As today marks the 70th Anniversary of the “official” end to the Battle of Britain, I thought today’s post was rather apt.
This rather innocuous item sits on the shelf above my desk. It looks like nothing special: it’s a mildly rusty spring.
It is in fact a valve spring from the Rolls Royce Merlin engine of a Hawker Hurricane. This one was flown by a man whose surname I share: Alexander Logan McNay.
On the 5th September 1940, at 3.30pm after aerial combat, Hurricane P3224, TP-L of 73 Squadron crashed at White House Farm, North Fambridge. It had been flown by Sergeant McNay.
McNay was subsequently listed as missing.
In September 1979 the crash site was investigated by the London Air Museum. During the excavation the shattered remains of the burned out Merlin engine were discovered. Other items found included head armour, the tail wheel, remnants of burnt parachute silk and compressed maps with the pilots name on them. The remains of the airframe were collected by the Essex Historical Aircraft Society. They still exist as Thameside Aviation Museum and I believe they still have some fragments of this Hurricane still on display.
Sadly, no remains were discovered so Sergeant McNay is still listed as missing, and is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.
I believe the case to try and locate Alexander McNay’s remains are covered in some detail in the book “Finding the Few”. I have ordered a copy of this book in the hope it sheds further light on this story.
Incidentally, to date I have been unable to confirm conclusively if Alexander McNay is in any way related to me: it’s a rare enough surname for it to be possible, but so far I can’t confirm it.