Jimmy Davies (RAF officer)

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James Davies
Born 1913
Bernardsville, New Jersey, United States
Died 27 June, 1940 (aged 26–27)
English Channel
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch Royal Air Force
Years of service 1936-1940
Rank Flight Lieutenant
Unit No. 79 Squadron RAF, Biggin Hill
Awards Distinguished Flying Cross
Mention in Dispatches

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

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

Davies joined the Royal Air Force in 1936 and by 1939 was flying the Hawker Hurricane monoplane fighter with 79 Squadron at RAF Biggin Hill. The squadron was soon in action and by the end of June 1940 Davies had already claimed six German aircraft shot down and two shared. On 27 June 1940, he was due to be presented with the Distinguished Flying Cross from the King 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]

Honours and awards

  • 20 February 1940 - Flying Officer J.W.E. Davies was Mentioned in Dispatches for gallantry and devotion to duty in the execution of air operations.[5]
  • 28 June 1940 - Distinguished Flying Cross is awarded to 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 he sighted and attacked a large formation of Heinkel 111'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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Johnson, David A. (January 1990). "The Pre-Eagles". Air Force Magazine. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 9 September 2008. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Some references quote the 25 June 1940
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Casualty details: Davies, James William Elias". Commonwealth War Graves Commission.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 34795. p. 1056. 20 February 1940. Retrieved 2009-04-03.
  6. The London Gazette: no. 34884. p. 3946. 28 June 1940. Retrieved 2009-04-03.