Philip Melville Cardell

Sunday’s Obituary – Philip Melville Cardell (1917-1940)


Philip Melville Cardell is my 3rd cousin 1x removed. His parents are Harold Stanley Cardell and Elsie Louise Gawthrop. Our common ancestors are Martin Gawthrop and Ann Kighley, my 3x great grandparents. Philip is on the right in the above photograph

I wrote about Philip in Military Monday back in January 2012.

I have now found a report of his death in the Biggleswade Chronicle on 11 October 1940.

Biggleswade Chronicle 11 Oct 1940.png


Pilot-Officer Philip Cardell, elder son of Mr and Mrs H S Cardell, Paxton Manor, St. Neots, has been killed while on active service.

Pilot-Officer Philip Cardell had taken part in a number of air battles and accounted for a number of German aircraft. In his last battle he had just shot down an enemy plane when his plane was seriously damaged. Both he and his companion baled out. Mr Cardell fell into the sea, his companion landed safely. After the rescue, attempts at artificial respiration were made, but without success.

Philip Cardell, who was 23, was a general favourite. He was always cheerful, bright, energetic and kind. He was educated at Paxton Park. After leaving school he joined his father and became a very efficient and capable farmer, with an excellent knowledge of both the practical and scientific sides of the industry. He thoroughly enjoyed various kinds of sport; hockey, badminton, golf and lawn tennis in particular. Some time before the war started he and his brother entered the RAF Vol. Reserve for preliminary training.

Mr Cardell was a Society Steward at St. Neots Methodist Church.

The funeral was at Great Paxton Thursday week.

Philip had made a will, presumably before starting his RAF service. You can see from the image below that he left £432 6s 8d to his parents Harold Stanley Cardell and Elsie Louise Cardell.

Philip Cardell Probate.png


Military Monday – Philip Melville Cardell (1917-1940)

Philip Melville Cardell is my 3rd cousin 1x removed.  He is the grandson of John Gawthrop, who I have written about twice before – here and here.

Philip was born in 1917 to parents Harold S Cardell and Elsie Louise Gawthrop.

He joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR) in May 1939 as an Airman u/t Pilot.  His service number was 80818.

He was called up on 1st September 1939 and, after completing his flying training, was commissioned and went to No. 5 Operational Training Unit (OTU) on 10th June 1940.  He was posted to 263 Squadron at Drem on the 23rd June 1940.  After a few days he went to 603 Squadron at Dyce.  The squadron went south to Hornchurch in late August.

I read one account on the Internet which suggests that Philip was flying his Spitfire (L1020) for 616 Squadron on 1st September 1940 when he had to make a forced landing at Ilford, Essex at 16:45 hours.  His Spitfire was a write off due to damage but he escaped injury.

On 27th September 1940 Philip was flying his Spitfire (N3244) in combat with Me109’s over the English Channel.  He destroyed one but it is believed that he was wounded in the engagement.  Philip attempted to get back to the English coast but had to bale out a quarter of a mile off Folkestone.  I have read that his parachute failed to open.

His friend, Pilot Officer PG Dexter, tried to attract peoples’ attention to Philip’s plight.  When he failed to do so, he made a forced-landing on Folkestone beach, commandeered a boat and headed for his friend but sadly Philip was dead when they reached him.

Philip was only 23.

He is buried in Holy Trinity churchyard, Great Paxton, Huntingdonshire.

Great Paxton War Memorial

‘Never Was So Much Owed By So Many To So Few’