Fishwick, James
Fishwick, James

James (Jim or Jimmy) Fishwick was born on 16 July 1923 in Chorley. He was the grandson of John Fishwick, founder of J. Fishwick & Sons bus company. John Fishwick was born in Euxton in 1871. His mother Elizabeth (b. 1849) was unmarried so John spent his early childhood living with his mother and her parents in Euxton but in 1881, Elizabeth married John Cockshott (b. 1845 in Hurst Green). In 1891, John Fishwick, then 21, was working as a labourer in a coal mine, and living at Shaw Green in Euxton. Coal had been mined in the Chorley area since the 1780s but the seams were thin and the coal difficult to extract. A number of local collieries closed in the 1880s and 1890s and this may have prompted John to move to Dowlais, Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales. Here in 1897 he married Mary Boyle (b. 1871 in Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo). The couple had two sons – William (b. 1898) and John (b. 1900) – before moving back north. They lived briefly in Runcorn, where third son Bernard was born in 1902, before moving back to Euxton where three more children were born – Vincent (b. 1905), Veronica (b. 1906) and Mary (b. 1907). They then moved to Leyland where daughter Catherine was born in 1910. When he left South Wales, John had moved out of mining and into haulage. He set up his company in 1907 initially as a haulage company but later he began to run buses between Chorley, Leyland and Preston. In the 1911 Census John is described as a ‘general carrier by motor wagon’, and they lived at 13 Starkie Street, Leyland.

James Fishwick is the son of William Fishwick, oldest of the Fishwick sons. William was born in 1898 and he was just old enough to see service in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve in the final years of World War 1. In 1920, he married Annie Turner (b. 1896 in Leyland), and they had three children: Kathleen (b. 1920), James, and Sheila (b. 1929). In 1939, William, Annie and their three children were living at “High Key”, Highfield Road, Chorley. William is described as ‘omnibus proprietor’ and is also a Special Constable. James is 16 and still at school. Later the family moved to “Netherwood”, Croston Road, Farington.

Jim turned 18 in 1941 and he joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and trained as a pilot in the United States. He earned his wings on 1 January 1943, at Riddle-McKay airbase, in Florida. He was then posted to 193 Squadron. The squadron was formed on 18 December 1942 at Harrowbeer as a fighter squadron, initially operating Hurricanes but later switching to Typhoons. The first Typhoons arrived in January 1943, and the squadron flew its first operation on 1 April 1943.  The squadron was used to catch enemy fighter-bombers making smash and grab attacks on towns on the south coast, and to escort fighter-bombers attacking enemy coastal shipping. The arrival of drop tanks also allowed the squadron to operate some way into France, as seen on 1 December when 193 and 266 Squadrons provided cover for a shipping strike off southern Brittany. In January 1944 the squadron's aircraft began to carry 500lb bombs and began a series of attacks on enemy communications bases and flying-bomb sites.

Fishwick, James

James’ logbook from 1 June 1944 shows that at the time of the D-Day landings he was heavily involved in bombing and strafing attacks in northern France. The squadron moved to Normandy in mid-July.  On 17 July 1944, 193 Sqn was credited with an attack on the French village of St-Foy-de-Montgomery in northern France where Field Marshall Erwin Rommel was inspecting troops. Rommel was initially reported as killed. It was later confirmed he had only been wounded however he was effectively taken out of the German military command structure. Rommel committed suicide on 14 October 1944 following his involvement in a plot to assassinate Hitler. Jim was not involved in the Rommel attack as he had been allowed home for a few days’ leave to celebrate his 21st birthday on 16 July 1944.

The squadron's main role over the next few months was to support the army during the battle of Normandy and the breakout. In October the squadron reached Belgium, from where it flew offensive sweeps over Germany, attacking transport targets and troops. The squadron then focused its attentions on isolated strong points around Arnhem and Nijmegen, as well as attacking a 'human torpedo' factory at Utrecht on 4 November. The squadron also took part in a successful attack on the Gestapo HQ in Amsterdam on 26 November. On 14 December Jim records: “Fighter sweep, Aachen… Uneventful. Five pilots lost with nothing to show for it.” Casualties among fighter pilots were high. In the twelve months covered by his log, Jim lists more than 20 pilots killed and another dozen shot down.

Fishwick, James

193 Sqn. Jimmy Fishwick is standing third from the left

In January 1945, Jim was allowed 11 days’ home leave; this would be the last time he saw his family. The squadron moved to raids over Germany in April 1945 to take part in the final offensives of the war. Jim’s last offensive mission was the bombing of an ammunition dump in Utrecht on 19 April 1945. Victory in Europe was declared on 8 May 1945 but Jim had four more flights in the couple of weeks after VE Day. James Fishwick died on 25 May 1945 whilst flying in Typhoon IB, MN968 of No 193 Sqn, which he was forced to abandon following an engine failure. The incident happened in north-west Germany near the Dutch border. Jim was 21 years old.

Rank: Flying Officer

Service Number: 186288

Unit/Regiment: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No. 193 Sqn.

Date of death: 25/05/1945

Age: 21

Buried at: SAGE WAR   CEMETERY, Germany

Cemetery Reference: 8. C. 8.

Additional Information: Son of William and Annie Fishwick, of Farington, Lancashire.

J. Fishwick & Sons ceased trading on 24 October 2015. Fishwick's had suffered a decline in turnover and profitability in the preceding years because of declining numbers of passengers, the reduction in local authority concessionary fare income and fuel duty rebates, and the increased competition within the bus sector. The final nail in the coffin was when Stagecoach, the national operator, was granted permission to operate on Fishwick’s routes.