18.06.1940 No. 4 (Continental) Ferry Pilot Pool Blenheim IV L9317 P/O. Colin W. Handley
Operation: Ferry Flight
Date: 18th June 1940 (Tuesday)
Unit: No. 4 (Continental) Ferry Pilot Pool
Type: Blenheim IV
Base: RAF Kemble, Gloucestershire
Location: Charroux, France
Pilot: P/O. Colin Wright Handley 42343 RAF Age 20. Killed
Obs: Sgt. Patrick Denis Humphrey Mcgovern 903042 RAFVR Age ? Killed
Air/Gnr: LAC. James Gilbert Broadbent Thomas 936495 RAFVR Age 26. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from RAF Tangemere between 06:30 and 06:45 hours on a ferry flight to Malta via France and Tunisia. 12 Hurricanes with 12 Blenheims being sent to reinforce the besieged island of Malta.
Due to the heavy clouds south of the Loire River the formation split up. The weather conditions worsened to a great deal resulting in the loss of six of the Blenheims and one Hurricane. 18 valuable crew members losing their lives this day.
At least one monument has been placed to another crew lost this day, that of P/O. Douglas Johnston flying Blenheim IV L9314 at Prunières.
Grave photographs kindly supplied by John Murray who has kindly given us permission to release high definition of these images to relative - please contact us.
P/O. Colin Wright Handley. Charroux Communal Cemetery. Grave 1. Son of John George and Annie Elizabeth Handley, of Ingrave, Essex. Awarded P/O. on probation on the 6th January 1940.
Sgt. Patrick Denis Humphrey Mcgovern. Charroux Communal Cemetery. Grave 2. No further information - are you able to assist?
LAC. James Gilbert Broadbent Thomas. Charroux Communal Cemetery. Grave 3. Son of Frederick Ogden Thomas and of Emma Thomas (née Broadbent), husband of Lilian Audrey Thomas, of Norton Tower, Halifax, Yorkshire - married 1939, one son, John David Thomas.
With many thanks to John Murray who visited the graves for Aircrew Remembered and took these fine photographs. John lives in the area and has contacted the CWGC to establish protocol for cleaning up the headstones. Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to sources quoted below.