View Full Version : Need ID on wreck of Fairey Battle “M” crashed near village during Western Campaign of May-June 1940

Larry Hickey
24th July 2014, 00:53

The EoE research team concentrating on British Losses in France and Belgium during the Phoney War and Western Campaign of May-June, 1940, is struggling to ID this aircraft. The only certain ID marking is an “M” behind the starboard fuselage cocarde. The houses in the background may well be the clue that unlocks this mystery, although there is nothing particularly distinctive about this cluster of buildings.

http://ihra.smugmug.com/photos/i-75Vrr64/0/L/i-75Vrr64-L.jpg (http://ihra.smugmug.com/photos/i-75Vrr64/0/L/i-75Vrr64-L.jpg)

http://ihra.smugmug.com/photos/i-rS8D4jx/0/L/i-rS8D4jx-L.jpg (http://ihra.smugmug.com/photos/i-rS8D4jx/0/L/i-rS8D4jx-L.jpg)

http://ihra.smugmug.com/photos/i-3fCh23r/0/L/i-3fCh23r-L.jpg (http://ihra.smugmug.com/photos/i-3fCh23r/0/L/i-3fCh23r-L.jpg)

http://ihra.smugmug.com/photos/i-fq69DN5/0/L/i-fq69DN5-L.jpg (http://ihra.smugmug.com/photos/i-fq69DN5/0/L/i-fq69DN5-L.jpg)

Here is where our research presently stands:

Martin G. comments:

"There are to my knowledge at this time at least 10 different photos of the wreck from three basic perspectives, plus two photo captions...we are indeed dealing with one aircraft...”
“The date of ‘16 May 1940’ on the back of one of the photos should help but there were no Fairey Battles lost that might match on the 13th, 15th or 16th. The date probably refers to when the photo was taken. I reckon there are still about 17 possibilities for the period May 10th-14th inclusive. This after excluding those with known code letters, checking photos and those with known circumstances of loss. Also assuming the 16 May 1940 date is correct.
Peter C. comments:

“A virtual walk around Breux-sur-Avre where P2335 came down on 14 June 1940 shows similar topography to that in the photos but no distinctive buildings or a helpful church to enable me to confirm or otherwise I’m afraid."

Does any have any information that would help us put a date, place, unit and crew with these photos? Find this village, and we can probably ID the wreck.

Alex Smart
24th July 2014, 08:11
Have used "Paint" to enlarge the picture and I think that I can now see "P2" and a "5" but in between is faint.

So if the a/c in Squadron letter for P2335 is known to have been "M" then it just might be the one.

I have looked in "The Battle File" 226 Squadron and found the following (which I am sure you already know but just in case).

