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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 228734
Last updated: 30 November 2021
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Type:Boulton Paul Defiant Mk I
Owner/operator:264 (Madras Presidency) Squadron Royal Air Force (264 (Madras Presidency) Sqn RAF)
Registration: L6972
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:English Channel, 5 miles off Dover, Kent -   United Kingdom
Phase: Combat
Departure airport:RAF Duxford, Cambridgeshire
Destination airport:
Boulton Paul Defiant Mk.I L6972 (PS-Y) 264 Sqaudron, RAF: Written off (destroyed) when crashed into the English Channel, five miles off Dover, Kent. According to the official Air Ministry file into the incident (File AIR 81/729): "Defiant L6972 in air operations over Belgium, 31 May 1940. Pilot Officer J E M Williams: injured"

According to an account in "The Boulton Paul Defiant: Day and Night Fighter By Phil H. Listemann" (page 24):

"Later in the day" [May 31 1940] "264 Squadron was airborne again and encountered He 111s of KG.27. Attacking immediately, they claimed five destroyed. However, return fire from the He 111s shot down two Defiants - L6975 (Flt Lt A G Cooke and Corporal A Lippett) and L6972 (Pilot Officer E G Barwell and Pilot Officer J E M Williams). The latter Defiant had a glycol leak, and the engine seized about five miles from the English coast, forcing them to ditch into the English Channel between two naval vessels, which rescued them".

According to a biography of the pilot, Pilot Officer Eric Gordon Barwell:

"Barwell was sent to 11 Group Fighter Pool St. Athan on the 31st January 1940 and after converting to Defiants he rejoined 264 on 5th February 1940. On 12th May 1940 he shared in the destruction of a Ju 88 and took part in the successful actions of the squadron over Dunkirk, destroying a Bf 110 and two Ju 87's on 29th May and a Bf 109 and a He 111 on the 31st.

In the first engagement Barwell was hit by return fire and turned for home but was unable to maintain height and landed his Defiant L6972 on the sea between two destroyers, some five miles from Dover. One of them, HMS Malcolm, picked them up.

The aircraft broke up and Barwell and his gunner, P/O J E M Williams, who had been knocked unconscious in the crash, were thrown into the sea. Barwell held up Williams until they were rescued"

Eric Barwell left the RAF on 2nd September 1945 as a Wing Commander, and died on 12th December 2007, aged 94.


1. Royal Air Force Aircraft L1000-L9999 (James J Halley, Air Britain, 1978)
2. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AIR 81/729:
3. The Boulton Paul Defiant: Day and Night Fighter By Phil H. Listemann

Revision history:

04-Sep-2019 20:13 Dr. John Smith Added
06-Sep-2019 15:29 stehlík49 Updated [Operator]
16-Apr-2020 15:11 Allach Updated [Operator, Operator]

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