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The Airmen's Stories - P/O J R Buchanan


James Richebourg Buchanan was born on 17th May 1915 at Oxenbridge Farm, Iden, Sussex.

His father, Bertram George Buchanan (1873-1962), was born in Madras, India and had served in the artillery in WW1, retiring as a Colonel with a Mention in Dispatches.

Its possible that James was given his second name to commemorate the 'Battle of the Boar's Head' on 30th June 1916 at Richebourg, west of Lille, where the 11th, 12th and 13th (Southdowns) Battalions of the Royal Sussex Regiment suffered heavy casualties.

JR Buchanan's mother, Kathleen Agnes Buchanan (nee Carter) was from Eton, Buckinghamshire, she and Bertram had married there in 1910.

A daughter, Janet (Jan) Buchanan (1912-1989) was a talented artist and a small artists' colony grew up around the farm in the 1920s (see below).



JR Buchanan was educated at Christ's Hospital School in Horsham, Sussex.

He was awarded Aero Certificate 12387 on 13th October 1937 at the London Aeroplane Club on 13th October 1937. His occupation was recorded as 'Aero engineering student'.



The 1939 Census has him living at Blaby, Leicestershire and working as a 'ground engineer' at Leicester Aero Club.

He joined the RAFVR in December 1937 as an Airman u/t Pilot. He was called up on 1st September 1939. After training at 19 OTU Kinloss, he was commissioned in December 1939 and was posted to 609 Squadron, also at Kinloss, on the 26th.



Flying from Drem on 27th February 1940, Buchanan shared in destroying a He111 which was attacking a convoy near St Abb's Head.

Over Dunkirk on 31st May he destroyed a Me109 and damaged a He111.

Buchanan was reported 'Missing' on 27th July 1940 after engaging a force of Ju87s over a convoy off Weymouth. The top cover of Me109s came down and it is thought that Buchanan was shot down by Oblt. Framm of 1/JG27. His Spitfire, N3023, crashed into the sea.

He was 25 years old and is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, Panel 7.


Above image courtesy of Dean Sumner.


He is also commemorated by a plaque in Iden Church (below).





Bertram Buchanan was a woodcut artist and his daughter Jan a painter, her 'Queen of the Harvest' (below), painted in 1930, possibly shows James as one of the men at her feet.


Above image courtesy of Philip Mould.


Another member of the group was the composer Dr. Martin Shaw (1875-1958), he knew James well and his death moved Shaw to compose a tribute called 'The Airmen'.

The artist Paul Nash and his wife Margaret lived at Oxenbridge Cottage from 1925 to 1930.



Nash later went on to paint the iconic 'Battle of Britain' (below).


Above image courtesy of the Imperial War Museum.


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