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Archive Report: Allied Forces

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No 103 Squadron
27.09.1939 No. 103 Squadron Fairey Battle I K9271 PM-G F/O. Arthur Lushington Vipan

Operation: Patrol Bouzonville and the Rhine

Date: 27 September 1939 (Wednesday)

Unit: No 103 Squadron

Type: Fairey Battle I

Serial: K9271

Code: PM-G

Base: Challerange, Ardennes, France

Location: Near Rohrbach-les-Bitche, Moselle, France

Pilot: F/O. Arthur Lushington Vipan 39191 RAF Age? Safe (1)

Obs: Sgt. John Henry Vickers 516606 RAF Age 24 Injured (2)

Air/Gnr: ACI. John Ernest Summers 534586 RAF Age? Safe (3)


Fairey Battle K9271 took off at 12.20 from Challerange, Ardennes, France for a reconnaissance flight between Bouzonville and the Rhine with two other Battle aircraft from the squadron K9327 - F/Lt. M C Wells and K9265 - P/O. G B Morban-Dean. Flying at a height of 3000 feet the three aircraft were first attacked by three French Curtiss Hawk 75 fighters which appeared out of the clouds. F/Lt. M C Wells fired his recognition signals and brought his aircraft down until he was flying close to the ground. Having identified the Battles the French aircraft broke away

It was at that point that the Battles were attacked by three Messersmitt 109's which carried out an attack on the aircraft. F/O. Vipan made an abrupt dive from 3000 feet and it is thought that Sgt. Vickers the observer in Battle K9271 was wounded by a bullet at this time. F/O. Vipan's aircraft engine started to splutter and Sgt Vickers, who was in severe pain asked to be landed. F/O. Vipan selected a field and made a forced landing near Rohrbach-les-Bitche, Moselle. Sgt. Vickers was then taken to hospital

After landing a French Policeman pointed out to F/O. Vipan a plume of thick black smoke coming from the nearby woods and that one of the Battle aircraft had shot down a Messerschmitt

Map showing the area of the forced landing near Rohrbach-les-Bitche, Moselle, France

Burial details:

Choloy War Cemetery, Meurthe-et-Moselle, France (courtesy CWGC) John Henry Vickers headstone (courtesy "Ben")

Sgt. John Henry Vickers. Choloy War Cemetery, Meurthe-et-Moselle, France. Grave Ref: 1A. B. 14. Son of Henry Guy and Gertrude Vickers. Husband of Peggy Vickers of Withernsea, Yorkshire

Edinburgh Evening News, 23 November 1939 (courtesy British Newspaper Archive)

(2) Sgt. John Henry Vickers was taken to hospital where he received the best medical attention, but due to his injuries, died on the 5 October 1939. (2) John Henry Vickers was decorated with the French Medaille Militaire just before he died making him the first member of the British Expeditionary Force to be honoured. John was first buried on the 7 October 1939 in St. Louis Les Bitche French Military Cemetery, Moselle, France. Grave 8 and reburied in Choloy War Cemetery, Meurthe-et-Moselle, France on the 30th June 1950. Grave Ref: 1A. B. B14. John Henry Vickers is remembered on Grimethorpe War Memorial, St. Luke's Church, Grimethorpe

(1) Sq/Ldr. Arthur Lushington Vipan. Cambridge City Cemetery. Grave 15726. Son of Alfred Vipan and Eulalie May Vipan of London (1) Arthur was born on the 15th October 1914 in Madura, Tamil, Nadu, India and had worked for Post Office before enlisting. Arthur Lushington Vipan was granted a short service commission as Acting Pilot Officer on the 19th October 1936 and gained his "Wings" at No 9 FTS (Flying Training School) 29 April 1937. Posted to No. 103 Squadron on the 30th June 1937. Confirmed as Pilot Officer on August 24th, 1937. On the 25th May 1938 Arthur was granted the rank of Flying Officer and was promoted to the rank of Flight Lieutenant 24 May 1939 and to the rank of Squadron Leader (Temp) 24 May 1939. F/O. A L Vipan had been involved in a previous flying accidents on the 7 August 1939 (Fairey Battle K9373) and on the 16 October 1944 Arthur Lushington Vipan was killed (Wellington LN536)

Distinguished Flying Medal. John's name appeared in the London Gazette 5th November 1940

(3) John Ernest Summers was later awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal for shooting down the first Messerschmitt of the war flown by Josef Scherm of JG52 on 27 September 1939. The DFM is awarded for gallantry and devotion to duty in the execution of air operations

Researched by: Kate Tame Aircrew Remembered and for all the relatives and friends of the crew. UK National Archives AIR 27/813

KT Page added with two links 18.12.2015

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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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