John SANDERSON 1923 – 1942

1148225 Sergeant John Sanderson, 202 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve was killed in action 20 November 1942, aged 19.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Malta Memorial [1] and the Evenwood War Memorial.

Family Details [2]

John [Jacky] was born 1923, the son of John and Nora Sanderson and brother to Norman, Jean, George and Mary.  The family lived at Evenwood WMC house.

Service Details [3]

 The service record of 1148225 Sergeant John Sanderson has not been researched.  He served in the RAF Volunteer Reserve as a navigator and gunner and was posted to the Middle East until the invasion of Italy.


In 1939, within days of the Second World War starting, 202 Squadron moved from Alexandria, Egypt to Gibraltar.  It was responsible for patrolling the Straits of Gibraltar and the approaches to it from both the Atlantic and Mediterranean.  In April 1941, the squadron was re-equipped with Catalinas.  It also used Swordfish seaplanes from September 1940 to June 1941.  Both types were involved in a series of clashes with the Vichy French Forces and these continued until the first Catalinas arrived. Sunderlands were flown from December 1941 to September 1942, although its main equipment remained Catalinas.

On Friday 20 November, 1942, 1148225 Sergeant John Sanderson’s plane was shot down by “friendly fire” whilst it was trying to land at Malta – the plane’s signal lights were damaged, so it could not identify itself.  Sergeant John Sanderson was killed in action 20 November 1942 and his body was not recovered.  Further research is needed to confirm the actual details of the action – it is assumed that Sergeant John Sanderson’s plane was a Consolidated Catalina plane similar to that pictured below.

A Consolidated Catalina of No.202 Squadron, pictured at its wartime base of Gibraltar. The aircraft is a Catalina I, serial number AJ159.[4]

Memorials to commemorate Sergeant John Sanderson: The Malta Memorial [5]

Sergeant John Sanderson has no known grave and is commemorated at Panel 4, Column 2, the Malta Memorial.  It commemorates 2,298 airmen who lost their lives during the Second World War whilst serving with the Commonwealth Forces from bases in Austria, Italy, Sicily, islands of the Adriatic and Mediterranean, Malta, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, West Africa, Yugoslavia and Gibraltar and who have no known grave.  It is situated in the area of Floriana and stands outside the main entrance to Valetta.


Thanks to Frank Sanderson and Malta Memorial photos courtesy of Tot, Dorothy & Brian Sowerby.


[1] Commonwealth War Graves Memorial

[2] Frank Sanderson


[4] “Consolidated Catalina of No.202 Squadron” Rickard, J (1 September 2008),

[5] CWGC