9 November 1943

North American Mustang Mk IA FD545 (code ?)
probably near Antrain (35)

(contributors : J.P. Favrais, Daniel Dahiot, Frédéric Hénoff)

Mustang mk ia fd474 photo usaf
Mustang Mk IA of the Royal Air Force © USAF - domaine public

Pilot : Flying Officer Graham Dudley Launcelot MACHIN

168 Squadron RAF Volunteer Reserve
Service number 137295, aged 22, son of Launcelot and Corinne Lediard Machin, from Gloucester
Section 18, Plot 1, Row D, Grave 1, Eastern cemetery, Commonwealth square, Rennes (Brittany)

Fo graham d l machin
Flying Officer Graham D.L. MACHIN

Tuesday 9th November, 1943

That day, a section of two Mustang Mk IAs took off at 10:27 a.m. from RAF Thruxton in Hampshire. The mission, a photo reconnaissance of the road bridges in the eastern region of Saint-Malo.

Thruxton raf base may 1945
RAF Thruxton in May 1945.
Photo Royal Ordinance Survey - United Kingdom Government - Public domain

La section était composée du Flying Officer D. CLARK (Mustang FD557) et du Flying Officer Graham D.L. MACHIN. Les aviateurs arrivent sur le Mont St-Michel puis rapidement photographient les deux premiers objectifs. Soudain, Graham MACHIN vira brusquement sur la gauche. CLARK tenta de le suivre mais le perdit de vue. Lorsqu'il l'aperçut pour la dernière fois, Graham MACHIN était très bas et virait encore. Le F/O CLARK l'appela par radio mais sans succès. Après avoir photographié le dernier objectif, CLARK retourné à la base où il atterrissait à 12h33. Aucune Flak ni aucun avion ennemi n'oavaient été observés. Graham MACHIN ne rentra pas.
The section was composed of Flying Officer D. CLARK (Mustang FD557) and Flying Officer Graham D.L. MACHIN. The airmen arrived on Mont St-Michel and then quickly photographed the first two objectives. Suddenly, Graham MACHIN turned sharply to port. CLARK tried to follow him but lost sight of him. When he saw him for the last time, Graham MACHIN was very low and still turning. F/O CLARK called him by radio but had no reply. CLARK took a photo of the last objective and returned to the base where he landed at 12:33 p.m. No flak or enemy aircraft had been observed. Graham MACHIN has not return.

Graham Dudley Launcelot MACHIN (F/O R.A.F.)  
Source  : "The Stamfordian, Vol. 13, Spring and Summer Terms, 1945, No. 6"

G d l machin

After five years in the School House he left us from the Lower Sixth just before the War broke out with the intention of becoming articled to an architect in his home town of Gloucester. On the outbreak of War he worked in the Drawing Office of Rotol Airscrews Ltd., until he was old enough to join the R.A.F. After training at Torquay and Aberystwyth he went to Canada and Florida where he gained his "Wings" as a Fighter Pilot. On returning to England in January, 1942, he did some Coastal Patrol work and next year was stationed mostly at Oddiham, Hants, from which base he went on " trainbusting " and photographic flights across the Channel. On November 9th, 1943, he failed to return and after many months of torturing suspense news was received that his body was buried in Normandy, at Rennes*.
The many who were at school with him can well imagine the spirit of philosophical resignation with which he would accept the duties with which the War confronted him and set out on his lonely flights across the sea and over enemy held territory. Only men of special qualities of character can stand the strain of such tasks. Small wonder that such men are the heroes of small boys. Perhaps those who are older have an even fuller realization of what men like Graham Machin have done for us.

To be noticed : on 29th July, 1942, Sergeant Graham D.L. MACHIN was posted to the Squadron from no 57 O.T.U. (Operational Training Unit) at RAF Hawarden, Flintshire.

* Rennes is in Brittany, not in Normandie


Grave flying officer g d l machin
Grave of Flying Officer Graham D.L. MACHIN
Sect. 18, Plot 1, Row D, Grave 1
Eastern cemetery, Commonwealth square, Rennes (35)


  • Operational Record Book (ORB) - from 9 to 15 November 1943 - No 168 RAF Squadron.
    For the mission of 9th Novembre, 1943, the two pages 168 SQN ORB mentions :

Orb sqn 168 9 novembre 1943 2
Source : "The National Archives"

Weather, foggy. Local practices carried out. F/Os G.D.L. Machin and D. Clark set out on a photo. recce. of bridges in the area of Pontorson near St. Malo. During the process of taking the photos the pair were separated. F/O G.D.L. Machin did not return; he was last seen turning at low altitude near Antrain in the target area, apparently in full control of his aircraft.  

Orb sqn 168 9 novembre 1943
Source : "The National Archives"

Mustang IA FD545 F/O G.D.L. Machin    Photo Recce    Take-Off : 1027     Take-Down : not yet returned
Mustang IA FD557 F/O D. Clark              Photo Recce    Take-Off : 1027     Take-Down : 1233

Section set out to take photo of road bridges in area East of St. Malo. Landfall was made correctly Mont St. Michel and the first two objectives photographed. F/O G.D.L. Machin then turned sharply to port. F/O D. Clark attempted to follow but lost sight of him. When last seen F/O G.D.L. Machin was very low and still turning although apparently still under control. F/O D. Clark then called him up by R/T but had no reply – after photographing the last objective. F/O D. Clark then returned to base. No Flak nor enemy aircraft were observed. F/O G.D.L. Machin has not returned.

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