Corbett, William Howard Woodward (No. 82974)

Corbett, William Howard Woodward (William)

Flying Officer (Wireless Operator/Air Gunner)

No. 82974, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

Killed in an aircraft accident on Thursday 19 June 1941 (aged 32)

Upper Heyford Cemetery, Oxfordshire, England (Section B Grave 87)


Commonwealth War Graves Commission


The death of Flying Officer William Howard Woodward Corbett (No. 82974) was reported in the 28 June 1941 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle under the headline Ards Airman Killed in Accident.

William Howard Woodward Corbett was the youngest son of Howard Newton Corbett and Agnes Margaret Corbett (nee Woodward) of 18 Montrose Road, Sheffield in Yorkshire.  Howard Newton Corbett was a bank clerk before he became a journalist and his marriage to Agnes Margaret Woodward was registered in the first quarter of 1903 in Cardiff, Glamorgan.  They had at least three children:

Lawrence Woodward (born 1906)

Ellaine Harriet Woodward (born 1907)

William Howard Woodward (born 1908)

William’s birth was registered in the fourth quarter of 1908 in Barnet, Middlesex and he was baptised on 31 January 1910 in St Oswald’s Church, Bannerdale Road, Sheffield.

The Corbett family moved to the USA, but they didn’t all travel together.  On 26 July 1924 Agnes and her three children – Lawrence (a journalist), Ellaine and William travelled from Liverpool to New York aboard the Cunard steamship Laconia.  Then, on 20 January 1929, Howard, Agnes and Ellaine returned to England aboard the SS Arabic.

Howard Newton Corbett died on 22 August 1938.

During the Second World War William Howard Woodward Corbett served with the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and at that time his widowed mother was living at Castleavery, Newtownards.  On 26 August 1940 he was promoted from Acting Pilot Officer on probation to Pilot Officer on probation.  He was home on leave in Newtownards at the beginning of May 1941 and some five weeks later he died as a result of a flying accident.

On 19 June 1941 he was one of a crew of four aboard a Handley Page Hampden aircraft (AD831) belonging to 16 OTU (Operational Training Unit) based at RAF Upper Heyford and they were on a training exercise when their aircraft crashed at Baynards Green near the airfield.  All four crewmen died in the crash and were buried in Upper Heyford Cemetery.  In addition to Flying Officer William Howard Woodward Corbett (No. 82974) the other three men who died were:

  • Sergeant Joseph Jossie Goldman (aged 22) from Bloemfontein, Orange Free State, South Africa
  • Sergeant Charles William Davis (aged 23) from Freshwater, Carbonear, Newfoundland
  • Sergeant Patrick Lally (aged 23) from Kilbeg, Co. Galway, Irish Republic

At the time of his death, which was registered in Ploughley, Oxfordshire, Flying Officer William Howard Woodward Corbett’s brother Lawrence was serving as a Captain with the Royal Army Service Corps.  Along with his widowed mother, Captain Corbett attended his brother’s funeral in Oxfordshire.