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The Airmen's Stories - F/O M Ravenhill


Malcolm Ravenhill, of Sheffield, was born on 13th January 1913, the son of Frederick Arthur Ravenhill and Henrietta Ravenhill (nee Trott).

He was educated at King Edward VII School in Sheffield, where he excelled at sport. On leaving he was employed as Assistant Manager at Woolworths in Liverpool.

He joined the RAF on a short service commission in March 1938. He was posted to 4 FTS Abu Sueir, Egypt on 3rd June. Sent home after 2 months with an eye infection, he resumed training at 5 FTS Sealand in October 1938.

His first posting was to 1 AOS in May 1939, he then served at 7 AOS until 17th March 1940 when he went to 229 Squadron at Digby.


Above image courtesy of - a dedicated site by a family member.


 Above: 229 Squadron - L to R:

P/O RAL Duvivier, F/O RR Smith, F/O VM Bright, Sgt. RR Mitchell , F/O M Ravenhill, P/O RE Bary, F/O AS Linney, F/O RC Brown, Sgt. SW Merryweather


On 14th May 1940 three of 229 Squadron's pilots were attached as replacements to 615 Squadron at Moorsele in Belgium. Ravenhill was one, with P/O VBS Verity and P/O JEM Collins.

Ravenhill was in action in Hurricane P2907 on 17th May, his combat report recorded:

At 0530 hrs 3 sections of 3 aircraft (Hurricanes) of 615 Squadron left Moorsele aerodrome (Nr Courtrai) on a patrol. Three miles (approx) West of Brussels my section leader attacked a Henschel Nos 2 (myself) and 3 in line astern position on him. Heavy anti-aircraft fire forced me to break to the right, no 3 following me, and we lost contact with the leader as we all had a different R/T frequency. A few minutes after I sighted an aircraft below me to the right and proceeded to go down to investigate. I lost sight of this aircraft and, on regaining original ht (4000 ft), I discovered I was alone. I proceeded to patrol the West of Brussels in long zig zag North and South course gradually creeping West.

I was flying a zig-zag Westerly course from Brussels when I sighted at 0625 hrs a single enemy aircraft which was at about 150 m.p.h patrolling a line North and South from Mons. The aircraft was camouflaged brown and green above and pale green underneath. I attacked from astern and took the enemy by surprise. The enemy aircraft dived to the ground with black smoke pouring from the engine. Near the ground he flattened his dive and his shadow on the ground merged with aircraft. Whilst investigating I sighted another similar aircraft and proceeded to take up attacking position. No fire was observed from the rear cockpit of the Henschel. On sighting this second aircraft I took a position to attack from astern, at 200 yds the rear gunner opened fire and I watched his tracer bullets going above me about two or three yds. I closed to a hundred yds and having got him in my sights gave a long burst breaking away about 10 yds astern of the enemy. The Henschel immediately spun down and crashed into the ground.

After my combat with the two Henschels I steered a course due West. I eventually landed at Compiegne where I was informed by French personnel on the landing ground that I was approximately 30 miles South of Lille. I therefore took off with a view to landing on Vitry aerodrome. I found myself later over very wooded and hilly country and decided to forced land in a ploughed field approx. 600 yds long and into wind. One side of the field is the main Paris-Dieppe road and on the other the Foret de Bray. I circled the field once, lowered my undercarriage etc. and as I was on the cross wind leg of the approach into the field my petrol supply ran out and I could not restart the engine with the emergency starter on the gravity tank should it have contained any petrol. I therefore only had just enough time to pancake the aircraft on top of the trees and crash through. I left the aircraft in the care of the local Police at Forges Les Eaux, and proceeded to Poix by road and thence to Abbeville by air.

615 Squadron was withdrawn back to the UK on 20th May and Ravenhill piloted Gladiator N2308 KW-T which was still on strength. He then returned to 229 Squadron.

On 11th September Ravenhill was shot down in combat over Biggin Hill in Hurricane P3038. He baled out and was admitted to Shorncliffe Hospital, suffering from shock.

Back with the squadron, Ravenhill was shot down and killed by Me109s on 30th September. His Hurricane, P2815, crashed and burned out at Church Road, Ightham.

Ravenhill was 27 years old and is buried in City Road Cemetery, Sheffield.








His portrait was made by Cuthbert Orde in 1940 (below).





On 1st July 2022 a memorial was unveiled by the Shoreham Aircraft Museum near the crash site in Ightham.





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