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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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Fighter Command
61 OTU Spitfire Ia R6611 P/O. James Edwards Falconer

Operation: Training

Date: 16th September 1941 (Tuesday)

Unit: No. 61 Operational Training Unit. 81 Group

Type: Spitfire Ia

Serial: R6611

Code: HX

Base: RAF Heston, Middlesex

Location: Waterperry, Oxfordshire

Pilot: P/O. James Edwards Falconer NZ/404347 RNZAF Age 27. Killed


Taking off at 10:15 hrs on a formation practice sortie.

During an aerobatic manoeuvre dived into the ground at 11:00 hrs and caught fire killing the New Zealand pilot.

No cause for the crash was established but possible the pilot had blacked out.

The farm where the crash occurred has since been renamed 'Spitfire Field Farm' and the thoughtful owners have placed a plaque to the airman at the entrance.

Burial and personal details:

P/O. James Edwards Falconer. Haddenham Baptist Burial Ground. Row 13. Grave 1. Born on the 14th of June 1914 in Auckland. Educated at Otago Boys High School and Otago University. Worked as an accountant for John Chambers and son in Wellington.

Enlisted at Levin on the 24th of November 1940 as a pilot under training. With No. 1 Elementary Flying Training School on the 27th December 1940.

Embarked for Canada on the 27th of March 1941. With No. 6 Service Flying Training School 21st April 1941. Pilot badge awarded and promoted to sergeant on the 03rd July 1941. Awarded a commission the following day on the 04th.

Embarked for England on the 21st of July 1941. With No. 3 Personnel Reception Centre 16th August 1941. Joined 61 Operational Training Unit for conversion training on the Spitfire on the 21st August 1941. He had a total of 181 flying hours logged.

Son of Norman Falconer (died 1963) and of Edith Aileen Falconer (née Gentles - died 1970, married 27 Sep 1913 in Devonport, Auckland, New Zealand), of Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand.

Above (some identified) L-R: rear; C. Armitage, Alan Stuart Wilson 404009, Claude Goodwin Thompson 403783, A.D Lamont, Ervin Charles Wright 4210536, William Robert Kofoed 404380, Lloyd Harry Butler 404456.

Centre; R.R Hore 404367, W.O Dunkley, C.L Bonham, C.J.H LeCouteur, James Edward Falconer 404347, E.J.C Boyd, Colin Alexander McDonald 404448 ✝ - killed 19th December 1943 with 16 squadron RNZAF, of Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand.

Front; Raymond Brown Hesselyn 404362, I.T Hay, RF Chandler, C.H Corbett, G.F Allen. (Courtesy Air Museum of New Zealand)

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot, thanks to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, Weekly News of New Zealand, Air Museum of New Zealand, Museum of Transport and Technology, Auckland, the owners of Spitfire Field Farm, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 31-07-2022

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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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