12.06.1940 No.88 Squadron R.A.F Battle I L5334 Fl/Lt. Pitfield
Mission: St. Valery - pontoon bridges

Date: 12th June 1940. (Wednesday)

Unit: No. 88 Squadron R.A.F.

Type: Fairey Battle I

Serial: L5334

Coded: RH-

Location: Beaurepaire (Oise) France.

Pilot: Fl/Lt. Alan Leonard Pitfield. D.F.C. 39007 R.A.F. Age 22. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Ballantyne 580936 R.A.F. Age 23. Killed


Took-off at 08.30 hrs from Molsy a few days before the fall of France, (1) to attack pontoon bridges at Pont Pointe at St.Valery.

Others in the attack witnessed the attack by the Battle L5334 on the northern end of the bridges but then he disappeared below the level of nearby trees after a tremendous amount of ground fire and Crashed near Beaurepaire (Oise) 38 km south east of Beauvais, France.

The attacks on the bridges were classed as successful and during the bombing they also strafed troop concentrations on the banks of the river.

88 Squadron Fairey Battle I L5334 Fl:Lt. Alan Leonard Pitfield. D.F.C
FL/Lt. Alan Pitfield D.F.C. (Courtesy Maree Pitfield)

88 Squadron Fairey Battle I L5334 Crash site
Remains of L5334 at Beaurepaire (King A.R. Society archives)

Postings FL/Lt. A. Pitfield D.F.C:

21st. August 1936. Supernumerary at Point Cook.
11th September 1936. Number 3 Flying Training School, flying refresher course.
30th September 1936. Number 57 (Bomber) Squadron, flying duties.
15th March 1937. Number 226 (Bomber) Squadron, flying duties, in a Fairey ‘Battle’ medium-bomber monoplane, low-winged, 2-man, with a single Rolls Royce engine.
30th January – 4 February 1939. Number 3 School of Technical Training, parachutes.
4th July 1939, Number 12 Squadron, flying duties.
9th January 1940. Number 88 Squadron, Advanced Striking Force, Navigation Course.
12th January 1941. Previously reported missing, now reported killed in action.

88 Squadron Fairey Battle I in France
88 Squadron Battle about to take-off from Moisy, with French Morane MS406 aircraft in foreground. (King A.R. Society archives)

Citation details for Fl/Lt. Alan Leonard Pitfield. D.F.C:
“During May 1940, he took part in six night and one day operational flights in ‘Battle’ aircraft carried out in spite of strong enemy opposition, and under difficult weather conditions. He displayed magnificent courage and devotion to duty, and his skill and keenness were a splendid example to the Pilots of his Flight.”

During 2005 Bob Nichols visited the village, being met by the Mayor of Beaurepaire, Mons. Christian de Luppe. Then, along with a small procession, complete with flags flying, then visited the crash site and then onto the cemetery where the locals lovingly care for the only two C.W.G.C graves at the church. Mons. Christian de Luppe is the son of the then mayor during this period of the war.

88 Squadron Fairey Battle I L5334 ceromony
Mayor of Beaurepaire, Mons. Christian de Lupp with sash along with the many locals from the village of Beaurepaire (Courtesy Bob Nichols)

88 Squadron Fairey Battle I L5334 Grave of Fl:Lt. Alan Leonard Pitfield. D.F.C
Grave of FL/Lt. Alan Pitfield D.F.C. (Courtesy Bob Nichols)

(1) 88 Squadron in fact relocated to Driffield, Yorkshire, England just two days later.

Burial Details:

F/Lt. Alan Leonard Pitfield. D.F.C. Beaurepaire Cemetery, France.
Son of Leonard Charles and Dorothy Ida Pitfield. of Hobart, Tasmania
Further details:
Born Hobart, Tasmania, Australia 2nd July 1917 (the eldest of 5 children), he grew up at 40 Montagu Street, Lenah Valley, an inner suburb, 5km from city.
Attended the Friends’ School, Hobart; (one of 20 Quaker schools in the world).
He was Air Cadet at Point Cook, Victoria (near Geelong, 25 km s/w of Melbourne) from 15/07/1935 to 14/07/1936. He embarked Melbourne on the RMS Strathnever on 14/07/1936 for London England, as one of a group of seven, to take up a Short Service R.A.F. Commission.
21/08/1936, granted a five year Short Service Commission as a P/O, in the General Duties Branch of the Royal Air Force, 21/03/1938 - F/O. 21/03/1940 - Fl/Lt.

Sgt. John Ballantyne. Beaurepaire Cemetery, France.
Son of John and Alexandra Ballantyne, Juniper Green, Midlothian

Both crew members are buried at Beaurepaire Cemetery, France. (Note: these are the only war graves at Beaurepaire)
Researched by David King (Chairman, A.R. Society) - With thanks to Hobart City Council, Tasmania, Maree Pitfield, (Maree's husband being the nephew of Fl/Lt. Pitfield. D.F.C), Bob Nichols of Hobart, Tasmania, the nephew of Fl/Lt. Alan Pitfield. D.F.C, for additional family information.

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