Phillip. C . "Tommy" Pinkham info

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My interest in Spitfires has recently been recindled when my Father and I found a cross marking the site where Squadron Leader Phillip. C . "Tommy" Pinkham was killed in Sept 1940. Since finding the site (in the middle of a gorse bush) we have started trying to find a bit more information about the man. We know he was part of 19 Spitfire squadron flying out of Fowlmere, played a major part in forming the combat tactics and attack formations; We are also aware that Pinkham identified the cause of the jamming problems with Hispano cannons on the Mk1B and that he was believed to have been shot down by a BF109 whilst attacking Do17Zs. We would desperately like to find out more about his life as we feel we now know him in some small way but we don't know where we can get information from and we were also wondering who if his family or friends look after the cross we found. We would like to be able to contact his family and if required we could keep the cross in good order as we live locally to it. Can anyone supply me with information on SQR Leader Pinkham or the whereabouts of his family?

Gravesend, Kent - Tuesday, February 22, 2000 at 20:47:33 (GMT)

Original post

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17 years 1 month

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Tommy Pinkham

Only just stumbled across your message. Tommy was my late fathers elder brother. would like to know where the crash site is. Please contact

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The original post in this thread was made by a Matt Williams over 5 years ago - possibly he no longer visits this forum. Maybe some of the current forum members can search their records and see if they can assist the Pinkham family who have replied to the posting recently?

There is a fair bit of info in the original post to give a few clues. Gravesend, Kent is the location at the end of the posting so perhaps this is also the location of the cross marking the crash site?

It means a great deal to relatives to have information about the place where their loved ones were lost, please check your records, or if you are local to the Gravesend area see if you can find out anything locally. This forum has provided some spectacular results in the past with less information than has been provided here, surely someone can shed some further info on the location of the cross?

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In addition to the above. The aircraft in question was, I believe, Spitfire P9432 lost 5th September 1940. The location given (after Googling) is Birling, Kent.

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According to Franks FCL Vol 1 1939 -1940 it was 5 Setember 1940, shot down over the Thames Estuary at 10.15am crashing at Birling Kent, though he gives the serial as P9422

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CWGC if it helps

37208 Squadron Leader PHILIP CAMPBELL PINKHAM. AFC,
Age 25,
19 Sqdn,
Date of Death 05/09/1940,
Son of Lieut. Philip I. Pinkham. R.N.V.R. and Nora Pinkham. of Wembley.
Sec. H. Extn. Grave 4. KINGSBURY (ST. ANDREW) CHURCHYARD

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Forgot I had this book

Fighter Squardon by Derek Palmer

5th Septmeber 1940

Eleven Spitfires of the Squadron led by Sdn Ldr Pinkham took off at 09:47 hours to Patrol Hornchurch at 15,000ft. The enemy formation of 40 Dorniers 215’s and 40 Me 109’s were sighted over the Chatham/Ashford/Medway/Maidstone quadrilateral.

Sqd Ldr Pinkham (Blue 1) (P9422) was seen engaging three Do215’s and is a casualty.

He took charge of the Squadron on 31 May 1940 replacing Sqn Ldr G D Stephenson who had been shot down and taken POW on the 26th (N3200). Pinkham arrived from Sutton Bridge in a Hurricane.

There's very little mention of him until 1st July 1940 :-

Sqn Ldr Pinkham gave a lecture on the merits and demerits of the cannon equipped Spitfire. It was evident that new tactics would have to be developed to cope with the disadvantages and make full use of the new armament.

As far as I can see he gets one other mention on 3 September 1940

Eight Spitfires of the Sqn were ordered to patrol between Duxford and Debden at 20,000 ft. Operating in pairs, all aircraft were fitted with two cannons except Green Leader which had eight machine guns. The Sqn was still climbing when they were warned by sector controller of the enemy approaching from the South East and later that they were over North Weald. On reaching 20,000ft they saw explosions and clouds of smoke from North Weald. There were 50/60 bombers at 20,000ft, escorted by 100 fighters stretching from 20,000 to 25,000ft, with a single fighter ahead of and above the whole formation.

Sqn Ldr Pinkham (Blue 1) led the attack at two enemy aircraft and had fired only ten rounds from each gun when they jammed.

