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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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43 squadron crest
30.08.1940 No. 43 Squadron Hurricane I P3179 Sgt. Noble

Operation: Scramble

Date: 30th August 1940 (Friday)

Unit: No.43 Squadron RAF Tangmere

Type: Hawker Hurricane MK.I

Serial: P3179

Code: FT - 'A Flight'

Call sign: Green Two

Location: Impacted on ground adjacent to the eastern footpath of Woodhouse Road and on the boundary of Waste land to the east of Portland Gate, Hove.

Pilot: Sgt. Dennis Noble  742128  RAFVR Age 20. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Near mid-day on 30th August 1940 an air battle developed near Brighton as Tangmere Hurricanes engaged Heinkel He111 bombers and their fighter escort. 

As the planes wheeled and dived high above amidst the sound of chattering machine guns, one of the Hurricanes was seen to tilt earthwards. 

A few moments later it was in a near vertical  dive at full throttle, its howling headlong passage being a terrifying ordeal for those on the ground below.

During this encounter Sgt. Dennis Noble received fatal wounds and crashed near the junction of Portland and Woodhouse Road, Hove, Sussex at 11:50 a.m. The force of the impact blasted a crater in the pavement and drove the wreckage deep into the earth. It was assumed that its young pilot had been killed in mid-air as he made no attempt to abandon his stricken machine.

Essential service was severed at the time and great importance was placed on making repairs to the main road as quickly as possible. A perfunctory recovery of the body was made, sadly very little of Sgt. Noble's body was formally buried. It was said later that the coffin was rumoured to have had bricks added to make up the weight. On top of that, it was also rumoured that the majority of the body remained under the road. This is probably the main reason why the wreck had not been recovered earlier as it would cause much embarrassment and distress if further remains of an already buried airman were to be found. 

Some fifty-six years later, an individual gained permission from the local council for an excavation to take place amongst the surrounding suburbia. A short while into the dig the pilot's unopened parachute was discovered followed by, what may be described as a substantial portion of the body. An inquest concluded that the remains were indeed those of Sergeant Dennis Noble. 

Thus an over 50 year mystery was solved, and the pilot finally properly laid to rest in his home town of East Redford, Nottinghamshire. Sgt. Noble was 20 years old at the time, recently arrived at 43 Squadron from OTU Sutton Bridge. He lasted just 27 days with the Squadron. 

Local newspaper report of 1996 detailing the excavation of Hurricane P3179 - 

Sunday Express 8th April 2012 (Kate Tame)

Webmaster and Kate Tame presenting the pub with a memorial plaque

The crash site at Woodhouse Road 

Burial details:

Sgt. Dennis Noble. East Retford Cemetery, Nottinghamshire. Sec. A.K. Grave 232. Son of Harry and Annie Noble, Retford, Nottinghamshire, England. Note: Sergeant Noble joined the Royal Air Force as a Volunteer Reserve in 1938. Working during the week for Master Radio Ltd. in London, Dennis then travelled to Redhill Aerodrome in Surrey for his flying training at weekends.This continued until 3rd September 1939 when the outbreak of war was declared in Europe.

27th January 1940 Dennis was then allocated full-time tuition.Upon the completion of his training at 6 OTU Sutton Bridge and successfully converting to Hurricanes, joined 43 Squadron initially stationed at Northolt on 3rd August 1940. However, it was whilst the squadron was based at Tangmere West Sussex, on the 16th August, that he claimed a Ju 87 destroyed.

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: 17 May 2015, 16:05