Surface Sites - Memorials

Flying Officer James Tillett

 Created 07-03-2006    Last update 07-03-2006

The Beginning

Whilst out on a walk in the country John Miller came across a memorial of a downed airman from World War Two. He contacted me and I began researching the event. However the information is very scarce and scattered so if anyone can supply additional details I would be very interested in receiving them. email Bob Hunt

The Details

James Tillett was the adopted son of Maud Reynolds of Courteenhall, Northamptonshire. He entered RAF Cranwell College as a Cadet in September 1937. The College's list of graduates records that he was of St Lawrence's College, Ramsgate, and was a Flight Cadet Sergeant, his sports being athletics, cross country and hockey. He graduated from RAF Cranwell and was promoted to Pilot Officer with effect from 29 July 1939 and promoted to Flying Officer on 3 September 1940.

Flying Officer (F/O) James Tillett (service number 33454) was flying a Hurricane 1 - V6814 - 238S- over Fareham on the afternoon of 6 November 1940 when he was shot down and killed by a Me109. He was 22 years of age. The crash site is recorded as: "near Whitedell Farm, Fareham". He was buried at Ann's Hill Cemetery, Gosport - plot 188 grave 75. 

He was with 238 Squadron which at this time was based at Chilbolton Hampshire as part of 10 Group or more properly: RAF 10 (Fighter) Group Defensive Operations.

F/O Tillett was a Battle of Britain pilot and it has been suggested that he was shot down by Major Helmut Wick of JG2. This is indeed a distinct possibility since he was shot down on the same date that Sgt. HH Adair met a similar fate, 3.5 miles to the east, at the hands of the German fighter ace.



Documents show the pilot's name variously as: TILLETT and TILLET. Likewise his rank is quoted as Flying Officer and sometimes Pilot Officer. I have used the details as recorded by the War Graves Commission: Flying Officer Tillett.

During November 1940 238 Squadron was based at Chilbolton not Middle Wallop as some sources state and was part of 10 Group not 11 Group.  

Some sources refer to the aircraft that shot F/O Tillett down as a Bf109 and some to an Me109. Both marks refer to the same aircraft. Me was the prefix because Willy Messerschmitt designed it but it was built by the Bayerische Flugzeugwerke A.G., of Augsberg,
Bavaria. Purists would call the aircraft a Bf109. I have opted for the more popular Me109.



Air of Authority

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Hampshire Crashes

John Miller

Mark Penfold

Men of the Battle of Britain

Peter Rogers

RAF Commands forum:  (Floyd, Terry & Errol)

RAF Fighter Command (now archived)

Royal Air Force

The Battle of Britain

Wynn's: Men of the Battle of Britain

Grid Ref of Memorial SU589079

Google Earth Aerial View (crash site)


 The arrow shown the location of the memorial.


 This memorial plaque is sited on the north side of Pook Lane at the junction with Spurlings Lane. It was placed there by Graham Alderson in 1994. He has erected 10 memorial sites to young airmen (including Sgt Adair) that gave their lives defending our shores. He was never in the RAF but felt that someone should remember them and he did this at his own expense.


 This memorial plaque close up. The top plate reads:


R.A.F. 238 SQN.

K.I.A. NOV. 6TH 1940



and the lower plate:


He died so young, so we that are left, grow old

knowing only freedom. Let not future generations squander such a gift.

Graham Alderson 1994


F/O Tillett is buried at Ann's Hill Cemetery, Gosport - plot 188 grave 75. His grave and those of his comrades are cared for by the War Graves Commission.


Flying Officer J Tillett

Pilot - Royal Air Force

6th November 1940. Age22

One of the few who gave their lives that others might live.


A Hawker Hurricane Mk1 in 238 Squadron markings as flown by F/O James Tillett.