That same day they were informed that they were to be re-equipped with machine gun only Spitfires, this news was gratefully received by all Sqn members.

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Birling is near to junction 4 of the M20. It is about 15 miles from Gravesend. When Von Perthes sees this he may well be able to shed some light as it is very near the Shoreham Museum.
mmitch.

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'The Battle of Britain, then & now' and 'Men of The Battle of Britain' both state that Sqn/Ldr Pinkham's Spitfire is 'believed' to have crashed in Whitehorse Wood, Birling, Kent.

I'll have a word tomorrow with our curator & see what he knows about this incident. Being as it is so local to us, I'm sure we'd like to do what we can to find out more for the family. It would be nice also to find some way of remembering Philip at the museum.

Geoff

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Squadron Leader Phillip. C . "Tommy" Pinkham

HI MATT IS IT POSSIBLE TO CONTACT ME REGARDING THE WHERE ABOUTS OF THIS CRASH SITE, AS ONE OF PHILIPS RELATIVES THAT I KNOW IS DESPERATE TO LOCATE THE PLACE WHERE HE MET HIS DIMISE.I HAVE SEEN PHILIPS FLIGHT LOG BOOK AND SOME PHOTOS OF HIM AND YOU CAN CONTACT THE RELATIVE DIRECTLY SO THAT YOU CAN CORRESPOND WITH HIM AND HE CAN LET YOU KNOW ANY INFORMATION YOU REQUIRE .MANY MANY THANKS ALAN

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HI MATT IS IT POSSIBLE TO CONTACT ME REGARDING THE WHERE ABOUTS OF THIS CRASH SITE, AS ONE OF PHILIPS RELATIVES THAT I KNOW IS DESPERATE TO LOCATE THE PLACE WHERE HE MET HIS DIMISE.I HAVE SEEN PHILIPS FLIGHT LOG BOOK AND SOME PHOTOS OF HIM AND YOU CAN CONTACT THE RELATIVE DIRECTLY SO THAT YOU CAN CORRESPOND WITH HIM AND HE CAN LET YOU KNOW ANY INFORMATION YOU REQUIRE .MANY MANY THANKS ALAN

Philip Campbell Pinkham.

37208 FL Pilot British 19 Squadron

Pinkham, from Wembley, was educated at Kilburn Grammar School. After leaving, he worked for an insurance company and joined the London Yeomanry, a territorial unit.

In April 1935 Pinkham joined the RAF on a short service commission. He was posted to 6 flight Training School, Netheravon, on 7 May and joined 17 Squadron at Kenley on 17 February 1936. Pinkham moved to the meteorological flight at Mildenhall on 16 August 1937.

He was posted to 11 Group 17 January 1938 and became an Instructor at the air fighting school Sutton Bridge. Pinkham was posted to 11 Group Pool at Andover on 17 January 1939 as an Instructor. He took command 22 January 1940, as an Acting Squadron Leader. The Pool became 6 Operational Training Unit in March 1940 and Pinkham commanded it until 3 June, when he was given command on 19 Squadron at Duxford. He was awarded the AFC on 11 July 1940.

He was shot down and killed in combat with BF109S over the Thames Estuary on 5 September 1940. His spitfire P9422 is believed to have crashed into White Horse Wood, Birling, Kent.

Pinkham was 25. He is buried in St Andrews Churchyard, Kingsbury, Middlesex.

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Tommy Pinkham Crash Site and Memorial cross

The crash site is at the foot of the north downs at the bottom of a hill known locally as 16 Acres across a field from the Pilgrims Way and quite near the road. It is in Birling Parish.

I have a photo of the memorial cross taken in May 1999. Recently I have not been able to locate the memorial cross, I think it has probably just fallen down as it was only made from wood not stone. I do not know who is responsible for the upkeep of the cross locally.

Incidentially there is another memorial to 6 Dutch Aviators who crashed at the top of the hills (Whitehorse Woods) in 1978 which may be causing some confusion as to the site of the crash and memorial.

