Ian Edward Maitland Borley

Flight Sergeant Ian Edward Maitland Borley, born in Éire and resident of Co. Armagh, was among the first fatalities of the Second World War.

Flight Sergeant

Ian Edward Maitland Borley


Flight Sergeant Ian Edward Maitland Borley was one of the first Royal Air Force fatalities of the Second World War, killed in a raid against German shipping at the mouth of the Kiel Canal.

Flight Sergeant Ian Edward Maitland Borley (365199) served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. Born on 23rd March 1909 in Rathmines, Dublin, Éire, he was the son of Frederick W. Borley and Annie Borley. His father was a sergeant with the Royal Irish Fusiliers (Princess Victoria's) in The Great War. Mother Annie was from Edinburgh, Scotland.

The family lived in Co. Armagh before the outbreak of The Great War. While Ian Edward Maitland Borley and his twin brother were born in Dublin, Éire, their younger sister was born in Co. Armagh in 1911. Borley married Bessie Jean Marshall of Axbridge near Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset, England in the summer of 1935.

Borley was one of the first Royal Air Force fatalities of the Second World War, killed on a raid against German shipping at Brunsbuettel on 4th September 1939. He was 30 years old. Vickers Wellington L4268 of R.A.F. 9 Squadron took off from R.A.F. Honington, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, England at 1605hrs on the second day of the war.

Attack on German Shipping

The mission was to attack German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau at the mouth of the Kiel Canal. The target was under low cloud cover but the raid failed. Both German vessels escaped undamaged. A Luftwaffe BE109 shot Vickers Wellington L4268 down off the German coast. All 5 crew members died as a result of the incident. Newspapers at the time did not list Borley among the Royal Air Force’s first losses. Authorities listed the crew Missing Presumed Killed.

Remembering the crew of Wellington L4268

Last NameFirst Name(s)RankRoleInformation
BorleyIan Edward MaitlandFlight SergeantPilotR.A.F. 365199. Killed in Action.
DoreHarryLeading AircraftmanWireless Operator / Air GunnerR.A.F. 531093. Killed in Action.
HendersonRobertAircraftman 2nd ClassAir GunnerR.A.F. 618765. Killed in Action.
MillerGeorgeFlight SergeantObserverR.A.F. 580160. Killed in Action.
ParkGeorge WilliamCorporalWireless Operator / Air GunnerR.A.F. 524855. Killed in Action.

Luftwaffe Claims

The Luftwaffe shot down another Vickers Wellington of R.A.F. 9 Squadron on the same raid. The time for both planes going down was 1815hrs. Feldwebel Alfred Held and Feldwebel Hans Troitzsch claimed the pair of Wellington Bombers. The Luftwaffe credited Held with their first victory of the war.

With the rest of the Staffel still quite a way behind me, I already had the Englishman in my sights. I fired my first rounds into the aircraft, but the rear gunner gave as good as he got. Time and again we flashed past each other, machine-guns hammering and engines howling. We had strayed far out over the Jade Bight when the Englishman dived to gain more speed and escape my fire. I forced the Tommy lower and lower and suddenly a long flame shot out from the left side of the bomber. It seemed to be out of control and wallowing about. One final burst was enough. The aircraft dropped its nose and fell. I circled to follow its descent, but already there was just a burning pile of debris in the water which disappeared a few seconds later.

Feldwebel Alfred Held.

We were off the Elbe estuary when I noticed the three Englishmen far below me, very low over the water. When we got nearer I recognised them as twin-engined Wellington bombers. Two immediately made for the low-lying clouds and disappeared. The third was right in front of my guns and I closed into 100 metres to he certain of hitting him. At 50 metres his port wing broke off and a flame shot from the fuselage. By the time the bomber was engulfed in flames I was only 20 metres behind him. The burning tail broke away and streaked past just above my head. I had to dive to avoid the flames and continued to follow the bomber down. It dropped some 400 metres into the sea where it quickly disappeared, leaving just a slick of oil.

Feldwebel Hans Troitzsch.

In Brian Barton’s book ‘Northern Ireland in the Second World War’, Borley’s name is mistakenly listed as Edmund Sorley from South Armagh.

Ian Edward Maitland Borley’s has no known grave. His name is on Panel 1 of the Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, England.