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Thread: Motor Car enthusiasts in 85 Squadron :Paddy Hemingway, James Marshall and Gus Gowers

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    Default Motor Car enthusiasts in 85 Squadron :Paddy Hemingway, James Marshall and Gus Gowers

    I have researched the life and times of Hurricane pilot, Vinny 'Gus' Gowers DFC who served in 85 Squadron at Debden and Castle Camps, and I am still in touch with Laurie Turner, his daughter. The locals in the nearby village of Steeple Bumpstead took Gus to their hearts when he came to live here in 1939 with his new bride Joan Church. Gus Gowers enjoyed driving fast cars and owned a red Lagonda which he parked in Sucklings Yard Steeple Bumpstead.

    Frequent visitors to the village were two other members of the Squadron and fellow motor car enthusiasts, P/O John 'Paddy' Hemingway and P/O James ‘Nigger’ Marshall, who had turned their hobby into a commercial venture. Hemingway was drawn into Marshall's enterprise of reconditioning old motor cars and soon found himself stripping down and re-building an elderly Lancia. These cars were left in the agricultural yard behind the home of Tony Suckling in Steeple Bumpstead - who told me the story- and where the three pilots spent much of their off-duty time. After the Lancia there followed a succession of other cars - usually in poor condition – acquired by Marshall for restoration.

    James Marshall, one of Gowers’ oldest pals in 85 Squadron, who had served with him in the Battle of France in May 1940, but he was needlessly killed in an accident. It was all very ‘hush hush’ as the Squadron didn’t want the truth to out. The ORB for 18th April 1942, said, “S/Ldr. 'Nigger' Marshall on returning to West Malling with two passengers crashed at Widford in the field next door to Mr Pawle's house. All were killed. The two passengers were P/O RG Beard and Sgt. CW Allen.’

    Ever the fun loving prankster, James Marshall had been at RAF Hunsdon, visiting former colleagues of 85 Squadron, but more importantly, visiting his girlfriend Susan who was staying with Rosemary Pawle, who had recently become Mrs Peter Townsend. After taking off in his Boston Mk III to return to West Malling, Marshall adjusted his route to pass over Widford. He had just begun an aerobatic 'beat up' of the Pawles' home, when his aircraft was seen to flip over onto its back and dive into the ground at Priory Farm. His great pal, ‘Paddy’ Hemingway was on leave in Ireland at the time, but on receiving the news of Marshall's death he returned to West Malling immediately. Hemingway was struck by the kindness shown to him by Marshall's grieving parents who lived in Dover. Despite Hemingway's protestations, they insisted that he accept their son's Jaguar car as a keepsake.

    This story was told to me by 'Bunty' Anderson who drove the YMCA tea wagon around the perimeter calling at all the hard standings at RAF Hunsdon.

    There is a picture that survives showing Gowers and Paddy Hemingway outside Tan Yard in Steeple Bumpstead.

  2. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to mark surridge For This Useful Post:

    Denis (30th May 2020),Jim C (2nd June 2020)

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