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PHILIP [TOMMY] PINKHAM

Just to say thank you to everyone who has left comments for myself and Jon regarding this case, it has been a real adventure. I am a collector and researcher of WW1 and WW11 militaria. A year ago Jon approached me asking me how he could find out about his relative and if I could help. I managed to find the grave where Tommy is buried some time last year, a real challenge in itself as the churchyard was completely overgrown and derelict. Jon Pinkham, who is the son of Tommys brother, and myself have cleared the site and it will be maintained by Jon in the future. After visiting Duxford Imperial War Museum Jon has decided to loan Philip Pinkhams' Log Book, Airforce Cross and a vast number of documents belonging to him to Duxford where it will be shown in the new exhibition hall when completed some time this year. This will enable everyone to see his belongings and artefacts for themselves - a real kind hearted gesture by Jon in my opinion. However the best was yet to come, and after contact with Neil Miners two weeks ago Neil, Jon and myself arranged to meet last Sunday 5 March 2006 where we managed to locate the crash site and indeed after receiving cuts all over from the thick bracken hedges, Jon found the cross put up by Matt Williams. It was a remarkable day and one I know Jon will never forget. So once again thank you to this website and a real big big thank you to you Neil, it would never have been possible without you.

P.S enclosed picture of Philip Pinkham and Jon

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What a brilliant outcome to this post, thanks so much for updating and sharing that info. It's all the more amazing considering that this post was originally started on 7th March 2000, that's over six years ago!!! Congratulations and well done to all concerned for ensuring that another of the many will be remembered.

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If 'alantissi' still contributes to the forum I'd be grateful if he could contact me privately. I've only just found this thread about Phillip Pinkham but I have an interest in him in respect of his time with the Mildenhall Meteorological Flight. Between November 1936 and February 1939 this 2-pilot unit maintained an unbroken record of met ascents (twice daily, one Wed and Sat, none Sun) even when other units were unable to fly due to the weather conditions (thick fog, heavy snow etc). During this time three pilots were awarded the AFC for their contributions to the unit's work; two were F/O Stoddart and F/O Hall, and the other P/O Pinkham.

My interest is in the history of the Meteorological Flights and I would very much appreciate a sight of Pinkham's citation for his award.

TIA
Brian

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Forward to December 2013! I have just found this forum after searching the net for information about Sqn. Leader Pinkham and the crash site. I was told about the memorial by a member of a walking group which meets at Larkfield in Kent, near my home. On Saturday 28th December 2013 a few of us walking the Pilgrims Way at Birling made a short detour to the memorial site and I am pleased to report that the cross and plaque are still in place on the hillside. It is easily visible and accessable, all the scrub in the field having been cleared away for yards around. It is also looked after because there are small memorial crosses and flowers placed below the cross, maybe from this year's Rememberance Day.

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Can you tell me where exactly the memorial cross is John? I'm a Ryarsh born and bred, so I know the Ryarsh and Birling downs well, and would like to go find the cross' location this weekend and pay my respects. I found out about the cross from someone in passing, so I thought I'd read up on the heroic story. I have the book Spitfire!... by Brian Lane and I now see that Sqn Ldr Pinkham is mentioned in it.

Thanks in advance

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Linton....sorry not to have replied before but as you can see it is a long time since I have visited this site. I do appreciate that this is a bit late to assist with your weekend visit and you may already have found the cross yourself. However, if you walk west along the Pilgrims Way from where it crosses Birling Hill you will come to footpath MR64 which crosses the Pilgrims Way/North Downs Way. Follow this footpath to the right (north west) and you will see before you the slope of Whitehorse Wood. The cross is exposed on the cleared slope, near a solitary tree. You could also walk down the hill to it from White Horse Road, near Poundgate. You may be able to park as I have been told of a car park near there though I have not parked there myself. If you still need help and if we can find a secure way to communicate (not sure of this site) I can send you a map and photographs.

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Anne Herring

My husband was cycling on the North Downs recently and saw the cross in memory of Philip "Tommy" Pinkham. It is still in place and poppies were recently placed there. He took a photo but I cannot seem to post it on here.

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Hi, Anne,

I'll be happy to post your photo, if you are willing to send it to me. See my private message to you for my e-mail address.

Cheers,

Matt

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Anne kindly sent me the photo. Thanks for your contribution, Anne. Here 'tis.

Matt

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