Service Details
Name:
TATHAM
Given Name:
ARCHIBALD ANGUS LEUCHARS
Initials:
A A L
Service No:
103237
Rank:
Lieutenant
Other Casualties of this Rank
Regiment:
South African Air Force
Other Casualties from this Regiment
Unit:
1 Sqdn.
Other Casualties from this Unit
Date of Death:
1941-08-02
Other Casualties on this Date
Age:
19
Cause of Death:
Killed in action, shot down by Bf109, in Hawker Hurrican Mk 1 #Z4699, NW of Sidi Barrani
Additional
Information:
Son of Norman Leuchars and Jean Murray Tatham, of Greytown, Natal, South Africa. On 2nd August 1941, No.1 Squadron SAAF carried out a patrol over a convoy north-west of Sidi Barrani, intercepting a formation of Ju 87s of 1/Stuka Gruppe I escorted by 20 Bf 109s and Macchi MC 200s. Twelve Hurricane were ordered to patrol over two of HM destroyers from 1831 hours to dusk. The destroyers were 35 miles north-west of Sidi Barrani and were proceeding towards Tobruk. Major Wilmot led the formation. At 1950 hours, towards the end of the patrol, a mixed force of 20 enemy fighters, consisting of Bf 109s and MC 200s was seen coming out of the sun. The Hurricanes, wrote Captain Voss (op cit) : ...were flying at 7000 feet and the enemy aircraft were 2000 to 3000 feet above them. Major Wilmot split his Hurricanes into two formations, one of eight aircraft, led by himself, to engage the fighters, the other of four aircraft to protect the ship from the attention of bombers which it was anticipated would shortly appear. The enemy fighters swept overhead swung around, and came at the Hurricanes from the rear The latter in the meantime had split into pairs so as to offer no collective target. Major Vilmot opened the score by delivering a head-on attack on a 109, pressing his gun button at 400 yards and only releasing it when the 109 flashed beneath him. He lost sight of it then, but Piet Venter saw the 109 pull up, turn as though to attack again then spiral into the sea. One of the Hurricanes was observed to do a head-on attack on a 109, but was hit itself, and was last seen streaming black and white smoke. Bennie Osler and Corrie van Vliet (No.9 in this series) with Lts. Durose and Coetzee flying as their respective number twos, stayed over the ships. Captain Voss continues (op cit): 'About three minutes after the fighters appeared 20 Ju 87s were sighted. Corrie van Vliet, who was flying at 11 000 feet, was unable to intercept the Stukas before two of them had bombed, but he went down steeply on then as they were diving away from the ships...As Bennie Osler was about to go down on the Ju 87s he was engaged by a 109. After a short sparring match, during which he got in a burst on it, he dived on the bombers which had been split up by Corrie van Vliet's section, and many of which were now jettisoning their bombs in the sea. Picking out two of the Stukas on the port side of the ships, he opened fire on them, knocking out the rear-gunners immediately He closed in rapidly to 50 yards, delivering alternate attacks on the bombers, until the leading machine emitted a great plume of flame and smoke.' His next burst took away the entire rudder and tailplane of the second Stuka which dived into the sea with the first, which went in vertically. The fighters pressed home their attacks with great determination for the Luftwaffe, (despite the Stukas dropping many of their bombs in the sea), and claimed four kills. They were from I/JG 27, and the claims were made by Unteroffizier Steinhausen, (two) and by Oberfeldwebel Espenlaub and Unteroffizier Keppler (one each), according to Short and Ring (op cit). SAAF losses were Lts. A. A. L. Tatham, A. A. Tennant
Commemoration
Country:
Egypt
Other Casualties commemorated in Egypt
Cemetery:
ALAMEIN MEMORIAL
Other Casualties commemorated in this Cemetery
Grave Reference:
Column 246.

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