Category Archives: Non classé

20 May 1940

The No.615 Squadron leaves, finally, at 04:30, for the Norrent-Fontes aifield with thirteen Hawker Hurricane Mk I (as well as a Miles Magister). The day starts fairly early since at 08:00, a double patrol is organized: the first above Lille (six aircraft), and the second in defense of the airfield (three aircraft).

A more ambitious operation begins at 11:00. In this case, a formation consisting of No. 504, No.607 and No.615 (RAF) Squadron take-off for attacking a German convoy on the road between Cambrai and Arras. According to Squadron Leader Joseph R. Kayll:

“There was a request from the Army that we should try to delay the German advance towards Arras on the road from Cambrai. We managed to get 12 serviceable aircraft together (three from 615, three from 504 and six from 607), 615 leading. We found a large quantity of German transport on this perfectly straight road and were able to do some damaged. Unfortunately we lost three aircraft, including Flying Officer Bob Pumphrey (P3448 AF-H) of 607, who managed to jump out at low level and survived as a PoW. Our mistake was to attack in sections of three in line astern and the Germans had a concentration of cannon and machine-guns at either side of the road”.

Indeed, the losses are non-negligible since, besides the Flying Officer Robert EW Pumphrey, No.504 (RAF) Squadron loses Pilot Officer Michael Jebb (P3586) and Blair E.G. White, although the two pilots are only injured and can be evacuated from Dieppe, while No.607 (RAF) Squadron loses Pilot Officer Richard S. Demetriadi (P2671 – AF-H), again without consequences for the pilot. At the same time, the aircraft of the Squadron Leader Joseph R. Kayll is also damaged in the wing, but it can return to Norrent-Fontes [1]. Despite these losses, mainly material, British pilots are able to destroy seven vehicles according to a recce made by the Flying Officer Lionel M. Gaunce around 13:00.

In the afternoon, six Hawker Hurricane Mk I take off for a patrol Arras – Douai – Lens sector. A formation of twelve Heinkel He.111s of I./LG 1 was sighted, at an attitude of about 4,800 meters, and a fight began, around 16:00, during which Squadron Leader Joseph R. Kayll and Pilot Officer Petrus H. Hugo claim a bomber [2]. According to Joseph R. Kayll :

“Attacked tail of formation with beam attack which put rear gunner out of action. Then attacked from astern, closing to 200 yards. Port engine stopped and was smoking badly. E/a went into a spin and disappered through low cloud”. [3]

Indeed, Heinkel He.111 (L1 + GK), from 2./LG 1 [4], hit the ground near Lille killing Feldwebel Erich Hackbarth, Unteroffizier Max Bröge and Gefreiter Heinz Schönberg. According to an interrogator report of the sole survivor, Feldwebel Erich Weber, by the British:

“We took off from Düsseldorf at 14:00 to watch the troop movements west of Lille. The Heinkel 111 aircraft was armed with four machine guns and carried twelve 50-kilo bombs. We had several anti-aircraft fire, but we were shot by a Morane at 4 800 meters. “[5]

This patrol is the last documented for the Battle of France. Evacuation orders to England begin to rain on the various British squadrons. The evacuation of Norrent-Fontes begins around 06:30 when nine Hawker Hurricane Mk I of No.615 Squadron, including L1289 (Flying Officer Anthony Eyre) take off with four others from No. 607 (RAF) Squadron to escort a Savoia-Marchetti S.73P of Sabena carrying the No.60 (RAF) Wing staff, and some of the ground personnel, to Kenley Airfield [6]. Three other Hawker Hurricane Mk I and the last four Gloster Gladiator Mk I (including the N2304 and N2306) take the same path in the evening. For his part, Flight Lieutnant James G. Sanders makes the crossing with a Bristol Blenheim, while Pilot Officer Petrus H. Hugo returns with Miles Magister from Merville.

“At 13:00, we received instructions that everyone should be ready to evacuate to England. At 14:30, the ground staff packed luggage for Boulogne leaving behind eighteen airmen. At 18:25, a SM75 transport aircraft took on board the No. 60 Squadron Commander and his staff as well as the 18 airmen of the Wing, twenty-one airmen of  No.615 Squadron and ten airmen of No. 607 Squadron. The plane takes the direction of England “[7].

Pilot Officers John EM Collins [8], Malcolm Ravenhill [9] (aboard the Gloster Gladiator Mk II N2308 KW-T) and Victor BS Verity [10] return, in the evening, to No.229 (RAF) Squadron .


[1] CULL, Brian ; LANDER, Bruce ; WEISS, Heinrich. Twelve Days in May. The Air Battle for Northern France and the Low Countires, 10 – 21 May 1940, as seen through the eyes of the fighter pilots involved. London : Grub Street, 1999, p.292 à 293 ; CORNWELL, Peter D. The Battle of France, Then and Now : Six Nations Locked in Aerial Combat, September 1939 to June 1940. Old Harlow : After the Battle, 2007. p.332 ; DIXON, Robert. 607 Squadron : A Shade of Blue. 2012. 200 p.

[2] CULL, Brian ; LANDER, Bruce ; WEISS, Heinrich. Twelve Days in May. The Air Battle for Northern France and the Low Countires, 10 – 21 May 1940, as seen through the eyes of the fighter pilots involved. London : Grub Street, 1999, p.294 ; TAGHON, Peter. La Lehrgeschwader 1 : L’Escadre au Gruffon. Tome 1. Lela Press, 2017, p.59.

[3] Combat Reports. Pilot Officer Joseph R. Kayll (20/05/40). Kew : The National Archives, AIR 50/175/14. (n°27) ; GILLET, Arnaud. La Luftwaffe à l’ouest – Les victoires de l’aviation de chasse britannique (10 mai 1940 – 23 mai 1940). Béthenville : Arnaud Gillet, 2008, p.332.

[4] Peter D. Cornwell (The Battle of France, Then and Now : Six Nations Locked in Aerial Combat, September 1939 to June 1940. Old Harlow : After the Battle, 2007, p.337) attribue la victoire au Flying Officer Duus du No.79 (RAF) Squadron à 13h45.

[5] GILLET, Arnaud. La Luftwaffe à l’ouest – Les victoires de l’aviation de chasse britannique (10 mai 1940 – 23 mai 1940). Béthenville : Arnaud Gillet, 2008, p.332.

