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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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122 Squadron Crest
17.06.1944 No. 122 Squadron Mustang III FX986 Sq/Ldr. 'Nipper' Joyce

Operation: Armed Reconnaissance

Date: 17th June 1944 Saturday (1)

Unit: No. 122 Squadron. 122 Wing. 83 Group 2ns Tactical Air Force. (motto: Victuri volamus - 'We fly to conquer')

Type: Mustang III

Serial: FX986

Code: MT-?

Base: RAF Ford, Sussex

Location: Marville-Les-Bois, France

Pilot: Sq/Ldr. 'Nipper' Ernest Leslie Joyce DFM. NZ/40770 RNZAF Age 24. Killed


Taking off at 18:25 hrs with 5 others on an armed Reconnaissance operation.

No movement was seen over the planned target area but a train was spotted and strafed by the squadron - two direct hits were observed.

The squadron were then bounced by 3 Bf109's of III/JG27 and it is thought probable that Sq/Ldr. Joyce was hit and shot down by Lt. Hans Gunnar Culemann.

Hundreds of local population turned out for his funeral which was held on Monday 19th June. His coffin covered in flowers.

He took over command of the squadron on the 17th May following the loss of Sq/Ldr. Drinkwater (2).

(1) Confusion as to the date of his death - many sources point to the 17th June - others that he died / killed on the 18th June.

(2) 29 year old, Sq/Ldr. Thomas Henry Desmond Drinkwater DFC 47841 RAF shot down by anti-aircraft fire near Nours, France, flying Mustang III FZ164. His DFC Citation London Gazette, 3 November 1942: "This officer has completed a large number of operational sorties. He is an outstanding leader, who has displayed great skill and devotion to duty".

Burial details:

Sq/Ldr. Ernest Leslie Joyce DFM. Marville-Les-Bois Communal Cemetery. Born on the 17th February 1920 at Hamilton, the son of Ernest Joseph and Cora Winifred Joyce (née Patterson), of Hamilton, Auckland, New Zealand. Prior to service a salesman for H and J. Court Ltd. 1108 hours flying hours logged and having completed 267 operational sorties. Credited with 9 enemy aircraft destroyed, 2 probable and a further 5 damaged.


Sq/Ldr. Thomas Henry Desmond Drinkwater DFC. Nantes (Pont-Du-Cens) Communal Cemetery. Plot L. Row B. Grave 21. Son of Thomas and Kathleen Drinkwater, of St. Mawes, Cornwall, England and husband of Winifred Drinkwater.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 26.09.2019

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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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