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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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Coastal Command Crest
27.03.1940 School of General Reconnaissance Anson I K6249 F/O. Lilburn

Operation: Navigation exercise

Date: 27th March 1940 (Wednesday)

Unit: School of General Reconnaissance (17 Group-Coastal Command)

Type: Anson I

Serial: K6249

Code: Not known

Base: RAF Thorney Island

Location: English Channel

Pilot: F/O. Ewen Campbell Lilburn 37885 RAF Age 29. Missing - believed killed

Obs: F/O. James Peter Henry Balston 90567 RAF (Aux) Age 27. Missing - believed killed

Pilot: P/O. John Eric George Fennell 42492 RAF Age 21. Missing - believed killed

W/Op: AC.1. John Visger Halliday 620442 RAF Age 30. Missing - believed killed


During at Navigation and reconnaissance exercise and interception of a launch Anson K6249 spun in after a stall turn at 700 ft whilst circling High Speed Launch 117.

It is thought 'possible' that the Anson had been caught in the slipstream of the aircraft in front and at that altitude the crew had no opportunity to recover or bail out.

The aircraft hit the water at 15:50 hrs and disappeared - the two others on the exercise circled the area but no trace could be found.

Burial details:

F/O. Ewen Campbell Lilburn. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 6. Son of Robert and Rosamond Louisa Lilburn, of Wanganui, Wellington, New Zealand. 1,310 flying hours logged.

F/O. James Peter Henry Balston. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 5. Son of Francis William and Ellen Catherine Balston, of Maidstone, Kent and husband of Penelope Balston. B.A. (Cantab.), Hons. Tripos, Mechanical Science (Cantab.).

P/O. John Eric George Fennell. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 8. Son of John F. and Elsie L. Fennell, of Worcester, England.

AC.1. John Visger Halliday. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 25. Son of Frederick Charles and Mary Isobel Halliday and husband of Margery Hersee Halliday, of Polbathic, Cornwall, England.

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, Mark Rogers for Fennell photo, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 04.08.2018

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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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