In the second year of World War II, Lord Beaverbrook came up with a novel idea, this was to suggest that towns and communities throughout this country and the commonwealth raise cash to purchase fighter aircraft for the R.A.F. Bolsover colliery raised sufficient funds to purchase two Spitfires at a cost of £5,700 each. No mean feat for the colliery Spitfire fund as Chesterfield was unable to raise enough money to buy one aircraft let alone two. The Spitfire was chosen because of its ability to fire the senses of the populus at a critical period of the war.
The miners of Bolsover also donated 1 old penny for every 10/- (50p) they earned, towards the SHEPLEY Spitfire Fund, donated by Mrs Shepley of Holmesfield.
Both Bolsover Spitfires first flew on March 26th.1940(?) and were both of the Mark I's with Rolls-Royce engines from Derby and built by Vickers Armstrong (Supermarine).
Bolsover 1, R7261
Was eventually stationed in Ulster in July 1942 flying for two U.S.A.A.F fighter squadrens and was deployed to defend the American convoys coming in on the west coast and for coastal defence. R7261 survived an accident in September 1942 when it flew into high tension cables, on February 10th 1944 it was involved in a second accident when it fell on its nose whilst taxying. Latterly it flew second line duties and was retired in June 1947.
38 Maintenance Unit 30:3:41.
24 Maintenance Unit 24:5:41.
6 Maintenance Unit 24:4:42.
RAF Eglinton Londonderry 12:7:42. Home of 52nd Fighter group USAAF.
2nd fighter Sqn. USAAF 7:42.
5th Fighter Sqn. USAAF 22:8:42.
Air defence of the Port of Londonderry and convoy escort duties.
Capt B. Flying accident 2:9:42 flew into H.T. Cables.
Repaired at Shorts and Harland 24:9:42-1:3:43.
12 Maintenance Unit 9:3:43.
62 Operational Training Unit 14:10:43 Ouston, Durham.
Accident 10:2:44. Tripped on nose whilst Taxying at Montford Bridge.
39 Maintenance Unit 5:7:44.
33 Maintenance Unit 15:6:45.
Portsmouth Aviation 10:9:45.
Struck off Charge 21:6:47.
Bolsover 2, R7276
Served with 91 Squadren at Hawkinge coded DL-Z and piloted by Sergeant J.O.Cooper. On September 9th. 1941 the plane was shot down into the sea whilst on Air-Sea Rescue and reconnaissance duties both plane and pilot were lost one mile south of Dungerness. The full account of the accident still remains a mystery.
6 Maintenance Unit 29:3:41.
91 Sqn. 2:5:41. Hawkinge Kent-aircraft coded DL.
Fighter recon. And ASR escort.
Shot down into the sea 1 mile south of Dungeness 9:9:41.
Two Spitfires and a Walrus, all engaged on ASR practice. The cloud base was low and Sgt James Ennerton Cooper climbed to 'take a look up top'. His aircraft was later heard and seen to crash into the sea. His body was recovered and now rests in Luton Cemetery. ( Henry Boot).
From a letter dated 5:11:1987 from Group Captain D.L.Byewater FRAeS. FBIM.RAF. To Mr.C.J.E. Smith, Manager of Bolsover Colliery.