[6] CULL, Brian ; LANDER, Bruce ; WEISS, Heinrich. Twelve Days in May. The Air Battle for Northern France and the Low Countires, 10 – 21 May 1940, as seen through the eyes of the fighter pilots involved. London : Grub Street, 1999, p.294

[7] GILLET, Arnaud. La Luftwaffe à l’ouest – Les victoires de l’aviation de chasse britannique (10 mai 1940 – 23 mai 1940). Béthenville : Arnaud Gillet, 2008, p.345.

[8] Returning to No.229 (RAF) Squadron, he participated in the fighting over Dunkirk, where he disappeared on a mission, flying the Hawker Hurricane Mk I L1982, pn 31 May 1940. 

[9] Returning to No.229 (RAF) Squadron, he participated in the last battles over Dunkirk, then the Battle of Britain. On 1st September 1940, he was hospitalized after being forced to parachute during an air fight over Biggin Hill (Hawker Hurricane Mk I P3038). Back in operation, he disappears on 30 September 1940, when following a fight with Bf.109, his Hawker Hurricane Mk I P2815 hit the ground near Ightham (Church Road). He is buried in City Road Cemetery, Sheffield.

[10] After a complicated evacuation, through Cherbourg, he can board a ship and join England on 23 May. Returning to No.229 (RAF) Squadron, he participated in the fighting over Dunkirk, then the Battle of Britain. At the end of 1940, he volunteered to join the night fighters. In April 1942, he was transferred to North Africa until June 1943. Back in Europe, during the first half of 1944, he take command of No.650 (RAF) Squadron to ensure the training of the British anti-aircraft defense. After passing through various commands and OTU, he returned home to New Zealand in November 1945. He died on 2 February 1979 in Wellington.

19 May 1940

At 04:00, six Hawker Hurricane Mk I took off from Moorsele for a patrol of the Cambrai-Le Cateau-Cambresis area.

At 17:30, six aircraft patrol over Arras, while five others guard the Arras-Cambrai route. A confrontation took place, around 19:40, with about fifteen Bf 109 of 9./JG 26, northeast of Cambrai [1]. According to Flying Officer Anthony Eyre  (L1289 KW-V) :

“I was No 2 in formation of four when Blue 4 warned us over R/T of the approach of e/a. I turned 90° to starboard, then 180° when I attacked from the starboard quarter a 109 which was attacking one of our formation at about 400 feet below. I turned away and, searching for the rest, saw an aircraft, which I believe was the one I attacked, diving spirallingly with black smoke pouring from it. I then sighted another 109 below me which I dived on and attacked slightly below with a long burst. I immediately broke away since my ammunition was nearly exhausted”. [2]

Selon le Pilot Officer William L. McKnight :

“During a patrol over Cambrai, the enemy numbered seven attacks from behind followed by eight other aircrafts. After alerting the rest of the section by radio, I quickly take altitude by a left turn, and and shoot one. Smoke comes out of the enemy plane”[3].

At the same time, the Hawker Hurricane Mk I N2331 is hit in the fight. Injured in the legs, Flying Officer Richard D. Pexton is forced to jump into adversary territory. He can embark, in Dunkirk, on 23 May aboard the hospital ship Worthing. Returning to England, he is admitted to Barnet Hospital (Hertfordshire) and will not return to the squadron until 10 July.

According to Donald Caldwell [4], the British pilots reportedly faced 4./JG 26 under the command of Kommandeur, Hautpman Herwig Knüppel (Bf.109 E-3 – W.Nr.1542). The latter is shot and killed during the fight, while the injured Oberleutnant Karl Ebbighausen (Bf 109 E-3) makes a forced landing in the vicinity of Lille. Another Bf.109 E-3 is reported to have made a forced landing in Brussels. Perhaps this is the aircraft that would have struck, according to the author, the Hurricane of Flying Officer Richard D. Pexton [5]. According to a summary of events on the German side:

“Free hunt on the region of Grammont – Lille – Cambrai. The group took off at 19.07 under the command of Hauptman Knüppel. Above Lille, an aerial battle takes place with four Hurricanes in which three enemy machines were shot down. Captain Knüppel in single combat is strafed in front and chased downhill. We did not follow the rest of the fight. The Hurricane was shot down by the Leutnant Krug. The Hauptman Knüppel did not return from this mission. “[6]

A last patrol is reported, in the evening, above Oudenaarde – Tournai, without special events. But this is the end for the No.615 Squadron as explained by Squadron Leader Joseph R. Kayll :

“On the evening of the 19th we were surprised to see a German motorcycle and sidecar driving round the aerodrome and we could hear gunfire to the east. Then we were ordered to move to Merville at first light, only keeping enough ground staff to see the aircraft off. During the night (about 22:00) a Belgian officer arrived and said that he had been ordered to blow up the aerodrome immediately. It took until about 01:00 to persuade him not to do this owing largely to the effort of our adjutant and a few drinks. A compromise was reched in that he would dig holes and place the mines, leaving a straight take-off lane of us to use at dawn. One of the results of our frequent moves was that we had not had sufficient time to keep the starter betteries charged. Only one battery was serviceable and had to be used by all aicraft, mechanics being used to start the engines of the less exprerienced pilots”.[7]

Pilot Officers Robert D. Grassick [8], William L. McKnight [9] and Percival S. Turner [10] are ordered to join Kenley Airfield in the evening to return to No.242 (RAF) Squadron.


[1] CULL, Brian ; LANDER, Bruce ; WEISS, Heinrich. Twelve Days in May. The Air Battle for Northern France and the Low Countires, 10 – 21 May 1940, as seen through the eyes of the fighter pilots involved. London : Grub Street, 1999, p.261.

[2] Combat Reports. Flying Officer Anthony Eyre (19/05/40). Kew : The National Archives, AIR 50/175/2. GILLET, Arnaud. La Luftwaffe à l’ouest – Les victoires de l’aviation de chasse britannique (10 mai 1940 – 23 mai 1940). Béthenville : Arnaud Gillet, 2008, p.296.

[3] Combat Reports. Pilot Officer William L. McKnight (19/05/40). Kew : The National Archives, AIR 50/175/22. GILLET, Arnaud. La Luftwaffe à l’ouest – Les victoires de l’aviation de chasse britannique (10 mai 1940 – 23 mai 1940). Béthenville : Arnaud Gillet, 2008, p.296.

[4] CALDWELL Donald. The JG 26 War Diarry, Vol 1 (1939 – 1942). Grub Street, 1996, p.28 à 29.

