Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1945, Wing Commander Anthony Lovell D.S.O. & Bar, D.F.C. & Bar, the Royal Air Force, died when his plane crashed after taking off at R.A.F. Old Sarum in Wiltshire.
Born in Ceylon but raised in Northern Ireland, he attended Ampleforth College in Yorkshire (referred to as the Catholic Eton). It was expected that this quiet and devout young man would join the priesthood, but he decided he wanted to fly and so received his wings in June of 1938. Wing Commander Lovell first saw action in May of 1940 over the Channel and at Dunkirk - his first victory occurring during an early morning patrol over Dover.
As the Battle of Britain progressed, so did his number of victories. At the height of that battle he was shot down over the Thames Estuary and bailed out unhurt before his plane crashed in flames. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the citation referring to his fine fighting spirit, great courage, coolness and determination. In February, 1942, he received the Bar to his D.F.C., the citation stating: “This officer is a fearless and skillful fighter pilot. His keenness to engage the enemy, combined with fine leadership…have set an inspiring example”. After a move to the Middle East he resigned his command due to frustration over the lack of available planes and soon joined 603 Squadron at Malta.
The award of the Distinguished Service Order came in November, 1942, the citation stating: “His courage and tactical knowledge had been an inspiration to all who had flown with him and were of a quality seldom if ever equalled”. Promotions followed, as did more victories, and at the end of 1944, while serving in Italy, Wing Commander Lovell was awarded the United States D.F.C. for his part in the defence of Malta, reference being made to his gallantry and determination setting an example worthy of the highest praise. He returned to Egypt as Chief Flying Officer and three months later received the Bar to his D.S.O., the citation praising his enthusiasm and fine leadership, and his “inspiring example of courage, skill and devotion to duty”.
In June, 1945, Wing Commander Lovell took up the post of flying instructor at the School of Air Support at R.A.F. Old Sarum, Wiltshire. On the 17th of August he took off in a Supermarine Spitfire and died when it crashed after hitting power lines. He had been one of the longest-serving pilots, with over 1,500 hours of almost continuous combat flying. He lies buried in the Ballywillan Cemetery in Portrush, Country Antrim.
Anthony, from Portrush, was 26 years old.