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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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401 Squadron Crest
17.08.1942 No. 401 Squadron Spitfire IX BR985 W/O.2. Rowthorn

Operation: Circus 204

Date: 17th August 1942 (Monday)

Unit: No. 401 Squadron (11 Group)

Type: Spitfire IX

Serial: BR985

Code: YO-?

Base: RAF Biggin Hill / RAF Lympne

Location: Lympne, Kent, England

Pilot: W/O 2. William Ellis Langdon Rowthorn R/68714 RCAF Age 20. Killed

We are extremely grateful to François Dutil (438 Squadron Archivist) for supplying photographs and information to Aircrew Remembered in October 2017. All photographs shown within this page are available to relatives at a higher resolution (as are most of those named within this page) - courtesy of François.


Although based at RAF Biggin Hill, the Squadron moved to RAF Lympne in preparation for the operation on Dieppe on the 14th August.

Escorting 18 x B17’s on an operation to bomb the railyards at Rouen/Sotteville - joining them at 17:15 hrs.

It is understood that W/O. Rowthorn was hit by a Fw190 over the English Channel, but managed to return to the area of the airfield, where he crash landed his Spitfire. A farmer and a policeman pulled him from the wreckage. Sadly, he died from injuries received two days later on Wednesday, August 19th .

Also lost from the Squadron 26 year old, P/O. Jack Kenneth Ferguson J/15276 RCAF flying Spitfire IX BS159 YO-F when hit by enemy fighters over the channel - neither the aircraft or the body of the pilot were recovered - he is commemorated on the Runnymede and Ottawa Memorial.

Sq/Ldr. K.L.B. Hudson flying Spitfire BS120 also hit, but managed to return to base - the aircraft suffered Cat B damage. (Beyond repair on site - repairable at a Maintenance Unit or at a contractors works)

Burial details:

W/O 2. William Ellis Langdon Rowthorn. Brookwood Military Cemetery. Grave 38.G.12. Born on the 07th July 1922, the son of John William and Doris Amy Burton Rowthorn, of Port Arthur, Ontario, Canada. Grave inscription reads: “Breathe On Me, Breath Of God So Shall I Never Die”.

P/O. Jack Kenneth Ferguson. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 100. Son of Kenneth Farquhar Ferguson and Roberta Scott Ferguson, of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to Francois Dutil and sources as quoted below:

KTY - 05.10-2017

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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: 05 October 2017, 16:43

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