Pilot Officer Colin Dunstone Francis
Colin Dunstone Francis was born in July 1921, in Stoke d’Abernon, Surrey. He was the only child of Frank Warner Francis, who served in the Royal Field Artillery during the Great War, and his wife, Emmie Francis. Colin joined the RAF on a short service commission in April 1939.
Following his initial training, he went to No.6 Operational Training Unit at Sutton Bridge to convert to Hurricanes. From there, he was posted to 253 Squadron at Kirton-in-Lindsey on 17 June 1940.
He flew south from Prestwick with the rest of the squadron on 29 August, arriving at Kenley at 3.45p.m. The following day, 253 Squadron launched a maximum effort to initially intercept a raid over Maidstone eventually being redirected to Redhill. Francis, on his first operational sortie in Hurricane L1965, joined the emergency section lead by Squadron Leader Gleave to attack Me.109s that were harassing the squadron. Francis was later found to be missing when the remaining Hurricanes returned to Kenley.
The last resting place of Pilot Officer Francis remained a mystery so his name was added to Panel 8 of the Runnymede Memorial.
In August 1981, an aircraft was excavated at Wrotham Hill Farm, which was farmed by a Mr. Percival during the Battle of Britain. It was identified as Hurricane L1965 and the pilot’s remains were discovered in the aircraft.
Colin Dunstone Francis finally received a burial with full military honours at Brookwood Military Cemetery on 29th September, 1981, forty one years after his fatal crash.
Rest in peace Sir and thank you for your service.