7.4.40 - P2265 crashed during night flying. The Pilot ( P/O. Dunn ) baled, two crew (Sgt.J.R.Branton & LAC. P.K.Davies) killed.
10.5.40 - Four a/c ( K9183;K9330;L5247;P2180 ) to bomb near Luxembourg, Killed, F/O. D.A.Cameron(K9183).
13.5.40 - Seven a/c ( K9176;K9343;L5418;L5438;P2180;P2267;P2353 ) to delay enemy Tanks between Breda and Antwerp.P2353 hit by AA and force landed near Brussels, crew returned to unit on the 17th.
14.5.40 - Six a/c to bomb bridges near Sedan ( K9343;K9345;K9383;L5438;P2254;P2267 ) S/L C.E.S. Lockett ( P2267) was shot down and became POW, his crew were killed.Sgt H. Moseley (K9343) and F/Sgt. W.A. Dunn (L5438) were both shot down and both crews were killed. Killed were Sgt. S.D. Hibberd, Sgt. F.J. Percival, Sgt. A.F. Sedgwick, Cpl. R.S.Clark, Cpl. H.F. Little, AC2. M.B. Millar.
15.5.40 - Two a/c on night operations details please ? DoW, F/L. B.R. Kerridge(L5247 s/d on the 10th).
16.5.40 - Squadron ordered to move to Faux-Villecerf, Seven unserviceable a/c ( K7707;K9180;K9330;K9383;L5418;P2180;P2255 ) at Reims were abandoned and destroyed. The Squadrons two remaining serviceable a/c ( K9176 & P2254 [ confirmation please] ) were flown to Faux-Villecerf.
19.5.40 - K9176 & P2254 attack enemy columns no losses.
20/21.5.40 - Six a/c attack Montcornet,
K9176 Shot down,Sgt. A. Livingston Killed. Sgt. R.S. Annan(Pilot) and AC2 R.J. Jones both POW.
21/22.5.40 - Four a/c ( L5428;L5234;P2254;P6601 ) to bomb Florenville all returned.
22.5.40 - Killed, Sgt. A. Livingston - CWGC gives this date So did he die in captivity ?
22/23.5.40 - Six a/c ( L5450;P2254; P2331;P2335;P5234;P6601 ) to attack various communication targets, all returned.
23.5.40 - Two a/c ( L5450;L5468 ) bombed vehicles on the Arras/Doullens Road, both returned.
23/24.5.40 - Six a/c ( L5234;L5419;L5460;L5468;P6598;P6601 ) attack Florenville & Chareville, no losses.
24/25.5.40 - Six a/c ( L5419;L5468;P2254;P5234;P6598;P6601 )attack Sedan,Givet, Dinant & Charlieville, no losses.
25.5.40 - Two a/c ( L5461; P2331 ) bomb armoured vehicles on the Abbeville/Hesdin Road, both a/c returned safely.
25/26.5.40 - Seven a/c ( L5234;L5419;L5461;P2161;P2254;P6601 and one other serial number not known ) Unsuccessful operation but no losses.
27/28.5.40 - Six a/c ( K9351;L5450;L5498;P2331;P5234;P6601 )Unsuccessful operation but no losses.
28.5.40 - Six a/c ( L5305;L5419;L5428;L5461;;P2161;P6598 ) attack armoured columns on the Amiens Road, no losses.
31.5.40 - Six a/c ( L5035;L5419;L5461;L5468;L5498 and one other, serial number not known ) on a daylight attack on e/a parked on Laon a/fand racecourse, no losses ? ( Cpl. G.W.E. Jacobs Killed ).
31May/1 June 40 - Six a/c ( K9351;L5037;L5460;P2254;P6598;P6601 ) on night raid to Conz, no losses.
Squadron moved to Souge on the 3rd June 40.
4/5.6.40 - Likely that up to Ten a/c attacked Hirson and Givet, Losses ?
5.6.40 - Four a/c on evening attack in the Peronne area, Losses ?
6/7.6.40 - Four a/c attacked targets in the Laon area, Losses ?
7.6.40 - Seven a/c attacked columns in the Poix-Abbeville areain th pm - One a/c missing.
8.6.40 - Squadron attacked enemy columns in the Abbeville area, Losses ?
8/9.6.40 - Squadron operations details not known, Losses ?
11.6.40 - P6598 crashed on raid to Vernon, Sgt. G.P.McLoughlin, Sgt. E. Marrows, F/Sgt. J.A. Russell all killed.
13.6.40 - P2161 Shot down, Pilot, Sgt. E.E. Hopkins survived, Sgt. J.B. Callaghan, Sgt. L. Turner both killed.
14.6.40 - P2335 Shot down, Pilot, F/O. Kenneth Noel Rea killed. Also killed this day Sgt. F. Nixon.
15.6.40 Ground party left for Rennes, followed by the air party which flew to Thirsk.
27.6.40 Squadron flew 14 Battles to Sydenham. They were K9351;L5035;L5037;L5326;L5337;L5401;L5419;L5428;L5 452;L5460;L5498;P5233;P5234;P6601.

As said, the above came from "The Battle File".
What follows is from the Serial number series. some details differ slightly.

