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Archive Report: Allied Forces

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403 Squadron Spitfire IX MJ876 F/O. James Hamilton Ballantyne

Operation: Ranger

Date: 08th March 1944 (Wednesday)

Unit: No. 403 Squadron (motto: 'Stalk and Strike')

Type: Spitfire IX

Serial: MJ876

Code: KH-?

Base: RAF Kenley, Surrey

Location: St. Andre de L’Eure

Pilot: F/O. James Hamilton Ballantyne J/16085 (R/85860) RCAF Age 26. Kiled


The squadron were kept busy this day. The morning saw 12 of them taking off at 10:20 hrs as escort wing, all returned at 12:20 hrs.

Later that day 8 took off at 16:00 hrs on a ranger sortie. Looking for 'targets of opportunity' across the Channel. No enemy aircraft were seen. On the Ranger, they lost two pilots, F/O. James Ballantyne DFM and Fl/Lt. David Goldberg (1), our adjutant. F/O. James Preston’s Spitfire IX MJ942 was severely damaged by flak but he managed to land at RAF Friston.

F/O. Ballantyne’s aircraft was seen to hit the ground and explode and very little hope is held for him. He has been posted as missing believed to be killed.

Fl/Lt. David Goldberg Spitfire IX MJ356 reported that he was going to attempt a crash landing. He has been posted as missing but the squadron all are hoped that he will be walking back to see us one of these days. Two months later he returned! The remainder of the squadron landed safely at 17:45 hrs.

With 111 squadron after training with 58 Operational Training Unit. On Fridaythe 12th December 1941, while authorised to carry out machine gun attacks I crash landed Spitfire Vb AD260 (2).

His report:

After completing exercise of cine gun attacks under the leadership of Sgt. Ladislav Zadrobilek 132694 RAFVR (shown right) who was Blue Leader, myself being Blue 2 and Sgt. Hollingdale Blue 3 we returned to base. During the exercise we had been using up to 6 lbs. boost whilst attacking the target aircraft. Sgt. Hollingdale then called we up on R/T. and said 'Lets do some dog-fighting, Ballantyne'. I answered that it would be ok and proceeded to try and shake Sgt. Hollingdale off my tail. While doing this I heard Sgt. Zadrobileb say on the R/T. he understood that we, Sgt. Hollingdale and myself were doing dog-fighting.

I flew around diving and climbing trying to get Sgt. Hollingdale off my tail and finally managed to get him off of mine and I got on his.

He flew all over the sky with me still on his tail and when he did give me the slip I decided the best thing for me to do was to return to base.

I heard Armada, our base ground station, calling me up and asking me if I was receiving them. I answered in the affirmative and requested a homing as the ground below me wasn't familiar and due to dog-fighting and cine gun attacks, I had used up considering fuel. On receiving no reply I again called up Armada and still there was no answer. (I could hear other pilots and Armada conversing with each other). On still not getting Armada's reply but still hearing them asking if I was receiving it wasn't transmitting. I checked my mouth piece and plug in socket and as both were, to my knowledge O.K. I decided to keep on calling Armada while climbing. I climbed to 13,000 feet and as still no reply and as visibility had closed in I came down to 1,000 feet and started looking for the nearest drone.

It was now raining and still I could hear Armada but still could not get communication through to them.

As the indicator was registering 5 gallons and visibility was by this time quite bad I looked around for a suitable field to set my aircraft down in. I found two adjacent fields which were quite long and so I questioned whether or not I should try to land in them. I flew around these two fields and as both were free from obstacles, the only two in the district that were big enough and still were clear and flat, I decided to completely save damage to propeller, wheels, wings, etc., by trying to land. In fine pitch and with flaps down I crossed the outer fence at 80 mph landed in the first field rolled along till I came to second fence, skipped over the dividing fence and touched down in second field.

