Hare, Charles John Francis

He was the elder son of Charles Francis Aubone Hare (H1894-1900), who had married Louise Kathleen Simonds, sister of Gavin Turnbull Simonds, Baron Simonds of Sparsholt PC (Coll.1894-1900, Warden of Winchester College 1946-1951). His younger brother was Henry Spencer Bowles Hare (K1924-1929).  He was in Sixth Book, played football and rowed for his house. On leaving school in 1926 he studied in France for a while, and then went into the family business (J.Hare & Co., Colour Manufacturers). From 1928 he worked for E.S. & A. Robinson of Bristol, moving to the publishers Surridges Ltd. in London in 1933.

On the outbreak of war he joined the RAVFR and was commissioned as a Pilot Officer in 1940. He was then posted to 16 Squadron, which was equipped with Westland Lysander II army co-operation aircraft. During the hectic spring of 1940, many Lysander squadrons were sent to fight in Belgium and France. It soon became apparent that the concept of a slow army co-operation aircraft was outdated unless the users had air superiority; the Lysander squadrons suffered terrible losses. Out of one hundred and eighty Lysanders, only forty flew back to England at the end of May 1940. The commander of British air forces in France wrote:  “The Lysanders are quite unsuited for their tasks.”

16 Squadron returned to England on May 20th 1940, and was based at Lympne on the Kent coast. From there it continued to undertake tactical reconnaissance missions – as well as dropping supplies to the garrison of Calais. As the Dunkirk evacuation began, its aircraft were tasked with searching for bombing targets and observing the positions of friendly troops.  At 1100 on May 31st, Flight Lieutenant George R. Shepley DFC took off in Lysander P9127 with Hare as his rear-gunner/observer. Over Dunkirk, at 1230, they were engaged by Fw Hans Witzel of 6./JG27, and their aircraft came down near Pihen-lès-Guines, where Shepley is buried. Hare’s body, however, was never recovered, and he was reported missing, presumed killed, at the age of thirty-one. He is commemorated in panel 8 of the Runnymede Memorial. He was married twice: his widow was Elizabeth Phoebe Lyster Hare, of Andover, Hampshire. He left a son.


War: World War 2

  • Surname: Hare
  • Forenames or initials: Charles John Francis
  • House: K
  • Years in School: 1921-1926
  • Rank: Pilot Officer
  • Regiment: RAF
  • Date of Birth: 29th May 1908
  • Date of Death: 31st May 1940
  • How Died: Killed in Action
  • Location in War Cloister: Inner E1
  • Decoration: NA
  • Burial Site: Unknown but commemorated on Panel 8 of the Runnymede Memorial