15.10.1940 605 Squadron Hurricane I N2546 Flt.Lt. Muirhead DFC
Date: 15th October 1940 (Tuesday)
Unit: 605 Squadron
Type: Hurricane I
Base: RAF Croydon
Location: Spekes Bottom, Darland, Gillingham,
Pilot: Flt.Lt. Ian James Muirhead DFC. 43362 RAF Age 27. Killed
Update December 2017: We would appreciate contact from either Dorothy Carruthers or Mark Andrew, as a relative of another pilot who served with him would like to make contact - email us in the first instance and details will be forwarded.
REASON FOR LOSS:
On patrol when he was shot down by Me109s over Maidstone. He managed to bale out, but the aircraft was too low.
He survived 2 earlier bale-outs:
27th May 1940 - Flying Hurricane N2346 in a patrol over Dunkirk engine hit by fire from Bf110 from 1./ZG1 and baled out over Ostende at 14.15 hrs. He was then fired on by Belgian troops whilst still in his parachute. He survived this unhurt and managed to reach the port at Ostende. Boarded the Egyptian ship (under the British flag) S.S. Abukir to return to England. The lightly armed Abikur was attacked by aircraft but not hit. The following morning in the early hours she was then torpedoed by S-34, sinking within minutes 50 miles north east of Foreland.
Amongst the dead was Belgian Airforce father and son - 19 year old 504903 Sgt. Douglas Edward Barratt and his father 46 year old 79087 Plt.Off. Frederick Arthur Barratt. Of the 200 people on board only 32 survived, being in the water for some six hours prior to being rescued by HMS. Grenade (HMS Grenade was sunk a day later by Ju87's during evacuation of troops from Dunkirk). Flt.Lt. Muirhead then spent a short period in a hospital in Torquay recovering.
Flt.Lt. Muirhead was DFC awarded whilst with 606 Sqn, Gazetted 28th June 1940. Ctiation reads: Pilot Officer Ian James MUIRHEAD (43362). This officer has shot down five enemy aircraft and has shown outstanding skill, coolness and daring in carrying out eight patrols in five days over N.W. France and Belgium. During the last patrol he was forced to escape by parachute and after surmounting many difficulties succeeded in reaching his unit.
7th October 1940 - Flying Hurricane V7305 during combat with Bf109s shot down over south London at 11.45 hrs. Baled out with aircraft crashing at Bexley.
Above left: SS. Abikur and right: HMS Grenade
Above: the sister of Ian, Dorothy Carruthers with her collection of Ian (see credits)
Presentation of a memorial plaque to Wigton School, Cumbria on the 10th April 2002.
This was presented by Mark Andrew of the Battle of Britain Memorial Society to the Lord Lieutenant of Cumbria Sir James Cropper. The plaque was kindly sponsored by the Cumberland News. The Lord Lieutenant is shown holding the plaque with Mark Andrew on extreme right. The tall chap next to Mark is the representative from the Newspaper.
Above: grave and church at Holme Cultram (St. Mary) Churchyard
Flt.Lt. Ian James Muirhead DFC Holme Cultram (St. Mary) Churchyard. S.W. of church. Son of John Stewart Muirhead and Clara Muirhead, of Abbey Town, Cumberland,
Born in West Ham, moving later to Carlisle. Joined the RAF before war started and commenced service with 151 Squadron at North Weald. Received his commission in early 1940 and then posted to 605 squadron.
Researched for relatives of the pilot. Acknowledgments: With thanks to Mark Andrew of the Battle of Britain Memorial Society for photographs. Updated by Aircrew Remembered (Oct 2020).