Town remembers victim of the Somme

By Chris Cornford Nov 29, 2020

Harrowing events that took place 80 years ago in the skies over the Isle of Wight and the ultimate sacrifice made by an RAF pilot have been commemorated by local military representatives.
RAF pilot Archibald Patrick Lyall died on November 28, 1940 when his Spitfire was shot down over the Island. The story of his death and the events of that day have now been recounted in a new film, with contributions from Retired Air Vice-Marshal Tony Stables CBE, President of the IW branch of the Royal British Legion Ian Ward BEM, and Shanklin historian John Holmberg.

Pilot Officer Lyall was shot down by German flying ace Helmut Wick 80 years ago tomorrow (Saturday) over the former airfield at Apse Manor Farm, and died as he was baling out. The Spitfire Lyall was flying survived the crash and was used again during the war. Wing Commander Helmut Wick was himself killed just two hours later in another airfight off the Needles.
Tony Stables said: “Archibald Lyall’s is a moving story, and the film tells the events of the day 80 years ago, as well as outlining the background to Helmut Wick, and the actions of Flight Lieutenant John Dundas, who was responsible for shooting down Wick’s aircraft.”

Ian Ward said: “This year saw the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, and we felt it appropriate to tell the story of this battle over Shanklin, and honour the memory of Archibald, as well as the debt we owe to ‘the few’.”

The moving film can be seen at from 11.15am on Saturday, November 28, following a small wreath laying ceremony at Apse Manor.

John Holmberg concluded: “The film is our tribute to Pilot Officer Lyall and, although we tend the plaque dedicated to his memory, the film tells the stories of the battles above the Island that day, the history of the airfield, and the other pilots involved that day.”