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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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401 Squadron Crest
31.07.1943 No. 401 Squadron Spitfire BS104 Fl/Lt. Ibbotson

Operation: Off duty

Date: 31st July 1943 (Saturday)

Unit: No. 401 Squadron (The Rams)

Type: Not applicable (Spitfire BS104)

Serial: Not applicable

Code: Not applicable YO-?

Base: RAF Biggin Hill

Location: Redhill area, Surrey

Pilot: Fl/Lt. 'Ibby' Thomas Karl Ibbotson J/9238 RCAF Age 26. Died of injuries

We are extremely grateful to François Dutil (438 Squadron Archivist) for supplying photographs and information to Aircrew Remembered in October 2017. All photographs shown within this page are available to relatives at a higher resolution (as are most of those named within this page) - courtesy of François.


We don’t simply report the loss of life through combat within the reports we publish - we find it equally important to try and record accidents and other reasons for loss of life. This page tells the brief and tragic details regarding a Canadian fighter pilot who fought for his country - but was killed in a tragic motorcycle accident. 'Ibby' Ibbotson was one of the many that died for his country - regardless of cause! He deserves to be remembered.

Fl/Lt. Ibbotson served with 401 Squadron. On the 19th August 1942 during the well known Dieppe operation flying out of RAF Lympne at 09:35 hrs in Spitfire BS104 - rendezvous over Beachy Head at 10:00 hrs with a briefing to have freed of action after escorting bombers to the Abbeville Airfield. All the bombers returned safely but heavy combat followed with the squadron. During the day he took part in two operational sorties - finally returning to base at 24:50 hrs. The Squadron claimed 7 aircraft damaged and 1 destroyed, 2 probable destroyed during the day's operations.

The pilot flew the Spitfire BS104 presented by the “Corps of Imperial Frontiersman”. Fl/Lt. Ibbotson carried out an attack on a Fw190 but no claim for a kill.

On the 28th August he does claim a Fw190 as a probable and then on the 11th December claims another Fw190 as damaged over Hastings.

Above L-R: Fl/Lt. Merritt, Fl/Lt. Ibbotson, Fl/Lt. Ibbotson, P/O. Westhaver, grave at Brookwood.

Then - in circumstances not readily available, he was sadly killed whilst riding his motorbike in the Redhill area. Further details of this now available via our Kate Tame and courtesy of the British Newspaper Archives:

Surrey Mirror:

“PC . Walter Apsden of the Surrey constabulary said that when he arrived at the scene of the occurrence he saw a motor cycle which had been concerned in the accident, but the other vehicle had been removed. The front wheel of the cycle and the handlebars were smashed, also the front lamp etc. The road was almost 18 ft wide at the spot and almost straight there being a slight curve. There was a clear view on either side. It was an ‘unrestricted' road.
Cpl. John Garnet Ross RCAF stated that at about 10:30 pm on Saturday evening July 31st he was riding a pedal cycle, when a jeep passed him and it went on the wrong side of the road to avoid a group of people. Then he heard a crash as it struck a motor cycle which as far as the witness could see was on the right side of the road. The light was fairly good.
Fl/Sgt. Robert Davenport said at 9:45 pm he saw Ibbotson in the Station Hotel, Nutfield about 300 yards from where the accident happened. Deceased left on a motor cycle and after he was walking along, witness heard the crash. He ran up and saw the motor cycle and the car on the other side of the road. Ibbotson was lying by the kerb.
Amongst other witnesses called was a Lt. Lyon Davis, of the United States Army who occupied a rear seat in the jeep which went at moderate speed. He first saw the motor cycle about 50 ft or less away and it was a little on their side of the road, which was the left. The impact actually stopped the vehicle - P/O. James McDougall who was in the front seat of the car said that the motor cycle was only a few feet away when he saw it. Lt. Robert Ware who was driving the jeep said that they were travelling at about 20 - 25 miles an hour When he saw the motor cyclist he considered the best thing he could do was to swerve to the right, but the motor cyclist also swerved and apparently did not slow up and there was a collision.
Major William M. Cooper RCAMC said that when the deceased was admitted to hospital just after 11 o’clock he was in a severe state of shock. He first responded to treatment but died some five hours after being admitted.. The immediate cause of death was a rupture of the liver and other injuries.
The coroner said that it was most regrettable and unfortunate that the deceased should have lost his life this way - he decided that there was no evidence of any gross criminal negligence on the part of anybody - the collision appeared to have resulted from an unfortunate misunderstanding between both drivers. Verdict: Death was accidental.”

Burial details:

Fl/Lt. Thomas Karl Ibbotson. Brookwood Military Cemetery. Grave 45.C.6. Born on the 01st January 1917, the son of Percy J. Ibbotson and Alphena C. Ibbotson, of Radisson, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Associate of College of Pharmacy (University of Saskatchewan) He also had a brother, P/O. Don Ibbotson serving with the RCAF and another brother, Lt. Rupert of the Royal Canadian Engineers. Grave inscription reads: “May He Rest In Peace”. He was buried on the 04th August at 15:00 hrs with full service honours. The coffin was carried by members of his Squadron who also provided the firing party - the coffin was draped with the Union Jack and the ‘Last Post’ was sounded.

Ibbotson Island in Turnor Lake, Saskatchewan was named after F/Lt. Ibbotson in 1958

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to Francois Dutil, also to our Kate Tame for her research into the crash, British Newspaper Archives, and other sources as quoted below:

KTY - 06.10.2017
CHB 05.06.2022 Canadian geographical feature added

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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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