[5] Note that Peter D. Cornwell attributes the loss of Flying Officer Richard D. Pexton to a claim by the Hauptman Günther Lützow (Stab I./JG 3), around 19:15, in the vicinity of Arras – Cambrai.

[6] GILLET, Arnaud. La Luftwaffe à l’ouest – Les victoires de l’aviation de chasse britannique (10 mai 1940 – 23 mai 1940). Béthenville : Arnaud Gillet, 2008, p.296.

[7] CULL, Brian ; LANDER, Bruce ; WEISS, Heinrich. Twelve Days in May. The Air Battle for Northern France and the Low Countires, 10 – 21 May 1940, as seen through the eyes of the fighter pilots involved. London : Grub Street, 1999, p.261 à 262.

[8] Returning to No.242 (RAF) Squadron, he participated in the various battles over Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain, as well as various British operations of 1941. He joined, on 28 September 1941, the OTU of Aden. The rest of his career will be spent mainly in Eastern and Southern Africa as an instructor and transport liaison pilot. He joined the RCAF on 1 May 1945, and returned to Canada. He died on 28 October 1978.

[9] Returning to No.242 (RAF) Squadron, he participated in the various battles over Dunkirk and in support of the last British troops until mid-June 1940, then the Battle of Britain. On 12 January 12, he disappeared in aerial combat, at the controls of Hawker Hurricane Mk I P2961, during a Rhubarb near Gravelines. His name is commemorated at Runnymede Memorial.

[10] Returning to No.242 (RAF) Squadron, he participated in the various battles over Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain. He joined No.145 (RAF) Squadron in June 1941 and was awarded the DFC in October of the same year. After a brief rest, he took command of No.411 (RCAF) Squadron, in December 1941, then No.249 (RAF) Squadron in Malta, in February 1942. He remained on the besieged island until November 1943 by exercising various functions. In May 1944, he received the DSO, while integrating the headquarters of the Desert Air Force. He returned to Europe in January 1945 with the rank of Group Captain to take command of No.127 (RAF) Wing. He joined the RCAF after the war until his retirement in 1965. He died on 23 Jul 1985.

18 May 1940

Unfortunately, there is no concrete detail on the events of this day. At most, the ORB indicates the preparation of an escort mission, for Bristol Blenheim at 04:00, which is canceled ; while Brian Cull [1] mentions a brief confrontation with Heinkel He.111 of KG 1 without further details.


[1] CULL, Brian ; LANDER, Bruce ; WEISS, Heinrich. Twelve Days in May. The Air Battle for Northern France and the Low Countires, 10 – 21 May 1940, as seen through the eyes of the fighter pilots involved. London : Grub Street, 1999, p.225.

17 May 1940

In the morning, several sections of the No.615 Squadron take off from Moorsele to conduct various patrols. We know the details for at least two of them.

Thus, the three pilots of No.229 (RAF) Squadron (John E.M. Collins Pilot Officer, Malcolm Ravenhill and Victor B.S. Verity) take off at 05:30. According to the combat report of Pilot Officer Malcolm Ravenhill (P2907) : 

“At 05:30 3 sections of 3 aircraft (Hurricanes) of 615 Squadron left Moorsele aerodrome (Nr
Courtrai) on a patrol. Three miles (approx) West of Brussels my section leader attacked a Henschel Nos 2 (myself) and 3 in line astern position on him. Heavy anti-aircraft fire forced me to break to the right, no 3 following me, and we lost contact with the leader as we all had a different R/T frequency. A few minutes after I sighted an aircraft below me to the right and proceeded to go down to investigate. I lost sight of this aircraft and, on regaining original ht (4000 ft), I discovered I was alone. I proceeded to patrol the West of Brussels in long zig zag North and South course gradually creeping West. I was flying a zig-zag Westerley course from Brussels when I sighted at 0625 hrs a single enemy aircraft which was at about 150 m.p.h patrolling a line North and South from Mons. The aircraft was camouflaged brown and green above and pale green underneath. I attacked from astern and took the enemy by surprise. The enemy aircraft dived to the ground with black smoke pouring from the engine. Near the ground he flattened his dive and his shadow on the ground merged with aircraft. Whilst investigating I sighted another similar aircraft and proceeded to take up attacking position. No fire was observed from the rear cockpit of the Henschel. On sighting this second aircraft I took a position to attack from astern, at 200 yds the rear gunner opened fire and I watched his tracer bullets going above me about two or three yds. I closed to a hundred yds and having got him in my sights gave a long burst breaking away about 10 yds astern of the enemy. The Henschel immediately spun down and crashed into the ground.  After my combat with the two Henschels I steered a course due West. I eventually landed at Compiegne where I was informed by French personnel on the landing ground that I was approximately 30 miles South of Lille. I therefore took off with a view to landing on Vitry aerodrome. I found myself later over very wooded and hilly country and decided to forced land in a ploughed field approx. 600 yds long and into wind. One side of the field is the main Paris-Dieppe road and on the other the Foiet de Bray. I circled the field once, lowered my undercarriage etc. and as I was on the cross wind leg of the approach into the field my petrol supply ran out and I could not restart the engine with the emergency starter on the gravity tank should it have contained any petrol. I therefore only had just enough time to pancake the aircraft on top of the trees and crash through. I left the aircraft in the care of the local Police at Forges Les Eaux, and proceeded to Poix by road and thence to Abbeville by air”. [1]

Identification of opponents is complicated If Brian Cull [2] refers to an aircraft of 1. (H) / 14 and 1. (H) / 23, Peter D. Cornwell [3] refers to a Henschel Hs 123 3. (H) / 41 crashing near Mons killing one of the crew, while the second is wounded (Oberstleutnant Graf von der Schulenburg).

Shortly after, another section takes off around 09:30. A Junkers Ju.88 is claimed by Flight Lieutnant James G. Sanders between Charleroi and Wavre. Indeed, a Junkers Ju.88 A-1 (L1 + AR) crashes near Flines-lez-Raches, around 10:15, killing all the crew (Oberleutnant Ernst Schwartz, Alfred Dudeck Gefreiter, Oberfeldwebel Bernard Rinke and Gefreiter Georg Fuhrmann ) [4]. The Hawker Hurricane Mk I seems, however, hit by defensive fire as the pilot is forced into a landing, although his aircraft is repairable.

