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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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96 crest
22nd July 1941 96 Squadron Defiant I T4071 P/O. Smithson

Operation: Air Test

Date: 22nd July 1941 (Tuesday)

Unit: No. 96 Squadron (motto: Nocturni obambulamus - 'We prowl by night') 9 Group

Type: Defiant I

Serial: T4071

Code: ZJ-?

Base: RAF Cranage, Cheshire (On detachment at Squires Gate, Lancashire

Location: Eddisbury Hill, Delamere, Cheshire

Pilot: P/O. Richard Smithson 46174 RAF Age 25. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Ivan Norton Robinson NZ/40208 RNZAF Age 20. Killed


Taking off in the late afternoon in T4071, a new aircraft with only 60 hours flying time. The object was a night flying test following maintenance.

At 18:59 hrs. the aircraft flew into the side of Eddisbury Hill exploding on impact and then catching fire. Both of the experienced crew lost their lives.

P/O. Smithson was a Battle of Britain pilot, whilst with 249 squadron he was wounded flying Hurricane I V6574 on the 07th September 1940 but managed to return. He never returned to his squadron for several weeks.

Burial details:

P/O. Richard Smithson. South Hetton Churchyard (Holy Trinity). Grave 815. Born on 6th June 1916. Son of Johnson and Susan Marion Smithson, of South Hetton, Count Durham, England. Grave inscription: 'Fighter Pilot. Ever Remembered By Mother, Sister And Brothers'.

Sgt. Ivan Norton Robinson. Byley Churchyard (St. John). Sec. B. Grave 11. Born 14 January 1921 at Wanganui. Worked as a junior fitter at the NZ Rail workshops prior to service. Enlisted at Levin on the 15th January 1940 after army service. Promoted to sergeant on the 27th June 1940. Son of Joseph William Robinson and of Annetta Violet Robinson, of Mount Albert, Auckland, New Zealand. Credited with 1 enemy aircraft damaged. 162 flying hours logged.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to Jenifer Lemaire and to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, AWMM, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 24-02-2021

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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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