Adair, Thomas (Tom)
Sergeant (Wireless Operator/Air Gunner)
No. 1531154, 458 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Killed on active service on Sunday 13 February 1944 (aged 20)
No known grave
Malta Memorial, Valetta, Malta (Panel 14 Column 2)
Donaghadee and District War Memorial
Shore Street Presbyterian Church, Donaghadee
Regent House School Newtownards
His father’s CWGC headstone in Belfast City Cemetery
Thomas Adair was born on 9 June 1923 in Belfast and he was the only son of James Sinclair Adair and Jane Elizabeth Adair (nee Wooster) who were married on 25 February 1920 in Ballygilbert Presbyterian Church. James Sinclair Adair, a clerk from 2 Lilac Villas, Century Street, Belfast was a son of Henry Adair, a supervisor. Jane Elizabeth Wooster from 19 Maximfeldt Road, Erith, Kent was a daughter of Charles Wooster, a manufacturer.
The Adair family moved from Belfast to Donaghadee where they lived in Princess Gardens and later at Laurington, Millisle Road. They had at least four children:
Thomas (born 9 June 1923 in Belfast)
Eileen (worked for the Ministry of Agriculture at Stormont)
Dorothy Kathleen (born 16 July 1931, baptised in Shore Street Presbyterian Church, Donaghadee).
Thomas Adair attended Donaghadee Public Elementary School and then Regent House School, Newtownards from 1936 until 1938. After leaving school Thomas Adair worked in the linen business before joining the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.
Sergeant Thomas Adair was 20 years old when he was killed on 13 February 1944 and John Rodgers, Headmaster of Regent House School, commented that Tom had lost his life ‘when his bomber was brought down off the coast of Italy’. Tom was one of a crew of six aboard a Vickers Wellington Mark XIII aircraft (JA104) that took off from RAF Bone in Algeria on an anti-submarine patrol off Ghisonaccia, Corsica and later ditched in Pinarello Bay, Corsica. It was concluded later that an accumulation of ice on the wings was the likely cause of the crash. Two crew members survived – Flying Officer Robert Henry Male and Flight Sergeant Henry William Baines.
In addition to Thomas Adair, three other crew members died:
- Flight Sergeant Harry William Brandon (aged 31) from Ealing, Middlesex
- Flight Sergeant William McIver Mounsell Lipscomb (aged 22) Royal Australian Air Force
- Flight Sergeant Sydney Neam Campbell (aged 29) Royal Australian Air Force
There were also three members of ground crew aboard the aircraft and one survived – Sergeant Cecil Francis Arty Percy.
The two who died were:
- Corporal Kieran Kenny (aged 24) Royal Australian Air Force
- LAC Gordon George Parkin MID (aged 30) Royal Australian Air Force
Sergeant Thomas Adair’s body was never recovered. Within a 16-month period, Thomas Adair’s mother lost her husband and her son. Dorothy Kathleen Adair lost her father and her brother.
Sergeant Thomas Adair (No. 1531154) is commemorated on the Malta Memorial; on Donaghadee and District War Memorial; in Shore Street Presbyterian Church, Donaghadee; in Regent House School and on his father’s CWGC headstone in Belfast City Cemetery. His father, James Sinclair Adair, also died in service during the Second World War.