08.05.1941 No. 800 Squadron Fulmar I Lt/Cdr. Rupert C. Tillard DSC
Operation: Operation Tiger
Date: 08th May 1941 (Thursday)
Unit: No. 800 Squadron Fleet Air Arm
Type: Fulmer I
Serial: Not known
Code: Not known
Base: HMS Ark Royal
Location: Lost without trace - Mediterranean Sea
Pilot: Lt/Cdr. Rupert Claude Tillard DSC. RN Age 31. Killed
Obs: Lt. Mark Fownes Somerville DSC. RN Age 28. Missing believed killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
In September 1940, the squadron was assigned to the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal, which was part of Force H, operating in the Mediterranean.
On May 6th, 1941 Ark Royal, together with other ships of the Mediterranean Fleet left Alexandria to meet a convoy of freighters south of Malta.
Above: Lt. Mark Fownes Somerville DSC (courtesy Bruce Buchanan)
The convoy wasn't discovered until May 8th. In a dogfight with a large force of 19 CR 42's, Tillard and Somerville were shot down and killed. The convoy managed to pass nevertheless with only one freighter sunk. Lt.Cdr. Tillard’s body was washed up on the Tunisian coast, but Lt. Somerville was never found.
Lt/Cdr. Rupert Claude Tillard DSC. Enfidaville War Cemetery. Grave II.D.2. Son of Robert Penton Tillard and Nora Tillard, of Colehill, Wimborne, Dorsetshire, England and husband of Yvonne Beryl Tillard.
Lt. Mark Fownes Somerville DSC. Lee-On-Solent Memorial. Bay 1, Panel 7. Son of Col. Harold Somerville DSO and Vera Gwendoline (née Broadmead) of The Orchard, Haslemere, Surrey, England. (Note - some sources list the incorrect next of kin - these details have been confirmed by his nephew, Bruce Buchanan - January 2017.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Bruce Buchanan - January 2017. August 2017 contacted by Julia Witherspoon - relative of Rupert Tillard. Her father is his son.