Spitfire LF IX MK471, codé SK-N

No. 165 Squadron RAF



Supermarine Spitfire IX in 165 Squadron





Biography by Richard Nairn

The 12th of June 1944 in Maroue, village in Cotes d'Armor, county in Brittany : crash of spitfire with DONALD MOFFAT WILSON, Royal Air Force pilot.


At 9 o'clock a squadron of planes fly from Predannack airport in British Cornwall. All these pilots belong to 165th squadron of RAF; their mission today will be to destroy every plane on French countryside.

We are six days after DDAY in Normandy and Germans try to improve their defence front, it means a lot of movement of all their troops to Normandy.


Pilots fly on their famous spitfire MARK IX (it means "the man who spit blood"). The spitfire has two 20mm canon and 4 small 765mm Browning machine guns, the fire power is enormous, after crossing the channel, the squadron flies to the east of Cotes d'Armor county (the old name at this period was "cotes du nord").


At 11am the squadron joins Lamballe region heavily controlled by Germans because of Paris-Brest railway traffic by the north side.

Suddenly the squadron sees German troops going from east to west direction for which reason ? nobody knows. All questions confirm this busy movement on the ground, travelling on horses with a very good German army.


They are walking on the road crossing the "Truite" (name of the fish trout) river waving to Saint Brieuc direction. The first lines of the troops are at the top of a hill close to the place called the Pelican, the squadron leader gives attack orders. One of them is a 21st pilot Donald Moffat Wilson, Irish, from Dublin, but he is flying to close to the ground and doesn't see the electrical cable which is in front of him. A witness tells that the rear of the plane stuck the electrical lines, they did not break, the back of the plane hits the wooden pole and destroys the post he looses balance, the plane continues to fly but the pilot tries to use greater power, it is too late the plane looses balance again and hits the roof of a farm close to the valley - which is now a '4' railway depot. The pilot losses control of the spitfire, which is crossing Maroue Road, and lands in a field creating a 2 metre hole (the farmer owning this field doesn't understand why he had such a big hole !)

Before the plane dives into the ground, it damages some trees called the green wood, it finally stops and begins to burn. The initial speed sends the engine of the plane into a neighbour field and finished his adventure after crossing the Meslin road; the poor pilot died in the plane fire.

German troops arrive quickly and stopped French people who are trying to stop the fire.

All the pilot 's rescued bones were buried in the closest farm in Bellevue village near the puits the Blanchard prayor, (churchman of Maroue) organised the funeral and all the village came. In the following days flowers were put on the grave and every day Germans threw them away and put them on a rubbish heap; they spat (were fed up) against the village people. After one year the body was transferred to Bayeux cemetery in Calvados.

Strange thing, his grave is in south west is at an angle facing the direction of Brittany. The rest of the squadron succeeds to kill a lot of German troops.

Coming back from Rennes, a French man 68 years old asked the German troops if he could sit on one of their vehicles, and was killed unfortunately he was going to Binic. A lot of horses were destroyed, and the Germans asked for help to open grave for them in fields.


A witness tells the following story : on the PELICAN (name of a bird) hill, a carpenter has left since the beginning of the war kept and old lifting system for wood/horses in his field, when the squadron spitfire watched that strange moving system on the ground they thought it was a enormous gun and every time they sent bombs. After some time, the lifting system for died horses collapsed.

Since the beginning of the association research, we thought the pilot was Canadian, because French local people called them "Canadians".

After this massive attack, German troops needed 3 days to recover. This crash is visible in the precise distance of one kilometre and 700 meters.


Thanks to all people who helped us to know the story of this brave pilot who died like a lot of other soldiers for democracy and our freedom


Jean Michel Martin and Pascal Lebigot, members of the BRETONNE ASSOCIATION OF AIRCRAFT REMEMBERING 1939-1945 wrote this text the 26th November 2008 -A.B.S.A.


In French on the map, you can watch the spitfire fly, since he lost one wing after damaging farm roof.

After touching the ground, the spitfire was moving around for one kilometre 500m.
You can the plane destruction on a pine tree close to the bois vert "green wood" in Maroué,64 years after the crash
Crash trip
The closed hole with a color difference

From inside the wood the "V" in the side on the field made by the engine plane trip, which crossed later Meslin road and the final fall in the field 70 meters down.

The place of the hole filled with different color
One impact on a big tree
Another chock on a second tree

From left to right we see Patrick then two twin sisters Elizabeth and Margaret then sister Joan and Donald who was 8 years old at the time this photo was taken


The characters Patrick Donald and Joan

Donald MOFFAT WILSON is born the 14th February 1923, he was the last child of 5 children, Patrick his brother is born in 1916, his sisters born in 1917 and Margaret and Elizabeth twin sisters.


Another picture underneath Elizabeth (Beth), Edith, Donald

The Wilson family is an Irish family, the Granddad married to Edith Prenter who were farmers in Northern Ireland in Groomsport.


Guy Bargo Wilson, family dad is born in this place Patrick is born the 14th may 1916 and Joan 1917 are born in Groomsport.


Some years later, the grandfather moves to Dublin and creates a change shop the granddad asks to his son Guy to help, Guy and Edith move to Dublin in 1919.


In 1924 Donald's Dad changes his name and add his dad s name, because they were too many Wilson's in Dublin at this time.

Moffat's Grandfather played chess number (5) in Ireland.

Donald goes to public school in Sherbourne, Dorset, England. His brother Pat belonged to a public school, but in another place. In 1929, the family suffered a lot and moved to England in 1940.

Joan was married to Robert Bonsall Pike, in 1937 or 1938 at this time Guy joins English army, and Donald was in Sandhurst training to become a pilot. But we don't find certificates.

Guy the dad is dead the 6th June 1944, when 55 years old with a heart attack. He belongs to back army to help the British forces, private grade in royal army service corps. His grave is in Ipswichemetery in England.


Donald got permission from the army to go to his Dad's funeral. When he comes back, very disturbed, he flies to Brittany.

Patrick the second son is a pilot officer as well and is killed during training in England the 3rd December 1944 six months after his brother, he was 28 years old, his grave is in Wolverhampton Borough Cemetery.

In 1946, Edith the mother comes back to Ireland with the twin girls Margaret and Elizabeth. Margaret is the last of the MOFFAT WILSON family still alive living with her husband George in a nursing home in Dublin. Thanks to Donald's nephews and nieces after two years of questions and research, we found the MOFFAT WILSON family in Ireland, we received an answer in last May, Michael, Margaret's son finally got our messages through the web. 





 A very good picture of Donald in his SPITFIRE MARK IX, his favourite character is painting Pegase





Patrick Moffat-Wilson


A picture of Patrick Moffat Wilson some children and little children are born with the three Moffat Wilson daughters, some of them live in Ireland, England, New Zealand and Canada.

I want to thank them to open for us their family stories, which help us to tribute to this pilot Donald dead in Maroué, but we will not forget the brother and the father, this family gave a lot to the war picture.


Extract from the Daily Telegraph and Morning Post dated Wednesday, July 5, 1944. MISSING. MOFFAT WILSON.

Recently missinf during an air operation over enemy territory. The Pilot Officer Donald Moffat WILSON. Royal Air Force, aged 21 years. The younger son of Mr Guy Wilson B MOFFAT MOFFAT and Mrs. Wilson. ALBYN.NORTH CHIRCHIR. HERTS.

Our gratitude for any information.





Translation : Annette Mahé, ABSA 39-45


Revue de presse