Second World War - Lynsted Memorial Project
Roy Achille MARCHAND (of Bromley, Kent)
b. 24th August 1918
Roy is commemorated every year at his memorial at Nouds. Roy's life is best described in the words used at the dedication of his memorial, held at Nouds Farm on 15 September 1985 at 11.45am. Just 15 mins before the anniversary of his death:
"Roy was born in Bromley, then in Kent, on 24 August 1918, the only son of Mr and Mrs René Marchand of Hayes Road, Beckenham, becoming a pupil of the Abbey Preparatory School, Beckenham, and afterwards Westminster School. His chosen career had been medicine, and he spent two years at the London University Faculty of Medicine before a holiday in the south of France during 1938 changed his whole outlook. There he had met an EAF Squadron Leader and consequently become ambitious to join the Air Force as a fighter pilot.
In March 1939, he joined the RAF, obtaining his 'Wings' in August of that year before joining his operational Squadron, No. 73, in France at the end of December 1939, flying Hurricanes. In France he was involved in many operational flights, and claimed a number of enemy aircraft destroyed, before being wounded in the shoulder and beneath the left eye in a 'dog-fight' on May 13, 1940. After treatment for this injury he returned home on leave, when he married Miss Jean Cullen. Subsequently he was injured in a motor accident whilst on honeymoon, and both he and his wife spent three weeks in hospital.
He was fit enough to return to his Squadron by July 6, in time to take part in the crucial Battle of Britain. On September 6 he claimed an Me109 as destroyed ten miles north of Maidstone, but ran short of petrol and became disorientated and unable to find his home base of Debden, landing instead at Penshurst Aerodrome.
On September 14, the Squadron was again heavily engaged, losing several of its aircraft and pilots. Pilot Officer Marchand's aeroplane was damaged, with bullets through the port main tank, port aileron, main spar and another through the top of the radio mast. Roy was uninjured, but doubtless shaken, and perhaps the strain of the previous hectic few months played their part in his failure to return from another fight on September 15. At 12 noon, during a bitter engagement south of London, Roy's Hurricane (Serial No. P3865) tilted earthwards in a roaring terminal dive to crash at Nouds Farm near Sittingbourne. Roy had made no attempt to bale out and was killed instantly, leaving a devastated family including his young pregnant wife, Jean. Later, she gave birth to a baby daughter, Carol, now Mrs Carol Ventura. Roy's parents died some years ago in Switzerland, and his mother, Constance, who was utterly heartbroken by the bereavement, wrote these final touching words in her personal diary:
'He was the loveliest and most precious gift that God could bestow on any mortal on earth, and I, his mother, shall mourn him all the rest of my days.'
Roy's Squadron's records report that on that day a stricken Hurricane fell away from the fight unnoticed. At this point the fighting was at its height and as his colleagues ran low on fuel and ammunition, they gradually returned to base with claims for 3 enemy fighters destroyed. All the 73 Squadron pilots were thought accounted for as the one pilot missing had reportedly force-landed at Biggin Hill. In the evening, after further hard fighting during the afternoon, the Squadron were informed that Roy had crashed and been killed.
Heartbreakingly, Roy's wife had been waiting at the Squadron dispersal point seeking news of her husband. Two flying officers were given the unenviable tasking of breaking the news to her.
The Squadron's diary paid tribute:
"P/O Marchand was an excellent pilot and a charming and unassuming boy who was never ruffled by anybody or anything. We will sorely miss him."
The record for the day closed with the words:
"The Squadron feels that to some extent the death of gallant MARCHAND to-day has been avenged by the day's good work."
The memorial that stands at Nouds is of polished granite. It originally stood on the grave of Roy Marchand in Bromley Hill Cemetery, Lewisham, until the 1970s when it was gifted to the London Air Museum by Roy's late father, René. On the museum's closure, it was placed in storage.
The Tangmere Military Aviation Museum acquired the Museum's entire collection in 1982. After 3 years, the museum felt the monument should be displayed at a more suitable location. Roy's grave was by then marked by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The Museum decided that an appropriate place for it to be situated was on, or close to, the spot that Roy lost his life. Thankfully Mr and Mrs Rex Boucher, the owners of Nouds Farm, arranged that it would stand on the spot where Roy died, set amidst the country-side over which so much fighting took place.
These arrangements were approved by Roy's daughter, Mrs Carol Ventura, and as a result plans were laid for the erection of the memorial and its dedication ceremony to be held on September 15, 1985, the forty-fifth anniversary of the event.
The ceremony was seen as being of such great importance that the traditional Battle of Britain parade in Faversham was cancelled to give the Lynsted dedication priority.
Dignitaries including the High Sheriff of Kent, dignitaries and representatives from the RAF were among the around 200 that attended. The Rural Dean and Vicar of Faversham, the Rev Gordon Manley, and Vicar of Lynsted, the Rev Bill Hill officiated.
The memorial has been described as the finest for any Battle of Britain pilot, bearing a pair of carved RAF wings and a brass and enamel crest of 73 Squadron, motto 'Protector and Avenger'.
The inscription reads:
"In ever dear and loving memory of our only son, Pilot Officer Roy A Marchand, aged 22, killed in action Sept 15 1940 during the Battle of Britain. One of the few to whom is owed so much."