- Created: 28 January 2014
- Hits: 1972
This account comes from Neil who's Dad Alan witnessed the death of a Spitfire Pilot when cycling home one night.
Dad lived in North Road, Hull at the time and was one of the many boy scouts who during the bombing raids on the city were utilised as messenger boys between the ARP stations reporting incidents of bomb damage etc throughout the city. Dad (aged 13) was cycling near Skidby on the day of the accident and was observing a Spitfire practising what transpired to be "dogfight practice ". The aircraft then went into a spin and crashed in fields near Risby Park not far from the road where dad was cycling along. I can only presume instinct just took over him and he then raced over to the stricken aircraft and attempted to rescue the pilot but unfortunately was beaten back by the flames . The cause of the crash is unknown but a possibility is pilot black- out caused by the G-forces created during the manueovres. The Spitfire had plummeted from 5000 feet and was flown by pilot sergeant John Patrick Walsh (service No 754138) who was aged 20. Pilot Walsh was born in Islington in 1919 to Harry(Henry) and Nellie Walsh (nee Wilcox), he attended Harrow County School for Boys from 1931, he was awarded school colours in athletics in 1935 & 1936 also being Kenton House junior athletics champion 1933, he also recieved school colours for Rugby in 1936. John left the school to join the staff of Harrow GPO and In 1939 John signed up to join the RAF as a volunteer reservist. His mother died in 1985 sadly his father died in 1929. John is buried in Harrow Cemetary, Middlesex with both of his parents.
This is the certificate that Alan received from the base commander at RAF Leconfield. We can only guess at the haunting images that Alan saw has he valiantly fought to save Johns life only to be beaten back by flames, it cannot of been easy especially for a 13 year old.
John was killed in his MK1 Spitfire and was only 20 years old. A Flt Sgt of 616 squadron which was still in process of moving over to Spitfires from Fairey Battle Monoplanes. It is not known how long John had been on Spitfires but it cannot have been very long. I found him on a list of Airmen entitled to wear the Battle of Britain Clasp so he was one of the few, for which we as a nation are eternally grateful
John Patrick Walsh
1919 - 1940
616 Sqn Badge
A Mk 1 Spitfire with 616 markings. Johns plane was N3271. Spitfire N3271 was built to contract 527113/36 by Vickers Armstrong's (Supermarine) Ltd. at Woolston and first test flown on 2nd January 1940. It was then flown into storage at 9 MU at Cosford on 10th January 1940 and then issued to 616 Squadron at Leconfield on 9th April 1940. On 27th May 1940 it moved with this unit to Rochford and then on 6th June 1940 with the unit to Leconfield. Cat.W/FA damage was recorded following the accident near Beverley on 4th August 1940 and it was struck off charge eight days later.
Johns Common Wealth Grave Commission Certificate.