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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.
Further data available at Allied Losses & Incidents database

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RAF Crest
18.06.1940 No.4 (Continental) Ferry Pilot Pool Blenheim IV L9315 Plt.Off. McCash

Operation: Ferry Flight

Date: 18th June 1940 (Tuesday)

Unit: No.4 (Continental) Ferry Pilot Pool

Type: Blenheim IV

Serial: L9315

Code: Not known

Base: RAF Tangemere, West Sussex

Location: Heisse, France

Pilot: Plt.Off. James McCash 78977 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Obs: Sgt. Ronald Micklethwaite 636876 RAF Age 19. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: AC1. George Harris 626479 RAF Age 23. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Took off from RAF Tangmere, West Sussex between 06.30 and 06.45 hrs. A formation of 12 Blenheim and 6 Hurricanes being sent to Malta.


Severe storms were encountered North West of Limoges and the formation was forced to break up. An absolute tragedy as no less than 7 aircraft were lost with the loss of life of 18 valuable crew members.

L9317 Flown by 20 year old Plt.Off. Colin Handley, killed with all 2 other crew members.
L9318 Flown by 24 year old Sgt. Martin Field killed with all 2 other crew members.
L9314 Flown by 25 year old Plt.Off. Douglas Stewart Johnston, killed with all 2 other crew members.
L9351 Flown by 25 year old Flt.Lt. James Wilkinson-Bell, killed with all 2 other crew members.
L9263 Flown by 30 year old Sqn.Ldr. George 'Scotty' Pryde, survived with all 2 other crew members. (1)
Hurricane I Flown by Plt.Off. A.G. Maycock survived after crashing at Loudon at 10:00 hrs.

L9315 crashed at Hiesse in France - none of the crew survived.

(1) Crashed into the boundary fence during take off due to engine failure on the 2nd leg of the journey from Marignane airfield. Took off in another Blenheim IV L9334 escorted by 5 Hurricanes. As they approached the African coast his Blenheim was seen to fire a red Very light and the aircraft fell into the sea. All 3 crew members were lost.

Burial details:

Plt.Off. James McCash. Hiesse Communal Cemetery. Grave 1. Son of David N. McCash and Ruby McCash, of Perth, Scotland. Commissioned on the 1st April 1940 from Sergeant (740324).

Sgt. Ronald Micklethwaite. Hiesse Communal Cemetery. Grave 3. Son of Sam and Martha Elizabeth Micklethwaite, of Kirkheaton, Yorkshire, England. His Uncle, 36 year old Gunner Ernest Micklethwaite 1123897 Royal Artillery, 19 Field Regiment also lost his life later in the war on the 31st January 1944 - buried at Anzio War Cemetery.

AC1. George Harris. Hiesse Communal Cemetery. Grave 2. Born on the 16th March 1917 in Chertsey, Surrey, England. The son of Benjamin and Amy Elenor (née Broomfield) Harris and the stepson of Mrs. M. Harris, of Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, England.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Steve Airzee for photographs of the crew graves. Thanks to Mike Wedge for the DoB and Next of Kin details for AC1 Harris. Other sources indicated below.

RS 12.01.2020 - Update to NoK & DoB details for AC1 Harris

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, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), 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', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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