Due to the fact that second field was soft I felt aircraft sinking in too fast for my liking, so I gave it throttle and was decided to take off and land with wheels up but before aircraft had taken effect of throttle it went over on its nose and then on its back. I turned off switches as soon as the aircraft as on its way over and when it struck the ground I managed after a few minutes to dig myself out of aircraft. Farm helpers soon came over along with a constable and I asked the constable to put a guard over the aircraft and to take we to a telephone.

Sgt. Constable Collins of the Danbury police came along and made arrangements for a guard over the aircraft, and took me to a telephone where I informed RAF Stations at North Weald and Debden of the time and location of accident. The time was 16:30 hrs and the place was Phillows Farm at Little Beddow.

I was unhurt except for a few scratches and due to the inability for transport as it was now dark, I stayed the night in Danbury. Transport called the following morning from North Weald at 11:00 hrs.

Technical Report: I examined aircraft on 13th December, 1941. Found it he landed in a very soft, recently cultivated field, and overturned. It was not possible to check cockpit or tanks by its inverted position. Damage as follows: Fusel, buckled immediately behind cockpit at stern frame attachment, rudder and aircew smashed. Both main planes slightly damaged. Port oleo strut torn away from attachment bolts.

Conclusion: This accident is due to thoughtlessness on the part of the pilot, he should not have been dog-fighting as he vas not authorised to do so but should have landed when the section leader broke up the section. Some consideration however, should be given to the fact that the pilot had just come from OTU and is not very familier with the sector.

Burial and personal details:

F/O. James Hamilton Ballantyne. St. Andre-De-L'eure Communal Cemetery. Grave 6. Born on the 14th January 1918 in Ontario. Educated at McMavich Public School and Oakwood Collegiate. Worked as a stock keeper and book keeper for John Hepburn. Enlisted on the 20th December 1940. in Toronto. Wings awarded on the 08th August 1940.

Son of James Harry Hamilton Ballantyne (died 27th November 1971, age 89) and Rebecca Rita Ballantyne (née Baird) - died 25th August 1955, age 69 of Apartment 1529 Bathurst Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

(1) David Goldberg - Born in March 1917 the son of Harry (originally from Poland - died 1954, age 75) and Sophie (née Gilbert - died 1972, age 75). Brother of Irwin, Ruth and Bill. Earn a degree in Business Administration at Boston University in 1939. Enlisted in the RCAF in 1940. In December 1942, He was sent overseas for advanced Spitfire fighter training in England. In the summer of 1943 he was attached to 416 Squadron and deployed to France. Over the next eight months, Dave flew 79 misan Dions with his comrades of the 416th and later the 403rd Squadrons

Retired as a Group Captain with a DFC. CD. in 1958. He peacefully passed away on the 17th September 2006 at the age of 89. He is buried at the Woodland Cemetery in Hamilton, Ontario.

(2) Spitfire AD260 was repaired and went back into service. It was lost on the 23rd October 1943 whilst with 66 squadron flying out of RAF Perranporth. 24 year old, W/O. Douglas Ronald Charles Mace 741475 RAFVR returning from an air sea rescue operation collided in mid air over Perranporth. The other pilot. also 24 year old Fl/Lt. Thomas David Baker 106356 RAFVR was also tragically killed flying Spitfire Vb EP639..

W/O. Douglas Ronald Charles Mace. Cherry Hinton Churchyard (St. Andrew). Son of William Edward and Minnie Mace, of Cambridge, husband of Joan Dorothy Mace. Epitaph: 'In Memory's Garden We Meet Again'.

Fl/Lt. Thomas David Baker. Danbury Churchyard (St. John The Baptist).Row 6. Grave 52. Son of Frank and Marion Bessie Baker, of Danbury. Epitaph: 'As For God, His Way Is Perfect Psalm Xviii.30'.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of these pilots with thanks to the National Archives Kew AIR-27-1783-5/6, Paradie RCAF Archives, WW2 service records Canada.

Other pages that may interest you:

Pages regarding 1944 losses

Pages detailing RCAF losses

Other sources as quoted below:

KTY 28-11-2023

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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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