.
Connection with Cambridge: John's parents lived in Cambridge at the time of his death
Thanks To: Errol Martyn for providing information on this airman, and further details from his books For Your Tomorrow Volumes 1 to 3