Battle of Britain London Monument – F/Lt. J A F MacLachlan

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Privacy Statement The Airmen’s Stories – F/Lt. J A F MacLachlan

 

James Archibald Findlay MacLachlan was born in 1919 at Styal, Cheshire and joined the RAF on a short service commission in March 1939. He was posted to 3 FTS South Cerney on 8th May and joined 88 Squadron at Boscombe Down on 27th November. Then equipped with Hinds, the squadron soon afterwards received Fairey Battles and took them to France at the outbreak of war. The squadron was withdrawn to England in June 1940. He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 16th July 1940).

MacLachlan volunteered for Fighter Command in August and was posted to 145 Squadron at Drem on 18th August. He then joined 73 Squadron at Castle Camps on 28th September.

He was posted away for overseas service on 19th October and on 17th November he led six Hurricanes off HMS ‘Argus’ for Malta, where they joined 261 Squadron at Ta Kali.

On 9th January 1941 MacLachlan claimed two Mc200’s destroyed, on the 19th a Z506B, a Ju88, two Ju87’s and a probable CR42. During the night of 8/9th February he claimed two Ju88’s destroyed. He was awarded a Bar to the DFC (gazetted 11th February 1941).

In combat on 16th February 1941 MacLachlan was hit by a Me109 and severely wounded in the left arm. He baled out and came down on land. After three days in hospital his arm was amputated below the elbow. MacLachlan returned to the UK and went to the Limb Centre at Roehampton, who designed a special detachable forearm and hand, suitable for use in a Hurricane. He returned to operations on 4th November 1941 when he took command of No 1 Squadron at Redhill.

The squadron began night intruder operations over France. On the night of 26/27th April 27 1942 MacLachlan destroyed a Do217 and damaged another, on May 3/4th he destroyed a Do17 and a He111 and on June 3/4th destroyed two Do217’s and damaged two more. He was awarded the DSO (gazetted 29th May 1942) and on 31st July was posted to 59 OTU, Crosby-on-Eden, as an instructor.
Later in the year MacLachlan was sent on a lecture tour of the USA.

In June 1943 he went to the Air Fighting Development Unit at Wittering. On 29th June MacLachlan, in company with Geoffrey Page, flew a Mustang on a daylight sortie, in the course of which he destroyed two Hs126’s, a Ju88 and shared a second with Page, who also destroyed two Hs126’s. They went again on 18th July but as they crossed the French coast MacLachlan was hit by machine gun fire. He force-landed in a field and ploughed through an orchard. He survived the crash but was taken, as a prisoner, to a German field hospital. MacLachlan died there on 31st July 1943.

He is buried in Route de Caen Communal Cemetery, Pont L’Eveque, France.

He was awarded a second Bar to the DFC (gazetted 30th July 1943). MacLachlan’s portrait was drawn by Eric Kennington.

 

(Below) His portrait was drawn by Eric Kennington (left) and Olive Snell (right)

 

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