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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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410 Squadron Crest
16.03.1942 No. 410 Squadron Defiant I V1183 Plt.Off. Ion B. Constant

Operation: Air test

Date: 16th March 1942 (Saturday)

Unit: No 410 'Cougar' Sqn (RCAF)

Type: Boulton Paul Defiant I

Serial: V1183

Code: ?

Base: RAF Drem

Location: Dissington Hall, Stamfordham, Northumberland

Pilot: Plt.Off. Ion Brancovan Constant 115407 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Air/Gnr: Plt.Off. William John Lewis 115728 RAFVR Age ? Killed


Taking off on a night flight test flight when, during unauthorised low flying crashed after a high speed stall. Both the crew killed when the Defiant hit the grounds of Dissington Hall.

Left: Plt.Off. Constant (courtesy Sherborne School Archives); Right: Plt.Off. Lewis (courtesy Aberdeen Weekly Journal, 19th Mar 1942)

Left: Sherborne School, Dorset - Any further information that you are able to assist them with fallen former pupils from all wars, we would be pleased to pass onto them.

Burial details:

P/O. Ion Brancovan Constant. Esther Cemetery (Cobham). Class C. Grave 1729. Further information (courtesy Sherborne School Archives): Born in 1920. Son of Marin B. Constant, M.C, and Cicely Brancovan Constant, of Fontridge, Broad Highway, Cobham, Surrey. Attended Sherborne School (Harper House) 1933-1938; 6th form. Peterhouse, Cambridge, B.A. Obituary in 'The Shirburnian', December 1944: 'I.B. Constant was the younger of two brothers in Harper House. On leaving he went to St. John's College, Cambridge, but when war broke out, he joined the RAF. After a period as a sergeant pilot, he was given a commission and joined a night-fighter squadron in the North of England. He was killed in action in March 1942. At School, he was often in some sort of a scrape, and without doubt, it was this love of adventure that took him into night-fighters in the early days of the blitzes.'

Plt.Off. William John Lewis. Aberdeen Cemetery (Springbank) Sec T. Grave 192. Next of kin details are currently not available. Further information (courtesy Aberdeen Weekly Journal, 19th March 1942): William John Lewis had grown up at Rosebank, 17 Whitehill Terrace, Aberdeen, and had been educated at Robert Gordon’s College prior to a pre-war career with the North-Eastern Agricultural Co-Operative Society at Bannermill Terrace, Aberdeen. At school, he had been a keen sportsman becoming a leading member of the school’s rugby team and later representing the Aberdeenshire XV.

Obviously keen for some wartime excitement he had volunteered for flying duties on the very first day of the war. Pilot Officer Lewis had two brothers in the Royal Artillery. One, Vic, was discharged after suffering injuries in Norway while the other, Arthur, continued to serve.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew. With thanks to Sherborne School Archives for additional information. Thanks to Dr Craig R Armstrong for the information from the Aberdeen Weekly Journal, 19th March 1942. Other sources as shown below.

RS 24.04.2019 - Update for Plt.Off. Lewis.

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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', 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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