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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 138901
Last updated: 15 August 2020
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Type:Silhouette image of generic SPIT model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Supermarine Spitfire Mk I
Owner/operator:92 (East India) Squadron Royal Air Force (92 (East India) Sqn RAF)
Registration: P9373
C/n / msn: 556
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Wierre-Effroy, Pas de Calais, 8 miles NE of Boulogne -   France
Phase: Combat
Departure airport:RAF Hornchurch, Essex
Destination airport:
Supermarine Spitfire Mk.I P9373 (GR-H) 92 (east India) Squadron, RAF: Written off (destroyed) when lost (failed to return) for a combat air patrol over Dunkirk on 23 May 1940. Pilot killed. According to the official Air Ministry file into the incident (File AIR 81/504): "Spitfire P9373 crashed at Wierre-Effroy, France, 23 May 1940. Sergeant P H Klipsch: report of death".

According to published unofficial sources: "Spitfire P9373 was being flown by 24-year-old Sergeant Pilot Paul Klipsch, this was his first encounter with any enemy aircraft. The squadron were sent on patrol over Dunkirk on Thursday 23rd May 1940, they were ordered to fly at 7,000 feet with Klipsch flying lead on Red section as wingman to Squadron Leader Roger Bushell

They were dropped on and attacked from around 8,000 to 10,000 feet by Messerschmitt Bf 109’s and Bf 110’s of 2/ZG 76, with Sgt Klipsch’s aircraft being hit during the combat by Gunther Specht, he was undoubtedly killed during the attack and his Spitfire went into a dive and crashed at Wierre-Effroy a small commune in the Pas-de-Calais area of France.

A major excavation of the crash site was carried out in June 1999 under the direction of a Channel 4 Television’s Time-Team Group along with aviation archaeologist Steve Vizard and Mark Kirby. A large amount of compressed airframe and Merlin engine were recovered and in February of 2000, a documentary was broadcast relating the story of Sergeant Paul Klipsch and the recovery of his aircraft.

Sergeant Klipsch’s body lies in the village churchyard of Wierre-Effroy, close to where his aircraft crashed. Found by the eleven-year-old son of the village undertaker, who returned with his father and brother to the crash-site and recovered Paul’s body and took it to the churchyard. With the assistance of the local Priest they buried Sgt Klipsch so as the Germans could not find the pilot. This “stranger” has never been forgotten by the villagers, his grave has been the focal point of their own ‘Remembrance Day’ ceremony ever since.


1. Royal Air Force Aircraft P1000-P9999 (James J Halley, Air Britain, 1978
2. National Archives (PRO Kew) Air 81/504:
10. p 11
11. Script of the Time Team Episode (Series 2 Episode 3) which excavated Spitfire P9373:

Related books:

Revision history:

02-Oct-2011 11:23 ThW Added
25-Dec-2011 15:28 Nepa Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Departure airport, Source]
16-Jan-2012 14:03 Nepa Updated [Operator, Departure airport, Source]
04-Nov-2012 20:01 angels one five Updated [Aircraft type, Cn, Phase, Source, Narrative]
09-Mar-2016 08:26 Anon. Updated [Registration]
07-Aug-2019 00:04 Dr. John Smith Updated [Registration, Cn, Total fatalities, Other fatalities, Location, Source, Narrative]
07-Aug-2019 00:23 Dr. John Smith Updated [Date, Time, Location, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]

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