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The Airmen's Stories - P/O J McG Talman


James McGill Talman of Bearsden, Dunbartonshire was born on 11th February 1918, the son of John Talman and Janet Talman (nee Sword).

He was named after an uncle who had been killed in France in 1917 serving with the Royal Scots.

He and his brother Jock attended Glasgow High School where their father was Rector. James excelled at rugby and shooting and was CSM of the school Cadet Corps in his last term 1936/7.


Above: as School Prefect, seated second left and below: as CSM



He joined the RAFVR about April 1938 as an Airman u/t Pilot and carried out flying training at Prestwick. Called up on 1st September 1939, he completed his training and joined 98 Squadron, operating Fairey Battles in France, sometime in April 1940.

98 Squadron spent their whole detachment at Nantes airfield and flew no operational sorties. Talman must have been posted out or perhaps requested a transfer as he is recorded as being with 88 Squadron at Moisy near Chateaudun on 12th June.

On this day he made an attack on pontoon bridges at Verberie, NE of Paris but his Battle was hit by intense AA fire and he made a forced landing on the airfield at Mitry-Mory on the edge of Paris. He and his crewmember, Sgt. Dixon, were unhurt.

Talman later told his family that it took them three days to evade capture and make their way to the coast. He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 16th August 1940).



Above: Talman, standing right with his brother Jock of the Royal Tank Regiment

and their father seated.


In August 1940 Talman volunteered for Fighter Command and joined 213 Squadron at Tangmere on 2nd September. On the 28th his aircraft was hit by return fire from a Me110 engaged over the Isle of Wight. He baled out, unhurt, and was rescued by the Bembridge lifeboat which landed him at Ryde. His Hurricane, L1770, crashed into the sea off Culver Cliffs, Bembridge.

Talman was posted to 145 Squadron, also at Tangmere, on 30th October. Probably as a result of his time in the sea he later became ill and spent five months in hospital.



He served as an instructor in Canada before returning to the UK and a posting to 144 Squadron Coastal Command as a Flight Lieutenant operating Beaufighters.

He was killed on 10th July 1944 when Beaufighter X NT925 came down in the sea off Great Yarmouth having suffered an engine failure during a shipping strike. His crewman P/O John Kenny was also lost. Both are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, Talman on panel 203 (at bottom).

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



Talman was 26 years old, in January 1944 he had married Vera Simpson and she gave birth to a son, also named James McGill Talman, in November 1944. In later life he emigrated to Vancouver Island in Canada.


Additional research and images courtesy of Iain Talman.



Above image courtesy of Dean Sumner.


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