raf edmund sylvester

Discussion in 'User Introductions' started by robert wall, Feb 12, 2018.

  1. robert wall

    robert wall New Member

    I am new to this but am writing an artical for the Friends of the Down cemetery in Trowbridge, where we have a memorial on a family grave for Edmund John Hillary Sylvester pilot officer 50 squadron who was shot down over Lyme bay on 20th July 1940.
    I was wondering if any of the member's had a photograph of him as this would be nice to add to the piece. i have tried his relatives but it seems that his family have all died and i can not find any survivors
    thank you for your help
  2. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Panel from Runnymede attached

    Service Number 90556

    Died 20/07/1940

    501 Sqdn.
    Royal Air Force (Auxiliary Air Force)

    D F C
    Commemorated at RUNNYMEDE MEMORIAL

    Location: Surrey, United Kingdom
    Number of casualties: 20287

    Cemetery/memorial reference: Panel 10.

    Edmund John Hilary Sylvester was born at Trowbridge, Wiltshire on 13th January 1914 and attended Harrow School from 1928 to 1930. He was commissioned in 501 Squadron, Auxiliary Air Force in January 1939 and called to full-time service on 24th August 1939. Sylvester went to France with the squadron on 10th May 1940. He shared a He111 destroyed on 12th May with F/O Rayner, this was A1+HK of 2./KG53 which came down at Beaumont-en-Argonne. On the same day he shared in the destruction of a Do17 with Sgt. PCP Farnes 30 miles NE of Betheniville.

    On 24th May Sylvester’s Hurricane was damaged by anti-aircraft fire in a patrol over the Soissons area. He failed to return from a patrol the following day, being last seen diving down with his engine smoking about five miles NE of Abbeville. Sylvester turned up the next day, having made a forced-landing after his aircraft was damaged by return fire from a Do17 and flak. Sylvester had badly damaged the Do17 in a combat over Dieppe at 15000 ft. His Hurricane L2124 SD*H came down at Limesy.

    On 27th May Sylvester claimed an enemy aircraft destroyed in the Abacourt area.

    Sylvester possesed Caterpillar Club badges for parachute descents on 3rd June and 14th June. 501’s records are incomplete for this period but that of the 3rd may be for the loss of Hurricane P2867. That of the 14th – ‘15 miles NW of Evreux’ is undocumented though undoubtedly genuine.

    The squadron was withdrawn from France on 18th June and reassembled at Croydon on the 21st.

    Sylvester was lost on 20th July in Hurricane P3082, shot down by Lt. Zirkenbach of I/JG27 into the Channel in the Lyme Bay area.

    He is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, Panel 10.

    Sylvester was awarded the DFC (gazetted 25th April 1941) with effect from 27th June 194
    Battle of Britain London Monument - P/O E J H Sylvester
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2018
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  3. harkness

    harkness Well-Known Member

    Marriages Dec 1910
    Sylvester Frederick A P Bath 5c 1189
    Richardson Mary W Bath 5c 1189

    Baptism - Hilperton, Wiltshire:

    8 Rivers Street, Bath, Somerset
    Frederick A P Sylvester 21 Feb 1873 Solicitor
    Mary W Duncan (Sylvester) 15 Sep 1892 Private Means
    Edward J H Sylvester 13 Jan 1914 Raf Pilot Officer - No 5 County Of Glos Squadron
    John E J Vincent 16 May 1914 Royal Corps Of Naval Construction
    William F Skinner 03 Jun 1915 Royal Corps Of Naval Construction
    George E Skinner 04 Jun 1884 Manservant (Indor)



    There IS at least one photo of Edmund on Ancestry. Unfortunately it/they is/are in private family trees and I am unable to contact the owners. This may be due to the fact that I have a library subscription to Ancestry. Someone with a personal subscription may have more luck.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2018
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  4. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

  5. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Message sent via Ancestry to creator of a private family tree that has photos - I assume they are of him - and have given them the link to this thread.
    They can also contact me back via Ancestry messaging system if required

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  6. robert wall

    robert wall New Member

    thank you all for your help, hope something turns up, will be adding names from ww2 on regular war graves and some that are just inscribed on family memorials soon.
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  7. Markyboy

    Markyboy Member

    Probably a real long shot, but Paul Farnes from 501 squadron is still with us (he'll be 100 in July). He was with 501 in the Battle of France. He did a signing session last year at Shoreham Aircraft Museum, who may be able to help regarding contact details.
  8. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    For what little extra it brings Lt Igor Zirkenbach was shot down and killed on 8th August 1940 when JG/27 lost a lot of Bf109's whilst attempting to escort Ju87's. See: Convoy Peewit
    Convoy Peewit: August 8th, 1940: The First Day of the Battle of Britain? by Andy Saunders

