I am looking for more information on a relative of mine who crashed his Hurricane in a field in Stock on 7.9.40. I have already spoken to one eyewitness and am hoping to hear from anyone who can give me more information about Reg Lovett.
It gives one a strange feeling to see one’s own name on a brass plate ‘in memorium’ inside a church porch. Not exactly my name but that of a relative - my father's cousin:
click on picture for full size version

Fl. Lt. R.E. Lovett.
DFC Killed in aerial combat.
7th September 1940
‘One of the few’
Having rung the door bell of the sexton who lived next door to the church we waited non-expectantly as the house appeared deserted. The church was shut and he had the key. When he appeared, however, I explained the purpose of my visit having learned from a cousin of the existence of this plate and some of the circumstances of Reg Lovett’s death.
The sexton was most obliging and to my amazement described the aircraft’s last moments as it had crashed not many yards away in a field close by the church itself. It was a great surprise to find an eye witness of the event still alive and able to point to the spot where the plane crashed.
After I had taken several photos of the plate, Mr. J. Webb the sexton, gave us directions on how to get to the site of the crash, of which nothing now remains.
This was along a path which had what was quaintly called a ‘kissing gate’ and led to an open meadow. Standing on or near the spot it was easy visualise it happening and I offered a prayer. The sexton’s voice was still in my mind as he told us how this was the third time that Reg Lovett had been shot down and how the distressed Hurricane fighter plane, was guided away from the village of Stock, in Essex, when its pilot might have bailed out.
Instead it crashed into the field in which I now stood. In avoiding the village he had paid the highest price anyone could make. He was just 26 and although it all took place sixty two years ago, in those desperate days when Britain fought for its survival, it somehow seemed so much nearer standing in that field.
Since writing that I have found out more from a nephew of mine visiting Hendon air museum.
Reg was born in Hendon in 1913 and educated at Christ’s College, Finchley. In November of 1935 he joined the RAF on a short service commission and was a regular officer with No. 73 Squadron.
At the outbreak of the Second World War he went to France where due to a series of misfortunes he acquired the nickname ‘Unlucky’ Lovett.
Reg mistakenly shot down a French Potez 63 but despite this he is credited with shooting down an Bf 109 on 22nd March 1940 and a Dornier 17 on the 26th as well as an unspecified enemy aircraft and on the 21st April he also brought down an Bf 110.
But on 10th May 1940, he came very close to death when he was shot down by return fire from a Dornier 17 and trapped in his blazing Hurricane.
The Dornier 17 whose return fire brought down his aircraft is not unlike the Potez 63 in appearance. It is perhaps possible that some hesitation on his part in seeking to positively identify the Dornier meant that his quarry was given more time to successfully return accurate fire.
Having managed to crash land he was rescued from his cockpit by which time his hands were virtually useless. Rushed to hospital, he miraculously survived and was flown back to the UK where after weeks of treatment, he returned to his squadron on July 23rd, then resting at Church Fenton. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on 16.7.40.
August 15th saw more action and he claimed a Ju 88 destroyed and probably another. On Thursday September 5th his squadron was posted to Debden to help reinforce the hard pressed No. 11 Group.
Within four hours of their arrival they were thrown into action over the Thames Estuary when four Hurricanes were shot down with one pilot killed.
Reg was one who baled out and survived. Two days later, when the Luftwaffe changed tactics to bombing London, Reg was shot down for the last time.
It was said by witnesses that he might have bailed out but guiding his stricken aircraft away from the vilage of Stock he crashed in a field close by the Church of ‘Our Lady and St. Joseph’ where a brass plate is placed in his memory. Reg lies buried in Hendon Cemetery.
Also see Memories Back to Stock main page