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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 94300
Last updated: 20 September 2021
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Date:07-JAN-1949
Time:day
Type:Silhouette image of generic tpst model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Hawker Tempest FB Mk VI
Owner/operator:213 (Ceylon) Squadron Royal Air Force (213 (Ceylon) Sqn RAF)
Registration: NX207
MSN:
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Sinai Desert, North of Nirim -   Israel
Phase: Combat
Nature:Military
Departure airport:RAF Fayid, Egypt
Destination airport:
Narrative:
Shot down by an Israeli Supermarine Spitfire LF.9 near Rafah, North Sinai, Egypt [at approximate co-ordinates 31°17′19″N 34°14′28″E] on the Egypt/Palestine Border.

The Pilot (3051236 Pilot Officer David Tattersfield of 213 Sqn) a young, inexperienced pilot who had only been on the unit a couple of weeks was killed. Tattersfield was probably concentrating on just maintaining formation and if he did see any Spitfires turning behind the formation. He had every reason to assume they were friendly. Turning in out of the sun, Israeli pilot Schroeder quickly got on the tail of the Tattersfield aircraft and opened fire. Tattersfield was probably killed instantly, as his aircraft was seen to turn over on its back almost immediately and dive vertically down to crash onto the desert floor and burst into flames

The wreckage of the Tempest flown by Tattersfield, which had ended up north of Nirim, four miles inside Israeli territory. The Israelis had buried Tattersfield near the wreckage and his body was removed and later reburied on January 11, 1949 in the British War Cemetery at Ramleh - at the service, in a gesture of reconciliation, six members of the IAF carried his coffin.

Questions about David Tattersfield's death were raised in the House of Commons on 19 January 1949, as recorded in Hansard. Mr. Blackburn asked the Secretary of State for Air, Mr. A Henderson, “as to the circumstances in which the Press were notified by the R.A.F. authorities of the death of 3051236 Pilot Officer David Crossley Tattersfield before his parents had been informed”. Mr Henderson replied: “A telegram informing Pilot Officer Tattersfield’s parents that their son was missing and believed killed was despatched at 11.49 a.m. and delivered at 4.15 p.m. on Sunday, 9th January. No such information was given by my department to the Press until 5.37 p.m. I am advised that Mr. and Mrs. Tattersfield’s address, which enabled the Press to approach them, was probably obtained from a message which originated with an Israeli spokesman in Tel Aviv and was received by the Press at 1.49 p.m. on the Sunday. I am sure the House will join me in sympathy with Mr. and Mrs. Tattersfield in the loss of their son and in the regrettable circumstances in which it was made known to them.”

A Court of Inquiry was held into the loss of five RAF fighters on the same day. Attention focussed on whether the aircraft had crossed the Palestinian border, as the Israelis claimed. The Court found that they had not, although David Tattersfield’s plane crashed and burned out on the Palestinian side of the border. There were suggestions that the Israelis had tried to cover up the locations of the wreckage of some of the aircraft. This version of events was contradicted in an Israeli statement to the United Nations in New York, which argued that the morning and afternoon flights had been thought to be hostile, the latter even carrying bombs.

The shooting down of five RAF aircraft was a matter of serious international importance. There are numerous de-classified records of it in the National Archives, some originally Secret or Top Secret

Sources:

1. Halley, James (1999). Broken Wings – Post-War Royal Air Force Accidents. Tunbridge Wells: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. ISBN 0-85130-290-4.
2. Final Landings: A Summary of RAF Aircraft and Combat Losses 1946 to 1949 by Colin Cummings p.662
3. 213 Squadron ORB (Operations Record Book)(Air Mininstry Form AM/F.540) for the period 1-11-45 to 30-9-54: National Archives (PRO Kew) file AIR 27/2469/6 at https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D8421995
4. https://tattersfield.one-name.net/?page_id=187
5. https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hansard/commons/1949/jan/19/middle-east-raf-reconnaissance-flights
6. https://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/documents/research/RAF-Historical-Society-Journals/Journal-38.pdf
7. http://www.acig.org/artman/publish/article_255.shtml
8. http://www.hawkertempest.se/index.php/contributions/stories/116-tempests-1947-1949-copyright-rufus-heald
9. http://www.spyflight.co.uk/iafvraf.htm
10. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rafah,_Egypt


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
24-Jan-2015 20:30 Dr. John Smith Updated [Operator, Total fatalities, Total occupants, Other fatalities, Location, Country, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
24-Jan-2015 20:42 Dr. John Smith Updated [Location, Country, Narrative]
24-Jan-2015 20:45 Anon. Updated [Location, Country, Narrative]
19-Apr-2015 19:19 AlLah Updated [Operator]
03-Jun-2015 17:14 Paco Updated [Registration, Operator]
13-Jun-2021 20:25 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Aircraft type, Registration, Location, Source]
13-Jun-2021 20:46 Dr. John Smith Updated [Location, Source, Narrative]

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