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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 228144
Last updated: 15 June 2020
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Time:17:10 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic SPIT model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Supermarine Spitfire Mk Ia
Owner/operator:54 Squadron Royal Air Force (54 Sqn RAF)
Registration: P9388
C/n / msn: 571
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:near Calais, Pas-de-Calais -   France
Phase: Combat
Departure airport:RAF Hornchurch, Essex
Destination airport:
P9388: Spitfire Mk.Ia (C/no.571) First Flown 3-3-40. Delivered to the RAF at 9 MU Cosford 7-3-40. Issued to 54 Squadron 19-4-40. Shot down by Bf109s while escorting Swordfish torpedo bombers off Calais 25-5-40. Flying Hours 17.35. Pilot survived, but was captured, and taken as a PoW. He later escaped, and returned to service only to be killed in a flying accident on 25-3-42.

According to the official Air Ministry file into the incident (File AIR 81/545): "Spitfire P9388 crashed at Calais, France, 24 May 1940. Sergeant J W B Phillips: prisoner of war. later escaped and returned to the UK through Spain; died in an aircraft accident, 25 March 1942".

Airborne from RAF Hornchurch, Essex, to escort a squadron of FAA RN Swordfish torpedo bombers. Spitfire P9388's oil system was damaged by ground-fire following attack on enemy transports and the aircraft caught fire, pilot abandoned aircraft, and bailed out by parachute south of Calais at 5.10 p.m. Sgt J. W. B. Phillips bailed out and injured leg on landing. Aircraft a write-off. According to a contemporary press report:

Friday, June 14, 1940 Page 2
Airman with Island Connection Awarded the D.F.M.
Sergeant James William Phillips received the Distinguished Flying Medal in the latest list of Royal Air Force Awards for gallantry. Sergeant Phillips has accompanied his squadron on numerous offensive patrols over Northern France. One day in May he took part in two engagements with enemy aircraft and shot down four Messerschmitt 109's, and possibly another. Sergeant Phillips has shown great courage in his attack on the enemy. In one combat alone he destroyed three enemy aircraft from close range without damage to his own aircraft. Since this engagement Sergeant Phillips has been reported missing. Aged 30, he was born at Lucknow, India, and his wife lives at Sandown, Isle of Wight".

Pilot - James William Bristowe Philips (RAF 47878, aged 29) - was injured after bail out, and was captured, to be taken as a PoW.

In March 1941, he escaped from the PoW camp where he was being held, and, travelling over the Pyrenees Mountains, escaped into Spain. He was held for a time in Miranda Prison (Miranda del Ebro PoW Camp in Northern Spain), but escaped from there also, and eventually reached "friendly territory" at Gibraltar. He was then posted to Malta for further active service with 261 Squadron, RAF

Returning to England, he was posted to the FIU (Fighter Interception Unit) at RAF Ford, Yapton, West Sussex. The Operations Record Book for the Fighter Interception Unit states the following:

"25th Mar 1942. P/O Phillips met with a fatal accident after spinning off a roll. He was a most experienced single-engine pilot and the accident remains something of a mystery." He was flying Hawker Hurricane IIB Z3350, and crashed 1 mile west of Ford Aerodrome. He is buried at Littlehampton Cemetery, Littlehampton, West Sussex [Sec. D. Grave 4268]


1. Royal Air Force Aircraft P1000-P9999 (James J Halley, Air Britain, 1978 p 52)
2. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AIR 81/545:

Related books:

Revision history:

12-Aug-2019 18:56 Dr. John Smith Added
13-Aug-2019 06:54 stehlik49 Updated [Aircraft type, Operator]

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