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Heavy losses sustained in one day

Some squadrons suffered devastating losses in just one raid.

On 8 August 1940 two Spitfires of 65 Sqn based at Hornchurch were shot down. Sgt David Kirton (Pictured left) went down in flames and killed during combat with 109s over Manston at 11.40am. Kirton’s aircraft crashed and burnt out. He was 21 years old and is buried in St James’s cemetery, Dover.

Kirton’s colleague, F/Sgt Norman Phillips was also shot down by 109s of the same III/JG26 over Manston 5 minutes later at 11.45am. Phillips is buried at Chatham cemetery in Chatham, Kent.

145 Squadron based at Westhampnett lost five pilots in one day – two in the morning and three in an afternoon raid with all posted 'Missing'. Each pilot died fighting the Battle of Convoy CW9, codenamed ‘Peewit’:

a) P/O Lionel Sears aged 19 and known as ‘Peter’ to his friend Geoff Wellum. Sears failed to return from combat over the Channel south of the Isle of Wight at 9.05am

b) Sgt ED Baker also shot down into the Chanel south of the Isle of Wight at 9.15am and crashed into the sea. Baker was missing.

c) P/O ECJ Wakeham missing following action against Stukas and 110s over a convoy south of the Isle of Wight at 4.40pm.

d) F/O Lord R.U.P. Shuttleworth also failed to return from combat with stukas and 110s. Missing and aircraft lost.

e) Sub-Lieutenant FA Smith missing following the same combat at 4.45pm and crashed into the sea.

F/O Dennis Grice DFC from Ealing, Sgt Francis Keast from Whitstable and AC1 John Warren from Chelmsford were all members of the same Bleinheim crew from 600 ‘City of London’ Squadron. On Thursday 8 Aug, they were flying in the vicinity of their base at Manston when they were attacked by enemy fighters and shot down, their aircraft falling towards the town of Ramsgate. Instead of abandoning their stricken Blenheim, Dennis Grice stayed at the controls and lifted the aircraft clear of the town only to crash almost immediately afterwards into the sea. The bodies of Grice and Keast were recovered from the sea. Grice was cremated at Charing, Kent an his name is commemorated on the Memorial panel. Keast was buried in the family grave at Whitstable. John Warren was washed up in France and is now buried in Calais.

Text courtesy of 'The Battle of Britain: Then and Now', pp342-344

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