In the afternoon, Flying Officer Anthony Eyre and Richard D. Pexton join Glisy’s aerodrome aboard the Miles Master N7577, to receive two new Hawker Hurricane Mk I [5].


[1] Pilot Officer Malcolm Ravenhill, Combat Report, The National Archives, Kew. AIR    AIR 50/86/32.

[2] CULL, Brian ; LANDER, Bruce ; WEISS, Heinrich. Twelve Days in May. The Air Battle for Northern France and the Low Countires, 10 – 21 May 1940, as seen through the eyes of the fighter pilots involved. London : Grub Street, 1999. p.186.

[3] CORNWELL, Peter D. The Battle of France, Then and Now : Six Nations Locked in Aerial Combat, September 1939 to June 1940. Old Harlow : After the Battle, 2007. p.307.

[4] Once again, this claim is questionable since  Arnaud Gillet (GILLET, Arnaud. La Luftwaffe à l’ouest – Les victoires de l’aviation de chasse britannique (10 mai 1940 – 23 mai 1940). Béthenville : Arnaud Gillet, 2008. p.243) and Peter Taghon (TAGHON, Peter. La Lehrgeschwader 1 : L’Escadre au Gruffon. Tome 1. Lela Press, 2017, p.56) awarded the victory to Flight Lieutnant Ian Soden, No.56 (RAF) Squadron, who also claims a Ju.88 at the same time in concordant conditions. In addition, the absence of a combat report signed by Flight Lieutnant James G. Sanders prevents more details about this event.

[5] CULL, Brian ; LANDER, Bruce ; WEISS, Heinrich. Twelve Days in May. The Air Battle for Northern France and the Low Countires, 10 – 21 May 1940, as seen through the eyes of the fighter pilots involved. London : Grub Street, 1999. p.187.

16 May 1940

Additional reinforcements arrive with a detachment of three pilots from No.242 (RAF) Squadron, B Flight. They are Pilot Officer Robert D. Grassick [1], William L. McKnight [2] and Percival S. Turner [3]. They already have a little experience since they joined No. 607 (RAF) Squadron on 14 May and participated in some operations, which have already cost the life of Flight Lieutnant John L. Sullivan in charge of the detachment.

The No.615 Squadron leaves Vitry-en-Artois and Abbeville for Moorsele with twelve Hawker Hurricane Mk I. It is during this transfer that Pilot Officer Robert D. Grassick (KW-X) commits an unfortunate mistake when he attacks and claims a possible Junkers Ju.88 bomber. It turns out to be the Bristol Blenheim Mk IV (N6168 TR-A), of No.59 (RAF) Squadron, returning from a reconnaissance mission. Flight Lieutnant G.V. Smither managed, however, to land, with his severely damaged aircraft, at Vitry-en-Artois with his wounded gunner (Aircraftman Davy J. Pitcher) [4].

In the afternoon, nine Hawker Hurricane Mk I take off under the command of Flight Lieutnant Leslie T.W. Thornley to escort a Westland Lysander. Between Tirlemont and Brussels, British pilots are surprised by several Bf.109. Flight Lieutnant Leslie T.W. Thornley (N2335) is immediately shot and killed. According to Pilot Officer Thomas C. Jackson (N2338) :

“I opened the cockpit as I could not see much to rear. About a minute later, while flying with the sun behind, we were bounced. The first I knew of it was when I was hit. An aicraft went past beneath me and I gave chase, but my engine cut. A second 109 came by and I had a go at him – belive bits of his tail came off. Fired at it again frombehind. Saw aircraft all over the place. My aircraft was hit heavily and there was a huge explosion. I had my gloves and flying boots on, but not my flying helmet. I did not unplug oxygen lead, just leapt out after releasing side panel. Opened the parachute and throught : God, it’s quiet”.

He is captured as soon as he arrives on the ground by German soldiers. Injured and suffering from several burns, he remembers :

“One soldier produced a big knife and cut open my collar, and another produced a hypodermic syringe and injected me. A vehicle arrived and I was told to get in ; an oberleutnant sat in the back and covered me with a pistol. My own pistol had six rounds of locally bought .38 ammuniation, as I had used that issued potting cans in a river. These appeared to be blunt-nosed and I thought the German might think they were dumdum, but he could not open my pistol so fired off rounds into the ground – I was greatly relieved. I was taken to a field hospital at Tirlemont and spent two days in a room with eight or nive German officers ; one badly wounded with a stomach injury made lots of noise. I was moved to a large building with a stone floor, amongst some hundreds of british troops, and then transferred after a week to Maastricht”.

A third pilot is lost, in this case, the Pilot Officer Brian P. Young whose Hawker Hurricane Mk I (P2577) crashes in flames near Essene. Burned in the upper body and face, however, he manages to jump. He is, however, unlucky because he is immediately targeted by British soldiers who fire at him, then throws a grenade, before realizing that it is one of them . He was taken to a field hospital in Dieppe before being evacuated to Saint Nazaire. Having decidedly no luck, his ambulance is damaged, arriving in the port, by a shrapnel shell killing almost all occupants. Brian P. Young miraculously survives to be embarked on a ship bound for England. He will not be coming back to No.615 Squadron. After a long hospitalization, he returned to service in 1942 as a Short S.25 Sunderland Seaplane pilot at Coastal Command, before being transferred to the Middle East on various commands. He remained in the RAF after the war with a variety of senior positions, while attending courses at Imperial Defense College. He retired on 5 May 1973 with the rank of Air Vice-Marshal and died on 26 July 1992. [5]

For his part, the Pilot Officer Robert D. Grassick (KW-X), very active on this day, is able to claim a  German fighter.

It is difficult to identify the confrontation in question for lack of the time during which this escort took place. Thus, Brian Cull [6] and Donald Caldwell [7] mention a confrontation around 15:50 with the II./JG 26, which claim three victories (identified as Morane 406 and Hawk 75A) despite the loss of an aircraft (pilot killed) This analysis is, however, contradicted by Arnaud Gillet [8] and Peter D. Cornwell [9], who make a connection with the events of No.87 (RAF) Squadron. Another hypothesis would be that of I./JG 27 whitch claim several Hawker Hurricane around Brussels around 13:40 (unfortunately some of these claims do not have a precise time). Thus, the Lieutnant Flight Leslie T.W. Thornley allegedly fell victim to Oberleutnant Gerhart Framm of 2.JG 27. In the mean time, two Bf.109 E-3 of I./JG 27 were damaged, including that of Feldwebel Otto Sawallish. Once again, for lack of further details, it remains difficult to match the facts, besides nothing proves that the set of events specific to No.615 Squadron takes place during the same mission.


