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The Airmen's Stories - P/O J F J MacPhail


James Frederick John MacPhail was born on 5th March 1915 and joined the RAF on a short service commission in late February 1939. After completing his training he was posted to 26 Squadron, where he flew Lysanders.

In August 1940 MacPhail volunteered for Fighter Command and on the 21st he was posted to 5 OTU Aston Down where he converted to Spitfires.


Above: MacPhail's Guinea Pig ID (courtesy of East Grinstead Museum).


He joined 603 Squadron at Hornchurch on 31st August and damaged a He111 on 9th September, destroyed a He111 and damaged another on the 11th and destroyed a Me109 on the 15th.

On 23rd September MacPhail bailed out from Spitfire N4394, circumstances unknown, and was admitted to Leeds Castle Military Hospital. He was transferred to the Queen Victoria Hospital on 8th October 1940, the documentation recording:

Injuries: Burns to face, hands and legs.
No. of Operations at East Grinstead: 1

Whilst ferrying Spitfire P8016 from 6 MU to 74 Squadron at Hawkinge on 20th February 1941, MacPhail lost control of the aircraft and baled out. The Spitfire crashed at Oaks Park near Wallington, Surrey.

On 4th March he crashed a Spitfire at Belmont, Surrey whilst carrying out an air test.

His subsequent service is currently undocumented until he was released from the RAF in 1945 as a Flight Lieutenant.

MacPhail died on 30th September 1963.


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