Newhaven - 12 July 1944

By Carol Walton

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'SPITFIRE CRASH' page

Does anyone have any memories/details of the spitfire which came down in Newhaven in July 1944?  On that day a V1 was observed with a spitfire XIV in hot pursuit. Following a burst of gunfire the doodlebug exploded in mid air.  The spitfire was damaged in the blast and the pilot, losing control, prepared to bale out.  Realising his plane would have hit the town, the pilot, George McKinlay, crash landed to the east of the town and unfortunately died in the crash.

This page was added by Carol Walton on 09/04/2008.
Comments about this page

It was his second patrol that day flying from East Dean, this time checking barrage balloons, on the earlier one he had also shot down a V1 pilotless plane.

By Pete Mason
On 18/04/2008

The Spitfire production list confirms this to be aircraft RB142 of 610 Sqn (RAF Friston) flown by F/O G M McKinley: 'Flew through explosion of V-1 and crashed Newhaven Sussex'. He is recorded to have brought down four V-1's on his own and shared in the destruction of one other.

By Fred Wells
On 05/06/2008

Does anybody know of any pictures taken of the crashed plane?

By Carol Walton
On 05/06/2008

I remember the crash well, and the day was a Wednesday, and it happened at 4.15 - 4.30pm because it was a few days after my birthday and I remember the time because I was due back at the Post Office at 4.30pm.

I was delivering telegrams to 'The Drove' area, and I saw and heard the flying bomb. The spitfire came from the Fort area (south-west). The spitfire fired at the flying bomb with machine guns, but to no effect. Then I saw the spitfire go faster and closer to the flying bomb, it fired again and flew through the blast (explosion). I was surprised to see him come out of the cloud of smoke and debris and the plane was now mis-firing. He turned left, and flew over Newhaven (Nr Somerfields), he slid his canopy back and turned again over Newhaven (left), and came back over 'The Drove'.

I watched him and I saw that he was half out of the cockpit. The plane then stalled and went into the ground, and blew up. I cycled back to the bottom of The Drove, very quickly, and rode through the anti-aircraft site, I slung my bike to the ground and ran across towards the crash. There was a ditch and as I got there a Sergeant was already on the plank across the ditch, and in the water was a Private Soldier with a blanket (black with red piping) and a body was being held between them. I assisted with the end of the blanket from my side of the ditch, and then returned to my bike and rode to the Post Office.

By Ray Turner
On 31/07/2008

Nobody is aware of a photo of the crashed plane, but it would be interesting for someone to identify and take a photo of the site today.

By Richard Beckett
On 19/03/2009

I refer to this incident in the book I published in 2008 'Seven Sisters - The History Behind The View' priced £12.50. It contains two chapters on RAF Friston in WWii.

By Monty larkin
On 18/07/2009

F/O GM Mckinlay is or was my fathers cousin. Born 24/04/22 in Dumbarton with seven siblings, George was from a working class background; his father William was an iron moulder in the ship building industry on the Clyde. At some point the family relocated to Gateshead where George grew up. His brother Leslie Mckinlay was also tragically killed in a flying accident whilst serving with 404 sqn (RCAF) in 1941. Any other info re George Mckinlay and the Newhaven "Flying Bomb" incident would be gratefully received.

By Andrew Mckinlay
On 17/05/2010

With regard to the comments about the Spitfire above, there was also one crash landed in the field beside The Drove; it was intact so I'm sure the pilot was OK. I remember it was the right side of the wire for the minefield, about where Mc'Donalds is now. I am wondering if any photos exist, I think it was about 1940. The mines laid were I think anti-tank, as cows grazed in the field and I can remember a few got blown up.

On 23/04/2012

We are still very interested to hear if anyone has any photographs of this spitfire or any more information to add to that already posted here.

By Carol Walton
On 24/04/2017

I have been researching this particular sad event/incident for some time now. I'm a fine artist and wanted to paint the event that happened on the 12/05/1944 involving GM McKinlay. I couldn't find any photos to use as reference however l have managed to create a painted composition. Which l hope does the young pilot justice.

I've taken the liberty of adding your painting to this page as well as publishing your own page. Andy-Editor


By Marc Heaton
On 27/11/2017

Hi, I have been made aware of this incident by my father, Ian Tubb who, as a six year old witnessed it when picnicing with his mother and sister Lily and Sheila Tubb on the Salts, Seaford. Dad is 81 now but is pleased that it has been officially recorded and comemmorated.


Jacqui Bird.



By Jacqueline Bird
On 10/07/2019

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