Battle of Britain London Monument – Sgt. M F Edwards

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Privacy Statement The Airmen’s Stories – Sgt. M F Edwards

 

247 Squadron was formed in August 1940 and tasked with the defence of Plymouth and Falmouth dockyards. Such was the shortage of aircraft, they were equipped with the obsolete Gloster Gladiator biplane. The squadron operated from Roborough airfield (subsequently Plymouth City Airport but closed in 2011).

247 was one of the squadrons deemed to have participated in the Battle however when canvassing the names of the qualifying airmen from the squadron records a ‘Sgt. Edwards’ could not be identified. No Christian name or initial was given and the surname could not be linked to any known airman on the squadron strength. So he appeared on the monument under Great Britain as Sgt. Edwards.

In late 2012 this website was contacted by James Atkinson, the grandson of Malcolm Finney Edwards, a wartime pilot. His logbooks had come into James’s possession and he had realised from the entries that his grandfather had taken part in the Battle with 247. The following account has been put together by him from his grandfather’s belongings.

 

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Flight Lieutenant Malcolm Finney Edwards, 133358, known to his squadron colleagues as "Eddie", joined the RAFVR joined the RAFVR (VR number 745861) on 8th April 1939. He commenced training at Whitchurch. After initial training Edwards served with 609 squadron for only 8 days before on the 1st September 1940 he was posted to Roborough to begin operations with 247 Squadron flying Gloster Gladiators which were involved in protecting the ports and cities of the West Country during the Battle of Britain. Upon leaving the squadron on the 30th November 1940, Edwards was transferred to 9 SFTS at Hullavington.

 

 

For the next couple of years he moved around the country and was heavily involved in the training side of the RAF, until on the 9th October 1943, after a spell at 55 OTU, he was posted to 3(F) Squadron at Manston. Edwards started operations flying Hawker Typhoons over occupied Europe on both escort and fighter bombing sweeps. On the 7th March 1944 Edwards and his section were bounced by 109s and he was badly shot up and was forced to make a crash landing at Manston. Later that day he flew a Tiger Moth to Bradwell Bay where the Squadron had been transferred to re-equip with the new Hawker Tempest V. Once familiar with the new aircraft they commenced operations from Newchurch ALG.

During his time at Newchurch Edwards was made Deputy Commander of ‘B’ Flight and was successful in destroying 12 V1 flying bombs with 7 confirmed and 5 shared.

After being injured when helping with the local harvest when off-duty at Newchurch Edwards spent a short time at the RAF Hospital, Halton.

Returning to active service he was posted to 587 squadron at Culmhead flying Vultee Vengeance aircraft on target-towing duties. Edwards remained here from the 2nd October 1944 until the 4th December 1944 when, after two days at 84 GSU Tangmere, he was reassigned to 3(F) squadron. On the 8th December 1944 he was flown by Avro Anson across to airfield B-80 at Volkel, Holland and resumed operations with 3(F) squadron.

On the morning of 29th December 1944 Edwards was one of four Tempests taking part in an armed reconnaissance north of the town of Rheine, Germany.

The Tempests were attacked by 20+ Me109s and Fw190s. Edwards was flying Tempest JF-V (EJ803), which was shot down by a Me109, coming down next to the railway line just outside the German town of Spelle at 11.30 am. Edwards was killed.

His body was removed and taken for burial by the people of Spelle to the local Catholic cemetery where he remained until the 20th May 1947. On this date a British burial unit reinterred him at the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery near Kleve in Germany.

On the same sortie his close friend F/O Kenneth Slade-Betts DFC was also killed. Flying Tempest JN803 he crashed at Rheine-Hopsten airfield. Slade-Betts is also buried at Reichswald Forest.

 

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Edwards entire posting record, as listed in his logbook, is as follows:

Whitchurch ERFTS – 8/4/39-2/7/39
Weston-s-Mere ERFTS – 3/7/39-5/9/39
Hastings ITW 15/9/39-30/10/39
Brough EFTS 5/11/39-1/3/40
Montrose SFTS 15/3/40-27/6/40
Aston Down OTU 1/7/40-16/8/40
Middle Wallop 609 Sqdn 17/8/40-24/8/40
Hawarden OTU 25/8/40-30/8/40
Plymouth (Roborough)247 Sqdn 1/9/40-15/10/40
St Eval 247 Sqdn 15/10/40-30/11/40
Hullavington 9SFTS 6/1/41-5/7/41
Upavon CFS 5/7/41-16/8/41
Hullavington 9SFTS 17/8/41-1/3/42
Hullavington 9(P)AFU 1/3/42-15/6/42
Watchfield No.1 BAS 16/6/42-28/6/42
Hullavington 9(P)AFU 28/6/42-1/8/42
Errol 9(P)AFU 1/8/42-14/12/42
Peterborough 7(P)AFU 14/12/42-6/6/43
Eshott 57 OTU 7/6/43-21/6/43
Peterborough 7(P)AFU 21/6/43-17/8/43
Annan 55 OTU 18/8/43-22/9/43
Manston 3(F) Sqdn 9/10/43-27/12/43
Swanton Morley 3(F) Sqdn 28/12/43-3/2/44
Coltishall attached course 3/2/44-13/2/44
Manston 3(F) Sqdn 14/2/44-6/3/44
Bradwell Bay 3(F) Sqdn 6/3/44-7/4/44
Ayr 3(F) Sqdn 8/4/44-14/8/44
Bradwell Bay 3(F) Sqdn 15/4/44-1/5/44
Newchurch 3(F) Sqdn 1/5/44-20/9/44
Morecambe PHU 20/9/44-2/10/44
Culmhead 587 Sqdn 2/10/44-4/12/44
Tangmere 83 GSU 5/12/44-7/12/44
Volkel 3(F) Sqdn 8/12/44

 

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This is record of V-1s destroyed, all with 3(F) Squadron:

Date of Claim  Type       Aircraft          Location

                                       Serial

17 June 1944   1/2 V-1  JF-N (JN793)  Folkestone
18 June 1944   V-1        JF-X (JN735)  Rye
19 June 1944   V-1        JF-S (JN752)  Dungeness
5 July 1944      V-1        JF-   (EJ525)  Edenbridge
5 July 1944      V-1        JF-   (EJ525)  Tenterden
5 July 1944      V-1        JF-   (EJ525)  Tenterden
6 July 1944      V-1        JF-T (EJ582)  Dungeness
12 July 1944    1/2 V-1   JF-T (EJ582)  Not recorded
22 July 1944    1/2 V-1   JF-Z (JN862)  Rye

24 July 1944    1/2 V-1   JF-Z (JN862)  Robertsbridge
24 July 1944    V-1         JF-Z (JN862) Tenterden3
26 July 1944    1/2 V-1   JF-   (JN521)  Bexhill

 

 

 

Pilots of 3(F) Squadron at Newchurch ALG, Summer 1944, Edwards is at far left, beneath the roundel.

 

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All research and images courtesy of James Atkinson

 

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