85 Squadron Croydon

85 squadron on patrol, 1940


MONDAY AUGUST 26TH 1940 16.00 hrs

Pilot officer J.A. (Paddy) Hemmingway. D.S.O. baled out of his Hawker Hurricane over the Thames Estuary After combat with Me 109 fighters. He landed sPaddy Hemmingwayafely near the Barge Public house in Pitsea, and his aircraft crashed into the marshes at Fobbing Essex.

Just eight days earlier at 17.45 hrs on the 18th August 1940, P/o Hemmigway in Hurricane V7249, had been shot down by return fire from a Ju 88 over the Thames Estuary. He baled out of the aircraft and was rescued by a light ship12 miles East of Clacton, Essex.

In this combat Hemmigway lost one of his best pals, Flying Officer R.H.A. ( Dickie) Lee,

Dickie Lee

Dickie Lee had come through flight training with Paddy Hemmingway, and then they had both gone onto 85 squadron together.

Lee was last seen at 17.50 hrs in pursuit of the enemy formation thirty miles out to sea, Lee and his Hurricane P2923 coded VY-R. were never found and this was to have a lasting effect on Paddy Hemmingway.

Dickie Lee's Hurricane P2923  YV-R, Lee went missing in this aircraft 18/8/1940


October 1987

We had deciced to look for this Hurricane P3966, but the task ahead was quite daunting, the area the Hurricane had crashed in was a very large untouched marshland and around one and a half miles from the nearest houses.

We went into the village of Fobbing and tried to trace someone who may of been in the area at the time, and "BINGO" we found a gentleman who as a seven year old boyhad seen the aircraft crash and then had walked the 1 miles to the aircraft the day after it crashed.

" I walked to the crash site and when I got there the aircraft had buried itself on the edge of a creek, I looked in the hole and al I could see was bits and pieces the plane had just disappeared.

I looked behind me and in the marsh was the wings, which had be left on the surface, then pulled over the sea wall by the recovery crew.

I walked over to the wings to have a look and noticed a small tiny metal plate with some numbers on, I quickly grabed it and put it in my pocket as a keepsake". (This was a port wing modification plate now with T.A.M)

After locating the crash site which was on the tidal side of the sea wall, we had trouble with the metal detectors as so many tin cans had been washed up and got mixed with the top layers of mud.

Roger decided that he had found the exact location and stood in a small ditch, "HERE IT IS" he said and again he was right, Roger has done this on many sites, including the Me110, F/o Daulton's Hurricane, and he was right, a quick spade full or two down we found a piece of Hurricane.



The first task of the day was to get the digger the 1 miles to the site complete with a railway sleeper platform for the machine to stand on, the second task was to get the digger over the sea wall around a 5 metre sloping earth made sea defence, the driver Steve Saunderson informed us that this was not a problem, and he was right straight over and with only a two metre drop the other side he was in position and the digg comenced.

A view of the excavation

Items recoverd included the Undercarriage legs, two .303 browning machine guns, main spar instruments, fabric and wood.





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