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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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65 Squadron
22.08.1940 65 (East India) Squadron, Spitfire Ia K9909, Sgt. Michael Keymer

Operation: Fighting Patrol

Date: 22nd August 1940 (Thursday)

Unit: 65 (East India) Squadron, 11 Group, Fighter Command

Type: Spitfire Ia

Serial No: K9909

Code: FZ:O

Location: Near Bazinghen, France

Base: RAF Hornchurch, Essex

Pilot: Sgt. Michael Keymer 748504 RAFVR Age 24. Survived/Murdered

Shared a Bf-109 destroyed on the 14th August 1940. Believed to be Bf-109E-1 of 4./JG 5. Oberfeldwebel (Flt Sgt) Georg Weiss was killed and buried at Margate Cemetery after being washed ashore on the 24th October 1940.

A Heinkel III was claimed as a probable on the 18th August 1940. Believed to be Heinkel III H-3 V4+GK of 2./KG 1 which was shot down by 65 Sqn and Sqn Ldr. Michael Nicholson Crossley (37554) DSO, DFC of 32 Sqn at 13:30 hrs after it had bombed Biggin Hill airfield. The aircraft force-landed at Snargate near Dymchurch, Leutnant (Plt Off) R. Ahrens, Oberfeldwebel (Flt Sgt) E. Katzmarski, Unteroffizier (Cpl) G. Schneider and Flieger (AC2) K. Natzke were all captured but Unteroffizier Helmut Gericke died in Rye Hospital and was buried at Hawkinge Cemetery.


The Sqn was operating from RAF Manston, Kent on the 22nd August 1940. Five Spitfires took off at 18:45 hrs with orders to intercept raiders off Dover. A large force of enemy fighters were encountered and engaged.

The Sqn claimed 1 Bf-109 destroyed, 1 Bf-109 probably destroyed and 1 Bf-109 damaged.

Sgt. Keymer failed to return to base and was reported missing. It had been assumed that Sgt. Keymer had come down in the sea and that his body had washed ashore on the French coast at Ambleteuse. However, if this assumption is correct there does not appear to be any logical or rational reason for his body to have been moved inland some 5 km and buried in the Bazinghen churchyard.

Looking at the available evidence and based upon reports that Sgt. Keymer had been shot down by a Bf-109 from Jagdgeschwader (JG) 26, it has been established from the Oberkommando der Luftwaffe (OKL) (German Air Force High Command) Fighter Claims for the 22nd August 1940 that there were three claims for JG26.

Two were in the vicinity of Dover one to the NNE and the other to the SE. The third was over Marquise which is some 3km ESE of Bazinghen. This claim was by Oberleutnant (Fg Off) Hans Peter Krug, his 9th Abschuss (2 unconfirmed) from 5./JG26, at 20:15 hrs.

Krug was the Kapitän of 5./JG26. He was shot down on the 7th September 1940 near Pluckley, England and was captured. On the 16th/17th April 1942 he escaped from the Bowmanville PoW camp (Camp 30) in Ontario, Canada. He made his way through the United States before being re-captured by the FBI and was sent to a more secure PoW camp at Gravenhurst (Camp 20) in Ontario. He survived the war.

Given the timing, i.e. take off at 18:45 (UTC+2) and the German claim at 20:15 hrs (UTC+3 = 19:15 hrs) and the location of his burial, it far more plausible that Sgt. Keymer, whilst ‘dog fighting’ with German fighters, drifted inland over the French coast and was the victim of Oberleutant Krug.

Further evidence supporting this assumption was provided in 2004 by Jacques Mahieu who bought a home in Bazinghen. He was intrigued to find a wooden memorial to Michael Keymer nearby. He met Mme. Colette Dorer an eye-witness to the loss of Keymer and who in 2006 gave him the following account:

Translated from French:

"On the 22nd August 1940 at about 5 or 6pm, I had gone to milk the cows with my mother and Mme Noel when suddenly we saw two aircraft quite close together. They were flying in circles at low altitude, firing their guns. They were so low that for a moment I could see the helmeted head of the British pilot with his thick goggles. The German aircraft was a little higher and in the end had the upper hand on his opponent. Within seconds the British plane disintegrated. We saw a part of it go down by the river in a marsh that we called ‘Ledquent meadows’. We sheltered under a tree. Once it was quiet again we did not run straight home but towards the river where we saw the propeller. Then we went home to find the aircraft tail 50 metres away from our house”.

A part of the engine had fallen a little further down the meadow on a path to the Grande Maison. The main wreckage and wings were further on in the same direction followed by the pilot who came down close to the farm of Mme. Caron. The spot was very close to the camouflaged railway used to bring ammunition to the big cross-Channel guns on the coast. The main part of the engine came down near the village of Colincthun. The pilot had been seen to bale out but his parachute was only partially developed, due to the low altitude, when he hit the ground.

“The house of my grandparents had been requisitioned by the Germans to set up a hospital. The German commander, an officer by the name of Damberger, had set off with other men to find the pilot. I saw him come back with a string of bullets (presumably a belt of ammunition from the Spitfire’s wings). He the tied up his dog and shot him. He was a strange man, an evil man, I was scared of him since he had tried to lock me in a cupboard when I was 7 years old, I had failed to salute him in the street. My father saw that the unfortunate pilot was still alive but with two broken legs, his parachute lay opened around him. Damberger shot and killed him. My father and other men wrapped the pilot in his parachute and buried him on the spot. A few days later my father made a coffin and the pilot was exhumed and then reburied in it. A fence was made to keep animals away and I would go back often to lay flowers".

In 1941 Sgt. Keymer was reburied in the Bazinghen churchyard.

No investigation files or trial information has been found nor has any further information about the German officer named Damberger.

Burial details:

Above: Bazinghen Churchyard, Pas de Calais (Credit: TWGPP)

Above left: Photograph of Michael Keymer from his Royal Aero Club Aviators’ Certificate; right: Grave marker (Credit: TWGPP)

Sgt. Michael Keymer. Bazinghen Churchyard, Pas de Calais. Grave inscription: “SEMPER FIDELIS”. Born on the 21st May 1916 in Southampton, Hampshire. Son of Bernard William and Ellen Constance (née Scott) Keymer, of Farnham, Surrey. His father predeceased him in May 1925. His brother John Gilbert Keymer also fell.

The village of Bazinghen is about 13 km NNE of Boulogne and 4 km NW of Marquise, a small town on the N.1 road from Boulogne to Calais. Sgt. Keymer’s grave, located in the western corner of the churchyard, is the only British airman in this cemetery.

Sgt. John Gilbert Keymer was killed on the 10th May 1941. 149 Sqn, Wellington Ic, R1512.

A second brother, Philip Nathaniel Keymer, served in the York and Lancaster Regiment as a Lt (Temporary Capt), 68478.

He was wounded on the 30th November 1941 in the western desert. He was a awarded the Military Cross (MC), promulgated in the London Gazette 24th February 1942. He later served in Palestine and was awarded the General Service Medal (GSM) in 1948. He retired from the Army as a full Col. on the 29th May 1970.

Researched by Ralph Snape and Traugott Vitz for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with additional thanks to Traugott for his work on the ‘VitzArchive’. Thanks also to The War Graves Photographic Project (TWGPP).

Other sources as quoted below:

RS & TV 19.02.2022 - Initial upload

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