[1] Robert Davidson Grassick (41579) was born in London (Ontario – Canada) on 22 May 1917, and joined the RAF with a SSC in November 1938. After his training at No.5 (RAF) Flying Training School of Sealand, he was transferred to No.3 (RAF) Squadron (September 1939) and No.242 (RAF) Squadron (November 1939). He was seconded urgently to No. 607 (RAF) Squadron on 14 May 1940 with three other B Flight pilots from his squadron. SHORES Christopher ; WILLIAMS Clive. Aces High: A Tribute to the Most Notable Fighter Pilots of the British and Commonwealth Forces of WWII. 2008, Grub Street ; Battle of Britain London Monument, The Airmen’s Stories – F/O R D Grassick: http://www.bbm.org.uk/airmen/Grassick.htm

[2] William Lidstone McKnight (41937) was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on 18 November 1918. He joined the RAF in February 1939 with a SSU. After training with Little Rissington’s No. 6 (RAF) FTS, he joined Squadron No.242 (RAF) on 6 November 1939, before being seconded to No. 607 (RAF) Squadron on 14 May 1940. Battle of Britain London Monument, The Airmen’s Stories – P/O W L McKnight: http://www.bbm.org.uk/airmen/McKnight.htm ; SHORES Christopher ; WILLIAMS Clive. Aces High: A Tribute to the Most Notable Fighter Pilots of the British and Commonwealth Forces of WWII. 2008, Grub Street, p.437.

[3] Percival Stanley Turner (41631) was born on 3 September 1913 in Ivybridge (Devon – England). His family emigrated, however, to Toronto, Canada, where he studied engineering while joining the No.110 Squadron of the Canadian Auxiliary Air Force. He joined the RAF, with a SSC on November 1938. After his training with the No.7 (RAF) FTS Peterborought and No.1 (RAF) Fighter Training School of St.Athan, he joined No.219 ( RAF) Squadron, 4 October 1939, before being transferred to No.242 (RAF) Squadron on 20 November 1939. He was sent to France on secondment to No. 607 (RAF) Squadron on 14 May 1940. Battle of Britain London Monument, The Airmen’s Stories – F/Lt. P S Turner : http://www.bbm.org.uk/airmen/TurnerPS.htm

[4] CULL, Brian ; LANDER, Bruce ; WEISS, Heinrich. Twelve Days in May. The Air Battle for Northern France and the Low Countires, 10 – 21 May 1940, as seen through the eyes of the fighter pilots involved. London : Grub Street, 1999. p.166.

[5] Air of Authority – A History of RAF Organisation – Air Vice-Marshal B P Young (33376) : http://www.rafweb.org/Biographies/Young_BP.htm

[6] CULL, Brian ; LANDER, Bruce ; WEISS, Heinrich. Twelve Days in May. The Air Battle for Northern France and the Low Countires, 10 – 21 May 1940, as seen through the eyes of the fighter pilots involved. London : Grub Street, 1999. p.166 à 168.

[7] CALDWELL Donald. The JG 26 War Diarry, Vol 1 (1939 – 1942). Grub Street, 1996. 346 p.

[8] GILLET, Arnaud. La Luftwaffe à l’ouest – Les victoires de l’aviation de chasse britannique (10 mai 1940 – 23 mai 1940). Béthenville : Arnaud Gillet, 2008. p.221 et 222.

[9] CORNWELL, Peter D. The Battle of France, Then and Now : Six Nations Locked in Aerial Combat, September 1939 to June 1940. Old Harlow : After the Battle, 2007. p. 294 et 299.

15 May 1940

Unlike previous days, No.615 Squadron activity is quite intense and relatively well detailed. It is also the occasion of several claims, but also losses.

The day begins with several patrols from the field of Abbeville, without further clarification, according to the ORB.

Later in the morning, six Hawker Hurricane Mk I took off, under the orders of Squadron Leader Joseph R. Kayll, from Vitry-en-Artois for an escort mission on Dinant along with six other B Flight aircraft from No. 607 (County of Durham) Squadron. The twelve Bristol Blenheim Mk I (three of No.15 Squadron and nine of No.40 Squadron) are responsible for destroying several bridges over the Meuser river. The entire formation is, however, intercepted by several Bf 109 and Bf 110 around 11h00. Pilots seem to have been surprised, and Flying Officer Hedley N. Fowler (Hawker Hurricane Mk I P2622), at the rear of the formation, can only scream a warning before being shot by a Bf. 109. As his aircraft begins to catch fire, he is forced to jump in parachute. He managed to join several French soldiers, but they were all captured the next day [1]. The victory could have been claimed by Oberleutnant Franz Eckerle (3./JG76) [2]. One of the few relatively experienced pilots in the Squadron, as proof of his relatively high number of flights last winter, he will make the headlines after his escape from Colditz Castle on 9 September 1942. Dressed up as German officers he managed to join Switzerland (with Dutch Lieutenant Damiaen Joan van Doorninck). Returning to England in April 1944, he received the Military Cross before being posted to the Armament Test Squadron of Boscombe Down. He was killed while testing a Hawker Typhoon on 26 March 1944. He is buried in the Durrington Cemetery. According to Squadron Leader Joseph R. Kayll: “The formation of Hurricane was attacked by Messerschmitt 110s and 109s simultaneously. I did a head-on attack on the first 110, qhich afterwards force-landed, and a deflection shot on the second 110, which went into a dive and exploded in a wood”[3]. Both claims do not seem conclusive. According to Peter Cornwell, this clash could be linked to that between Bloch MB.152 of GC I / 8 and Bf 110 C 2./ZG 26. Three aircrafts are claimed by the French [4]. If we observe the description of the fight in question, we can not deny concordant elements: the time (10h30 – 12h15), as well as places (above the Meuse, in the vicinity of Mezieres). In addition, Adjudant Michaud indicates the presence of a Hawker Hurricane during the confrontation: “he drops a long shoot, but at this moment an unexpected Hurricane passes between him and his target. He is forced to stop shooting and is falling behind his prey that stings in front of him. The Messerschmitt has his account, a crew member jumps, but the parachute of the unfortunate goes into a torch. The disabled biplane hits and explodes in a clearing northeast of Renwez “[5]. There are several elements consistent with the second part of the report written by Squadron Leader Joseph R. Kayll. This is a Bf 110 C of 2./ZG 26 (Feldwebel Kurt Friedrich and Gefreiter Willli Neuburger, killed) which crashes, around 11h10, to Sécheval. Obviously, in the absence of more convincing details, this remains of the simple hypothesis. The Germans record the loss of two Bf 109 E-3 from Stab I./JG 52, Hauptman Siegfried von Eschwege and Leutnant Kurt Kirchner (captured), while three British fighters are claimed by Hauptmann Werner Molders, Oberleutnant Heinz Wittenberg and Leutnant Georg Claus of the III./JG 53. No.607 Squadron, Squadron Leader Lance Smith (P2870) is killed during the fight, and two Bf 109 are claimed by Flying Officer Bill Whitty and Pilot Officer Bob Grassick [ 6].

