Braithwaite, Thomas Layland


Thomas Layland Braithwaite was born on 21st December 1912 , the son of Major Francis Joseph Braithwaite of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment (who was killed in action at the Battle of Tanga, 4th November 1914 – see entry in WW1 Section) and entered Culver House, now Fearon’s, as a War Commoner in September 1926.  He enjoyed shooting and Winchester Football; he was in the Bisley VIII in 1929 and in the winning Ashburton Cup team in 1930.

On leaving school he emigrated to South Africa, where he married Helen Davies and lived in Cape Town.   When war was declared he joined the South Africa Air Force as a pilot and by late 1941 was serving with 12 Squadron, training on Avro Ansons.   Around April 1941 they re-equipped with Martin Maryland bombers which enabled them to join the Western Desert campaign.  They became operational at Wadi Natrun in Egypt by 29th July.

At 1500 on November 19th 1941, during Operation Crusader, Wavell’s attempt to relieve Tobruk, Lieutenant Braithwaite took off from Sidi Barrani at the controls of Maryland II AH319. The aircraft’s mission was to attack German troop concentrations on the road between Bardia and Tobruk.  Over the target, the aircraft was hit by medium anti-aircraft fire, and came down about eighteen miles north-west of Bardia. Braithwaite and a gunner, Air Sergeant T.B. Atkinson, were killed, but Second Lieutenant Clyde-Morley and Air Sergeant R.B. Wilkins survived to be taken prisoner.

Braithwaite, aged twenty-nine, was initially reported “missing, believed killed”.  His body was never found and he is commemorated on the Alamein Memorial, Column 245.

War: World War 2

  • Surname: Braithwaite
  • Forenames or initials: Thomas Layland
  • House: D
  • Years in School: 1926-1930
  • Rank: Lieutenant
  • Regiment: South African Air Force
  • Date of Birth: 21st December 1912
  • Date of Death: 19th November 1941
  • How Died: Killed in Action
  • Location in War Cloister: Inner F1
  • Decoration: NA
  • Burial Site: Unknown but commemorated on Column 245 of the Alamein Memorial