K9176 - Missing night raid, 20-5-40.
K9180 - Burnt on evacuation of Reims, 20-5-40.
K9183 - S/D SW Luxemburg, 10-5-40.
K9330 - Burnt out on evacuation of Reims, 16-5-40.
K9343 - Crashed after attack on Bridge near Mouzon, 14-5-40.
K9383 - Damaged by e/a 14-5-40, Burnt on evacuation Reims/Champagne, 16-5-40.
L5247 - Missing from attack on enemy columns, Luxemburg, 10-5-40.
L5348 - Engine cut in snowstorm, hit hedge East Kirby, Notts, 16-1-40.
L5418 - Burnt out on evacuation Faux-Villecerf, 20-5-40.
L5438 - Missing (Sedan) 14-5-40.
L5450 - Presumed lost in France, 5-40.
L5461 - NFT, 24-6-40, presumed lost in France in evacuation.
L5498 - SoC 29-12-1944.
L5564 - SoC 28-2-1942.
P2161 - Crashed Moutlis, Seine-et Marne, 13-6-40.
P2180 - Destroyed on evacuation Reims, 16-5-40.
P2254 - Force-landed near Brussels and abandoned, 13-5-40.
P2255 - destroyed on evacuation Reims, 16-5-40.
P2265 - Crashed on night training flight near Calais, 7-4-40.
P2267 - Missing (Sedan) 14-5-40.
P2335 - Shot down, NFD, 14-6-40.
P2353 - To Belgian A/F after forced landing near Brussels, 13-5-40.
P5244 - Engine cut, force landed Sutton Bridge, DBR, 17-1-40.
P6598 - Crashed 2m NW of Vernon, 11-6-40.
P6601 - Lost in bad weathe, Cushendale, NI, 22-10-40.

All the best

Martin Gleeson
24th July 2014, 22:13

I am glad you have found these portions of the serial number on the above photos. I thought I could just make out '..35' in another photo of the right-hand side of the Battle but it was very faint.
If '35' is correct for the last two digits then it can only be P2335 as you suggest. The other two Battles with serials ending in '35' that were lost during the campaign in France can be excluded because both were safely belly-landed, L5235 HA-W of 218 Squadron and P5235 JN-H of 150 Squadron. Many photos exist of these. I know of no photos to date of P2335 so this adds to the odds of this wreck ('M') being P2335.
However at this point I would caution against positively identifying these photos as P2335, rather say "possibly P2335". What 'evidence' we do have is just not clear enough.
Hopefully more and clearer photos will emerge in due course.



Alex Smart
25th July 2014, 17:57
Dont forget P2265 that was an earlier loss on training flight near Calais 7th April 40. Perhaps the picture is of her ?

Martin Gleeson
25th July 2014, 19:15
Hi Alex,

I am certain it cannot be P2265 because of the very efficient RAF aircraft recovery organization. Teams were usually on a wreck site within 3 days and P2265 crashed 5 weeks before the start of the Blitzkrieg, and at that stage of the war there were relatively few crashes to deal with.
I have just checked the ORB for No. 3 Salvage & Repair Section (AIR 29/802) and it sent a team on April 9th to Berry-au-Bac. The ORB records the team collected the wreckage.
Peter Cornwell in 'The BATTLE of FRANCE, THEN and NOW' notes the code was MQ-B. The 'M' in the photos appears to have been the aircraft individual letter and not part of the unit code. Also the photos have the fin flash which on 7 April 1940 probably was not on P2265.



Alex Smart
27th July 2014, 02:33
Then it can only be either of these two:
P2255 - abandoned and destroyed at Reims, 16.5.40.( I would say not this one, the scene is not right for "destroyed" dont you think ? ).
P2335 - shot down, 14.6.40.


Martin Gleeson
27th July 2014, 05:00
Hi Alex,

We can exclude P2255 also. It was the much-photographed 'MQ-O' left abandoned in a damaged state at Reims c.16 May 1940. The airscrew had been removed but it was still on its wheels.


