Jimmy Davies (RAF officer)

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James Davies
Bernardsville, New Jersey, U.S.
Died27 June 1940(1940-06-27) (aged 26–27)
English Channel
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchRoyal Air Force
Years of service1936–1940
RankFlight Lieutenant
UnitNo. 79 Squadron RAF
Battles/warsWorld War II
AwardsDistinguished Flying Cross
Mentioned in Despatches

James William Elias "Jimmy" Davies, DFC (1913 – 27 June 1940) was the first American-born airman to die in combat in World War II,[1] being shot down and killed on 27 June 1940.[2][3]

Although born in the United States, his family moved to Wales before the start of the war so he appears in the official records as British.[4]

Royal Air Force service[edit]

Davies joined the Royal Air Force in 1936 and by 1939 was flying the Hawker Hurricane monoplane fighter with No. 79 Squadron RAF at RAF Biggin Hill. The squadron was soon in action after the outbreak of World War II and by the end of June 1940 Davies had already claimed six German aircraft shot down and two shared to become a flying ace. He was Mentioned in Despatches for gallantry and devotion to duty in the execution of air operations in June 1940,[5] and was due to be presented with the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) from the King on 27 June when he was sent as an escort to protect six aircraft on a reconnaissance mission to the French port of St Valery. The three Hurricanes were attacked by three Messerschmitt Bf 109s over the English Channel; one of the Hurricanes escaped and one pilot bailed out into the sea, but Davies was killed.

His name is inscribed on the Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede for airmen with no known grave.[4] The citation for the award of his DFC was published in the London Gazette the day following his death, reading:

Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Acting Flight Lieutenant James William Elias DAVIES (37796).

This officer has shown ability as a leader of his squadron on many offensive patrols. On one occasion while attacking a Messerschmitt 109, he was himself attacked by six Heinkel 113's. He at once turned on the Heinkels destroying one and badly damaging a second before being compelled to break off the engagement owing to shortage of ammunition. The following day while leading a section of his squadron he sighted and attacked a large formation of Heinkel III's and shot one down in flames.[6]


  1. ^ Kershaw, Alex. The Few: The American "Knights of the Air" Who Risked Everything to Fight in the Battle of Britain. p. 276. Retrieved 9 September 2008.
  2. ^ Johnson, David A. (January 1990). "The Pre-Eagles". Air Force Magazine. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 9 September 2008.
  3. ^ Some references quote the 25 June 1940
  4. ^ a b "Casualty details: Davies, James William Elias". Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
  5. ^ "No. 34795". The London Gazette (Supplement). 20 February 1940. p. 1056.
  6. ^ "No. 34884". The London Gazette. 28 June 1940. p. 3946.