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Archive Report: Allied Forces

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452 crest
19 August 1941 452 Squadron Spitfire Vb P8717 F/O. Eccleton

Operation: Circus 81

Date: 19 August 1941 (Tuesday)

Unit: No. 452 Squadron (motto: Miundus Pro Nobis - 'weeping the world before us') 11 Group

Type: Spitfire Vb

Serial: P8717

Code: UD-?

Base: RAF Kenley, Surrey

Location: French coast off Calais

Pilot: F/O. William Davies Eccleton Aus/402232 RAAF Age 25. Killed


Taking off at 10:05 hrs escorting Blenheims with the target of the power station at Gosnay..

The squadron suffered one other loss when intercede by JG2 fighters. The others:

Spitfire Vb AB785 Flown by Sgt. Richard George Gazzard Aus/402115 RAAF shot down and killed.

Spitfire Vb AB794 Flown by P/O. Don Willis who although wounded managed to return to Kenley and make a forced landing. The aircraft suffered cat. 2 damage, repaired and returned to Service.

P8717 was seen to lose a wing and spiral down out of control. His body recovered and buried at Dunkirk.

Burial details:

F/O. William Davies Eccleton. Dunkirk Town Cemetery. Plot 2 Row 2 Grave 14. Born on the 22nd February 1916 at Levin. A clerk for Robert Reid and company prior to enlisting on the 22nd February 1940 at Sydney. Son of William Christopher and Frances Mary Eccleton (née Baker) of 16 Parawa Street, Mount Eden, Auckland. Husband of Margaret Isabel Eccleton, of Croydon, New South Wales, Australia. Grave inscription: 'For His Country And His Loved Ones'.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to Jenifer Lemaire and to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, AWMM, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 05-02-2021

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Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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Last Modified: 09 April 2021, 12:07

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