Flight Sergeant David Leslie Thomas Craig (540596) served in the Royal Air Force during World War Two.
Born in 1916, he was the son of Samuel Craig and Amy Craig of Strabane, Co. Tyrone. Family and friends knew him as Leslie. He attended Abercorn Primary School in Strabane and the Prior School in Lifford where he graduated with a senior certificate. After school, he worked a series of temporary jobs, finding it difficult to get a position in his chosen career in banking.
A keen sportsman, Craig played field hockey and soccer.
Craig had an interest in planes and radio communication as well as an adventurous spirit and so decided to join the Royal Air Force in 1937. Following training, he spent the next two years taking part in missions in Asia before war broke out in 1939.
Leslie joins the RAF
By the start of World War Two, David Leslie Craig was working in a radar programme at an RAF base in the south of England. As the Nazis occupied more of Europe, he volunteered for active duty and received a posting to 150 Squadron at RAF Snaith, Yorkshire.
While based in Yorkshire, he would spend time off with his brother Terry who worked in the civil service in Leeds. He planned to marry a welsh girl who worked as a Land Girl in Yorkshire. They had twice postponed their wedding due to the pressures of war.
He flew as a wireless operator/air gunner with RAF 150 Squadron.
Wellington X3414 Crash
Flight Sergeant Craig died on 26th August 1942 aged 26 years old. Vickers Wellington X3414 took off from RAF Snaith, Yorkshire at 2040hrs on 24th August 1942.
Having completed a raid on Frankfurt, Germany, the plane was returning to base when a Luftwaffe fighter attacked at 0001hrs. Major Kurt Holler of 8 Stab III/NJG4 claimed the downing.
Craig died during the in-air battle. Other crew members suffered injuries and the pilot crash landed, striking a tree. The plane came down 3km west of the village of Rienne, Belgium.
Two men survived the crash and resulting explosion of the Wellington. Flight Sergeant James Maxwell Gibson (405442) died the following day and air gunner Sergeant F Dolton became a prisoner of war. Villagers in Rienne buried the three men killed in the incident. They provided a military style funeral and tended the graves, treating the men as heroes in the fight against Nazism.
The two men buried alongside Flight Sergeant Craig are:
- Air Gunner Sergeant Adam Brodie Fraser (951573).
- Pilot Sergeant James Henry Scorer (1113760).
Remembering David Leslie Thomas Craig
On 6th February 1943, the Craig family received a report from the Air Ministry in London stating that Flight Sergeant Craig had a full military funeral on 27th August 1942. They had held onto the hope that he might be a prisoner of war since going missing almost six months earlier.
David Leslie Thomas Craig’s grave is in grave 7 of Rienne Communal Cemetery, Namur, Belgium. His headstone bears the inscription: “Safe in the arms of Jesus. In loving memory of our Leslie. Father and Mother”.