Samuel Sanderson

Sergeant Samuel Sanderson died on 9th August 1940 in an R.A.F. training exercise. He was a well-known singer, footballer, and cricketer at home in Belfast.


Samuel Sanderson


A keen sportsman and singer known around his hometown, Sergeant Samuel Sanderson returned to Belfast 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 the Second World War. He was the son of Alexander Sanderson and Mary Sanderson (née Ramsey) of Wyncroft, 41 Madison Avenue, Belfast.

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. Before the outbreak of the Second World War, 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 a week before his death in England.

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

Remembering the crew of Blenheim L1191

Last Name First Name(s) Rank Role Information
Nelson William Sergeant Pilot R.A.F.V.R. 808425. Killed aged 21 years old.
Sanderson Samuel Sergeant Observer R.A.F.V.R. 746826. Killed aged 29 years old.
Smith Cyril Arthur Sergeant Wireless Operator / Air Gunner R.A.F.V.R. 903160. Killed aged 19 years old.

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

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 returned for trial on bail charged with the theft of the £130 vehicle.