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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.

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165 Squadron Crest
12.06.1944 No. 165 Squadron Spitfire IX MK567 SK-Q Sgt. James J. Mclean

Operation: Rhubarb

Date: 12th June 1944 (Monday)

Unit: No. 165 Squadron

Type: Spitfire LF.IX

Serial: MK567

Code: SK-Q

Base: RAF Preddanack, Cornwall

Location: English Channel south of Start Point

Pilot: Sgt. James Johnston McLean NZ/417080 RNZAF Age 20. Missing


Taking off at 11:30 hrs on Rhubarb 278 operation. After attacking a military transport convoy west of Lambelle, the remaining two Spitfires from the squadron started to return to RAF Preddanack. 

Whilst over the English Channel Sgt. McLean reported that his aircraft was suffering problems with the engine. Some 8 minutes later he abandoned the aircraft 70 miles south of Start Point. The other Spitfire circled and saw the pilot holding onto the end of his dingy and that his parachute had half covered that. He was forced to return due to lack of fuel. Air sea rescue were dispatched to pick him up and searched till early evening, but no trace could be found.

Also lost from the squadron during the same operation:

Spitfire IX MK471 SK-N Flown by 21 year old, P/O. Donald Moffat-Wilson 17334 RAFVR. During this day 10 pilots were killed or missing, 2 injured with 6 others safe after either baling out or crash landing. 10 Spitfires, 8 Typhoons lost.

Right: P/O. Donald Moffat-Wilson

The squadron had lost another experienced pilot, Sgt. James McLean had 450 hours in his log book and this had been his 38th operation.

Onehunga Memorial Pool and Leisure Centre (photo courtesy John Halpin)

Burial details:

Sgt. James Johnston McLean. Commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. Panel 264. Son of David William and Lizzie McLean, of Te Papapa, Auckland, New Zealand, husband of Olive Claire McLean (nee Firth), of Epsom, Auckland. Also remembered at the Onehunga War Memorial Pool in Auckland, New Zealand.

Acknowledgements: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives and Fred Paradie - Paradie Archive (both on this site), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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Last Modified: 24 May 2015, 00:12

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