Pilot lost off Portsmouth in the run-up to war

The memorial to Pilot Officer Allan Miles in the  Garrison Church, Old Portsmouth.

The memorial to Pilot Officer Allan Miles in the Garrison Church, Old Portsmouth.

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I was looking around the roofless Garrison Church in Old Portsmouth recently and found a memorial to an RAF pilot.

At first glance I thought he might have been a victim of the Battle of Britain until I saw the date – January 24, 1939.

This was, of course, eight months before the outbreak of the Second World War so I started to research what had happened to him.

I uncovered a sad tale that saw two RAF planes crash in separate incidents in the Channel and at Spithead within 24 hours of each other with the loss of a dozen personnel.

A massive search with four destroyers, aircraft and merchant ships from several nations took place over many days and I will publish the story next week. Meanwhile I wonder if there are any surviving members of Pilot Officer Allan Miles’s family in the area? If so would you please contact me.

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