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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 228024
Last updated: 15 June 2020
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Date:23-MAY-1940
Time:11:30 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic SPIT model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Supermarine Spitfire Ia
Owner/operator:92 (East India) Squadron Royal Air Force (92 (East India) Sqn RAF)
Registration: P9370
C/n / msn: 553
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Cap Gris Nez beach, near Dunkerque, Pas de Calais -   France
Phase: Combat
Nature:Military
Departure airport:RAF Hornchurch, Essex
Destination airport:
Narrative:
P9370: Spitfire Mk.Ia (c/no.553). First Flown 20-2-40. Delivered to the RAF at 9 MU RAF Cosford 1-3-40. Issued to 92(East India) Squadron 11-3-40 as "QJ-V"). Written off (destroyed) when lost (failed to return) after being shot down in flames by Bf 109s near Dunkerque 23-5-40. Total Flying Hours 64.20. Pilot - Pilot Officer Patrick(Pat) A G Learmond killed. According to the official Air Ministry file on the incident (File AIR 81/512): "Spitfire P9370 failed to return from an operational flight over the French coast, 23 May 1940. Pilot Officer P A G Learmond: missing presumed dead".

From 10 May 1940, Spitfire squadrons were authorised to carry out offensive patrols across the Channel. Spitfires first met Bf-109s and Bf-110s on 23 May: two of each type of Messerschmitt were lost, as were four Spitfires of 92 Squadron. Spitfire P9370 is believed to have been shot down in combat with Bf109s of I./JG27 during an offensive patrol over Dunkerque, and crashed and burned out on the beach near Cap Gris-Nez 11.30 a.m. Possibly the Spitfire that was claimed as shot down by Oberlt Gerhart Framm (Staffelkapitän) of 2./JG27. Pilot Officer Patrick Alexander George Learmond missing. Aircraft a write-off. Reportedly, the shooting down of Spitfire P9370 the first loss in air to air combat by 92 Squadron in WWII.

Crew of Spitfire P9370:
Pilot Officer Patrick Alexander George Learmond, RAF 33490, posted 23/05/1940, as missing, presumed dead.

In his book "Best of the Few – 92 Squadron" Michael Robinson gives a brief biography of each of the pilots and tragically shows just how few of these young men survived the war. He describes the first day of combat for the squadron:

"Thursday 23rd May was to be a momentous day for 92; twelve aircraft left Northolt at 0500 for Hornchurch, where they were held at readiness until l045hrs. The flight over the English Channel was made at the lowest speed possible in order to conserve fuel, which allowed a period of only about half an hour at combat speeds.

As the squadron patrolled the French coast on their first real sortie, levels of experience and confidence varied greatly among the twelve pilots. The common denominator was that none of them had any combat experience. The first sweep between Boulogne and Dunkerque proved uneventful. However at 11:30 hrs, shortly after a 180 degree turn over Dunkerque, the calm was shattered by Barraclough’s R/T cry of "Here they come eight o’clock". That same instant Pat’s Spitfire P9370 exploded into a fireball and plunged earthward, the squadron had lost its first pilot, without firing a shot. An organised attack was impossible, and individual dogfights ensued".

As no trace of the aircraft or of the pilot was ever found, he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. 92 Squadron lost four Spitfires on 23 May 1940: P9370, P9373, N3290, and N3194. Two pilots were killed, one captured and taken as a PoW, and one survived unhurt.

Sources:

1. Royal Air Force Aircraft P1000-P9999 (James J Halley, Air Britain 1978 p 52)
2. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AIR 81/512: https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C14502133
3. https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/1803209/learmond,-patrick-alexander-george/
4. http://www.epibreren.com/ww2/raf/92_squadron.html#2305
5. http://francecrashes39-45.net/page_fiche_av.php?id=774
6. http://www.airhistory.org.uk/spitfire/p008.html
7. http://forum.12oclockhigh.net/showpost.php?p=234077&postcount=4
8. http://www.cieldegloire.com/sq_raf_092.php
9. http://owen.cholerton.org/06_elijah_96.php


Related books:

Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
08-Aug-2019 15:05 Dr. John Smith Added
09-Aug-2019 05:54 stehlik49 Updated [Operator]
20-Sep-2019 19:33 Anon. Updated [Narrative]

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