Flying Officer William Wallace Anderson
William Wallace Anderson enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) two days after his first wedding anniversary. Born on 10 January 1914 to William Aloysius Anderson and Lillie Mascotte Irene Anderson of Edgecliffe, New South Wales, after school he became an accounts clerk before moving on to become a stock-broker.
On his enlistment, unlike other RAAF recruits, Anderson does not appear to have joined an Initial Training School, being sent straight from his medical to No.4 Elementary Flying Training School at Mascot in Sydney, on 29 April 1940. Here he joined the school’s inaugural Empire Air Training Scheme course. At this point in the war, instruction was provided by civil organisations under contract to the Australian government. At Mascot, training was mostly likely provided by the Royal Aero Club of New South Wales utilising De Havilland Gypsy Moth and Tiger Moth biplanes.
On the successful completion of his initial flying training, Anderson was sent to the newly formed No.2 Service Flying Training School (SFTS), joining Course No.1 at Wagga Wagga on 29 July 1940. The initial school commander and also station commander was Wing Commander F. Scherger, whose strict discipline earned the establishment the nickname “Scherger’s Concentration Camp” – this was not helped by his German ancestry. Anderson successfully negotiated the disciplinary regime and training to pass out, scoring 84.1%, on his course on 23 September, 1940, having amassed 126 hours on the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) Wirraway, an Australian license-built version of the North American Harvard.
On 19 November 1940, he was promoted to Pilot Officer and assigned to No.2 Embarkation Depot at Bradfield Park in preparation for being sent overseas. Before leaving Australia, Anderson was granted seven days leave, it would be the last time he saw his family. Pilot officer Anderson finally embarked on SS Largs Bay (sister ship to HMS Jervis Bay) on 10 December, 1940, joining the first contingent of the RAAF to complete their training under the Empire Air Training Scheme as they were sent overseas. The Largs Bay sailed independently, resulting in a long journey with stop offs at Melbourne, Fremantle, Durban and Cape Town, reaching Freetown on 22 January 1941. Another two weeks elapsed before she docked on the Clyde on 7 February.
On arrival in Britain, Pilot Officer Anderson was assigned to No.1 RAF Depot and allowed five days leave, before joining No.56 Operational Training Unit (OTU) at RAF Sutton Bridge on 17 February. Here he undertook conversion to the Hawker Hurricane, but after only six and a half weeks training on type he was posted No.258 Squadron at RAF Jurby on 31 March, by which time he had been promoted to Flying Officer.
As well as providing convoy patrols over the Irish Sea, 258 had a secondary role of continuation training for new Hurricane pilots; it was in this guise that Anderson joined the squadron. However, immediately on joining the squadron he was granted a further six days leave. His first recorded flight with the squadron occurred on 19 Aprilwhen he joined “A” Flight in a move to RAF Penrhos near Pwllheli as part of a temporary squadron relocation to newly opened RAF Valley. They were replaced at Jurby by 312 (Czech) Squadron. 258’s residency at Valley was brief as they were ordered south to 11 Group and RAF Kenley on 21 April. Anderson did, however, perform two patrols from Penrhos the day before. 258 were replaced at RAF Valley by 615 Squadron from Kenley who brought twelve of their Hurricane IIs north. These were exchanged for the Hurricane Is of 258 who then flew the ex-615 machines back to Kenley. Anderson was not fortunate enough to be one of the twelve pilots involved; he joined the remainder of the squadron in one of four Handley Page Harrows in making the journey. Originally designed as a bomber, the Harrow was widely used in the transport role at this time.
On 23 April, 258 undertook a Squadron Sector familiarisation flight in which Anderson took part, however, for the two weeks following, he returned to more mundane training flights. It was not until 8 May that he took part in two operational patrols to Tenterden and Maidstone. More intermittent patrols followed for Flying Officer Anderson until the middle of June when he joined his first Circus operation. In the interim, 258 had made a temporary move to Redhill for a week of “Fighter Nights”. Back at Kenley, the Circus operations continued with an evening operation to Bethune on 17 June. The following day, Flying Officer Anderson was lost returning from a Circus to Guines. Flying as part of the Kenley Wing with 258, 312 (Czech) Squadron reported seeing three groups of Me.109s amounting to 18 aircraft, as a result of this contact Flying Officer Anderson flying as “White 2” disappeared and was not seen again. It is likely he was “bounced” by the Me.109s.
Flying Officer William Wallace Anderson is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial Panel 62. His wife, Jocelyn Jean Anderson (nee Josephson) had a little girl, Caroline, but sadly it seems unlikely that father and daughter ever met.
Rest in peace Sir and thank you for your service.