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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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RAF Crest
16.04.1943 No 1 Overseas Aircraft Dispatch Unit Blenheim V EH374 Sgt. Ayers

Operation: Transit / Ferry Fight

Date: 16th April 1943 (Friday)

Unit: Blenheim: No 1 Overseas Aircraft Dispatch Unit. 44 Group. Spitfire: 65 Squadron. 10 Group

Type: Blenheim V / Spitfire VC

Serial: EH374 / AB518

Code: -

Base: RAF Portreath / RAF Perranporth

Location: Portreath


Pilot: Sgt. Leslie Judson Ayers NZ/414576 RNZAF Age 24. Killed

Nav: Sgt. Donald Mauldon Homer 1335490 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Boris Frederick Cornhill 1197358 RAFVR Age 22. Killed


Pilot: Sgt. Vernon Ross Smith NZ/415723 RNZAF Age 20. Killed


It is very sad that the thousands lost during training and other clients are not usually recorded on the internet. We are tying to address this. We welcome any further contributions - they dont have to be aircrew - ground crew were all playing a vital service.

The Blenheim was in the Portreath circuit at 14:50 hrs when it collided with the Spitfire. It is thought possible that the Spitfire pilot was at the time turning in the right hand circuit which headed the pilot into the sun, perhaps preventing him from seeing the approaching Blenheim.

It is thought that one or more civilian casualties were also killed/injured on the ground, but no further details are available on this. We welcome any further details or corrections on this tragic accident.

Burial details:

Sgt. Leslie Judson Ayers. Illogan Churchyard (St. Illogan). Row 2. Grave 17. Born on the 20th August 1918 at methane, the son of Hector Thomas Ayers and of Ethel Ayers (née Loader), of Ashburton, Canterbury, New Zealand. Working as a clerk with P and T in Wellington prior to service. No grave inscription - see why here - Your Commonwealth War Grave Explained. 310 Flying hours logged.

Sgt. Donald Mauldon Homer. Dartford Cemetery (Watling Street). Cons. grave 1298. Son of Percival George and Gertrude Rebecca Homer, of Dartford, England. Grave inscription reads: "Thy Will Be Done".

Sgt. Boris Frederick Cornhill. Goldington Churchyard (St. Mary). South of Church, near Lych Gate. Son of Frederick William Cornhill, and of Mabel Cornhill (née Dowsett), of Goldington, Bedford, England. Grave inscription reads: "He Had The Courage To Seek, Hunt And Destroy The King's Enemies In Their Own Lairs".

Sgt. Vernon Ross Smith. Illogan Churchyard (St. Illogan). Row 2. Grave 18. Born on the 20th April 1922 at Hamilton, the son of Richard Blenkarn Smith and Evelyne Blanche Smith (née Adams), of Hamilton, Auckland, New Zealand. Worked with the Kiwi Bacon Company as a clerk in Hamilton prior to service. No grave inscription - see why here - Your Commonwealth War Grave Explained. 336 flying hours logged with 187 on the Spitfire. He had completed 3 operational sorties.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of these aircrew with thanks to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 29.07.2019

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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', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. 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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