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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 68506
Last updated: 3 November 2020
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Time:14:43 Local
Type:Bristol Blenheim Mk IF
Owner/operator:30 Squadron Royal Air Force (30 Sqn RAF)
Registration: K7181
C/n / msn: VT-X
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Mediterranean Sea, NW of Mersa Matruh -   Egypt
Phase: En route
Departure airport:Ikingi Mariut, Egypt
Destination airport:
Bristol Blenheim Mk.I K7181,(VT-X) 30 Squadron, RAF: Written off (destroyed) when lost (Failed To Return) from Combat Operations. All three crew killed. According to the official Air Ministry file into the incident (File AIR 81/1133): "Blenheim K7181 crashed at sea north west of Mersa Matruh, Egypt, 13 July 1940. Pilot Officer D A Lea and Sergeant C F Burt: missing presumed dead"

On 13th July 1940, three Bristol Blenheims of 30 Squadron, based at Ikingi Mariut in Egypt, were tasked to fly a defensive patrol over the British Mediterranean Fleet which had been under regular attack from the Italians for several days. As soon as the fleet was located, three Italian SM79 bombers were sighted and engaged by two of the 30 Squadron Blenheims,

Finally, at 14:50, Keith (again in N5513) saw five S.79s at 8,000 feet, making a beam attack followed by a stern chase on one. This finally caught fire, turned on its back and spun into the sea, no one being seen to bale out. This claim was probably made against a group of three S.79s of the 15 Stormo, which attacked at 14:30 as the only raid of the Va Squadra Area for the day. These Italian pilots were the only ones who reported being attacked by fighters (apart from the 39o Stormo at 11:20) and they claimed two shot down by their return fire for no losses.

It seems that they shot down a Bristol Blenheim Mk.IF of 30 Squadron (K7181) that was patrolling over the fleet together with two colleagues. The three Blenheims reported that at 14:43 they discovered a formation of three S.79s at 13,000 feet. One Blenheim was left to guard over the fleet while the other two attacked, claiming that the fire from the leader, Flying Officer Le Dieu (Blenheim K7177), silenced the rear gunner of the Italian leader while the combined fire of the two Blenheims hit the number three of the Savoias, which was seen to dive away with smoke pouring from the starboard engine but was not seen to crash.

One of the Blenheims was lost. The crew of the Blenheim fighter perished. According to the pilot in the third Blenheim, Flight Lieutenant Alfred Bocking, Pilot Officer Lea was seen to bale out successfully but so great was the submarine menace that the convoy just sailed past him. Credit for the shot down Blenheim went to Aviere scelto Armiere Ornani of the 20a Squadriglia, 46o Gruppo.

Crew of Blenheim K7181:
Pilot Officer Derryk Austin Lea (Pilot) RAF 41432, aged 22 - killed in action 13/07/1940
Sergeant Christopher Frederick Burt (Wireless Op./Air Gunner) RAF 539698, aged 20 - killed in action 13/07/1940

As no trace of Blenheim K71891 or its crew was ever found, they are commemorated on the El Alamein Memorial in Egypt


1. Air Britain The K File The RAF of the 1930s
2. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AIR 81/1113:

Related books:

Revision history:

06-Oct-2009 00:59 JINX Added
15-Dec-2014 17:11 Jixon Updated [Operator, Narrative]
09-Oct-2018 04:57 Nepa Updated [Operator, Operator]
09-Oct-2019 22:57 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Cn, Location, Country, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
09-Oct-2019 22:58 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source]

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