|James Archibald Findlay MacLachlan
MacLachlan with his Hawker Hurricane, RAF Tangmere, November 1941. The nose art of his aircraft depicts his amputated arm giving the V sign
1 April 1919|
|Died||31 July 1943
|Buried at||Pont-l'Évêque, France|
|Service/branch||Royal Air Force|
|Years of service||1939–1943|
|Unit||No. 88 Squadron RAF
No. 145 Squadron RAF
No. 73 Squadron RAF
No. 261 Squadron RAF
|Commands held||No. 1 Squadron RAF|
|Battles/wars||Second World War|
|Awards||Distinguished Service Order
Distinguished Flying Cross and two Bars
Czechoslovak War Cross
Squadron Leader James Archibald Findlay MacLachlan DSO DFC** (1 April 1919–31 July 1943) was a British World War II flying ace, famous for returning to operations with an artificial left arm, following the loss of the limb during combat over Malta.
James MacLachlan (known as Jay) was born on 1 April 1919 at Styal in Cheshire, the second of six children of Hugh MacLachlan and his wife Helen (née Orr-Ewing). The MacLachlans lived in the family home in Styal, where Hugh was employed as an oil and chemical manufacturer, until his premature death in 1928. Following this, the family moved to Southampton to be close to Helen's parents, whose connection with the missionary field resulted in James being boarded at Monkton Combe School in September 1931.
MacLachlan joined the Royal Air Force (RAF) on a short service commission in March 1939. He was posted to 3 Flight Training School at RAF South Cerney in May and joined No. 88 Squadron RAF at RAF Boscombe Down in November. Equipped with Hawker Hinds, the squadron was soon re-equipped with the Fairey Battle and went to France at the outbreak of war. Following intensive operations and severe losses during the Battle of France the squadron was withdrawn to England in June 1940. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) (gazetted 16 July 1940).
MacLachlan then volunteered for service with RAF Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain, and was posted to No. 145 Squadron at RAF Drem on 18 August, before joining No. 73 Squadron RAF at RAF Castle Camps in late September.
He was posted to Malta and led a flight of six Hawker Hurricanes from the deck of the aircraft carrier HMS Argus to Malta on 17 November 1940. Serving with No. 261 Squadron at RAF Ta' Qali on 9 January 1941 MacLachlan claimed two Italian Macchi MC.200s of 6 gruppo destroyed, on the 19th a Cant Z.506-B bomber of 612 Sqa., a Junkers Ju 88 of 8./LG 1, two Junkers Ju 87s and a probable Fiat CR.42. During the night of 8–9 February he next claimed two Ju-88 bombers destroyed (one of II./LG 1 and the other a misidentified Heinkel He 111 of 5./KG 26).
He was awarded a Bar to the DFC on 11 February 1941.
On 16 February 1941 MacLachlan's Hurricane Mk. Ia (V7731) was hit by a Messerschmitt Bf 109 flown by 'ace' Oblt. Joachim Müncheberg of 7./JG 26 and severely wounded in the left arm. He baled out and after three days in hospital his arm was amputated below the elbow. Sixteen days later he was back flying.
When he returned to Britain he was fitted with an artificial arm and in November 1941 took command of No. 1 Squadron at Redhill, equipped with the Hawker Hurricane Mk. IIc for night intruder operations over western Europe. On the night of 26–27 April 1942 MacLachlan claimed a KG 2 Dornier Do 217 destroyed and damaged another, on 3–4 May he destroyed a Dornier Do17 and a He 111 of Kflgrpe 506 and on 3–4 June destroyed two Do 217s of KG 2 and damaged two more. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) in May 1942 and on 31 July was posted to 59 Operational Training Unit as an instructor.
Later in the year MacLachlan was sent on a lecture tour in the USA.
While serving with the Air Fighting Development Unit (AFDU) at Wittering, he often flew unofficial sorties in the new North American Mustang Mk.IA (serial no.FD442), usually with fellow 'ace' Flight Lieutenant Geoffrey Page. On 29 June the duo participated in the destruction of six aircraft - four Hs 126s of JG 105, two each, and two KG 6 Ju 88s, (sharing one with Page) in a single sortie.
On his next mission on 18 July 1943 his Mustang FD442 was hit by ground fire when crossing the French coast and crash-landed, with MacLachlan critically injured. He was taken prisoner, and died on 31 July 1943.
He is buried in Route de Caen Communal Cemetery, Pont-l'Évêque in France.
MacLachlan's wartime score was 16.5 aircraft claimed destroyed, with 3 aircraft claimed damaged.
He was awarded a second Bar to the DFC in July 1943.