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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 165 (Ceylon) Squadron Spitfire IX MK471 SKN Plt.Off. Donald Moffat-Wilson

Operation: Rhubarb

Date: 12th June 1944 (Monday)

Unit: 165 (Ceylon*) Squadron. 19 Group (motto: Infensa virtuti invidia - 'Envy is the foe of virtue')

Type: Spitfire IX

Serial: MK471

Code: SK-N

Base: RAF Preddanack, Cornwall

Location: West of Lambelle, France

Pilot: Plt.Off. Donald Moffat-Wilson 173334 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

* The name "Ceylon" was added in recognition of the Island of Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, raising the funding to originally equip the squadron.

REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off at 11:30 hrs on Rhubarb 278 operation with three others. During this operation in the afternoon whilst attacking a military transport convoy west of Lambelle his aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire and crashed in a field west of the town.

He had just returned form compassionate leave following the early death of his father of a heart attack, aged just 55.

Also lost from the squadron during the same operation:

Spitfire IX MK567 SK-Q Flown by 20 year old, Flt.Sgt. James Johnston McLean 417080 RNZAF from Auckland, New Zealand. Missing after baling out and seen climbing into his dingy some 70 miles south of Start Point, South Devon, England.

During this day 10 pilots were killed or missing, 2 injured with 6 others safe after either baling out or crash landing. 10 Spitfires and 8 Typhoon aircraft were lost.

Photograph of the pilots of 165 (Ceylon) Squadron - Dated February 1944 and captioned "Splinters’s Chindits". Sgt. McLean standing 3rd row from the front and 3rd from the right, the remainder are unknown (Courtesy James Mclean)

Left: Sherborne School, Dorset - Any further information that you are able to assist them with fallen former pupils from all wars, we would be pleased to pass onto them.

Burial details:

Plt.Off. Donald Moffat-Wilson. Bayeux War Cemetery. Grave XVII.F.4. Grave inscription reads: "Beloved Son Of Guy And Edith Moffat-Wilson. In Proud And Loving Memory".

Further information courtesy Sherborne School Archives:

Born 23rd February 1923, son of Guy Burgo Moffat-Wilson and Edith Moffat-Wilson, of Trentham, Stillorgan, Dublin, Irish Republic. Attended Sherborne Preparatory School. Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) May 1937-July 1941; 6th form; Prefect.

Obituary, 'The Shirburnian', July 1945: 'Donald Moffat-Wilson, Flying Officer, RAF, came to Sherborne from the Prep. where he had shown himself a promising footballer and was also a King's Scout. At one time it looked as though he must get into the XV, but knee trouble intervened and the promise did not materialise. He was in the School boxing team and was a School Prefect and a promising mathematician. On leaving he went to a Scottish University, where one of the authorities later declared him to be the finest character he had met. He came back from his training in America quite unspoiled and started "what he had always wanted to do and dreamed about." In a sweep over France last June he was shot down and nothing has been heard since. His Squadron Leader has told of the respect and affection with which he was regarded.'

Note: His older brother, also a pilot, 28 year old Plt.Off. Guy Patrick Hamilton Moffat-Wilson 54738 RAFVR was killed just 6 months later on the 3rd December 1944. We are unable to locate any details as to the reason for his loss, but as he is buried at Wolverhampton Borough Cemetery in England, it is possible that it was due to a training accident.

A tribute to Plt.Off. Moffat-Wilson has been posted here.

Researched for relatives of the pilot. With thanks to Sherborne School Archives for additional information. Thanks to James Mclean for the image of 156 Squadron.

RS 29.04.2020 - Addition of Squadron photograph

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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