The afternoon is still quite hectic since the A Flight is in charge of a series of three patrols in the vicinity of Wavre. Several Henschel Hs 126 are encountered and a series of confrontations bursts. For example, a section under Flight Lieutnant Leslie Thornley patrolled northwest of Gembloux at 15h00. According to Pilot Officer Thomas C. Jackson: “Flying around, we souddenly saw a Hs.126 but only when it fired at me. Had a go and hit it and believed killed the gunner. I shot past it and the Flight Commander had a go. Turned round and it had gone into the ground. “[7]. According to Flight Lieutnant Leslie T.W. Thornley: “Aicraft first seen by Pilot Officer Jackson at fairly long rang. E/a half-rolled and dived and I followed him down in the dive to 500 feet, firing all the way. E/a landed in ploughed field but did not crash. Assume engine was damaged”[8]. The aircraft could belong to the 4. (H) / 22 (injured Leutnant H. Ricke) [9]. The events seem to be less successful for Pilot Officer David J. Looker (P2554), who is hit by ground fire. As he jumps, he hits the rudder with his left arm. Touching the ground near Waterloo, he was picked up by British soldiers and quickly sent back to England for a hospital stay (Shenley Military Hospital). Another Hs.123 was met at the same time by a second platoon under the command of Flying Officer Peter Collard around 15h00: “Saw Henschel flying low near wood at 100 feet. Diving quarter-attack. One burst from rear gunner at 200 yards. Enemy pulled up and on its back at 500 feet as I went underneath. No sign of aircraft after. (…) Enemy observed coming out of the sun, diving on two Hurricanes below. I came behind it but my reflector sight failed as I opened fire. E/a made a climbing turn to right, banking violently. Attack was broken off owing to running out of ammuniation “[10]. Note that the latter aircraft is mistakenly identified as a Heinkel He.112 (probably a Bf.109). Finally, at 15.30, another Hs.126, probably from the 1. (H) / 23 (Leutnant Hermann Küster and Felix Hack, killed) [11] is intercepted by a third section east of Gembloux. According to Flying Officer Horace E. Horne: “The Henschel staggered after first attack and pancaked in a field. Unable to press home attack due to heavy AA fire. Attempted also to attack a balloon moored on ground but the latter was ringed with defences. Own aicraft hit four times”[12].

Due to the evolution of the events, the No.615 Squadron is ordered to leave Vitry-en-Artois to join the north-west of Belgium. According to Flight Lieutnant James G. Sanders: “Joe Kayll and I had to fly up to locate an airfield in Belgium to operate from. I got into a Gladiator and he vent off in a Hurricane. He flew to Moorsele while I went to Evère, on the east side of Brussels. I got into Evère and had just landed when I noticed it was full of Germans, so I rapidly shot off and, keeping on the deck, headed for home”[13]. Unsurprisingly, the final choice is fixed on the Moorsele aerodrome.

 

List of Claims

11h00

Squadron Leader Joseph R. Kayll

Bf 110 (the aircraft is seen “making a forced landing”)

Dinant

Inconclusive claim.

AIR 50/175/14

11h00

Squadron Leader Joseph R. Kayll

Bf 110 (the aircraft is seen “take a dive and explode in the woods”)

Dinant

Inconclusive claim [14].

AIR 50/175/14

15h00

Flying Officer Peter Collard

Hs.126 (attacked, then lost to sight)

8 km, N. Gembloux

Inconclusive claim

AIR 50/175/3

15h05

Flight Lieutnant Leslie T.W. Thornley

Hs.126 (the aircraft is seen “landing in a field without crashing, possibly due to a loss of the engine”)

1,5 km, N.W. Gembloux

Conclusive Claim [15]

AIR 50/175/31

15h15

Flying Officer Peter Collard

He.112 (attack interrupted due to lack of ammunition)

Wavre

Inconclusive Claim

AIR 50/175/3

15h30

Flying Officer Horace E. Horne

Hs 126 (the aircraft is seen “perform a belly landing in a field)

3 à 5 km, E. Gembloux.

Inconclusive Claim [16]

AIR 50/175/12

 

List of Losses

11h00

Flying Officer Hedley N. Fowler

Hurricane P2622

POW

Air combat with Bf 109 / Bf 110. Parachute jump. Dinant.

14h00

Pilot Officer David J. Looker

Hurricane P2554

Injured

Hit by ground fire, parachute jump ; Wavre – Waterloo.


[1] CULL, Brian ; LANDER, Bruce ; WEISS, Heinrich. Twelve Days in May. The Air Battle for Northern France and the Low Countires, 10 – 21 May 1940, as seen through the eyes of the fighter pilots involved. London : Grub Street, 1999. p.148.

[2] CORNWELL, Peter D. The Battle of France, Then and Now : Six Nations Locked in Aerial Combat, September 1939 to June 1940. Old Harlow : After the Battle, 2007. p.283.

[3] Squadron Leader Joseph R. Kayll, Combat Report. The National Archives, Kew. AIR 50/175/14 ; CULL, Brian ; LANDER, Bruce ; WEISS, Heinrich. Twelve Days in May. The Air Battle for Northern France and the Low Countires, 10 – 21 May 1940, as seen through the eyes of the fighter pilots involved. London : Grub Street, 1999. p.148.

[4] CORNWELL, Peter D. The Battle of France, Then and Now : Six Nations Locked in Aerial Combat, September 1939 to June 1940. Old Harlow : After the Battle, 2007. p.290.

