Aircraftman 1st Class Joseph McWilliams (632181) served in the Royal Air Force during World War Two. He was the son of Bernard McWilliams and Margaret McWilliams of Draperstown, Co. Londonderry.
He died on 7th October 1945 aged 27 years old on board Short Stirling LJ668 of RAF 299 Squadron. All 26 crew members and passengers on board died in the crash. The transport plane had a crew of 6 and carried 8 other members of the Air Force, 2 members of the Navy, and 10 Army personnel. Among the dead were 3 married couples. The transport plane left from Cairo, Egypt bound for the United Kingdom.
Crash landing in France
While running low on fuel, Pilot Flying Officer Charles Thomas Dillion decided to force an emergency landing on a poorly lit airfield near Rennes, France. Unable to make contact with ground control, the plane came down in bad weather conditions and visibility near the airfield. With the cloud base at around 200 feet, the Pilot could not see the lighting and overshot the runway.
He radioed at 0028hrs advising that there were only 10 minutes of fuel left in the tanks. The plane came down as the plane turned to port to circle and approach the runway again.
Remembering the crew and passengers
|Last Name||First Name(s)||Rank||Role||Information|
|Dillon||Charles Thomas||Flying Officer||Pilot||Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. RAF 299 Squadron.|
|Lee||Donald William||Flight Lieutenant||Navigator||Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. RAF 299 Squadron.|
|Wareham||Donald||Flight Sergeant||Flight Engineer||Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. RAF 299 Squadron.|
|Griffiths||Alan||Warrant Officer||Bomb Aimer||Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. RAF 299 Squadron.|
|Last||Victor Gerald||Warrant Officer||Air Gunner||Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. RAF 299 Squadron.|
|Pether||Eric Anthony||Warrant Officer||Wireless Operator / Air Gunner||Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. RAF 299 Squadron.|
|Mackenzie||Alexander John Severs||Lieutenant Colonel||Passenger||Royal Corps of Signals. Husband of Dorothy Mary Mackenzie.|
|Mackenzie||Dorothy Mary||C/O||Passenger||Women's Royal Naval Service. Wife of Alexander John Severs Mackenzie.|
|Greenfield||Margery||Corporal||Passenger||New Zealand Women's Army Auxiliary Corps.|
|Mortlock||Margaret Jean||Private||Passenger||New Zealand Women's Army Auxiliary Corps.|
|Maltby||Edward Vernon||Corporal||Passenger||Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. RAF 299 Squadron. Husband of Agnes Aitchison Maltby.|
|Maltby||Agnes Aitchison||Leading Aircraftwoman||Passenger||Women's Auxiliary Air Force. Wife of Edward Vernon Maltby.|
|Lloyd||Jack Edward||Lieutenant||Passenger||Pioneer Corps.|
|Withers||Frederick Edmund||Lieutenant||Passenger||Pioneer Corps.|
|Jones||George Howard||Lieutenant Colonel||Passenger||Royal Engineers.|
|Innes||Marie Elsie Isabel||Sergeant||Passenger||New Zealand Women's Army Auxiliary Corps.|
|Timms||John Edward||Sergeant||Passenger||Royal Air Force. Husband of Hilda Victoria Timms.|
|Timms||Hilda Victoria||Sergeant||Passenger||Women's Auxiliary Air Force. Wife of John Edward Timms.|
|Keates||Cecil Tom||Captain||Passenger||Pioneer Corps.|
|North||Leonard Harold||Private||Passenger||Middlesex Regiment.|
|Carus||John Alexander Leo||Lieutenant||Passenger||Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.|
|Golding||Harry Ronald||Aircraftman 1st Class||Passenger||Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.|
|Wordsworth||Sidney George||Leading Aircraftman||Passenger||Royal Air Force. RAF 299 Squadron.|
|Simcock||John Ernest||Leading Aircraftman||Passenger||Royal Air Force.|
|Williams||Samuel Harry Arthur||Major||Passenger||Royal Artillery.|
|McWilliams||Joseph||Aircraftman 1st Class||Passenger||Royal Air Force.|
Joseph McWilliams’ grave is in Section 18, Plot 1, Row R, Grave 27 of Rennes Eastern Communal Cemetery, Ille-et-Vilaine, France. His headstone bears the inscription:
Of your charity pray for the soul of Joseph, beloved son of B and M McWilliams. RIP.