04.07.1940 No. 206 Squadron Hudson I P5162 VX-V P/O. James E. MacKinnon
Operation: Air Sea Rescue
Date: 04th July 1940 (Thursday)
Unit: No. 206 Squadron (Coastal Command - 16 Group)
Type: Hudson I
Base: RAF Bircham Newton, Norfolk
Location: Off Texel, Holland
Pilot: P/O. James Elmer MacKinnon 41439 RAF Age 21. Missing
Pilot/Nav: P/O. Stanley John Lester 41434 RAF Age 26. Missing
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Keith Stephen Bushell 546956 RAF Age 21. Missing
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Kenneth Everitt Lewis 746918 RAFVR Age 31. Missing
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from RAF Bircham Newton at 05:50 hrs together with P/O. Selby Henderson DFC (note) in N7368 (1) on a search and rescue operation for the crew from a 44 Squadron Hampden P4352 KM-J.(2)
Understood to have been hit by flak with all crew missing.
Right: P/O. Stanley John Lester (see credits)
An extract from a letter sent to his home from P/O. Lester on the 7th November 1939 describes the action when P/O. Henderson earned his DFC:
“Since I came back things have been particularly lively. Yesterday was a day out for the squadron. We got two German recco planes. I saw two while I was on my patrol but managed to get into the clouds. The chap ahead of us came to grips with one and when we got to him the Hun plane was in pieces and sinking in the sea. I did not see the fight but at least I did see the result. Two Canadians in another plane engaged two flying boats and beat one of them which was shot down and they scared the other one off. They would have got them both only they ran out of ammunition. There was great jubilation when we all got back. It is the first we have ever shot one down and as we are purely a reconnaissance squadron the heads take quite a good view of it. Our kites are slow and have little armament but they are so easy to throw around that the faster stuff just can’t cope with us. If we keep turning around in very tight circles they can’t get to us and our gunners blaze away at them all the time.”
(1) The crew of Hudson N7368 were also lost on this operation.
(2) The Hampden P4352, had left on a gardening operation to the south of Langeland Island, Denmark. A message was received from the crew at 01:30 hrs on the 4th July that the Hampden had suffered engine failure, bearings taken showed that the aircraft was 45 miles north west of Terschelling. 21 year old P/O. Desmond Arthur Todd 42162 RAF, from Wellington, New Zealand, together with his 3 other crew were lost. (The body of one crew member, 34 year old Fl/Lt. William Sharman Bull 75682 RAFVR from Ivybrdge, Devon was washed ashore three weeks later. 22 year old Sgt. Eric Thomas Apperson 580923 RAF from Birkenhead, Cheshire with Sgt. Arthur Baird 639105 RAF and the pilot are remembered on the Runnymede Memorial.
(Note) Awarded the DFC and published in the London Gazette on the 2nd January 1940 - Awarded the medal at Buckingham Palace in February 1940. Details:
“At 11:45 on 8 November 1939, when pilot of a reconnaissance aircraft on duty over the North Sea, P/O. Henderson encountered two large enemy flying boats. He engaged the leading boat with utmost resolution, bursts were seen to enter the engines and after part of the flying boat’s hull, the enemy Rear-Gunner was incapacitated and eventually the flying boat went down partially out of control. P/O. Henderson then attacked the second enemy aircraft with equal determination and silenced its fire before exhausting all his ammunition.”
P/O. James Elmer MacKinnon. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 9. Son of Neil Elmer MacKinnon and Ethel Rose MacKinnon, of Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada.
P/O. Stanley John Lester. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 9. Son of John and Catherine Agatha Lester, of Murchison, Nelson, New Zealand. (memorial shown top right)
Sgt. Keith Stephen Bushell. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 12. Son of Mr. and Mrs. W.S. Bushell, of Elsing, Norfolk, England. (memorial shown top left)
Sgt. Kenneth Everitt Lewis. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 16. Son of William Morgan Lewis and Gladys Lewis, husband of Jessie Lewis, of Battersea, London, England.
Researched by Jenifer Lemaire for Aircrew Remembered and updated April 2019. Page dedicated to the relatives of this crew including relatives of P/O. Lester who we are in contact with and hope to have further information soon. Thanks to Ross Mcneill - 'Coastal Command Losses' Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Moomingpapa on Flickr for Bushell memorial photo, Aircrew Remembered own Archives. Les Allison and Harry Hayward - 'They Shall Grow Not Old', Errol Martyn - For Your Tomorrow Vol’s 1-3.