Local Heroes - a Double Tragedy

By Brian Ballard, Friends of the Aldershot Military Museum

Brothers, Patrick Philip, and Charles Anthony Woods-Scawen, were both born in India and returned to England with the family in 1924. The boys were educated at Salesian College, Farnborough, where they were boarders until their mother died and they moved to York Road to live with their Aunt.

Patrick, the eldest, joined the R.A.F. in October, 1937 and after completing his training was posted to No.85 Squadron at Debden. Charles followed in his brother’s footsteps and enlisted in March, 1938, before joining No.43 Squadron at Tangmere. Patrick flew Hurricanes against the Luftwaffe in France, shooting down several enemy aircraft before his squadron returned to England and Charles, also flying Hurricanes, fought over Dunkirk where he shot down a Bf109 but was also shot down behind enemy lines and walked 20 miles to join British troops and return to Tangmere.

Patrick and Charles flew many sorties against the Luftwaffe, during the Battle of Britain and became Aces, Patrick with a total of 10 aircraft destroyed, 3 shared, 2 unconfirmed and 1 probable. He was promoted to Flying Officer and awarded the D.F.C. Charles was credited with 7 enemy aircraft destroyed, 1 unconfirmed, 4 probable’s and 1 damaged. He was also awarded the D.F.C. which was gazetted four days after his death.

On 1st September, Patrick was shot down, by Bf109s, baling out near Caterham, Kent, but his parachute failed to open and he fell to his death. His body was not found for four days. The following day, 2nd September, Charles was shot down and bailed out for a fifth time, but this time he was too low and was killed.

This is indeed a tragic tale of two young men, brothers, pilots, who gave their lives for their country being shot down a day apart, baling out and entrusting their lives to parachutes which, by a quirk of fate, failed to save them. Patrick was laid to rest in Caterham and Warlingham (Caterham) Burial Ground, Surrey and Charles in Folkestone New Cemetery, Kent.


Copyright © 2015 Brian Ballard.