Whigham, Robert George Murray


He was the only son of General Sir Robert Dundas Whigham GCB, KCMG, DSO, Adjutant General to the Forces, and Lady Whigham (née Isabel Adeline Muntz) of St. Andrew’s, Fife.

He entered the Reverend W.D. Monro’s House in September 1916. During his five years at Winchester he won distinction in gymnastics and rowing. In 1920 and 1921 he was in the winning team for Turner Cup (athletics) and won the Headmaster’s Silver Medal in 1918 and again in 1921. In 1921 he got into the Bisley VIII, making the team’s highest score.

On leaving he spent three years at University College, Oxford, and then went into business. From 1924 to 1928 he was with Brown Fleming & Murray, CA, and then with British Celanese Ltd. of 22 Hanover Square, London. On April 10th 1924 he married Ellen Rose Rutledge Carr.

At some point before the war he acquired a pilot’s licence, and on the outbreak of hostilities he joined the Civil Air Guard, transferring on January 1st 1940 to the RAFVR.

Accepted for flying duties as an air gunner and commissioned on joining the RAFVR, he was promoted to Pilot Officer in March 1940, and again to Flying Officer in March 1941. His squadron, 405 Squadron RCAF, flew Wellington II bombers from Pocklington, Yorkshire: Whigham was their Gunnery Leader (senior air gunner).

He was killed in action in a raid on Brest on July 24th 1941.   Wellington LQ-U (serial W5551) took off from Pocklington at 1130 that day, flown by the Squadron Commander, Wing Commander P.A. Gilchrist. When the aircraft was shot down by German fighters at Ploudaniel, ten miles north-east of Brest, Whigham was killed and Pilot Officer W. Mackay severely injured; he and Sergeant R.H. Westburg were taken prisoner. However, Gilchrist successfully escaped and evaded capture, as did Sergeants J.S. Paton and M.H.J. Dalphond RCAF, DFM.   Dalphond was imprisoned by the Vichy French, but escaped in 1942 and made it back to England in October that year.  Two other 405 Squadron Wellingtons were lost on this operation, attacking the German capital ship “Gneisenau”.

At first Whigham was, like so many aircrew, posted missing, but eventually confirmation of his death arrived, brought by the escapers. He was confirmed killed in September 1941. Aged thirty-eight when he died, Whigham is buried in grave 11, Lesneven Communal Cemetery.

 

War: World War 2

  • Surname: Whigham
  • Forenames or initials: Robert George Murray
  • House: G
  • Years in School: 1916-1921
  • Rank: Flying Officer
  • Regiment: 405 Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force
  • Date of Birth: 8th April 1903
  • Date of Death: 24th July 1941
  • How Died: Killed in Action
  • Location in War Cloister: Inner D2
  • Decoration: NA
  • Burial Site: Lesneven Communal Cemetery, Brittany: Grave 11