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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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261 crest
26th February 1941 261 Squadron Hurricane I V7474 P/O. Langdon

Operation: Interception

Date: 26th February 1941 (Wednesday)

Unit: No. 261 Squadron (motto: Semper Contendo - 'I strive continually)

Type: Hurricane I

Serial: V7474

Code: FJ-?

Base: RAF Ta Kali, Malta

Location: Mediterranean Sea

Pilot: P/O. Charles Edward Langdon NZ/43705 RNZAF Age 22. Missing believed killed


Weather conditions described as fine over Malta. For the third time on this day the Island was attacked with enemy bombers attacking the airfield at Luqa. Forty bombers Ju87 and Ju 88's with a supporting force of 30 fighters hit the airfield hard dropping some 150 bombs.

The town of Luqa was also hit with 77 homes completely destroyed with a further left uninhabitable. Casualties on the ground were remarkably light with 1 civilian killed and 14 injured. 6 soldiers were also injured.

V7474 took off with 7 others at about 13:00 hrs to intercept the force. They were lead by 23 year old, F/O. Fred Taylor DFC. in Hurricane i V7671. They climbed yo 28,000 ft before diving on the bombers but were in turn followed by the enemy escort fighters.

Obl. Joachim Müncheberg claimed shooting down V7671 - pilot was listed as missing - believed killed. P/O. Kearsey an ex Battle of Britain pilot flying Hurricane V7121 also failed to return. P/O. Langdon who also had fought in the Battle of Britain became the third casualty of the operation.

None of the pilots bodies were knowingly recovered.

The squadron claimed 3 bombers shot down with a further 7 probables.

P/O. Langdon survived uninjured from two earlier forced landings after being hit by enemy fire. Flying a hurricane on the 25th September 1940 and whilst flying a Magister on the 03rd October 1940.

Burial details:

P/O. Charles Edward Langdon. Malta Memorial. Panel 1, Column 1. Born on the 21st August 1918 at Hawera. Worked as a stock and station clerk for Farmers Co-Op prior to service. Selected for RAF short service commission and joined RNZAF on the 20th September 1939. Awarded his pilots badge on the 13th February 1940 and embarked for England on the 26th April 1940. Flew the Blenheim, Wellington, Anson, Battle and Hurricane aircraft with various units. Joined 261 squadron on the 29th January 1943. Son of Arthur Garner Langdon and Charlotte Maria Langdon (nee Gould), of Hawera, Taranaki, New Zealand. A total of 351 flying hours logged and on his 32nd operational sortie. Credited with 1 enemy aircraft destroyed.

P/O. Philip James Kearsey. 85239. Malta Memorial. Panel 1, Column 1. Born on 23rd July 1920 at Cheltenham. Son of Frederick James Kearsey and Emma Gertrude Kearsey, of Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England. His brother, Albert Wallace Kersey also served in the Battle of Britain, survived the war and died in October 1993 in Weymouth, England age 77.

F/O. Frederic Frank Taylor 70821. DFC. MiD. Malta Memorial. Panel 1, Column 1. Son of Robert and Jane Taylor, of Hermitage, Berkshire, England.

DFC Citation L/G. 04th February 1941:

'Flying Officer Frederic Frank Taylor, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No. 261 Squadron. This officer has displayed the utmost gallantry and determination in combat and seeks every possible opportunity of engaging the enemy. He has destroyed at least seven hostile aircraft, two of which he shot down, in one engagement'.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of these pilots with thanks to Jenifer Lemaire and to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, AWMM, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 09-05-2021

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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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