[5] JOANNE, Serge. Le Bloch MB-152. Les éditions Lela Presse, 2003. p.225 à 226.

[6] DIXON, Robert. 607 Squadron : A Shade of Blue. 2012.

[7] CULL, Brian ; LANDER, Bruce ; WEISS, Heinrich. Twelve Days in May. The Air Battle for Northern France and the Low Countires, 10 – 21 May 1940, as seen through the eyes of the fighter pilots involved. London : Grub Street, 1999. p.150.

[8] Flight Lieutnant Leslie T.W. Thornley, Combat Report, The National Archives, Kew. AIR 50/175/31 ; CULL, Brian ; LANDER, Bruce ; WEISS, Heinrich. Twelve Days in May. The Air Battle for Northern France and the Low Countires, 10 – 21 May 1940, as seen through the eyes of the fighter pilots involved. London : Grub Street, 1999. p.150 ; GILLET, Arnaud. La Luftwaffe à l’ouest — Les victoires de l’aviation de chasse britannique (10 mai 1940 – 23 mai 1940). Béthenville : Arnaud Gillet, 2008. p.206.

[9] CORNWELL, Peter D. The Battle of France, Then and Now : Six Nations Locked in Aerial Combat, September 1939 to June 1940. Old Harlow : After the Battle, 2007. p.288.

[10] Peter Collard, Combat Report. The National Archives, Kew. AIR 50/175/3 (Curiously, the Flying Officer Peter Collard is identified as P. Collins) ; CULL, Brian ; LANDER, Bruce ; WEISS, Heinrich. Twelve Days in May. The Air Battle for Northern France and the Low Countires, 10 – 21 May 1940, as seen through the eyes of the fighter pilots involved. London : Grub Street, 1999. p.150 ; GILLET, Arnaud. La Luftwaffe à l’ouest — Les victoires de l’aviation de chasse britannique (10 mai 1940 – 23 mai 1940). Béthenville : Arnaud Gillet, 2008. p.206 et 207.

[11] CORNWELL, Peter D. The Battle of France, Then and Now : Six Nations Locked in Aerial Combat, September 1939 to June 1940. Old Harlow : After the Battle, 2007. p.288.

[12] Flying Officer Horace E. Horne, Combat Report, The National Archives, Kew. AIR 50/175/12 ; CULL, Brian ; LANDER, Bruce ; WEISS, Heinrich. Twelve Days in May. The Air Battle for Northern France and the Low Countires, 10 – 21 May 1940, as seen through the eyes of the fighter pilots involved. London : Grub Street, 1999. p.150 ; GILLET, Arnaud. La Luftwaffe à l’ouest — Les victoires de l’aviation de chasse britannique (10 mai 1940 – 23 mai 1940). Béthenville : Arnaud Gillet, 2008. p.206.

[13] CULL, Brian ; LANDER, Bruce ; WEISS, Heinrich. Twelve Days in May. The Air Battle for Northern France and the Low Countires, 10 – 21 May 1940, as seen through the eyes of the fighter pilots involved. London : Grub Street, 1999. p.151.

[14] It could be a Bf.110 C of the 2./ZG 26 (Feldwebel Kurt Friedrich and Gefreiter Willli Neuburger, killed) which crashes, around 11h10, in Sécheval. The aircraft is claimed destroyed by Adjudant Michaud GC I / 8.

[15] The aircraft could be belonging to the 4. (H) / 22 (Leutnant H. Ricke injured).

[16] Hs.126, probably from 1. (H) / 23 (Leutnant Hermann Küster and Felix Hack, killed).

14 May 1940

Plusieurs renforts arrivent au sein du No.615 (County of Surrey) lorsque la RAF décide de détacher plusieurs Flight pour renforcer les unités en France : Pilot Officer John E. Collins [1], Malcolm Ravenhill [2] and Victor B.S. Verity [3] of No.229 (RAF) Squadron (B Flight) ; and Pilot Officer Cecil R. Young [4] from No.601 (County of London) Squadron.

Once again the events of the day are most confused. According to the ORB several patrols are carried out, without further details, from the airfields of Abbeville, Vitry-en-Artois and Douai where the B Flight passes overnight.

We know some details about one of the day’s sorties, a clash between a section of Hawker Hurricane Mk I and a German bomber in the morning (around 06h00). A victory is then claimed by Flying Officer Hedley N. Fowler [5]. Once again this event poses more questions than it offers an answer. Thus, no combat report is found, and it is therefore difficult to confirm or not this victory. In addition, sources diverge about the potential victim. Arnaud Gillet reports a Dornier Do.17 during a mission to defend the grounds, questioning the veracity because of lack of confirmation in the archives. For his part, Brian Cull refers to Junkers Ju.88 A-1 7A + BH of 1. (F) / 121 (Oberleutnant Heinz Spillmann, Oberfeldwebel Richard Schnegotzki, Unteroffizier Wihelm Colleseus and Walter Gers, all killed) doing a reconnaissance of the Brussels – Kortrijk – Ghent – Antwerp sector. [7] The aircraft crashes at Winkel-Sainte-Croix, north-east of Ghent, at 06h00. Finally, Peter Conrwell provided another interpretation. For him, the 1. (F) / 121 aircraft was reportedly the victim of No.504 (RAF) Squadron, while it was a Junkers Ju.88 A-1 of the 3. (F) / 123 F6 + BL which would be related to the claim of Flying Officer Hedley N. Fowler. The German aircraft then reconnoitered aerodromes along the French north coast when it was intercepted by British fighters. The engine was damaged and the Junkers Ju.88 was forced to land at Aalst at 06h15 hours. Unteroffizier Willi Reissmann was killed and the rest of the crew captured (Feldwebel Friedrich Küttner and Eugen Lauterbach, Unteroffizier Erwin Maxrath) [8].


[1] John Edward Collins (n° 41830).

[2] Il a rejoint la RAF (n° 40750) en mars 1938 et rejoint le No.229 (RAF) Squadron, le 9 mars 1940. The Battle of Britain London Monument – F/O M Ravenhill : http://www.bbm.org.uk/airmen/Ravenhill.htm ; One of the Few – Flying Officer Malcom Ravenhill : http://www.oneofthefew.co.uk/pilots/mravenhill/mravenhill.php

[3] Victor Bosanquet Strachen Verity, né le 5 novembre 1919 à Timaru (Nouvelle-Zélande). Il rejoint la RAF en 1938, puis le No.229 (RAF) Squadron en novembre 1939. The Battle of Britain London Monument – P/O V B S Verity : http://www.bbm.org.uk/airmen/Verity.htm

[4] Pour plus d’information, voir : Aircrew Remembered – Cecil R. Young : http://www.aircrewremembered.com/young-cecil-reginald.html

[5] FOREMAN, John. RAF Fighter Command Victory Claims of World War Two : Part One 1939 – 1940. Walton-on-Thames : Red Kite, 2003. p.42.

