Sergeant Duncan Cameron Findlay, RAF, (565318) died when his aircraft crashed and burned out in woods near Saint Hiliare-le-grand, Moronvilliers, three miles south of Bétheniville, to the west of Reims, France.
On 26 March 1940, Fairey Battle Mk.1, P2256 from RAF 103 Squadron hit trees on take-off from their airfield at Bétheniville at 10.15 pm. They were on a night bombing exercise over the ranges at St-Hilaire-le-Petit. The crew of Fairey Battle P2256:
Pilot Officer Ian Percival Hinton, RAF, (40592), pilot, age 23
Sergeant Duncan Cameron Findlay, RAF, (565318), observer, age 25
Aircraftman 2nd Class John Alexander Sharpe, RAF, (617513, wireless operator/air gunner, age 20 (from Kingstown, County Dublin, Eire)
All are buried at the Terlincthun British Cemetery, Hameau de Terlincthun, Wimille, Pas de Calais, France. Findlay was the son of William Nevay Porter and Annie Cameron Findlay of 14 Gray Street, Perth. He is remembered by name on a stained-glass War Memorial window in St Mathew’s Church in Tay Street.
The so-called ‘phoney war’ ended on 10 May 1940 when Germany invaded France, the same day Winston Churchill was appointed as Prime Minister. The Fairey Battle squadrons were thrown in on that day to try and stop the advancing German troops. Without fighter escort, 13 out of 32 aircraft were lost and all the others were damaged. The next day 7 out of 8 were lost and on the next day, 5 out of 5 were lost whilst attacking the Albert Canal. Further losses came on the 14 May 1940 when 35 out of 63 Fairey Battles did not return. The Fairey Battles were withdrawn, ending its career as a day bomber.
ROYAL AIR FORCE: FRANCE, 1939-1940. (C 1071) Bomb-trolleys loaded with 250-lb GP bombs and attendant armourers being towed out by tractor to Fairey Battles at Betheniville prior to a sortie to the bombing practice range at Moronvilliers. Behind them, Battle, K9408 ‘PM-N’, of No. 103 Squadron RAF is prepared for a flight. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205207551
ROYAL AIR FORCE: FRANCE, 1939-1940. (C 1061) Three Fairey Battles of No. 103 Squadron RAF overfly Betheniville, watched by ground crew servicing K9408 ‘PM-N’, another aircraft of the Squadron. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205207549
ROYAL AIR FORCE: FRANCE, 1939-1940. (C 1070) Armourers load a 250-lb GP bomb into the outboard port wing-cell of a Fairey Battle of No. 103 Squadron RAF at Betheniville. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205207553
ROYAL AIR FORCE: FRANCE, 1939-1940. (C 1653) A sergeant air-gunner mans his .303 Vickers K-type gas-operated machine gun from the rear cockpit of a Fairey Battle of No. 103 Squadron RAF at St-Lucien Ferme near Rheges. Note the unofficial flight and squadron pennant flying from the radio mast. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205207600
ROYAL AIR FORCE: FRANCE, 1939-1940. (C 1498) Officers of No. 103 Squadron RAF lined up in front of a Fairey Battle at Betheniville. They are, (left to right): Squadron Leader H G Lee (wounded, 9 June), Pilot Officer V Cunningham (killed, 14 May), Flying Officer J R Hayes, Flying Officer G B Morgan-Dean (killed, 12 May), Flying Officer D D A Kelly, Flying Officer T B Fitzgerald, Pilot Officer T Pugh, Flight Lieutenant J A Ingram (commander, ‘… Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205127161