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Jon 15th July 2005 18:16

238 Squadron pilot in the sea 1940
On page 352 on The Battle of Britain Then and Now there is a letter from Sgt Eric Bann of 238 Squadron. It looks to be dated before August 7th and after Mid July 1940 and only states it was written on a Friday !!
Sgt Bann says he took off with the C/O and two other pilots and engaged some bombers over the sea. He says quite clearly that he was shot down into the sea and after a long swim was picked up and landed at Portsmouth.
I can find no record of this incident at all.
Who shot him down ? what Hurricane was he flying ? date etc.....
All help appreciated.


Peter Cornwell 16th July 2005 08:18

Re: 238 Squadron pilot in the sea 1940
I am hoping someone will post an answer to this query for it is something that has puzzled me for the past 25 years. There is nothing in 238 Squadron records to substantiate this account and my analysis of aircraft serials at the time failed to throw up anything that seemed to relate, hence the absence of a corresponding entry in my loss lists in BoBT&N.

Some time references for context - the squadron flew their first combat operation on 2 July 1940, and scored their first victories on the 11 July 1940 so, given the dates mentioned by Eric BANN in the footnote to his letter, my guess is the letter was written on either Friday, July 19 or 26, the incident having taken place some days earlier ? The No.238 Squadron ORB records engagements on 13, 20, and 21 July, but no mention of BANN being shot down as described. Nothing in RNLI records either but this is always a 'long shot'.

nick de carteret 16th July 2005 23:54

Re: 238 Squadron pilot in the sea 1940
My uncle (Squadron Leader 'Jimmy' Fenton) took over as C/O of 238 Squadron on 15 July 1940, flying his first operational sorties with 238 on 17 July. I have just checked his logbook and personal notes and can find no entry which appears to relate to the incident referred to in Eric Bann's letter to his parents.

I can only assume that the events he described happened earlier in July in the company of the previous C/O, Squadron Leader Cyril Baines who was posted out to the Middle East on 15 July. My uncle's log book does not record that he was involved in jointly shooting down a bomber until 21 July but that was a Do.17 downed over Dorset.

Alex Smart 18th July 2005 04:17

Re: 238 Squadron pilot in the sea 1940

This may help.

I dont have the name of the pilot but there was a 238 Sqdn Hurricane downed on the 5th of July 1940, P3703, dived into the ground at West Tedworth, Wilts.
Fate and Name of pilot ?

The next Sqdn loss was on the 13th, not him.

From Men of the BoB there is a photo.

He completed his flying training and joined 238 Squadron at Tangmere in June 1940. On August 11 he claimed a He 111 and on Sept 21 he shared a Ju88.

He was killed on Sept 28 when he baled from V6776 and his chute failed to open.



nick de carteret 18th July 2005 05:42

Re: 238 Squadron pilot in the sea 1940
Re: no238sq Battle Of Britain

Hi Steve,

Thanks for your PM.

Taken from my uncle's log book, he flew the following 238 Hurricanes in action during July 1940. These are the entries in his log for that month after joining 238 Squadron on 15 July.

15 July practice 3805 - 0.50
15 July practice 2827 - 1.05
16 July practice 2946 - 0.55
17 July to Warmwell 3805 - 0.20
17 July raid patrol 3805 - 0.55
17 July raid patrol 3767 - 1.00
17 July raid patrol 3767 - 1.25
17 July raid patrol 3767 - 0.35
18 July raid patrol 3805 - 1.15
18 July to Middle Wallop 3805 -0.15
19 July RT test 3805 - 0.10
21 July to Warmwell 3805 - 0.20
21 July NF landing 3805 - 0.15
21 July raid patrol 3805 - 0.45
21 July raid patrol 3805 - 1.20 Do.17 destroyed
21 July raid patrol 3805 - 1.05
22 July raid patrol 3805 - 0.10
22 July raid patrol 3805 - 0.40
22 July to Middle Wallop 3805 - 0.20
25 July to Warmwell 3805 - 0.20
25 July raid patrol 3805 - 1.15
25 July raid patrol 3805 - 0.50
25 July raid patrol 3219 - 0.40
26 July raid patrol 3219 - 1.00
26 July raid patrol 3219 - 0.55
26 July to Middle Wallop 3219 - 0.20
26 July raid patrol 3219 - 0.30
27 July raid patrol 3823 - 1.45
27 July raid patrol 3823 - 2.00 Bf.109 chased across Channel
27 July to Middle Wallop 3823 - 0.15
28 July to Warmwell 3805 - 0.20
28 July raid patrol 3805 - 0.40
29 July raid patrol 3805 - 0.40
29 July raid patrol 3805 - 0.50
29 July to Middle Wallop 3805 - 0.20
29 July test 3805 - 0.20
30 July to Farnborough 3219 - 0.20
31 July to Warmwell 3219 - 0.20
31 July raid patrol 4047 - 0.20
31 July R/T test 4047 - 0.30

I'll post this in the forum in case any one else is interested. Cheers Nick.

Originally Posted by steve sheridan
Hi Nick,
Just read your link on Twelve O' Clock High regarding
your uncle who commanded NO238SQ, during the BOB.
I wondered if you could possibly help me , with my
research on this squadron, and tell me what serial or code letters your uncles aircraft wore during july 1940.