[6] GILLET, Arnaud. La Luftwaffe à l’ouest — Les victoires de l’aviation de chasse britannique (10 mai 1940 – 23 mai 1940). Béthenville : Arnaud Gillet, 2008. p.408.

[7] CULL, Brian ; LANDER, Bruce ; WEISS, Heinrich. Twelve Days in May. The Air Battle for Northern France and the Low Countires, 10 – 21 May 1940, as seen through the eyes of the fighter pilots involved. London : Grub Street, 1999. p.117. ; ROBA, Jean-Louis. La RAF en France — 2e partie : Hurricane sur le contient — Tome 1 : du 9 septembre 1939 au 14 mai 1940. Batailles Aériennes, n°68 (Avril – Juin 2014). p. 80.

[8] CORNWELL, Peter D. The Battle of France, Then and Now : Six Nations Locked in Aerial Combat, September 1939 to June 1940. Old Harlow : After the Battle, 2007. p.276.


06h00 or 06h15

Flying Officer Hedley N. Fwoler

Ju.88 A-1 7A+BH de la 1.(F)/121 or Ju.88 A-1 de la 3.(F)/123 F6+BL

Winkel-Sainte-Croix, north-east Gand or Aalst

Inconclusive claim, lack of available sources.

13 May 1940

Brian Cull reported the presence of B Flight at Merville Airfield, with a number of training sessions on Hawker Hurricane Mk I[1].

However, the A Flight remains deployed for the day on the Vitry-en-Artois field with No.607 (RAF) Squadron. At least three missions are known.

The first mission is to escort a Bristol Blenheim Mk IV, No.18 (RAF) Squadron, over the Albert Canal to check the condition of the bridges. The take-off is disrupted by the announcement of the arrival of an enemy air formation[2] or due to the Bristol Blenheim maneuvers[3] (the version varies depending on the documents consulted), and only two Hawker Hurricanes Mk I (Squadron Leader Joseph R. Kayll and Flight Lieutnant Leslie TW Thornley) are able to provide the escort. The mission proceeds without incident, but the Flight Lieutnant aircraft Leslie T.W. Thornley (affected wing spar) and Bristol Blenheim are damaged by ground fire. It is noteworthy that the Bristol Blenheim Mk IV L8866 (Flying Officer D.D. Rogers, Sergeant A.J. Gulliver, Leading Aircraftman D.C. Moore) of the No.18 (RAF) Squadron is damaged during a reconnaissance over the Albert Canal at around 06h45, due to ground fire[4].

According to Squadron Leader Joseph R. Kayll: « The Squadron waw ordered to escort a Blenheim on a low-level reconnaissance of the Albert Canal, to find out how mant bridges were still standing. A Blenheim at low level was just about as fast as a Hurricane and as he turned sharply several times, the outside aircraft were unable to keep up. Finally only myself and Flight Lieutnant Thornley (in a bullet-damaged aircraft) were left as escort, on on each side. The Blenheim pilot was very skilled as he flew under the bridges when they were intact and the escort flew over the ends. The only trouble occurred on the way back when we flew over a large German Army formation, who shot at us with everything they had. The rear gunner of the Blenheim was wounded and I was saved by the armour plate behind my seat » [5].

A second similar esocrt takes place later in the afternoon, but without any details.

Finally, in the evening several aircraft take off, alongside the No.607 (County of Durham) Squadron[6] for a patrol in the vicinity of Namur. A fight broke out with several Bf 110s, and Flying Officer Peter N. Murton-Neale (L2035) was probably shot down by Leutnant Richard Marchfelder of Stab II./ZG 1, near Courrière[7]. The unfortunate Peter N. Murton-Neale is killed. He was part of the original strength of No.615 (County of Surrey), since he was traced back to November 1937, and briefly served as Flight Commander before the arrival of James G. Sanders. He was 23 years old and is burried in the Courrière cemetery[8].


[1] CULL, Brian ; LANDER, Bruce ; WEISS, Heinrich. Twelve Days in May. The Air Battle for Northern France and the Low Countires, 10 – 21 May 1940, as seen through the eyes of the fighter pilots involved. London : Grub Street, 1999. p.108.

[2] No.615 (RAF) Squadron, Operations Record Book. Kew : The National Archives, AIR 27/2123.

[3] CULL, Brian ; LANDER, Bruce ; WEISS, Heinrich. Twelve Days in May. The Air Battle for Northern France and the Low Countires, 10 – 21 May 1940, as seen through the eyes of the fighter pilots involved. London : Grub Street, 1999. p.108.

[4] CORNWELL, Peter D. The Battle of France, Then and Now : Six Nations Locked in Aerial Combat, September 1939 to June 1940. Old Harlow : After the Battle, 2007. p.256 et 257.

[5] CULL, Brian ; LANDER, Bruce ; WEISS, Heinrich. Twelve Days in May. The Air Battle for Northern France and the Low Countires, 10 – 21 May 1940, as seen through the eyes of the fighter pilots involved. London : Grub Street, 1999. p.108 et 109.

[6] GILLET, Arnaud. La Luftwaffe à l’ouest — Les victoires de l’aviation de chasse britannique (10 mai 1940 – 23 mai 1940). Béthenville : Arnaud Gillet, 2008. p.154.

[7] No.615 (RAF) Squadron, Operations Record Book. Kew : The National Archives, AIR 27/2123 ; CULL, Brian ; LANDER, Bruce ; WEISS, Heinrich. Twelve Days in May. The Air Battle for Northern France and the Low Countires, 10 – 21 May 1940, as seen through the eyes of the fighter pilots involved. London : Grub Street, 1999. p.109 ; CORNWELL, Peter D. The Battle of France, Then and Now : Six Nations Locked in Aerial Combat, September 1939 to June 1940. Old Harlow : After the Battle, 2007. p.257.

[8] Commonwealth War Graves Commission : https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/4001719/murton-neale,-peter-norman/