AR banner
Search Tips Advanced Search
Back to Top

Info LogoAdd to or correct this story with a few clicks.
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.
Check our Research databases: Database List


We seek additional information and photographs. Please contact us via the Helpdesk.

91 Squadron Crest
11.09.1942 No. 91 Squadron Spitfire Vb BL511 Fl/Lt. Arthur G. Donahue

Operation: Recce

Date: 11th September 1942 (Friday)

Unit: No. 91 Squadron

Type: Spitfire MkVb

Serial: BL511

Code: DL-?

Base: RAF Hawkinge

Location: Strait of Dover

Pilot: Flt/Lt Arthur 'Art' Gerald Donahue DFC. 81624 RAFVR Age 29. Missing - believed killed


Having taken off from RAF Hawkinge at 05:50 hrs for the first recce sortie of the day, to Ostend, Art Donahue was patrolling the coastal area between Flushing and Gris Nez. At about 06:30 hrs he intercepted a Ju88 and engaged it.

The German aircraft which was based at Schiphol was heard to transmit a message reporting that an engine was on fire, that the rear gunner had been killed and that it was attempting to return to Brussels. However, the enemy aircraft had already returned fire during the combat and had clearly hit the cooling system piping or the radiator of Art's Spitfire which had caused his engine to quickly overheat. He actually managed to report back to base on the aircraft's radio that he was about to ditch as he was too low to bale out.

A weak three second R/T 'Mayday' message was received from ‘Art' and as he was apparently well below parachute safe hight, (probably under 600 feet ) he ditched the Spitfire in the Channel off Gravelines which is a few miles west of Dunkirk.

He was flying in very poor conditions with visibility of less than 500 yards and falling. Despite an extensive motor launch and aerial search by his fellow pilots who spent all day until dark going out over the channel looking for him.

Ten search and rescue sorties are recorded in the squadron Operations Books with two pilots going out twice to search in the ever deteriorating conditions. His body was never recovered.

He survived two earlier incidents:

Monday 05th August 1940 - Flying Spitfire I K9991 during a patrol engaged 109’s off the French coast his aircraft was seriously damaged and forced to crash land at RAF Hawk

inge whilst with 64 Squadron.

Monday 12th August 1940 - Flying Spitfire I X4018 during a patrol shot down at 12:30 hrs - forced to bail out over the south coast of England. Suffered burns, and leg injuries, again with 64 Squadron.

DFC Citation LG - 27th March 1942:

‘This officer has carried out many low level reconnaissance sorties and has successfully attacked enemy shipping and ground objectives. On one occasion, whilst carrying out an attack against enemy troops attempting a landing, Flying Officer Donahue silenced the enemy's fire, thus enabling the rest of the formation to press home their attacks with impunity. He has destroyed several enemy aircraft.’

Burial details:

Flt/Lt Arthur 'Art' Gerald Donahue DFC. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 65. Further Information: Born on 29th January 1913 in the tiny community of Dover, Olmsted, which is situated a couple of miles to the west of St Charles, Minnesota, USA. The Son of Frank P. Donahue and Ada G. Donahue. He learned to fly privately with the famous Max Conrad at Conrad's Flying Services, who himself was a world beating pilot who held several world records prior to WW2, some of which are still unbroken. Max Conrad clearly trained Donahue well as he qualified for his private and commercial pilot's licenses before he was 19. For several years he instructed trainee pilots, gave pleasure flights and did some "Barnstorming" and display flying around the US air display circuit in pre war 'depression' America. By this time Donahue had logged over 1,800 hrs flying time and was a very experienced flyer. In June 1940 he heard that pilots were being enlisted in Canada for the RAF. He immediately went to Canada claiming to be a Canadian citizen and was accepted for service in The Royal Air Force.

Researcher - Michel Beckers for Aircrew Remembered August 2016. With thanks to the Winona County Historical Society. Other photographs the Michel Beckers collection.

Pages of Outstanding Interest
History Airborne Forces •  Soviet Night Witches •  Bomber Command Memories •  Abbreviations •  Gardening Codenames
CWGC: Your Relative's Grave Explained •  USA Flygirls •  Axis Awards Descriptions •  'Lack Of Moral Fibre'
Concept of Colonial Discrimination  •  Unauthorised First Long Range Mustang Attack
RAAF Bomb Aimer Evades with Maquis •  SOE Heroine Nancy Wake •  Fane: Motor Racing PRU Legend
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.
Click any image to enlarge it

Click to add your info via ticket on Helpdesk •Click to let us know via ticket on Helpdesk• Click to buy research books from Amazon •Click to explore the entire site
If you would like to comment on this page, please do so via our Helpdesk. Use the Submit a Ticket option to send your comments. After review, our Editors will publish your comment below with your first name, but not your email address.

A word from the Editor: your contribution is important. We welcome your comments and information. Thanks in advance.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember them. - Laurence Binyon
All site material (except as noted elsewhere) is owned or managed by Aircrew Remembered and should not be used without prior permission.
© Aircrew Remembered 2012 - 2023
Last Modified: 17 March 2021, 15:59

Monitor Additions/Changes?Click to be informed of changes to this page. Create account for first monitor only, thereafter very fast. Click to close without creating monitor