Male portrait placeholder image

Name: John Colbourne

Burial Number: 0907

Gender: Male

Occupation: 2nd Lieutenant in Royal Air Force 16th Training Squadron

Born: 00/00/1899

Died: 04/07/1918

Buried: 08/07/1917


John Leslie Colbourne, son of Charles Edward and Ethel Maude Colbourne, was born in 1899 in Lancing, where his father was a “Colonial Butcher”, with a Butcher’s Shop in South Lancing main street. In the 1930s Charles Colbourne established a chain of 25 butcher’s shops in East and West Sussex.

Several generations of the Colbourne family were Confectioners and Grocers and ran a Post Office in South Lancing.

In 1911 John Leslie was a Boarder at Horsham Grammar School. Founded by Richard Collier AD 1532 it was known as Collyer’s School from 1923. From the 1890s 110 boys from ages 7 to 17, both boarders and day-schoolers, were taught there, and for the first time a sixth form to study for university entrance was included.

In early 1918 John L  became a Second Lieutenant in the RAF, in the 16th Training Squadron which was formed in 1915 at Saint-Omer to carry out a mixture of offensive patrolling and reconnaissance. During July 1918 three Pilots were killed during training on RE8s in Wiltshire.

The R.E.8 was a British two-seat biplane reconnaissance and bomber aircraft of the First World War designed by John Kenworthy at the Royal Aircraft Factory. Intended as a replacement for the vulnerable B.E.2, the R.E.8 was widely regarded as more difficult to fly, and gained a reputation in the Royal Flying Corps for being “unsafe” that was never entirely dispelled.

Although eventually it gave reasonably satisfactory service, it was never an outstanding combat aircraft. In spite of this, the R.E.8 served as the standard British reconnaissance and artillery spotting aircraft from mid-1917 to the end of the war.

At the time of John’s death, in training, in Wiltshire, his family lived at 5 Broadway, West Worthing. His mother, Edith, died in 1929 and his father in the 1960’s, then living in Hove.

Researcher: Liz Lane

The Grave

Photograph of headstone for John Colbourne

Location in Cemetery

Area: WB Row: 1 Plot: 13

Exact Location (what3words): dose.entry.lands

Ashes or Urn: Unknown



No description of the headstone has been added.


In ever loving memory of John Leslie 2nd Lt. R.A.F. only child of Charles and Ethel Colbourne. Killed whilst flying in Wiltshire 4th July 1918 aged 18 years and 8 months "We know not what a day will bring forth. Thy will be done" Also of his mother Ethel Maud Colbourne who passed away 17th Jan. 1929 aged 61 years.

Commonwealth War Graves

This grave is for someone who died in service during World War One or World War Two. As such the grave is managed and cared for by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, was established by Royal Charter in 1917. Amongst its responsbilities are:

  • Marking and maintaining the graves of members of the forces of Commonwealth countries who died in both World War One (WWI) and WWII.
  • Maintaining memorials to the dead whose bodies have no known grave.
  • Providing records and registers of these burials and commemorations.

You can read more about the valuable work of the CWGC by going to their website

Further Information


Name: John Leslie Colbourne

Gender: Male

Born: 00/00/1899

Town: Lancing

County: Sussex

Country: England


Maiden Name: Not applicable

No marriage information is available for this burial record.

Information at Death

Date of Death: 04/07/1918

Cause of death: Flying Accident

Town: Unknown

County: Wiltshire

Country: England


No obituary has been entered.

Personal Effects

Money left to others: No value recorded

Current value of effects: Not calculated

Census Information


Boarder at Horsham Grammar School

Miscellaneous Information

No miscellaneous information is available for this burial record.