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607 squadron's heavy losses defending London - Stuart Parnall

In addition to the loss of the comparatively inexperienced George Drake, two other members of 607 squadron were killed in defending London. Stuart Parnall and Scotty Lenahan were also shot down in a devasting evening raid on the capital.

Stuart Boyd Parnall, the son of a milling engineer, was born on 4th July 1910, the son of John Babington Parnall and Ethel Mary Aletheia Parnall. He was baptised on 18th August that year at St Brelade's Church, Jersey, by his maternal grandfather, the Rev. RR Cousens.

Parnall joined 607 Squadron Auxiliary Air Force in early 1939. Called to full-time service on 24th August 1939 he went from 607 Squadron to 7 FTS Peterborough for No. 12 Course, which ran from 9th October 1939 to 6th March 1940. He arrived at 5 OTU Aston Down on 24th March 1940. After converting to Hurricanes, Parnall joined 263 Squadron at Filton on 21st April. He embarked on the carrier HMS Glorious on 11th May for the squadron’s second expedition to Norway. On the 26th Parnall destroyed a He111 near Bardufoss. On 7th June 263 flew its Gladiators on to HMS Glorious which was sunk en route the next day by the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. Parnall must have returned in one of the evacuation ships. He rejoined 607 Squadron at Usworth on 24th June.

He probably destroyed a Me110 on 15th August but his fortunes were to change in just a few weeks when, on 9th September 1940, Stuart Parnall was shot down and killed over Mayfield in combat with Do17s and Me109s (see blog on George Drake for details of the combat). His Hurricane, P3574, crashed at Lime Trees Farm, Goudhurst. Parnall was 30 years old and was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium, Hendon.

In a devastating blow to his family, Parnall’s brother, Squadron Leader James Boyd Parnall (who had also served in the AAF before the war), had earlier been killed as CO of 504 Squadron on 14th May 1940, aged 34.

S/Ldr. Harry Welford remembered the battle clearly in which Parnall, Lenahan (aged 20) and Drake had been killed:

We were well and truly bounced by Me109s on that day: we lost six out of 12 aircraft. Amongst these were my best friends, Stuart Parnall and Scotty Lenahan, and as no more was heard of young George Drake, his death was presumed. We were shocked, we just could not take it all in. No one talked about it but we all hoped for news on George from some hospital or pub. No news came so we held back our sorrow. It was “You heard about Stuart and Scotty? Rotten luck wasn’t it ?” and someone would add “…and young George Drake. Bloody good blokes all of them”.

George Welford in 1940, above.

607 squadron pilots - Left (John Desmond 'Scotty' Lenahan, unknown, George 'Harry' Welford, F/Lt CE Bowen.

Text and photos courtesy of the Battle of Britain monument.

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