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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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412 squadron crest
11.12.1941 No. 412 Squadron Spitfire Vb AD291 VZ-H P/O. Magee

Operation: Training formation practice.

Date: 11th December 1941

Unit: No. 412 Squadron (Canadian)

Type: Spitfire VB

Serial: AD291

Code: VZ-H

Location: Roxholme Hall, Sleaford, Lincolnshire

Pilot: P/O. John Gillespie Magee J/5823 RCAF Age 19. Killed


On the way back to RAF Wellingore, P/O. Magee’s Spitfire came out of the mist at about 400 feet and collided in mid-air with an RAF Cranwell-based Oxford trainer aircraft.

A local farmer witnessed the crash saying that the Fighter pilot struggled to open his canopy and then standing up he jumped from his aircraft but his parachute had insufficient time to fully deploy and he crashed to the ground being killed on impact.

Both aircraft crashed near to Roxholme Hall just outside Seaford.

On 13th December Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee was buried with full military honours at Scopwick cemetery where some 70 other Commonwealth war veterans would come to rest following military service.

Back at base that evening the station commander ordered all pilots to attend a lecture on flight safety and watch a film entitled 'Caution in flying'.

His poem (shown right) can be found in our Poetry section.

Left: Grave at Scopwick Church.

Burial Details:

P/O. John Gillespie Magee. Scopwick Church Burial Ground. Row. 3. Grave 33. Son of John Gillespie Magee and Faith Backhouse Magee, of Washington, D.C., USA.

With thanks to the following: The CWGC 'Fighter Command Losses' - Norman Franks.

Magee's gravestone includes words from his now-famous poem:

'Oh, I have slipped

the surly bonds of earth

put out my hand

and touched the face of God'.

This poem reaches a wider audience than WW2 interests: President Ronald Reagan quoted it in his remarks following the loss of the astronauts aboard the space shuttle Challenger.

Pages of Outstanding Interest
History Airborne Forces •  Soviet Night Witches •  Bomber Command Memories •  Abbreviations •  Gardening Codenames
CWGC: Your Relative's Grave Explained •  USA Flygirls •  Axis Awards Descriptions •  'Lack Of Moral Fibre'
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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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Last Modified: 19 April 2021, 13:38

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