Samuel Sanderson

Sergeant Samuel Sanderson died on 9th August 1940 in a training exercise in England. He was a well known singer, footballer, and cricketer in his hometown.


Samuel Sanderson


A keen sportsman and singer known around his hometown, Sergeant Samuel Sanderson returned to Belfast, Co. Antrim to visit family and friends a week before his untimely death in England.

Sergeant Samuel Sanderson (746826) served in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve during World War Two. He was the son of Alexander Sanderson and Mary Sanderson (née Ramsey) of Wyncroft, 41 Madison Avenue, Belfast, Co. Antrim.

Samuel was a keen sportsman and singer. He played football for amateur sides Cliftonville Olympic and Cliftonville Strollers. He also turned out to play cricket for Woodvale in his hometown. As a child, he was a choirboy at St. George’s Church, High Street, Belfast, Co. Antrim. Before the outbreak of World War Two, he worked in the Tramways Office of the Belfast Corporation.

Samuel was one of many airmen from Northern Ireland to sign the guitar of Sydney Ireland as a large group of trainees departed from Larne, Co. Antrim. He last returned home to Belfast, Co. Antrim a week before his death in England.

Samuel died on 9th August 1940 aged 29 years old. He was an Observer with RAF No. 13 Operational Training Unit on board Bristol Blenheim L1191 on a day time training exercise. The crew took off from RAF Weston-on-the-Green, Oxfordshire and crash on their return to the same airfield. The plane crashed into the ground near the airfield and burst into flames killing all 3 crew members.

Remembering the crew of Blenheim L1191

Last NameFirst Name(s)RankRoleInformation
NelsonWilliamSergeantPilotRAFVR 808425. Killed aged 21 years old.
SandersonSamuelSergeantObserverRAFVR 746826. Killed aged 29 years old.
SmithCyril ArthurSergeantWireless Operator / Air GunnerRAFVR 903160. Killed aged 19 years old.

Samuel Sanderson’s grave is in Glenalina Extension, Section H, Grave 89 of Belfast City Cemetery, Belfast, Co. Antrim. Officers and ranks of the Royal Air Force attended the service. His name is on the war memorial of Royal Belfast Academical Institution, Belfast, Co. Antrim.

A story appeared in the Belfast Newsletter on 18th April 1947 relating to the theft of a motor car from Samuel Sanderson in early 1940. Representatives of the deceased saw Robert Campbell of Rosapenna Drive, Belfast, Co. Antrim returned for trial on bail charged with the theft of the £130 vehicle.