Banister, James Francis


James Francis Banister was born on 24th January 1920, second son of Charles Gonville Banister (I 1903-1908) and Phyllis, (nee Pepper of Romsey) of Armstrong Farm, Brockenhurst, and came to Winchester from West Downs in September 1933.    His younger brother, Robin, the only one of the three brothers to survive the war, wrote of him:  “He started writing and drawing at an early age.  All of his writing was complemented by sketches, which provided the material for later watercolours.  He was a great countryman who loved the New Forest in all its facets.  He walked and rode all over it recording dogs, horses, trees and views both for future use and to perfect his art.  He went up to Cambridge in 1938 and developed into a polymath, expressing himself as a writer, poet and painter.”

In 1939,  after a year at Caius College, Cambridge he began his Army training in the ranks of the East Kent Regiment (The Buffs), and in September 1940 he was commissioned to the Cheshire Regiment, going out to the Middle East a year later.   From May 1941 to June 1942 he was involved in the defence of Malta, for which he was awarded the Africa Star.   He was seconded to the RAF, undergoing training in Canada, and was promoted to Flying Officer.    Back in England he completed his flying training and was posted to No 7 Advanced Flying Unit, flying single seat fighters.   While on a night flying navigation exercise  from RAF Walton, near Peterborough, on 21st April 1944, he was killed  when his unarmed Miles Magister trainer aircraft was shot down by a German Messerschmidt 410.  He was buried with full military honours in St Nicholas Churchyard, Brockenhurst.

His brother, Lieutenant Peter Charles McConnel Banister DSC also died in the war on board the submarine HMS Umpire (see individual entry).

War: World War 2

  • Surname: Banister
  • Forenames or initials: James Francis
  • House: H
  • Years in School: 1933-1938
  • Rank: Flying Officer
  • Regiment: RAF
  • Date of Birth: 24th January 1920
  • Date of Death: 21st April 1944
  • How Died: Killed in Action
  • Location in War Cloister: Inner A1
  • Decoration: NA
  • Burial Site: St Nicholas Churchyard, Brockenhurst