Latham Carr (known as Carr) ('Granny', 'Elsie') WITHALL

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WITHALL, Latham Carr (known as Carr)

Service Numbers: 39361 , 39361
Enlisted: 7 August 1937
Last Rank: Flight Lieutenant
Last Unit: Aircrew Training Units
Born: Perth, Western Australia, 11 May 1911
Home Town: Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria
Schooling: Scotch College Melbourne
Occupation: Accountant
Died: Air Combat - Battle of Britain, Off the Isle of WIght, Portsmouth, United Kingdom, 12 August 1940, aged 29 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Lost in the English Channel off the Isle of Wight
Memorials: Runnymede Air Forces Memorial
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Non Warlike Service

7 Aug 1937: Enlisted Royal Air Force, SN 39361 , Aircrew Training Units

World War 2 Service

1 Oct 1939: Involvement Royal Air Force, Flight Lieutenant, SN 39361, Air War NW Europe 1939-45
12 Aug 1940: Involvement Royal Air Force, Flight Lieutenant, SN 39361, Air War NW Europe 1939-45

Help us honour Latham Carr (known as Carr) WITHALL's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Steve Larkins

Latham Carr WITHALL, Flight Lieutenant, Battle of Britain Fighter Pilot (1911-1940)

Biography courtesy of Kristen Alexanders Blogspot 'Australia's Few'.

Latham Carr Withall was born in Toodyay, on the north-eastern edge of Perth in Western Australia on 11 May 1911. By October 1915 the family was living in Geelong, Victoria and later moved to Melbourne.

Carr’s eyes had turned skyward from an early age and, while still at primary school, he was awarded a Gould League bird lovers certificate. While many young boys dreamed of looping the loop in a powered aircraft, Carr became fascinated by gliding and, in 1929, joined the newly formed Melbourne Gliding Club.

After leaving Scotch College, Melbourne in 1927 with his Leaving Certificate he joined the State Bank of Victoria. He soon discovered an affinity for gliding and was known as one of Victoria’s pioneering gliders. He was recognised as a good pilot and gifted instructor. Most of the club’s leading pilots were his protégés and the high standard of gliding in Melbourne was attributed to him. In July 1935 he resigned from the club to travel to England with his parents. He joined the RAF on a short service commission in October 1936.

After training he was posted to 19 Squadron at Duxford in Cambridgeshire on 7 August 1937. He was recognised as a good pilot and was popular. Because he was older than some of the other pilots freshout of training school he was nicknamed ‘Granny’, and the younger ones would teasingly offer to carry his parachute around for him in deference to his great age.

He became great friends with James Coward who recalled that the Australian was ‘very madly keen to fly’ and was so proficient at handling the fighter aircraft that at onepoint he flew solo during an air display at Hendon. Carr was promoted to flying officer in April 1939 and acting flight lieutenant on 31 May. At the outbreak of war he was in charge of A Flight and, like his confrères, was well conversant with the Spitfire, so much so that within the month he was posted as a flight commander to the newly reforming 152Squadron. There he gained a new nickname. He was called ‘Elsie’, from his initials L.C.

12 August 1940 was the day the Germans decided to try and knock out the radar stations between the Thames Estuary and Portsmouth, as well as launch raids on forward airfields in preparation for Adlerangriff. Just after midday, while patrolling over Catherine’s Point, 152 Squadron encountered a large enemy force south of the Isle of Wight. The enemy aircraft had already struck at the Ventnor radar station. The odds wereoverwhelming but 152 acquitted themselves well. Sadly, two of their men failed to return, 22 year-old Pilot Officer Douglas Clayton Shepley and 29 year-old Flight Lieutenant Latham Carr Withall.

He was the fourth Australian entitled to the Clasp to lose his life in the Battle of Britain. He had married in January 1940 and his twin sons were born six weeks later on 25 September. He was shot down in Spitfire P9456 and is remembered on the Runnymede Memorial, Panel 5. He was 29 years old.

His body was never recovered.  He is comemorated on the Battle of Britain London Monument and on on the Battle of Britain Roll in Westminster Abbey.

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