Battle of Britain London Monument – P/O J D Lenahan

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Privacy Statement The Airmen’s Stories – P/O J D Lenahan

 

John Desmond Lenahan, from Hayes, Kent joined the RAF on a short service commission in August 1938. His first posting was 263 Squadron from where he was posted to 607 Squadron at Usworth on 1st June 1940.

On Monday 9th September, at about 5 pm, a force of 300+ enemy aircraft with fighter escort crossed the South Coast in order to fly up the Thames Estuary to bomb London for the second successive night. Twenty four squadrons of the RAF were ordered up to intercept this raid.

 

Above: at Usworth before the move to Tangmere.

L to R: Lenahan, unknown, P/O GHE Welford, F/Lt. CE Bowen (obscured).

 

At 1730 hrs 607 Squadron flying Hurricanes from Tangmere made their first contact with the Luftwaffe over Mayfield in Kent. They lined up in formation and went in before the fighter escorts could come down on them. S/Ldr. Vick was leading the patrol of twelve aircraft at 17000 feet and reported that he saw about 60/70 Ju88’s and Do17’s flying north in several formations of five in a V formation. As the squadron turned to attack the bombers a force of about 40/50 Me109’s dived at them from 19000 feet.

Blue Section was ordered to attack the bombers from underneath with Green Section carrying out a rearguard action, whilst Red and Yellow Sections were to attack the fighters. During the ensuing dogfights P/O Drake flying Hurricane P2728 was shot down and killed along with P/O Parnell and P/O Lenahan, whilst Sergeants Lansdell, Spyer, and Burnell-Philips were wounded.

One Dornier 17 was claimed as being destroyed by the squadron. The RAF could show 28 German aircraft destroyed on this day for the loss of 19 British fighters, from which 6 pilots were recovered. P/O’s Parnell and Lenahan were confirmed as killed in action whilst Drake was posted as ‘missing’ as his crashed aircraft was not located at the time.

607’s Harry Welford recalled:

We were well and truly bounced by Me109’s on that day: we lost six out of 12 aircraft; amongst these were my best friends Stuart Parnall and Scotty Lenahan and, as no more was heard of young George Drake, his death was presumed. We were shocked, we just could not take it all in. No one talked about it but we all hoped for news on George from some hospital or pub. No news came so we held back our sorrow. It was “You heard about Stuart and Scotty, rotten luck wasn’t it ?” and someone would add “…and young George Drake, bloody good blokes all of them”.

Lenahan’s Hurricane, P3117, came down at Mount Ephraim, Cranbrook.

He was 20 years old and is buried at Cranbrook cemetery.

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