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australian rowers profiles and history

Wilfred (Wilf) W Alexander

Adelaide Rowing Club (SA)

18 April 1909 – 14 March 1943

Wilf was an active and good rower with Adelaide Rowing Club. He was obviously well liked and respected in South Australian rowing.

Sadly he died on active service in the UK in a night time training exercise whilst piloting a Wellington bomber.

The RAAFA Aviation Heritage Museum website provides that following background on Wilf's active service and the accident which caused his death.

Pilot Officer Wilfred Wilson ALEXANDER

Service No: 416918

Born: St Peters SA, 28 April 1909

Enlisted in the RAAF: 8 November 1941

Unit: No. 27 Operational Training Unit (RAF), RAF Lichfield, Staffordshire

Died: Aircraft Accident (No. 27 Operational Training Unit Wellington aircraft Z 1681), Staffordshire, 14 March 1943, Aged 33 Years

Buried: Fradley (St Stephen) Churchyard, Staffordshire

CWGC Additional Information: Son of William Earnest and Blanche Caroline Alexander, of Adelaide, South Australia; husband of Marna Jeane Alexander, of Royston Park, South Australia.

Roll of Honour: Adelaide SA

Remembered: Panel 118, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

Remembered: World War II Honour Roll, National War Memorial of SA, North Terrace, Adelaide

On the night of 13/14th March 1943, Wellington Z1681 took off from RAF Lichfield, Staffordshire, at 1850 hours, foe a night navigation exercise. The aircraft returned to base about 0040 hours, and made an extremely low approach. In doing so it hit a tree, the force being sufficient to roll the aircraft over. Two of the crew were killed and four, one fatally, were injured in the crash. The aircraft on return from the cross country Instrument Rating night exercise, called up control at 0045 hours and was given permission to pancake. Nothing more was heard until a report was received at 0218 hours that an aircraft had crashed three quarters of a mile west of the aerodrome. Overdue action had already been taken. McCreath was a sound and dependable pilot.

The crew members of Z 1681 were:

Pilot Officer Wilfred Wilson Alexander (416918) (Air Bomber)

Sergeant John Denyer (1208830) (RAFVR) (Wireless Air Gunner)

Flying Officer Alfred Ronald Heins (413765) (Navigator) Fatally Injured, Died 16 March 1943

Pilot Officer Colin Andrew McCreath (409428) (Pilot) Injured, Discharged from the RAAF: 5 November 1948

Sergeant Phillip Stanley Woodhouse (405240) (Air Gunner) Injured, Discharged from the RAAF: 11 May 1945

Pilot Officer William John Ross Vincent (409350) (Air Gunner) Injured, Discharged from the RAAF: 19 September 1945


Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))

Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records

Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll

National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A9301, 416918

Rowing summary

1927-28 – commenced competitive rowing at Adelaide Rowing Club

1934-35 – Adelaide Rowing Club senior eight

1935 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship four seat – Third

1936 – SA Champion Eight, four seat - First

1936 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship six seat – Second

1947 – Wilf Alexander Memorial Fours commenced at Adelaide Rowing Club

Andrew Guerin
January 2023

Website by Hope Stewart—Website Design & Management