    Apologies for diverting this thread, but 8th August gives some sense of just how hectic air battles had become...
    The Battle of Britain - 1940 / August 1st - August 10th 1940
    But the 8th of August saw a huge British shipping convoy of about 25 merchant ships with armed Royal Navy escort being detected coming through the Straits of Dover and heading westwards towards the Atlantic Ocean. This was to be the first time for two weeks that a merchant convoy was going to attempt passage through the English Channel. The convoy had assembled at Southend the previous evening ready to pass through the Dover Straits during the hours of darkness en route for Swanage in Dorset. But the German radar Freya had picked them up, and it was a gift that was not to be missed. German torpedo boats attacked first in the half light of dawn, then out went the order to the 8th Flying Corps at Abbeville to send out all available Ju87 Stuka dive-bombers and the fighters based at the Luftwaffe 27 Group at Carquebut and Crepon and all aircraft to set course for the British convoy CW9 codenamed "Peewit" by the RAF. In all, some 300 Ju87's and 150 Bf109s took to the air and planned to attack the convoy during the early morning.
    The British sailors who died this day were the victims of two aspects of stupidity. Firstly, the coastal convoys, carrying domestic cargoes, were still being sent through the dangerous waters of the Channel (instead of the goods going by railway, as they did later). Secondly, the Admiralty, in spite of endless evidence, refused to allow for the fact that the Germans might have excellent radar.
    Len Deighton Fighter 1977 Pluriform Publishing p147
    Fighter Command of the RAF could see what was happening through the 'eyes of the defence system' the radar. On the large table that lay before them, Dowding and Park could see that something was 'brewing', the number that the girl in WAAF uniform placed a large number next to the position in the channel off the French coast. It was a larger number than usual, "I wonder what the bastards are up to" came the remark, "Alert Kenley and Biggin" said Park with enthusiastic authority "we need at least four or five squadrons at least". So the nerve centre at Fighter Command became the height of activity and under the circumstances we shall disturb them no further.
    41 Squadron down in the south from Catterick (Spitfires), 64 Squadron Kenley (Spitfires), 65 Squadron Hornchurch (Spitfires) and 610 Squadron Biggin Hill (Spitfires) scrambled immediately and headed for the Channel to intercept the German formation. The torpedo boats had sunk three ships and damaged another three before full light of the morning. The RAF managed to meet the Luftwaffe onslaught before they reached the convoy, and the ensuing dogfight cost the RAF four Spitfires with all pilots killed except one who managed to bale out, two others were damaged and were forced to return to base while another is reported to have crash landed on the Kent coast. The German losses were only one Bf109 shot down and its pilot failing to bail out, four others tried to make it back to base but crash landed in Northern France while another did manage to get back to its base but with considerable damage. Only one ship received damage by one of the Ju87 Stukas that managed to get through, but with the onset of low cloud and the defences of the Royal Navy and the Spitfires that circled above the 70,000 ton convoy "Peewit" continued its journey.
    Further down the coast, the convoy ran into better weather, the low cloud had dispersed and the waters of the Channel were bathed in brilliant sunshine. Sperle had ordered Stuka and Bf109 Squadrons from his Luftwaffe 3 bases to attack and destroy "Peewit" just off the Isle of Wight. The order went out to attack, and the Ju87's caused severe damage to the large convoy. Fighter Command picked up the action and immediately sent 145 Squadron Westhampnett/Tangmere (Hurricanes), 257 Squadron Northolt (Hurricanes), 609 Squadron Middle Wallop (Spitfires) and 238 Squadron Middle Wallop (Hurricanes) to meet the Luftwaffe who were already engaged with the convoy. By the time that the RAF fighters arrived, the Stukas were low on fuel and ammunition and had to return to their bases, but in the ensuing dogfight that followed between the Bf109's and the Spitfires and Hurricanes of the RAF was intense.
