05/09/1940 No 19 Squadron Spitfire Mk1 P9422 Sq/Ldr. Pinkham AFC
Date: 5th September 1940 (Thursday)
Unit: No. 19 Squadron
Type: Supermarine Spitfire Mk1
Base: RAF Duxford, Cambridgeshire
Location: Whitehorse Woods near Birling, Kent
Pilot: Sq/Ldr. Philip (Tommy) Campbell Pinkham AFC 37208 RAF Age 25. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Spitfire P9422 took off at 09:47hrs from RAF Duxford for a patrol along the South coast of England. His aircraft was attacked by Me 109s and shot down over the Thames Estuary at 10:15hrs. It is believed that his aircraft crashed at White Horse Woods, Birling, Kent
Left: Supermarine Spitfire Mk1 of No. 19 Squadron RAF (courtesy of IWM) Right: Messerschmitt Me 109 (courtesy of Australian War Museum)
Above: Sq/Ldr. Philip (Tommy) Campbell Pinkham AFC in the centre, with hand in pocket (courtesy Phil Pinkham, nephew)
The map showing the area of the crash Whitehorse Woods near Birling, Kent
Sq/Ldr. Philip (Tommy) Campbell Pinkham. Kingsbury (St. Andrew) Churchyard, Kingsbury, Brent, Greater London, England. Grave Ref: Sec. H. Extn. Grave 4. Son of Lieut. Philip I. Pinkham. RNVR and Nora Pinkham of Wembley, England.
Squadron Leader Philip Campbell Pinkham AFC headstone in Kinksbury (St.Andrew) Churchyard, Kingsbury, Brent, London (courtesy of Iain MacFarlaine)
The next four paragraphs came from a newspaper cutting that the late Cliff Symes kept: "The funeral took place on Tuesday 10th September at St. Andrew's Kingsbury. As the coffin entered the church the sirens sounded for an air-raid. The clergyman, in accordance with the instructions of the Bishop, announced that the church was not an air-raid shelter and invited those who wished to do so to leave. No one did. The relatives, standing before the coffin of the dead officer, were informed that the front part of the church was the most dangerous and they were advised to move to the rear of the building. The mourners remained in their place facing the coffin and the service proceeded. As the funeral service drew to a close the "Raiders Past" was sounded, the last notes dying away on a mournful wail which gave a touch of drama to the tragic scene.
Born in an air-raid, this boy had given his life for his country in an air combat, his coffin had been bombed as it was brought to his home, and his funeral took place between an air-raid warning and the "All Clear".
The service was impressively conducted by the Rev. Mr. Bridgewater. The coffin was covered with the Air Force flag and was followed by the father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Philip I Pinkham, the dead officers twin brothers (Sgt A. L. Pinkham, R.A., and Cadet Pilot J. M. Pinkham RAF), both of whom were in uniform, Mrs S Bowyer (sister) and Mr. S. Bowyer, Miss Molly Pinkham (sister), Mr. Charles Pinkham (grandfather), Mr. Charles Pinkham, M.A., (uncle) etc. Many more relatives and friends assembled in the churchyard for the committal service and it was a moving scene when the brothers in uniform came to the salute as the coffin was lowered into the grave. Many wreathes were sent by relatives and friends including Officers who knew and loved him so well. Officers and other ranks of No 19 Squadron. The station C.O. and other ranks of the RAF.
Air Vice-Marshal T. Leigh-Mallory has written to Squadron Commander Pinkham's parents: "He was a fearless leader and a first-rate Squadron Commander, beloved by all those under him. In him the Service has lost an exceptionally promising young officer".
Born in 1915 Tommy was part educated at Kilburn Grammar School (1926 - 1932). He joined the City of London Yeomanry where he became the prize recruit of his year. Tommy was granted a short service commission as Acting Pilot Officer on probation April 16th 1935. On the 7th May 1935 he was posted to No 6 Flying Training School, Netheravon to gain his wings. On the 16th April 1936 he was posted to RAF Sutton Bridge as an instructor. Promoted to Flight Lieutenant 16th January 1939 and was posted the following day to No 11 Fighter Group Pool at Andover again as an instructor. By 22nd January 1940 Acting Squadron Leader Pinkham was in command of No 11 Group Pool later to become No 6 OTU (Operational Training Unit) in March 1940. By June Tommy was given the command of No 19 Fighter Command Squadron which at the time were flying Spitfire Mk1's based at RAF Duxford, Cambridgeshire. Awarded the Air Force Cross in July 1940. Tommy was at the time the youngest Squadron Commander in the country. The family almost later lost another son who was also serving in the RAF - shot down and taken PoW. (Wellington R1758)
Researched by: Kate Tame Aircrew Remembered and for all the relatives and friends of the crew. With special thanks to the late Cliff Symes - War Records, Kilburn Grammar School. Iain MacFarlaine for headstone photographs. Also to Phil Pinkham - son of the brother of Tommy Pinkham who contacted us in January 2016 and again in July 2018.