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Thread: Spitfire 28 Aug. 41

  1. #11
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    Greatest thanks to all,

    Yes, if this revision is correct, then only the aircraft type would be an error, and the date could finally be the good one. Gal Bohn didn’t make any mention in his book « Raids aériens sur la Bretagne » (Aerial raids over Britany), and only mentioned a 22 Sqn Beaufort raid on Brest in the evening.

    How much I would like to go to the Kew record Office, at least once, but this can’t be done for the moment. But maybe someone already has it in his own records. Let’s hope !
    Maybe Errol Martyn, as Sgt Murphy was a New-Zealander, has some more info.
    A fast research on the web for 247 Sqn didn’t bring anything more, about the squadron history, and on from RAF Squadron book from W/C Jefford (a book I was offered some years ago), I can only say it was a Mk IIb or IIc Hurricane, based at Predannack from June 1941.

    A very good new lead ! I appreciate your help. Alex, I ignored the FCL revision, so thanks for your input ! Won’t the revisions appear on Internet, as those of BCL now do ?

    Gildas

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    hello Gildas,

    Both old and revised editions of FCL have the same entry for the circumstances of the loss. The additions between the two are : status 'missing' became 'PoW', RNZAF added, and may be the initials of Sgt MURPHY. Alex would tell, as I don't have the revised edition. I've seen in and check a couple of entries, still tens of mistakes and omissions, I found it was not worth the 15 or so bucks for it... Will wait till I can get it at bargain price.

    Initials of Sgt Murphy would be a great asset to find his PoW questionnaire. It's quite a common surname...

    Actually, you can get either photostat copies or scans of documents from Kew, you don't have to travel there. And if you've never been, you'll need a few visits to get used to it. They're also changing, adding new facilities, new archives, etc... The PoW questionnaires (WO 344 series) were not open to the public until about 3 years ago. Since then, I've checked several hundreds, probably more than a thousands of them. This is really a great source.

    There's a book about No. 247 Squadron :"Rise from the East" by David John MARCHANT, published by Air-Britain. The index lists only one MURPHY : Sgt, initials are S.O.J..
    Page 152 confirm he is indeed the pilot who was shot down and captured on 28th August 1941 : Hurricane IIC BD857 was coded HP-P,, arrived 14th August 1941, from 44 MU, lost 28 August 1941, hit trees after attack, force-landed near Morlaix aérodrome, Sgt SOJ MURPHY pow.

    Page 33 details the action. I quote :
    This was the first strike by the Squadron, named Mandolin V. Target : Morlaix aerodrome. 4 Hurricane IICs : S/L O'BRIAN, red 1, BD859, Sgt MURPHY red2 BD857, F/L CARVER blue 1 Z3089 and Sgt McCLELLAND Blue 2 Z3088. They took off from Predannack at 20:00. French coast was crossed 40 minutes later to the west of Ile de Batz. Turning south-west the Hurricanes followed the landward side of the Plouescat-Morlaix railway and approached the aerodrome from the west at a height of 50 feet. S/L O'BRIAN opened fire at a blister hangar. Defences began to react with heavy Flak and machinegun fire. Sgt MURPHY was seen by O'BRIAN parallel to him diving to the right, firing at gun posts on the southern corners. F/L CARVER thought that MURPHY's Hurricane appeared to be 'slipping in'. Red 1, Blue 1 and 2 left the area turning north and crossed the coast at St Jean at 20:48.
    Sgt MURPHY was missing. S/L O'BRIAN's Hurricane had been hit in the oil tank and the wing, but damage was slight. The remaining 3 aircraft landed back at Predannack at five-minute intervals from 21:20."

    Page 34 is a transcript of MURPHY's time in occupied France. He doesn't mention where he force-landed his machine. He was on his own for 3 days, "heading hopefully south". He then met some French folk at St Thegonnec, they took him to a farmhouse and gave him a splendid soup while they, unknown to him, sent off a little girl on a bicycle to alert the authorities. While he was sipping off his soup, the local curé arrived and as his schoolboy French and the Curé limited English didn't exactly bridge the communication gap, they had to write each other notes. MURPHY was asking for a map and civilian clothes but getting nowhere and the curé told himl that two women had been taken away by the Huns recently for helping airmen. Shortly after the local Maire arrived and greeted the pilot most cordially but he was closely followed by a Hun with a large Luger in hand advising the pilot to put his hands behind his neck. He was captured on 1st September 1941. Next day he was driven to the Luftwaffe HQ in Morlaix.

    I hope this will make sense for you and that you'll be able to match some informations with what you have.

    The original PoW questionnaire may have a more precise location for the forced-landing, but I sincerely doubt it, judging from my own experience. But who knows ?

    Good luck in your research.

    Joss

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    Gildas,

    NZ40860 Sgt (later Wt Off) Stanley Oldfield John Murphy, born at Bolton, Lancashire, England 16 Feb 22, served with the RNZAF 12 Mar 40 to 7 Jan 46, then on the Reserve 14 Sep 50 to 14 Sep 54.
    He was indeed serving with 247 Sqn when shot down and captured on 28 Aug 41.

    Errol

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    hello Errol,

    Funny thing, I lived in Bolton when I was studying civil engineer at the Bolton Institute for Higher Education. I learned later that S/L "Pinkie" STARK, the last wartime C.O. of No. 609 Squadron, was also born in Bolton...

    Cheers

    Joss

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    Thanks Joss and Errol,

    This means a new research in the opposite way will start, as I don’t think, due to this detailed and very useful information, that Sgt Murphy , after hitting a tree, could go toward Brest. And the pilot on the Crozon peninsula was captured short after landing.

    So now, the crash site of Sgt Murphy has also to be found, and we already have of course many aircraft crashed around Morlaix, but fortunately a good number already identified. I do know some people at St Thégonec, and may try to learn where precisely he was captured. Will keep you updated if I finally find it.

    Thanks a lot for all this trouble. I’ve also now to try to help Natalie for her query.

    Best wishes
    Gildas

  6. #16
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    According to No. 1 PRU ORB they lost two Spitfires on missions to Brest on 20.8.41, and as far as I was able to check these were their only losses in that area for about a fortnight before or after 28.8.41. The relevant entries are:
    Spitfire V X.4491 Merlin XLV 37835 missing written off charge
    Spitfire V X.4497 Merlin XLV 38621 missing written off charge
    F/O C. A. S. Greenhill DFC missing on operational flight to Brest
    F/O S. H. Dowse missing on operational flight to Brest

    If you are certain about the location but not about the date, it's likely one of these is your man.

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