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Gordon Downs Bushell - Battle of Britain Fighter Pilot
Newly restored WWII Hawker Hurricane

An orphan, Joseph Downs Bushell had been apprenticed to the grocery trade in Reading, and, travelling about his duties in a pony and trap, was later employed for ten years with a wholesale and retail grocers in Buckingham. In 1912 he then moved to Bletchley, and taking over a retail shop at 39, High Street from a Mr. White, during the following year he employed his nephew, Len Bushell, in the business, as also George Guess. In 1915 Joseph married Margery, and in 1924 realising the potential for trade in Bletchley he bought a shop from Tom Brace, and went into partnership with an employee, Fred Thurlow, as Bushell and Thurlow. Yet this was also a year which would bring tragedy, for on Sunday, August 10th his 30 year old wife was found dead at her home. That morning Mr. Bushell and his two children, Gordon and his sister, had gone for a walk, and although when they returned at about 1p.m. he could not get into the house, Mr. Bushell was unconcerned, since he thought that his wife must be upstairs. Remaining in the garden, he later sent Gordon back to the house, but with no sounds from within, nor a smell of cooking, Mr. Bushell climbed through a window to investigate. He then discovered the body of his wife in the copper house, with her head submerged in the copper of water, and now he was left to bring up the children alone. After an education at Mrs. Fry’s private school (now the ‘Small Shop’) in Church Street, Gordon attended the Bletchley Road Schools and then Magdalen College School, Brackley, where he became top boy. Intending to take up tea-broking, towards this ambition in January 1937 he was presented with his certificate in the Guild Hall, but having in November 1938 joined the Volunteer Reserve of the R.A.F., he was called up at the outbreak of war and posted to 213 Squadron, flying Hurricanes. On June 18th 1940 the squadron flew to the small civilian grass airfield at Exeter, and would remain in the thick of the action throughout the Battle of Britain. In fact as a veteran of aerial combat, on November 25th 1940 Gordon, as a Sergeant Pilot, was mentioned in a despatch ‘for gallant and distinguished service as a fighter pilot during the Battle of Britain,’ and this regarded an incident which occurred at 22,000 feet south of the Isle of Wight, when his squadron engaged over 100 enemy aircraft. Despite baling out, the Squadron Leader was attacked by three Messerschmitts, but warding off the enemy aircraft Gordon destroyed one and, by radioing the coastguard, enabled the downed pilot to be rescued. As part of 13 Group, no. 213 Squadron was ‘rested’ to Leconfield, Yorkshire, on December 1st 1940, but at the age of 24 on December 31st 1940 Gordon was killed when his Hurricane, no. P3267, crashed at Risby Park, in Suffolk, during a snow storm. On the very same day he was to have been interviewed by the Station Commander regarding a commission. With full military honours his body was conveyed from his home station on a gun carriage, and after the cremation the ashes were brought for burial to Bletchley, where, having formerly been a member of the choir, it was appropriate that a service was held at St. Martin’s Church on Wednesday, January 8th. As for Joseph Downs Bushell, as a respected trader he continued in business in Bletchley for many years, and died at the age of 74 in 1957. Today in Fenny Stratford Cemetery may be seen his grave and that of Gordon, whose sacrifice is recalled by the wording ‘JUST ONE, TO WHOM SO MANY OWE SO MUCH’. As for the scum who have desecrated the grave, by pushing over and damaging the cross, one can only wish that this low life had been the victims of Nazi oppression.