On 20th September, 1941, the Kenley Wing lost three pilots on ‘Circus’ 100B to Abbeville:
Sgt. Ivor Morrison Brown and Sgt. Charles James Squibb (both of 602 squadron) paid the ultimate price, while Sgt. Ian Milne (452 Australian squadron) was taken Prisoner of War.
Circus 100B was a complex, multi-target operation involving 48 Blenheim bombers of No.2 Group, split into small diversionary raids around Dieppe and Calais, while 6 Hampden bombers of No.5 Group headed further inland to target the Abbeville railway marshalling yards. The same target had been hit using the same tactics two days earlier. This time around the Kenley Wing were tasked with providing top cover while the Biggin Hill Wing flew close escort to the bombers.
The diversionary raids didn’t fool the Luftwaffe, who soon had 130-140 fighters airborne to intercept the incoming raid. 452 squadron (RAAF) became embroiled in a messy dogfight while 602 continued with the bombers, blocking enemy attacks. The sortie was largely uneventful for 485 (New Zealand) squadron and the Hampdens reached their target and bombed it effectively.
However, as 602 returned to Kenley it became clear that two of their number had not made it home: Sergeants Charles “Banger” Squibb (flying Spitfire W3622) and Ivor “Muddy” Brown (flying Spitfire P8787). Nobody saw what had happened to them. It seemed likely that they had been picked off as they returned back across the Channel.
452 arrived back in dribs and drabs. Some had to stop at Manston to re-fuel. However, Sgt. Ian Milne (in Spitfire AB841) had been shot down while trying to cross the Channel alone. He bailed out roughly eight miles from the mouth of the Somme and was rescued from the sea by Germans, taken Prisoner of War and sent to Stalag 357. Post-war, Ian returned to Wirrabara in Australia and died sometime during the 1980’s.
In return for their three lost pilots, the Kenley Wing claimed seven victories: three by Paddy Finucane, two by ‘Bluey’ Truscott and one each by Chisholm and Dunstan, all from 452 squadron. In reality, only two Luftwaffe fighters had been shot down. A photographer captured the triumphant return of the squadron’s rising stars at Kenley..
Over-claiming in the confusion of battle and a failure to corroborate claimed victories meant that Commanding Officers were fated to over-estimate the value of these large operations.
SERGEANT PILOT IVOR MORRISON BROWN of 602 squadron RAFVR, was the son of Douglas Campbell Brown and Frances Jane Brown, of Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand. His brother, Flying Officer Willis Stewart Brown, lost his life in October 1940, and is buried in Zimbabwe, so Morrison’s death, aged 28, must have been a bitter blow for his family.
He lies at rest in Calais Canadian War Cemetery Leubringhen, Pas De Calais, France. Grave Ref. 3.D.10.
Okioki ki te rangimarie – Rest in peace Sir.
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I am a niece of Morrison, as he was known to the family, and of Stewart. Morrison’s family nickname was Mock.
They are both remembered with love and respect by the following generation, all of whom were born after their deaths. Family members, including my late father in his late eighties, my brother and myself, have visited Morrison’s grave. One family member has also been to that of Stewart in Harare.
Morrison was studying veterinary science at the Royal Veterinary College in Edinburgh before he signed up after Stewart’s death. He had won a scholarship.
I would like to record my particular thanks and appreciation to those who have done the research and other work which has made this information available. It means a lot that these young men, both gifted as were so many, are remembered not just by their family, but by a wider community. To see the recent photo of Morrison’s grave is especially appreciated. My personal thanks from 12,000 miles away.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.
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