    Many of the pilots that took to the skies that day could only be classed as 'green', once upon a time it took at least six months to train a fighter pilot, in these hard fought days when Dowding needed every pilot and aircraft that he could lay his hands on, a pilot training period was just four weeks. Many missed out on essential training in navigation, hence after many a dogfight they became so disorientated that they didn't know which way was the way home. Others had no proper training as to take off's and landings and were ridiculed by the more experienced pilots. This was typical of 238 Squadron based at Middle Wallop who were scrambled to intercept the "Peewit" mission, the Squadron was formed so quickly and with much haste that the pilots had never even flown a training flight together and this was to be their inauguration into fighter combat, that's being thrown in at the deep end for sure. What happened was that as soon as the German formation was spotted over the Channel, they immediately opened fire and dashed in guns blazing, yet the enemy was still three quarters of a mile away.
    0905 hrs. Sth of Isle of Wight. Hurricane P2955. 145 Squadron Westhampnett. (Crashed in Channel)
    P/O L.A. Sears Missing. (Last seen in combat with Bf109's, failed to return to base)
    0915 hrs. Sth of Isle of Wight. Hurricane P3381. 145 Squadron Westhampnett. (Crashed in Channel)
    Sgt E.D. Baker Missing. (Last seen in combat with Ju87's and Me110's, failed to return to base)
    1140 hrs. Manston. Spitfire K9911. 65 Squadron Hornchurch. (Aircraft destroyed)
    Sgt D.I. Kirton Killed. (Hit by gunfire from Bf109 and crashed in flames near airfield)
    1145 hrs. Manston. Spitfire K9905. 65 Squadron Hornchurch. (Aircraft destroyed)
    F/Sgt N.T. Phillips Killed. (Shot down by Bf109 and crashed in flames)
    1155 hrs. Ramsgate. Blenheim L8665. 600 Squadron Manston. (Went down in flames off beach)
    F/O D.N. Grice, Sgt F.D. Keast, AC1 J.B.W. Warren. All killed after pilot avoided town and crashed into sea)
    1200 hrs. St Catherines Point. Hurricane R4094. 257 Squadron Northolt. (Presumed crashed into Channel)
    Sgt K.B. Smith. Missing. (Failed to return to base after action over Channel protecting convoy CW9)
    1200 hrs. St Catherines Point. Hurricane P2981. 257 Squadron Northolt. (Crashed into Channel)
    F/Lt N.M. Hall Killed. (Hit by gunfire from Bf109, crashed into sea)
    1205 hrs. Dover. Spitfire L1039. 64 Squadron Kenley. (Aircraft destroyed)
    P/O P.F. Kennard-Davies Died of Injuries. (Hit by enemy gunfire, baled out but sustained serious burns)
    1205 hrs. St Catherines Point. Hurricane P3058. 257 Squadron Northolt. (Presumed crashed into Channel)
    F/O B.W.J D'Arcy-Irvine Missing. (Last seen in combat with Bf109's over Channel, failed to return)
    1245 hrs. Sth of Isle of Wight. Hurricane P3823. 238 Squadron Middle Wallop. (Crashed in Channel)
    F/L D.E Turner Missing. (Shot down while engaging enemy over convoy CW9, failed to return to base)
    1250 hrs. Off Isle of Wight. Hurricane P3617. 238 Squadron Middle Wallop. (Crashed into Channel)
    F/O D.C. MacCaw Killed. (Shot down while engaging enemy over convoy CW9, crashed into sea)
    1640 hrs. Off Isle of Wight. Hurricane P2957**. 145 Squadron Westhampnett. (Crashed in Channel)
    P/O E.C.J. Wakeham Missing. (Last seen in combat with Ju87's and Me110's, failed to return to base)
    1640 hrs. Sth of Isle of Wight. Hurricane P3163. 145 Squadron Westhampnett. (Crashed into Channel)
    F/O Lord R.U.P Kay-Shuttleworth Missing. (Failed to return after combat over convoy CW9)
    1645 hrs. Sth of Isle of Wight. Hurricane P3545. 145 Squadron Westhampnett. (Crashed into Channel)
    S/Lt F.A. Smith Missing. (Shot down in attacking Ju87's but possibly hit by gunfire from by Bf109)
    1645hrs. Sth of Isle of Wight. Hurricane P3781. 43 Squadron Tangmere. (Crashed into Channel)
    P/O J. Cruttenden Missing. (Hit by enemy gunfire and crashed into the sea)
    1645 hrs. Sth of Isle of Wight. Hurricane P3468. 43 Squadron Tangmere. (Crashed into Channel)
    P/O J.R.S. Oelofse Killed. (Hit by enemy gunfire and crashed into the sea)
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  9. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Have now received a photo of Edmund Sylvester via members of the family tree, they have requested I credit them for the use of the photo so here it is

    If you could give a picture credit to Christopher, Gillian and David Sylvester it would be appreciated


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