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.
Staunton Country Park. Picture: Paul Jacobs

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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.