Baillon Paul 609 *

Pilot Officer Paul A Baillon – 609 (West Riding) Squadron

Paul Abbott Baillon was born at Upton, Northampton, on 1 April 1914. He was educated at Ratcliffe College, Leicester, from 1924-1932 after which he trained as a solicitor, qualifying in July 1938. He joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve in September 1938 as a trainee pilot and on the outbreak of hostilities a year later he was called up into permanent service, completing his flying training at Hastings Cranwell and Hawarden. He joined No 609 (West Riding) Squadron at Middle Wallop near Salisbury as a qualified Spitfire pilot in September 1940, during the intense final phases of the Battle of Britain.

On 27 October 1940, during his first engagement with the enemy, and flying Spitfire P9503, he encountered a Junkers Ju88 somewhere over Salisbury, but was hit by return fire. His aircraft was badly damaged and oil spewed over his windscreen, thereby severely limiting his vision and preventing him from having any chance of landing safely. Paul therefore elected to bail out, and as he floated safely down to earth he watched his Spitfire crash in flames close to a small wood near Upavon on Salisbury Plain.

Very sadly, and almost exactly a month later, in the late afternoon of 28 November 1940, 609 Squadron encountered the Messerschmitt Me109s of Jagdgeschwader 2 ‘Richthofen’ led by Major Helmut Wick in a dogfight over the Needles on the Isle of Wight. At the time Wick was the Luftwaffe’s leading fighter-ace and within seconds of the opposing aircraft clashing Paul Baillon, flying Spitfire R6631, became his 56th victim. Paul was shot down and killed, crashing into the English Channel.

His body wasn’t found until the following year when he was washed ashore in Normandy, the Germans affording him the honour of a military funeral and burying him at St Marcouf. When the new Commonwealth War Grave Cemetery was being constructed in Bayeux post-war, Paul was among many burials moved there and he can be found there today, a rare combatant from 1940 among the many from D-Day and the Normandy Campaign.

Posted in Memorial Stones.