Personnel Index - Detail

First Names
Basil Gordon
Pilot Officer
Service Number
74933 (NCO) 117991 (Officer)
Crew Position
Posting Details
Posted in 11/40 and out 9/41


Awarded the DFM.

Flew 28 Hampden operations (5 x 2nd and 23 x 1st pilot).


P/O Tree was killed on active service on 28th September 1942 whilst instructing with 1507 Beam Approach Training Flight and is buried in Cottingham Cemetery (near Hull).

On 28.09.1942 at 08:25hrs the crew of this aircraft were undertaking a training flight which included practicing beam flying in the foggy conditions that were present on this day.

As it approached Finningley airfield in the fog (in weather that is decribed "marginal") it was flying low, following a track 250 yards to the left of the beam. The aircraft hit a tree and then stalled while trying to avoid other obstacles in its path on the approach to land at Finningley airfield at 09:35 hrs.

Neither pilots were strapped in and both were seriously injured and all three airmen were treated in Doncaster hospital for their injuries but the two pilots (instructor pilot B.G. Tree and pupil pilot Sgt. H.G.R. McCosker, RAAF) were so seriously injured that they died in the hours that followed.
Wireless operator/air gunner F/Sgt. E. Chamberlain duly recovered from a broken left tibia and fibula.

In an enquiry into the accident the Wg Cdr of 25 Operation Training Unit concluded.........
“There was no evidence to prove that any technical failure occurred in the main transmitter or the receiving set in the aircraft. Eye witnesses are of the opinion that the approach of the aircraft was too low. The faulty approach must be attributed to an error on the part of the Instructor PO Tree. He was known to be a steady and reliable pilot but it is possible that his experience on the beam had been gained by concentrated flying in a comparatively space of time, and this may have produced a feeling of over confidence. It was likely that the two pilots would not have sustained fatal injuries, had they been strapped in.”

As a consequence of this accident, it was recommended that the beam be moved away from the NE boundary of the airfield and in the meanwhile, in poor weather, a line of sodium flares should be lit to alert pilots of the present dangers.