The Portadown Spitfire

The Portadown Spitfire P7833 was funded by the people of the Co. Armagh town in Northern Ireland during the Belfast Telegraph Spitfire Fund in summer 1940.

The Portadown Spitfire had the serial number P7833. The Mark IIa Supermarine Spitfire flew with RAF 315 Squadron and RAF 54 Squadron. On 17th May 1941, Luftwaffe Messerschmitt ME109 of JG51/1635 shot the Spitfire down over Biddenden, Kent. New Zealander Sergeant Erl Joseph Kean of RAF 54 Squadron died in the crash.

While flying with RAF 315 Squadron, Portadown had the call sign PK-K. The K was for Krysia, a popular girl’s name in Poland. Some records suggest, however, the Polish Squadron plane may have been P7855 rather than P7833. The Polish Spitfire also showed evidence of markings from RAF 65 (East India) Squadron on the side of the cockpit.

The plane was one of many fighters funded by people of Northern Ireland who contributed to the Belfast Telegraph Spitfire Fund.

The Belfast Telegraph Spitfire Fund ran through the summer of 1940 at the height of the Battle of Britain. The offices of the Portadown News newspaper received many contributions from the people of Portadown, Co. Armagh.

The Portadown Spitfire

British Newspaper Archive Photo: The Portadown Spitfire P7833 ready for take off in January 1941. This plane was funded through the Belfast Telegraph Spitfire Fund by the townspeople of Portadown, Co. Armagh. Copyright Portadown News - Saturday 4th January 1941.

In recognition of the area’s contribution, Supermarine Spitfire P7833 received the name ‘Portadown’. The townspeople received a certificate signed by Minister of Aircraft Production Lord Beaverbrook. Building merchants TA Shillington on Castle Street, Portadown, Co. Armagh donated £15. Edenderry LOL 322 also contributed.

There are men in town who could give the cost of one Spitfire without missing it but up to the present, greatest credit belongs to the working-class people, who have subscribed most liberally. I hope further subscriptions will show how much the honour in appreciated. There will always be an England, always an Ulster, and always a Portadown.

GA Locke – Chairman of Portadown Urban Council – September 1940.

Supermarine Spitfire P7833

Supermarine Spitfire P7833 with the call sign PK-K during its time with one of the Royal Air Force's Polish Squadrons. This is thought to be The Portadown Spitfire, one of many funded by the Belfast Telegraph Spitfire Fund. Copyright unknown.

On 16th December 1940, Portadown Urban Council met under Chairman Mr. GA Locke JP. At the meeting, Mr. RM Sayers, Managing Director of the Belfast Telegraph handed over a parchment scroll signed by Lord Beaverbrook. According to Sayers, the townspeople of Portadown, Co. Armagh raised over £2,000, approximately an average of 3s per person. Of this total, over £1,000 came into the offices of the Portadown News newspaper.