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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 164301
Last updated: 30 September 2020
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Type:Silhouette image of generic SPIT model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Supermarine Spitfire Mk IIa
Owner/operator:41 Squadron Royal Air Force (41 Sqn RAF)
Registration: P7326
C/n / msn:
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Near Isle of Sheppey, Thames Estuary -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Departure airport:RAF Hornchurch, Essex
Destination airport:RAF Hornchurch
On 10 December 1940 twelve Spitfires of 41 Sqn RAF took off at 1535 hrs from Hornchurch for a routine patrol on the south coast of England, the task being to patrol Rochford at 10,000 feet. Visibility was generally poor, with varying amounts of cloud and a light westerly wind. There was no enemy action, but still one pilot was lost. There was no forewarning; the Spitfire IIa P7326 flown by Sgt Ralph Vincent Hogg just fell from the sky and apart from one brief sighting was not seen again.

At 1540 near Southend and flying under the cloud base at 2,000 feet, the CO received instructions from Control to detach a Section for a separate task. Accordingly, P/O Mileham and Sgt Hogg (Blue 3 and 4) left the formation and took up a heading of 100 degrees initially, and then ordered to climb on a new heading of 090 degrees. This took the two Spitfires into the 10/10 cloud layer and at 8,000 feet P/O Mileham advised Control that they were still in cloud. He was ordered to continue climbing until he was above the clouds. Mileham did so and upon breaking into clear sky was unable to sight Blue 4 and returned to base on his own.

A short while after P/O Mileham landed and reported his wing man missing a message was received from No.11 Group to the effect that an aircraft had been seen to dive into the Thames Estuary by the Coastguard. A boat had been sent to the scene of the crash, but found only an oil slick on the surface of the water. The position was given as about 6 miles northeast of Warden Point on the Isle of Sheppey. No other RAF planes were reported missing in the area that day so the Coastguard sighting can only have been of Ralph Hogg's Spitfire.

His Flight Commander, Flg Off A D J Lovell, wrote to his family that "Ralph disappeared while on patrol acting as scout to the squadron".

Hogg’s rigger, who was the last man to speak to him on the ground, was interviewed later by Steve Brew. Having strapped him in on this particular flight, he recalls that they had not met before but immediately recognised each others Teesside accents. They vowed to talk more upon Hogg’s return, and remembers how ‘chuffed’ the young pilot was as he taxied away, looking forward to chatting after the patrol. The rigger was bitterly disappointed when Hogg failed to return and considering today what may have caused his ‘disappearance’, suggests oxygen supply was the most likely culprit.

Although the exact reason for Hogg’s loss remains uncertain, a document in the files of RAF Hornchurch (Squadron Combats RAF Hornchurch, Essex, Nov 1939-Nov 1940, TNA AIR 16/856) adds an interesting piece of information, stating that an aircraft, believed to have been Hogg’s, was seen to crash in the Estuary six miles northeast of Warden Point. It is understood there were no other losses in the area that day. Despite the circumstantial evidence, however, the report cannot be verified. Hogg remains listed as ‘missing, presumed dead’ to this day.

Weighing the available evidence, oxygen failure, resulting in unconsciousness, would appear to be the most likely scenario as, had another piece of equipment failed, Hogg would likely have radioed a mayday or in the least informed his Flight Commander he was in difficulty. In such case, he would have also baled out of a stricken aircraft, rather then consciously dive into the sea in silence.

Hogg is still missing and is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. In the book "Battle of Britain, the Forgotten Months" it is said that his body was subsequently found in the wreckage of his Spitfire, but it is false.

Ralph Vincent Hogg joined the RAFVR about July 1939 as an Airman u/t Pilot. Called up on 1 September 1939, he completed his training and arrived at 7 OTU Hawarden in September 1940. After converting to Spitfires he joined 616 Sqn at Kirton-in-Lindsey on 6 October. Returning from a routine sortie on the 14th, he was unable to lower his undercarriage and crash-landed back at the airfield, unhurt. He then joined 41 Sqn at Hornchurch on 14 November. He was 24 when he was reported ’Missing’.

41 Sqn RAF ORB, December 1940 (available online at
"Battle of Britain-The Forgotten Months, November and December 1940", by John Foreman. ISBN 1-871187-02-8

Related books:

Revision history:

27-Feb-2014 02:17 angels one five Added
06-Jun-2015 20:32 Angel dick one Updated [Time, Operator, Departure airport, Narrative]
13-Dec-2018 12:42 Laurent Rizzotti Updated [Source, Narrative]
04-Oct-2019 02:34 angels one five Updated [Narrative]

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