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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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Central Flying School Crest
08.07.1943 ECFS Miles Master W8453 Fl/Lt. John Lewis DFC

Operation: Training exercise

Date: 8th July 1943 (Thursday)

Unit: ECFS (Empire Central Training School)

Type: Miles Master

Serial: W8453

Base: RAF Hullavington

Location: Cowage Farm, Calne, Wiltshire, England

Pilot: Fl/Lt. John Lewis DFC. 40721 RAF Age 23. Killed

Pilot 2: Major Gerald John le Mesurier DFC. 102636 SAAF Age 28. Killed


The Empire Training School was made up of very experienced crews to examine new training techniques, try them out and place recommendations to the Air Ministry.

Airspeed Oxford and Miles Master of the Empire Central Training School, later renamed Central Flying School (courtesy IWM)

The two pilots were involved in dive bombing practice on the Hilmartin bombing range when they were involved with a mid air collision with Airspeed Oxford II V3830 from the USAAF.

The pilot of the Oxford Captain Fred Niffenegger Jnr. 0-427618 and his passenger, Army medical Captain James J. Quinn 0-473301 were killed as well as the Master crew. Both aircraft crashed at Cowage Farm, Calne.

Maps showing area of loss - all images can be enlarged by clicking on them with mouse.

Major ‘Lemmie’ le Mesurier DFC - at the time of the accident serving with No. 1 Squadron.

Above left: Major Gerald John le Mesurier DFC and grave at Brookwood Military Cemetery.

Above left: Captain Fred Niffenegger Jnr . Right: Captain James J. Quinn (courtesy Gregory Overmeyer)

Burial details:

Fl/Lt. John Lewis DFC. Lincoln (Newport) Cemetery. Sec. G. Grave 289 South. Son of George Frederick and Ethel Lewis, husband of Barbara Harpur Lewis, of Tattershall, England.

Right: Grave of Fl/Lt. Lewis at Lincoln Cemetery (courtesy Gregory Overmeyer) - click to enlarge, as with all images on this page of remembrance.

Major Gerald John le Mesurier DFC. Brookwood Military Cemetery. Grave 1.J.3. Son of the Revd. Canon Thomas G. Ie Mesurier and Annalie le Mesurier, husband of Phyllis D.M. le Mesurier, of Pretoria, Transvaal, South Africa. Further information supplied by Anne Mignon Hichens. Received his DFC for inventing a way of confusing axis airmen by rotating flying patterns and had a conspicuous victory with this just at a time when the war was going badly and moral was low. It was a significant moment of cheering up. This was I think in the desert over Africa.

Captain James J. Quinn. St. Peter's Catholic Cemetery, 801 Old Chickies Hill Road, Columbia, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, USA.

Captain Fred Niffenegger. Maple Grove Cemetery, Elk Rapids, Antrim County, Michigan, USA.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Gregory Overmeyer for bringing this loss to our attention. The USAAF Captain Quinn was his Uncle. With thanks to Anne Mignon Hichens for corrected information on Major Gerald John le Mesurier DFC - November 2016.
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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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