On 23rd May, 1942, two pilots were injured, as well as one precious Spitfire lost and another damaged in an awful friendly fire incident involving Kenley’s Canadian 402 Squadron and 91 Squadron from Hawkinge.
402 Squadron scrambled three sections from Kenley during the afternoon on Air/Sea rescue operations. Among them were Flight Lieutenant ‘Bud’ Malloy accompanied by Pilot Officer Keltie. They were about five miles off the French coast when Malloy was attacked by another Spitfire of 91 Squadron, flown by Pilot Officer Jean Maridor (Free French), who was on an ‘air test’ flight. Maridor claimed that Malloy had opened fire first and that he hadn’t recognised the other aircraft as a Spitfire until after he had shot it down.
Malloy’s engine caught fire and he was forced to bale out into the sea. Spitfire Vb (BM466) was lost but mercifully, Malloy was rescued and taken to Dover Hospital with facial injuries.
Meanwhile, Keltie, who must have been enraged having seen Malloy shot down, pursued his assailant back across the Channel, scoring several hits. Maridor managed to reach Hawkinge where he crash-landed, injured, and was taken to hospital. Keltie followed him in to Hawkinge.
The operations record book says that 402’s Commanding Officer, Squadron Leader Morrow, attempted to go to Hawkinge in a Magister to investigate the incident, but was unable to do so because of poor visibilty. However, other records indicate that he flew down in Spitfire BM257 arriving only about 30 minutes after Maridor had crashed. He stayed about an hour and then returned to Kenley, accompanied by Keltie, flying Spitfire Vb (BM230, coded AE*T).
I have yet to establish whether any disciplinary action was taken, although intriguingly the incident was mentioned again in the 402 Operations Book on 10th June, 1942, when the Squadron was stationed at RAF Redhill:
F/L Malloy and P/O Keltie to Kenley and return in connection with incident where F/L Malloy was shot down and baled out over Channel.
Jean Pierre Edmond Maridor was still serving with 91 Squadron on 3rd August, 1944, when he lost his life shooting down a V1 doodlebug which was heading for Benenden School, then a large military hospital, with a red cross painted on the roof. A witness on the ground saw Maridor fire at the V1 twice. Maridor’s second attempt from very close range caused the doodlebug to explode and debris from it took off the Spitfire’s wing. He was due to be married the following week.
Ian George Secord Keltie, a farmer’s son from Alberta, survived the war, having flown 75 sorties, and died aged 86, in 2007, leaving three children, seven grandchildren and a great-grandchild.
Dennis Garland ‘Bud’ Malloy was from Halifax, Nova Scotia. He enlisted in the RCAF the day war broke out and flew over 60 sorties with 402 Squadron before being repatriated to Canada in October 1943, where he served as a Flight Commander and instructor. By July 1964, he held the rank of Group Captain and was Station Commander at RCAF Goose Bay.