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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
18.06.1940 No. 4 (Continental) Ferry Pilot Pool Blenheim IV L9317 Plt.Off. Colin W. Handley

Operation: Ferry Flight

Date: 18th June 1940 (Tuesday)

Unit: No. 4 (Continental) Ferry Pilot Pool

Type: Blenheim IV

Serial: L9317

Code: -

Base: RAF Kemble, Gloucestershire

Location: Charroux, France

Pilot: Plt.Off. Colin Wright Handley 42343 RAF Age 20. Killed

Obs: Sgt. Patrick Denis Humphrey Mcgovern 903042 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Air Gnr: LAC. James Gilbert Broadbent Thomas 936495 RAFVR Age 26. Killed


Taking off from RAF Tangemere between 06:30 and 06:45 hours on a ferry flight to Malta via France and Tunisia. 12 Hurricanes with 12 Blenheims being sent to reinforce the besieged island of Malta.

En route from Tangmere to Malta via Marignane, Provence, France the formation broke up due to heavy cloud. The worsening weather conditions resulted in the loss of seven Blenhiems and a Hurricane. Six crews lost their lives, a total of 18 airmen.

At least one monument has been placed to another crew lost this day, that of Plt.Off. Douglas Johnston flying Blenheim IV L9314 at Prunières.

Grave photographs kindly supplied by John Murray who has kindly given us permission to release high definition of these images to relative - please contact us.

Burial details:

Plt.Off. Colin Wright Handley. Charroux Communal Cemetery. Grave 1. Son of John George and Annie Elizabeth Handley, of Ingrave, Essex. Awarded P/O. on probation on the 6th January 1940.

Sgt. Patrick Denis Humphrey Mcgovern. Charroux Communal Cemetery. Grave 2. Born in 1918 in Newport, South Wales. Son of Patrick James and Elleanor (née Watkins) McGovern. His step-mother was Beatrice A.H. (née Baker) McGovern of Glamorganshire, Wales. Brother to Wyndham Ernest John McGovern.

LAC. James Gilbert Broadbent Thomas. Charroux Communal Cemetery. Grave 3. Son of Frederick Ogden Thomas and of Emma Thomas (née Broadbent), husband of Lilian Audrey Thomas, of Norton Tower, Halifax, Yorkshire - married 1939, one son, John David Thomas.

With many thanks to John Murray who visited the graves for Aircrew Remembered and took these fine photographs. John lives in the area and has contacted the CWGC to establish protocol for cleaning up the headstones. Thanks to Terence Graham McGovern for the NoK details for his uncle Sgt. McGovern (Sep 2020). Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to sources quoted below.

RS 28.09.2020 - Correction to NoK details for Sgt. McGovern

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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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