Any help would be most appreciated.

Steve Sheridan

Jon 18th July 2005 19:58

Re: 238 Squadron pilot in the sea 1940
Thanks for the responses so far.

Does anyone have details on the 5th July shoot down, also if the aircraft landed in wiltshire is it possible the pilot ( Sgt Bann ) could have landed in the sea far enough out to require a long swim ??

I also ask the more experienced researchers if the lack of information recorded on incidents like Sgt Bann going into the sea are common ? I appreciate it was happening every day at this time and we were more concerned about the expected invasion than perhaps ensuring all was logged correctly?

Alex Smart 19th July 2005 01:00

Re: 238 Squadron pilot in the sea 1940
Hello Jon,

Are you saying that the July 5th pilot was Sgt. Bann ?

Friday's for the period were -

10th May; 17th May; 24th May; 31st May.
7th June; 14th June; 21st June; 28th June.
5th July; 12th July; 19th July; 26th July.
2nd Aug; 9th Aug; 16th Aug; 23rd Aug; 30th Aug.

5th July aircraft was P3703.


If Sgt Bann was up on the 8th August that is when S/Ldr Fenton ditched in P2947. Is it possible that the content of the leter refers to this and not to Bann himself? the 8th was Thursday.

There does not seem to be any other 238 Hurricane that fits, unless Bann was in one borrowed from another unit, even so if it is the 5th then no other was lost that day AFAIK.

All the best


Peter Cornwell 19th July 2005 08:47

Re: 238 Squadron pilot in the sea 1940
It was P/O B. FIRMINGER that flew into a 'stuffed cloud' at Tidworth 9.50 a.m. on 5 July 1940 in P3703.

Regarding S/L FENTON's aircraft on 8 August 1940, there is an annoying duplication in records that perhaps Nick de Carteret would kindly resolve from his uncle's Log Book. P2947 or P3823 ? It would be good to know for sure at long last. Many thanks.

nick de carteret 19th July 2005 12:41

Re: 238 Squadron pilot in the sea 1940
Alex and Peter,

I can tell you quite a bit about 8th August but regretfully not the serial number of the Hurricane that my uncle ditched in the sea that day - his log book does not record any serials after 31 July, I guess things had hotted up to such an extent that minor details such as identification marks were just not relevant by this stage.

According to notes that I have found amongst his papers, Sgt.Bann did not participate in the 12 sorties that were ordered to intercept the raid on convoy "Peewit" on that date.

The twelve were: Fl/Lt Turner, PO Davis, FO Hughes, Sgt Marsh, Sgt Domagala, Sgt Batt, Fl/Lt Walch, PO Steborowski, Sgt Little, PO MacCaw, PO Cawse and Sgt Seabourne.

The rest I can only quote from his privately published memoirs:-

" On the 8th, as usual, we were at readiness at first light. After breakfast, my adjutant Noel David, fetched me to the office for a rare spell of administration. As soon as I left dispersal, the Squadron was scrambled - led by Stuart Walch, and went into action over a shipping convoy a few miles south of the Isle of White intercepting a big raid. During the scrap Eric Turner, the 'A' Flight Commmander was shot down. There was no rescue launch in the area so I went out to have a look for him - on my own, as all the others were being refuelled. I could not find any trace but, while searching, I spotted a German seaplane at sea level. I went down to attack, gave him a long burst but, being much faster, I overshot and his gunner must have got in a lucky one which cut an oil pipe. I turned North but shortly afterwards my engine seized. Having so little height, I had to ditch rather than bail out.
The propeller had stopped, I undid everything, harness and parachute straps, and to this day I can remember holding off above the waves. I was thrown clear but banged my head on the way out - probably on the reflector sight on the windscreen. My unpulled parachute was close by and was as buoyant as a lifebuoy so I bobbed about for half an hour, somewhat dazed from the bang on the head.
Fortunately, I had been seen by HMS Bassett, an Admiralty Armed Trawler. The skipper had been watching my approach, not knowing whether I was friend or foe. They took a bearing on the splash, steamed over and hauled me out. Not long after I was picked up, the convoy was bombed again. Soon afterwards the ship fished out another pilot and he turned out to be German. We shared the cabin for the rest of the day. He had a little English so we managed to converse to some extent. I remember that he hailed from Leipzig and was the pilot of a Bf 110. Like me he had to strip for his clothes to dry and his few possessions comprised a large pack of condoms. I do not know what he thought he was coming for - with the next five years as a POW!
I was put ashore at Gosport late that evening having made some good friends on board. my forehead needed seventeen stitches and the medics sent me on three weeks sick leave to give it time to heal"

Alex Smart 19th July 2005 17:29

Re: 238 Squadron pilot in the sea 1940

FCL vol 1 has P2947 down as Sqdn Ldr Fenton's a/c on the 8th Aug.
With P3617 F/O MacCaw and P3823 being F/Lt.Turner.

Thank you for details re P/O B. Firminger.

Still leaves the question re Bann though.

There must be details of hime coming ashore and being checked out and returning to Squadron somewhere, local Police records perhaps, if we knew where he came ashore.


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