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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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92 Squadron Crest
20.09.1940 92 Squadron Spitfire I X4417 P/O. Hill

Operation: Patrol

Date: 20th September 1940 (Friday)

Unit: No. 92 Squadron (11 Group)

Type: Spitfire I

Serial: X4417

Base: RAF Biggin Hill

Location: West Hougham, Kent

Pilot: P/O. Howard Perry Hill 41847 RAF Age 20. Killed


One of three brothers of a New Zealand family he applied in 1938 for a short service commission with the Royal Air Force, sailing for England on December 16th. His training completed he was posted to 92 Squadron in October 1939. On September 15th 1940 he was credited with 3 Do 17's destroyed and 3 days later he carried out an act of chivalry in that after sending down a Ju88 some 7 miles off shore he contacted a rescue launch - guiding it to the rescue of the crew.

On September 20th 1940 at around 10:30 Hrs 10 aircraft from 92 Squadron took off from Biggin Hill at 11:15 hrs to intercept a massive sweep by the Luftwaffe. At 11:55 hrs they were bounced from above and behind by Bf109's of JG51. P/O. Hill on his 45th operation, was the first of two victims to fall to Oberst. Werner Mölders at 27,000 Ft off Dungeness. His Spitfire dropped out of formation, after the fight ended, fellow pilots saw his aircraft maintaining a steady descending course towards the base but all attempts to contact him over the R/T failed.

Despite search patrols nothing was found, the search was then called off. Then a month afterwards an Anson pilot reported a wreck of an aircraft partially hidden by dense foliage in the top of a wood. A recovery team set out, with the aid of ladders, found the Spitfire 40 ft. up on the tree tops. P/O. Hill was found dead in the cockpit, it was clear from the wounds that he had been hit in the head by a cannon shell he almost certainly died at the moment of the attack.

His younger brother, Fl/Sgt. Peter John Hill, was also killed whilst serving in the Royal Air Force.

Burial details:

P/O. Howard Perry Hill Hawkinge Cemetery Plot O. Row 1. Grave 30. Born on the 17th April 1920 at Christchurch, the son of Jack Stanley and Dorothy Helen Hill, of Spring Creek, Marlborough, New Zealand. 299 Flying hours logged and on his 45th operational sortie. Grave inscription reads: "There's Life Alone In Duty Done And Rest Alone In Striving. Whittier". (The New Zealand government objected to charges made by the British Government to relatives for grave inscriptions (later dropped) consequently very few New Zealand War graves have inscriptions - in this case the pilot was serving with the RAF - see your Commonwealth Grave Explained on this website)

With thanks to the following: Errol Martyn "For Your Tomorrow Vol. 3", "Battle of Britain, Then and Now" .

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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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