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
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
REASON FOR LOSS:
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.
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: