Joseph Beckett Thompson

Sergeant Joseph Beckett Thompson died on 31st July 1940 when a pair of Bristol Blenheim fighter planes collided on an exercise over the Bristol Channel.

Sergeant

Joseph Beckett Thompson

566058

Sergeant Joseph Beckett Thompson served with RAF 25 Squadron when he was involved in a fatal collision between Blenheim bombers over the Bristol Channel.

Sergeant Joseph Beckett Thompson (566058) served in the Royal Air Force during World War Two. He was the son of Thomas Thompson and Sarah Thompson of Magheragall Co. Antrim.

He attended Lisburn Junior Technical High School before joining the RAF as an Aircraft Apprentice in September 1932. By August 1935, he passed out as a qualified fitter. In the following years, he undertook pilot training and gained his wings. At the outbreak of war in September 1939, Thompson served as a Pilot with RAF 25 Squadron at RAF Northolt, London.

Blenheim of RAF 25 Squadron

Imperial War Museum Photo: HU 104653 (Part of the Ministry of Information Second World War Press Agency Print Collection). Blenheim Mk IF of No. 25 Squadron taxying at Martlesham Heath, watched by air- and ground crews on 25th July 1940. The squadron was used for night fighter operations. Copyright Press Agency Photographer.

Joseph died on 31st July 1940 aged 24 years old. At the time, the Royal Air Force was involved in the Battle of Britain defending the skies over the United Kingdom from enemy fighters. He was the pilot of Bristol Blenheim Bomber L1408 and had taken off to test the Airborne Interception radar system. During the mission, his plane collided with Blenheim L6722 of RAF 29 Squadron over the Bristol Channel.

Blenheim Bomber of 25 Squadron

Imperial War Museum Photo: HU 104651 (Part of the Ministry of Information Second World War Press Agency Print Collection). Blenheim Mk IFs of No. 25 Squadron at Martlesham Heath on 25th July 1940. The foreground aircraft is equipped with AI Mk III radar. The squadron was used for night fighter operations. Copyright Press Agency Photographer.

Aircraftman EJ Toy and Civilian Radar Engineer Mr. DM Gordon of RAF No. 32 Maintenance Unit died in Thompson’s plane. The occupants of the other plane; Sergeant E Waite, Sergeant CJ Richardson and Leading Aircraftman T Ward of No 32 Maintenance Unit were also lost.

Joseph Beckett Thompson’s grave is in Grave 194 of Magheragall Church of Ireland, Magheragall, Co. Antrim. His name is on the Lisburn War Memorial, Lisburn, Co. Antrim. His headstone bears the inscription:

Until the day break and the shadows flee away.

Newsletter Signup

If you'd like to hear more from WartimeNI, you can sign up for regular free updates to your inbox. Just enter your email address below.