UNDERWOOD, Paul Derek, Leading Aircraftman,1331732
RAFVR (Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve)
Died 3 February 1942, aged 20
The marriage of Paul James Underwood to Gertrude Margaret Edwards was registered at Fulham for the March Quarter of 1920. They resided at 97 Edith Road Fulham and the birth their son, Paul Derek Underwood on 24 March 1921 may be found recorded in the same District, 3/1921.
The family moved to Osmington, 7 Shaldeford Road, Ewell. [This address cannot be traced immediately and may have become Shawford Road.]
After November 1940, Paul Derek joined the RAFVR and was inducted for service at Uxbridge or Weston Super Mare. On 16 August 1941 he arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to train as an RAF pilot in the USA, under the 'Arnold Scheme
' for three and a half years. He was then aged 20 years & 5 months and described as 5' 11" in height with a fresh complexion, fair hair, blue eyes, and a neck scar. Having been at No 1 'M' Depot, RCAF, Toronto, Canada, he entered America at the Detroit Michigan crossing en route for Darr Aero Institution, Albany Georgia. In Class 42C, he trained at Cochran Field, Ga., and Craig Field, Selma, Alabama, also Maxwell Force Base, Alabama - [LINK http://www.arnold-scheme.org/bases.htm
On 3 February 1942, Paul was aboard a North American AT-6A, TEXAN, 41-756, of 92nd School Squadron USAAF, which took off from Craig Field, Selma, Alabama. It is reported to have flown into the terrain near Rehoboth, Alabama, whilst flying at low altitude to allow the passenger to take photographs. The Anniston Star of 5 February 1942 quoted the public relations office of Craig Field writing that 'Two RAF cadets were found dead in the wreckage of their training plane near Miller's Ferry, Ala., approximately 70 miles south of here..' - LAC Paul Derek Underwood, RAFVR, LAC David William Turner, RAFVR. It remains unclear who had actually been flying the aircraft.
Paul Derek, son of Paul James and Gertrude Margaret Underwood, of West Ewell, Surrey, England was interred in Montgomery (Oakwood) Cemetery Annexe
Sec. N. Lot 109. Grave 2, next to David William Turner in Grave 1. The family took the option of adding a personal inscription to his headstone,
" Loving memory / Mum, Dad, Muriel. / In life the finest / In death one of the brave."
Paul's headstone in the Montgomery (Oakwood) Cemetery Annexe, Alabama, USA.
Photograph (12777642) by "THR" via findagrave.com
A letter written by Paul's father to the Town Clerk of Montgomery, Alabama, in August 1942 mentioned that he had merely seen 'Our only child, the sunshine of our lives' for 48 hours in the eight months preceding his death.
Main Text: Brian Bouchard © 2014
Updated in 2018 by Roger Morgan