World War II plane crash pilot linked to Courteenhall

18th Nov 2023

A pilot who died after his plane crashed on an estate in Hampshire during World War II has links to Courteenhall.

Flying Officer James Tillett was a Battle of Britain pilot who died on 6th November 1940 after his plane was shot down. He had been scrambled to intercept a German bomber force headed towards Portsmouth.

Eyewitnesses said that Tillett, who belonged to 238 Squadron, crashed in a field and could not be pulled from the aircraft before it caught fire. He was just 22 years old.

Tillet, described as ‘a good steady pilot of firm character’, was the adopted son of teacher Maud Reynolds of Courteenhall. As a Northamptonshire boy, like many others he attended St Lawrence College in Ramsgate, Kent, when it was evacuated to Courteenhall between 1940 and 1946. The school buildings at Ramsgate were occupied during the war by various army units and the hockey pitch was planted with cabbages.

He is now commemorated on the Battle of Britain memorial in London and on a modest concrete memorial on a country lane on Portsdown Hill, close to Fareham in Hampshire.




You can read more about James Tillett here:

* Photographs on this story courtesy of


Share this item