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The Airmen's Stories - F/O A J O Jeffrey


Alastair John Oswald Jeffrey was born in India on 21st June 1918, the son of John Patrick and Elizabeth Jeffrey.

He arrived with his mother at Plymouth on the ss City of London on 5th March 1922, implying that his father remained in India. Their UK address was given as Dalkeith, Edinburgh.

Jeffrey attended Edinburgh Academy from 1931 to 1936, he was a member of the boxing team and Rugby second XV.

He joined the RAF on a short service commission and began his initial training on 15th March 1937. He was posted to 2 FTS Brize Norton on 5th June and with his training completed joined the staff of SHQ RAF Church Fenton on 10th June 1938.



Jeffrey was serving with 64 Squadron at Church Fenton on 1st September 1939. He was flying in Spitfire K9844 on 25th March 1940 when he heard a loud crack which proved to be a structural failure in the rear fuselage. He rolled the aircraft over and baled out, landing unhurt.

Over Dunkirk on 1st June he destroyed a Ju87 in the air and three more and a Ju86 on the ground. On 7th July he claimed a Me110 destroyed and on the 19th two He115 floatplanes.

Jeffrey failed to return from a combat near Dover on 25th July 1940. His Spitfire, P9421, crashed into the sea. He was 22 years old. Jeffrey was awarded the DFC (gazetted 13th August 1940).

His body was washed ashore at Wissekerke on 22nd August 1940 and recovered by the Germans but mistakenly buried as S/Ldr. Holson (below).



Postwar a RAF recovery team realised that there was no casualty of that name and in 1948 they opened the grave and found that the body interred was wearing uniform marked to AJO Jeffrey.

He now lies in Vlissingen Northern Cemetery, Netherlands.

His portrait was made by William Rothenstein.


January 2022 - the website was contacted by Nigel Galloway, who was processing the belongings of his late aunt, Jean Galloway. There was a record of her engagement to Jeffrey along with a number of photographs, unfortunately none of them were captioned.

However given Jeffrey's likely physique as a boxer and rugby player, the photo above can be assumed to be him. The flying clothing is from the 1939/40 period.

There was also a letter from the CO of 64 Squadron, S/Ldr. ARD MacDonell, in response to a request for any news of Jeffrey's fate. The text suggests that the enquiry had come from Jean's mother. The letter and a transcription are shown below.

(The other photographs are shown at bottom for interest).




10 August 1940

Dear Mrs. Galloway,

Thank you for your kindness in writing to me and leaving Alastair's belongings at the guard room.

I had hoped to be able to give you better news than when we last spoke, but unfortunately we have heard nothing.

My sympathies go at once to you all who knew Alastair so well. I need hardly add that my thoughts go specially to his fiancee. You must be of good cheer and hold the right thought, there is still hope.

How much we miss "Jeffrey" here is hard to express. The Squadron is sadly bereft without him. Perhaps I could pay a call on you in the near future, please let me know if there is anything I can do in any way.

Yours sincerely,

Donald MacDonell



Above image courtesy of









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