Interview with Jimmy Prentice, 1989

Author: Paul Sortehaug

PS (Paul Sortehaug): Corran Ashworth was a friend of yours and he followed you to both Nth Africa and Europe. In fact he wound up on a Mustang sqdn.

JP (Jimmy Prentice): I think he got to Europe before I did.

PS: Yes, that might be so. Do you remember the circumstances in which he was lost at all?

JP: Yes I do because he was in my sqdn, do you want me to mention this NYR? (Not Yet Returned)

PS: Yes.

JP: Well on the sqdn they sent around just a typed sheet NYR - meaning Not Yet Returned, and I saw Ash's name. Said to the C/O he was an old friend of mine. He said take the Auster over there and find out, and I flew over there and I was introduced to a chap who was flying with Ash when it happened, and I said is there any show and he said no.
Apparently, the story I was given, was that he was dive-bombing barges crossing the Seine river, and the Mustang carried a thousand pound bomb under each wing and the bombs were detonated by - I'm not sure how to describe it - a device which as the air pressure increased, the bomb went off before it actually hit the ground, by this device going into a concave shape, and detonating the bomb, and there was a bit of talk that sometimes these bombs went off prematurely, in the dive - through the air pressure, or he could have been hit by flak, but apparently his bomb exploded prematurely and I was told that he did at the last moment direct the Mustang onto a barge - and that he crashed onto a barge on the Seine river. That was it.


Author's Note:
Now, I am fairly sure Jim could be correct about the details because he and Corran were good friends and as he states he flew over with the express intention of finding out what had happened . What is more Corran was lost on the 3 August 1944 & Jim was shot down and captured a fortnight later so his visit to 65 Sqdn must have been within a very short time of Corran going missing. In other words the information he got would have been relatively fresh news.

To add further support to the bomb theory I can tell you that I had been in touch with Jamie Jameson over the loss of the Englishman Jacko Holmes (C/O 197 sqdn) 197 (Typhoons) also dabbled with dive-bombing and Jacko was thought to have had a bomb explode prematurely. I raised the incident in a newsletter I circulate and Jamie wrote to me to tell that they had a lot of trouble with premature detonation in his Mustang Wing in Normandy in 1944. Jamie was in Command of 122 Wing which in August of 1944 incorporated the 3 Mustang Sqdns, one of which was Corran's.