John Gilbert TALLENTIRE 1911 – 1942

1109766 Sergeant Observer John Gilbert Tallentire, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, died 27 February 1942 aged 31 and is buried in Etherley (St. Cuthbert) Churchyard [1] and commemorated on St. Cuthbert’s Church and Durham County Council’s memorial plaques.

Family Details

John G. Tallentire was born 17 February 1911,[2] the son of Robert and Hannah Tallentire and brother of Lizzie Jane, Robert William and Mark.  In 1911, the family lived at Eggleshope Terrace, Eggleston where William worked as a coal miner [hewer].[3]  The family moved to the Toft Hill area and John attended King James 1 Grammar School, Bishop Auckland.  In 1939, John married Christiana Stelling. [4]  The same year, John and Christiana lived at High Farm, Etherley with the Stelling family.  John worked for Durham County Council at the Poultry Centre and Christiana is recorded as “unpaid domestic duties”.  In 1940, daughter Margaret was born.[5]

Service Details

The service details of Sergeant J.G. Tallentire have not been researched.  He was a member of the RAF Voluntary Reserve and served with 16 Operational Training Unit [O.T.U.], as an Observer.  This unit was based at RAF Upper Heyford and its satellite airfields of RAF Barford St. Michael, RAF Croughton and RAF Hinton in the Hedges.

8 April 1940:  16 O.T.U. was formed at Upper Heyford from the No.4 Group Patrol which comprised Nos 7 & 76 Squadrons within No.6 Group, to train night bomber crews, equipped with Hampdens and Herefords.

15 July – 11 May 1942:  It was transferred to No.7 Group when renumbered No.92 Group.  It converted to Wellingtons in April 1942 and from March to December 1942 its HQ moved to Barford St. John whilst runways were laid at Upper Heyford.  It disbanded 1 January 1945.[6]

26 February 1942

The aircraft being used for training, the Hampden P5319, lost power from one engine and crashed near Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire and 3 servicemen were killed including 1109766 Sergeant [Observer] J.G. Tallentire.  The others were:

  • R/64825 Sergeant [Wireless Operator/Air Gunner] Joseph Walter Connel, RCAF, aged 19, a Canadian buried in Upper Heyford Cemetery.
  • 1061154 Sergeant [Wireless Operator/Air Gunner] Kenneth Twidale, RAFVR, aged 21 buried in St. Mary’s Church, West Butterwick, Lincolnshire.[7]

Since, CWGC record his date of death as 27 February and the tribute records the crash as the 26th, it is assumed that he died of injuries received.


Sergeant J.G. Tallentire is buried at grave reference 383, St Cuthbert’s Churchyard, Etherley, Bishop Auckland, County Durham.[8]


[1] Commonwealth War Grave Commission

[2] 1939 England & Wales Register

[3] 1911 census

[4] England & Wales Marriage Index 1916-2005 Vol.10a p.842 1939Q3 Durham South Western

[5] England & Wales Birth Index 1916-2007 Vol.10a p.541 1940Q3 Durham South Western

[6] http://www.rafweb.org/OTU_1.htm

[7] http://www.theygavetheirtoday.com/raf-upper-heyford.html

[8] CWGC

Thanks to C.S. Simon [insurance agent/local paper reporter] of Witton Park for providing details.