Larry Hickey
5th August 2014, 20:30

Through the inputs of several people and locating photos of this wreck with the caption "Neufchâteau" we've now determined that this is:

"12 May 1940 150 SQUADRON, ECURY-SUR-COOLE: Battle P2336. Suffered direct hit by flak during attack on enemy column between Neufchâteau and Bertrix. Crashed and burned out south of Neufchâteau, Belgium, at 3.00 p.m. (Pilot) Pilot Officer Ian Campbell-Irons, (Obs) Sergeant Thomas Roy Barker, and (AG) LAC Reginald Henry Hinder all killed. Aircraft JN*M a write-off."

What we haven't found is the exact location via "Google Earth" or "Google Street View." If anyone could take the posted photos and use them to pinpoint the precise location of this crash, believed to be south of Neufchâteau, this would be greatly appreciated. Peter C. took a crack at this but wasn't able to locate the spot. Alternatively, someone who lives in the area may be able to locate this place. That would definitively nail down this ID.

I know that many of my post requests seem like really far out long-shots, but quite a number of these are actually producing results, although sometimes not on the public board. Any help would be appreciated.

Alex Smart
6th August 2014, 13:32
Hello Larry,

Just to confirm that BCL vol 2 page 223 has P2335 as "MQ-N".

The revised edition has on page 294, P2335 MQ-N. folowed by probably crashed in the vicinity of Breux-sur-Avre(Eure),15km SE of Breteuil.

So unless the Squadron code letters on the right side were split "M" o "Q-N" and on the left "MQ" o "N" there is no way that a/c P2335 could have been a/c "M".

Which now leaves us with P2336 of 150 Squadron being "JN-M" with "JN" forward of the roundel on both sides (?) of the fuselage.

From BCL vol 1 page 53.
150 Sqn Battle I P2336 - "JN- " , Op: Neufcháteau.
T/o 1445 ecury-sur-Coole.
Believed shot down near Neufcháteau(Luxembourg), 26km SW of Bastogne, Belgium.
P/O. I. Campbell-Irons +
Sgt. T.R.Barker +
LAC. R. H. Hinder +

The Revised vol has as above but with the following remarks on page 277: T/o 1445 Écury-sur-Coole: exploded to the S of Neufcháteau [Luxembourg].

P2336 - "JN-M" - 150 Sqdn.
Now all to do is find the crash place.

Good hunting,

Larry Hickey
6th August 2014, 19:41

Alex, thanx for your inputs. One comment here, I don't believe that we're talking about a crash in the country of Luxembourg, but in the Belgian Province of Luxembourg, which could be confusing for those looking at your latest post.

It is my understanding that we're taking about a place in Belgium.

Larry Hickey
6th August 2014, 19:52

Just to be clear, we do not now think that the previously posted photos have anything to do with P2335, which we do show as 226 SQ MQoN. In the EoE British Loss DB we carry that as:

Battle P2335. Failed to return from attack on enemy armour and believed crashed near Breux-sur-Avre, France. Possibly that claimed by Hptmn Ebbighausen (Staffelkapitän) of 4./JG26 south of Vernon 4.53 p.m. Flying Officer K. N. Rea killed. Sergeant F. Nixon missing. Sergeant H. P. White captured seriously wounded, died in Doullens hospital August 2, 1940. Aircraft MQ*N a write-off."

I am presently not aware of any photos of that crash, but would greatly appreciate copies of such if anyone has them, or thinks that they have a good candidate from them.

6th August 2014, 21:09

Reference: AIR 81/933
Description: Sergeant F Nixon, Sergeant H P L White and Flying Officer K N Rea: report of deaths; Battle P2335 crashed at Breux-sur-Avre, France, 14 June 1940
Note: With photographs
Date: 1940 Jan 01 - 1957 Dec 31
Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Former references: in its original department: P 352925/40
Legal status: Public Record
Access conditions: Open on Transfer
Record opening date: 23 July 2014

Larry Hickey
6th August 2014, 21:42

Thanx for your post "udf" regarding photos of Battle P2335.

This looks like it must be part of the large new file release on casualties at the British NA. We will have to pursue getting copies of these photos. Has anyone already seen these or have copies?

I hope there are others there on our "wish list."