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David Waite

David WaiteSergeant David Waite, 1531151, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, 81 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

David Waite was born in the Keighley area in the Summer of 1922, the son of Horace Waite (born 1883) and Agnes Sharp (born 1883) who married in the Keighley area in early 1922. Agnes Waite married Ernest Wheatley in the Keighley area in 1932.

David Waite died in July 1943 and was buried at Holy Trinity Church, Ossett on the 23rd July 1943. His address was given as 14, Cross Ryecroft Street, Ossett, but the Register also recorded an address at Edgbaston, Birmingham. There is a record of a marriage between a David Waite and Margaret Mary Burns registered at Spen Valley in the Spring of 1943. Between 1939 and 1947 Spen Valley was the Registration District for Ossett.

In fact Margaret Burns was in the W.A.A.F. and she met David Waite when they were both based at the same RAF station. Seven weeks after their marriage, David Waite was dead. Waite's wife Margaret married second husband, to Douglas Brown in 1948 and they divorced in 1963. She married a third time to Herbert Murray in 1965 and they divorced in 1976. Margaret died in 2005 aged 85 years.

Sergeant David Waite was based at RAF Tilstock from January 1943 with 81 OTU, where he was training as part of a night bomber crew, flying the Armstrong Whitworth 'Whitley' bomber. His role was as a wireless operator/air gunner in the five man crew of the Whitley. The Armstrong Whitworth A.W.38 Whitley was a British twin engined, front-line, medium bomber that was in service with the Royal Air Force (RAF) at the outbreak of WW2. The Whitley was developed during the mid-1930s and in 1937, the Whitley formally entered into RAF squadron service, it was the first of the three medium bombers to be introduced.

On the night of the 13th July 1943 81 OTU Whitley V LA831 took off at 22:50 hours for a night cross country training exercise. At 04:15 hours for reasons that could not be explained, the Whitley dived into the ground at Quina Brook, Prees, 5 miles south south east of Whitchurch, Shropshire.2 The Whitley LA831 had a six-man crew on the night of the accident. All six crew members lost their lives as follows:1

The "Ossett Observer" carried an obituary for Sergeant David Waite:2

"RAF Sergeant Killed - Funeral in Ossett - On Friday last week, information reached Ossett of the death on the 14th instant, as the result of an aircraft accident, Sergeant David Waite, wireless operator and rear gunner in the R.A.F. Brought up in the Bradford district, he was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Wheatley, who now reside at Queensferry, near Hawarden, Flintshire, and on May 22nd this year, he was married at Ossett Parish Church to Corporal Margaret Burns, W.A.A.F., daughter of Mr. Willie Burns, 14, Cross Ryecroft Street, Ossett. He had made many friends in the locality, and the deepest sympathy is extended to his wife and family in their loss. A letter from his commanding officer pays a high tribute to his character and conscientious service , and refers to his popularity amongst the staff at the aerodrome at which he was stationed. Prior to joining up in October 1941, he was employed as a clerk by the firm of Vickers-Armstrong.

The funeral, which took place at Holy Trinity Parish Church, Ossett, on Saturday, was conducted by the Rev. A. Hesselgeaves, the mourners present including Mrs. (Corporal) Waite (widow); Mr. and Mrs. Wheatley (father and mother); Mr. and Mrs. Willie Burns (father-in-law and mother-in-law); Mr. and Mrs. Sharpe, Mr. and Mrs. N. Sharpe, Mr. and Mrs. E. Sharpe, Mr. and Mrs. C. White (uncles and aunts); Eileen, Betty and Jack Burns (sisters-in-law and brother-in-law); Mrs. J. Dodd (friend of the deceased); Mrs. Aspinall, Mrs. Illingworth and many other neighbours and friends."

Sergeant David Waite died on the 14th July 1943, aged 20 years and he is buried at Row 13, Grave 21 in Holy Trinity Churchyard, Ossett and his death was recorded in the Whitchurch, Shropshire registration district.

Whitley Bomber

Above: The Armstrong Whitworth A.W.38 Whitley bomber like the one that Sergeant David Waite flew in.


1. "Bomber Command Losses, Volume 7" by W.R. Chorley.

2. "Ossett Observer", Saturday, July 24th 1943.

3. Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site