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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 229119
Last updated: 15 June 2020
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Date:25-MAY-1940
Time:day
Type:Silhouette image of generic SPIT model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Supermarine Spitfire Ia
Owner/operator:54 Squadron Royal Air Force (54 Sqn RAF)
Registration: N3103
C/n / msn: 373
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Dunkerque Beach, Dunkerque, Pas de Calais -   France
Phase: Combat
Nature:Military
Departure airport:RAF Hornchurch, Essex
Destination airport:RAF Hornchurch, Essex
Narrative:
N3103: Spitfire Mk.Ia (c/no. 373) First Flown 19-10-39. Delivered to the RAF at 9 MU Cosford 23-10-39. Issued to 54 Squadron 10-12-39. Damaged by Bf109 and crash landed on beach near Dunkerque 25-5-40.

According to the official Air Ministry file into the incident (File AIR 81/835): "Spitfire N3103 in air operations near Gravelines, France, 25 May 1940. Pilot Officer D G Gribble: missing, later reported safe"

On 21 September 2007, Dorian George Gribble's medals were put up for auction with a reserve price of £14-18,000. In the event, they fetched £35,000. The auctioneers catalogue contained a biography of the pilot of Spitfire N3103, Pilot Officer Dorian George Gribble, and the part which relates to the above incident was as follows:

"Dorian George Gribble was born in Hendon, London in June 1919, but was brought up on the Isle of Wight, where he was educated at Ryde School. Joining the Royal Air Force on a short service commission in March 1938, he attended No. 11 F.T.S. at Shawbury before being posted to No. 54 Squadron, a Gladiator unit based at Hornchurch, in December 1938. Shortly thereafter the Squadron was re-equipped with Spitfires.

With the onset of the German invasion of the Low Countries, No. 54 went into action, Gribble flying his first offensive patrol to Ostend on 16 May 1940. The previous evening, in an operational briefing delivered to the pilots in the Officers’ Mess billiard room, Al Deere had scanned the audience:

‘The central figure was, as always, Pilot Officer George Gribble. Very English, very good looking and bubbling over with the enthusiasm of his twenty years, he epitomized the product of the public school; young yet mature, carefree yet serious when the situation required and above all possessing a courageous gaiety which he was later to display in abundance.’

A little over a week later, on the 24th May, in 54’s second patrol of the day - a large scale dogfight over the Dunkirk-Calais sector in which Colin Gray later recalled seeing ‘nothing but black crosses hurtling around in all directions’ - Gribble destroyed a Me. 109 after firing 1700 rounds from 250 yards range (‘I saw my tracer crossing into his aircraft while he was on his back. He just fell into the ground ... ’).

The following day, May 25th, his Spitfire was badly damaged when 54 was jumped by about a dozen 109s, and he carried out a forced-landing on a beach near Dunkirk - but removed his radio equipment from the cockpit before finding passage home in a tramp steamer bound for Dover. Al Deere later recalled his arrival back in the U.K.:

‘A pleasant surprise awaited me when I walked into the Mess on the way to supper. In the hall stood George Gribble with, of all things, the radio set from his aircraft under his arm.

“Do you mean to say that you carted that thing all the way back with you?” I asked, clasping him warmly by the hand.

“Seemed the sensible thing to do, old boy. So far as I know these particular sets are still on the secret-list and we don’t want the Huns to get a free copyright,” he answered.

This was typical of George. He must have gone to no end of trouble to carry such an awkward and fairly heavy piece of equipment back with him. Apparently the captain of the ship that brought him home had tried to dissuade him for, as he pointed out, space was at a premium, and it must be men before material. Once having made up his mind, nothing would deter George.’

The Squadron moved to Catterick on 28th May, and thence back to Hornchurch on 4th June, but it would not be until July that it returned to frontline duties."


Sources:

1. Royal Air Force Aircraft N1000-N9999 (James J. Halley, Air Britain, 1977 p 17)
2. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AIR 81/835: https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C14502641
3. http://www.airhistory.org.uk/spitfire/p002.html
4. http://francecrashes39-45.net/page_fiche_av.php?id=6621
5. http://www.epibreren.com/ww2/raf/54_squadron.html
6. http://www.isle-of-wight-memorials.org.uk/people_2_g/gribble_dgc.htm
7. http://www.yorkshire-aircraft.co.uk/aircraft/yorkshire/york40/x4031.html
8. http://www.bbm.org.uk/airmen/Gribble.htm
9. https://www.dnw.co.uk/auction-archive/lot-archive/lot.php?department=Medals&lot_id=145376


Related books:

Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
18-Sep-2019 21:17 Dr. John Smith Added
24-Sep-2019 12:04 stehlik49 Updated [Operator]

Corrections or additions? ... Edit this accident description