30.04.1941 No.245 Squadron Hurricane I W9239 Sgt. Pilford Location: Lough Neagh, Ireland.
Mission: Dog-fighting Exercise.

Date: 30th April 1941

Time: (Exact time not known).

Unit: No. 245 Squadron R.A.F.

Type: Hawker Hurricane I

Serial No.W9239

Coded: DX -

Location: Dived into Lough Neagh, Ireland.

Pilot: Sergeant. Alfred Ernest Pilfold. 1151343 Age. 28 – Killed.


Hurricanes W9201 and W9239 collided mid air and crashed into the Lough Killing P/O Perrot and Sgt Pilfold. Aircraft were with No.245 Squadron at Aldergrove.

At 18.50 P/O Perrott and Sgt Pilfold took off for a dogfighting excerise.
Having failed to return within the normal endurance time of their aircraft it became evident that they had forced landed or crashed. Reports later received through operations showed that a fatal collision had occurred in the air and both aircraft dived into Lough Neagh. The body of Sgt Pilfold was recovered, but was necessary to report P/O Perrott missing – believed killed.

Account from S/L Simpson who flew over the crash site. (from his private letters).

“What hell this is”. Two of my boys were killed yesterday. I had sent them off to do air firing practise over Lough Neagh. It is just a normal affair and I did not think anymore about it.
Late in the afternoon, Chipper said he wondered what had happened to them. They were fifteen minutes late. I had just come back after flying over Lough Erne.

I did not want to worry about the boys at first, I thought that they were just being young and were flying around enjoying themselves. Then I realised so much time had past they no longer have any petrol. A watchman on a boat in the Lough had landed and telephoned to say that he thought he saw an aircraft crash into the water about twenty minutes before.
Someone else who lived near the Lough rang up and said they had just been told that two aircraft had fallen into the water. These horrible reports meant one thing to me. They had obviously collided.

Chipper and I ran out to our aircraft and flew over the Lough, it was late and light was failing.
We searched the surface of the water, I found one patch of oil and Chipper found the other. There were little pieces of floating wreckage, it was quite horrible.
I have never over come my horrors of losing youngsters when they are not in battle, it seems so wasteful, so wasteful after their training. Chipper told me by R/T that he had found a patch of oil and that he could see some fishermen lifting a body onto a boat.

Two eye witness accounts whom discovered the pilot’s bodies and recovered them from the Lough;

Peter Kelly and a few other fishermen were out on the Lough in boats and recovered one of the bodies. His name was Sgt Pilfold, he was still alive when they got him in the boat, it was then discovered that the fingers were missing off his left hand. It was presumed that the pilot’s fingers were lost in the collision. On returning to the battery harbour the police were present accompanied by Dr. Brown, who pronounced the Sgt dead by drowning.

Six weeks later, Hugh Conlon of Aneetermore, together with his brother Gerard and Pat Quinn (Nimbley) were out in a fishing boat and saw something floating on the water. On hauling it in they discovered it was a parachute with a headless body still in the harness. They marked the spot where they made the discovery and returned to the harbour and contacted police.

A salvage team from No 11 repair & salvage unit collected wreckage including both engines from this accident. It had been salvaged by the firm of Henry McGarry based at Ardmore on the Lough shore. According to that unit's ORB, wreckage was collected there on 18/05/41 and on 08/07/41.

(1) 245 SQDN NOVEMBER 1940
No.245 Squadron pilots at Aldergrove in November 1940 (245 were there from July 1940 to June 1941).

(2) Hurricane Mk Is of No. 245 Squadron, in flight from Aldergrove, near Belfast, November 1940.
Hurricane Mk Is of No. 245 Squadron, in flight from Aldergrove, near Belfast, November 1940.
The lead aircraft is P3101 DX-?, the mount of the CO, Squadron Leader J. W. C. Simpson.

(3) Squadron Leader J W C Simpson DFC, Commanding Officer of No. 245 Squadron
Squadron Leader J W C Simpson DFC, Commanding Officer of No. 245 Squadron RAF, seated in the cockpit of his Hawker Hurricane Mark I, W9145 'DX-L', at Aldergrove, County Antrim, on the day before he shot down his twelfth enemy aircraft.
Note Simpson's 'Jester' emblem below the cockpit.


Burial detail:


Grave Reference S.E. corner of churchyard.






Alfred Ernest Pilfold; Son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph John Pilfold; husband of Ailsa Dean Pilfold, of St. Helier, Jersey, Channel Islands.

Researched and compiled by Melvin Brownless and David King in remembrance of Alfred Ernest Pilfold. Thanks to various individuals and internet forums for information contained on this page, January 2014.

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