M.980  2nd Officer  Thomas Blair Willans
 flag eire     b. 26 Jul 1903, Dublin 14 Jun 1943 to 12 Jan 1945

  RAeC 1931

  ATA 1943    

Father: Richard Harte Keatinge Willans; mother, Georgina Blow or Blois [Goodman]

Ed. Wellington College, RMA Woolwich

 m. 1929 Edith Daphne [Traill], 2 children

 prev. From 1921, a rancher, and manager of the Traill's estancia in Argentina, which was adjacent to his. Lieutenant in 15th Field Brigade, Royal Artillery, Aug 1923 to Jun 26

prev. exp. 205 hrs in UK, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, in DH Moth, Fleet, Fairchild 22, Stinson Reliant, Rearwin, Focke-Wulf, Aeronca Super Chief.

Learnt to fly in 1931 at the London Aeroplane Club; for his ATA application, he gave Pauline Gower as one of his references because "she was getting her 'B' Licence in 1931 at Stag Lane at the same time ... I hope she will remember me."

Address in 1943: Estancia la Esterlina, Carlos Pellegrini, Santa Fe, Argentina and c/o Mrs Traill, 13 Lansdowne Rd, Bedford


Travelled from Argentina (passage paid for by the UK) in Feb 1943 to join the RAF, but there was a typo on his application form; it said his date of birth was 1909. Once he arrived and the mistake was discovered, he was rejected by the RAF as 'Too Old', and offered to the ATA (who also thought he was a bit old, even for them).

He then had a flight test in an Avro Tutor with ATA on 19 May; "General Flying Good but take-off Very Bad and handling Very Rough Indeed"

"Wishes his papers expedited as he has very little money"

Postings: 5TFPP, 2FPP, 16FPP, 3FPP

"A careful reliable pilot"

Two accidents, neither his fault:

- 18 Dec 1944, ferrying Vengeance IV FD132 from Air Dispatch Cardiff to 48MU Hawarden, the port undercarriage leg failed to lock down and on landing he collided with a Lancaster, damaging the port wing and propeller.

 vickers wellington

d. 12 Jan 1945 in Dumfies and Galloway Hospital, from injuries received in Wellington IV PF896 which was in collision with RAF Anson LV219 at Dumfries Airfield. Both aircraft were attempting to land, the Anson in front. A red verey light was fired from the ground, and the Anson then climbed into the path of the Wellington. The five crew onboard the Anson were killed.


Buried Headington Cemetery, Oxford


"The Willans name remains strong in Argentina. Tom's son Richard Robin, was President of the Media Luna [polo] Club. Robin, a Cambridge man, took the Warwickshire Cup in England with the Buccaneers Team in 1969. Andy Willans took the gold cup Campana del Deserto" Polo in Argentina: A History

 Download ATA Pilot Personal Record (.zip file):download grey

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