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29 July 1940 - Heavy fighting and RAF losses over the Channel whilst protecting shipping convoys

Extensive fighting over Dover in the protection of Channel convoys took place on 29 July 1940. Four Spitfires from 41 Sqn were damaged in combat with 109s over Dover between 7.45am-8.05am with one Spitfire missing flown by F/O DR Gamblen missing.

Two pilots from 56 Squadron were also attacked by 109s in the same attack over Dover Harbour. P/O Mark Mounsden got his Hurricane back to base but F/Sgt C.J. Cooney’s Hurricane was shot down by 109s. He crashed and his aircraft exploded in the Channel off Dover at 7.45am. Cooney missing and aircraft lost.

Douglas Robert Gamblen was born in Gosport on 14th January 1915 and educated at Portsmouth Grammar School. He joined the RAF on a short service commission in March 1937. He was posted to 10 FTS Tern Hill on 9th May and after completing his training he joined the SHQ staff at Catterick on 10th June 1938.

He was serving with 41 Squadron at Catterick by early July 1940. On the 29th he was reported missing in Spitfire N3038 following a combat with Ju87’s and Me109’s over Dover.

Gamblen was 25. With no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, Panel 5.

Cecil John Cooney of Rhos Robin, Denbighshire was born in Warwick on 10th April 1914 and educated at Birmingham Junior Technical School. He joined the RAF as an Aircraft Apprentice in January 1930 and passed out in December 1932 from Halton as a Metal Rigger.

He married Charlotte Eaton in Bridgenorth, Shropshire in April 1935. Cooney later successfully applied for pilot training and he was serving with 56 Squadron in early 1940.

On 29th January 1940 Cooney was scrambled from Martlesham Heath in Hurricane Mk. 1 L1984, however on his take-off run, frozen snow was sucked into the supercharger air intake and the engine stopped as he climbed away. He force-landed straight ahead but the aircraft struck a house in the village of Playford and overturned. Cooney was admitted to East Suffolk and Ipswich Hospital, with minor injuries.

The squadron operated for short periods from French airfields during the Battle of France. On 22nd May 1940 Cooney shared in the probable destruction of an Hs126 over Hesdin with P/O BJ Wicks, and over Dunkirk on the 27th when he claimed a probable Me110.

On 29th July 1940 Cooney was shot down by a Me109. His Hurricane, P3879, crashed and exploded in the Channel off Dover.

Cooney was 26 years old. He is remembered on the Runnymede Memorial, Panel 10.

Photos and text courtesy of Battle of Britain Monument website

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