Artefact of the Month
THE STORY OF PILOT OFFICER JAMES BUCHANAN’S MEDALS
James Buchanan from Iden, Sussex was a fully trained RAFVR pilot at the outbreak of the Second World War. He was commissioned in December 1939 and was posted to No 609 Squadron.
Flying from Drem, near Edinburgh, on 27 February 1940 he shared in destroying a He 111 which was attacking a convoy off St Abbs Head. On 31 May, over Dunkirk, he destroyed a Bf 109 and damaged a He 111.
By July 1940, the beginning of the Battle of Britain, No 609 had been moved south to Middle Wallop, Hampshire. On 27 July, James Buchanan was reported ‘missing’ after being shot down by a Bf 109 (later found to be flown by Oberleutnant Framm) in combat when protecting a convoy off Weymouth, Dorset. His Spitfire, N 3023, was seen to crash into the sea. James had died, only 25 years old.
After his death, his war medals were posthumously presented to his family. Eventually due to deaths in the family, they found their way to a distant cousin who had never known James. He decided to pass them on to his girlfriend at the time of his death, Stella Burton.
Stella, who during the war was a WAAF plotter at Fighter Command’s main filter room at Bentley Priory, kept his medals in safe keeping at her home for almost sixty years. She decided to look for a museum that would display James’ medals to remember him and the other pilots of the ‘Few’ who died that summer in 1940. She chose Tangmere Military Aviation Museum and Alan Bower, Director of the museum, accepted the medals from Stella Burton on 15 June 2007.
JAMES BUCHANAN’S MEDALS CAN BE SEEN DISPLAYED IN THE CENTRAL CABINET IN THE MUSEUM’S BATTLE OF BRITAIN HALL.