Antony Palmer-Tomkinson was born in 1921 to James and Marion Tomkinson and was the youngest of four children.
In 1933 the family inherited Wanlip Hall and estate in Leicestershire from an Aunt on condition that her surname of Palmer was included in their own.
During the Second World War the family were living in Hurst Lodge and Antony Palmer-Tomkinson was serving in the RAF.
By 1942 Antony was a
pilot in 501 Squadron,
part of 10 Group,
operating out of
On 25th April 1942 501 Squadron took part in a fierce air battle over the French coast which involved aircraft from several squadrons.
The operation, named Circus 137, used a flight of 36
bombers to lure the enemy fighters into combat.
The bombing operation for this Circus was wide ranging, with targets as far apart as the Abbeville marshalling yards, Morlaix airfield and Cherbourg, Le Havre and Dunkirk harbours.
Of the complement of 36 Boston bombers, 29 delivered their bombs and 2 failed to return.
Two Luftwaffe squadrons,
scrambled from their bases in Northern France and engaged the RAF fighters around 16:00 over the French coast near Pas de Calais.
Within a short time the German fighters shot down fifteen aircraft with most of them crashing into the English Channel.
This included four Spitfires of 501 Squadron which were shot down by
One of these Spitfires, No. W3894, was flown by Antony Palmer-Tomkinson.
Antony was reported as missing during an operational flight in The Times of 1st May 1942 and is commemorated on the
From Sue Banks:
Thank you so much for what you put on the War memorial site about my
I have emailed my brother and my cousin with the link,
so they can read about our maternal grandfather.
I can also add some info about Anthony Palmer-Tomkinson.
My paternal grandfather was William McMinn. He was working at Hoddam
Castle near Annan in Scotland when he got married in 1925. As
under-footman, he was called "George" - because the under-footman was
always called George!
He moved to work for Captain James Edward Tomkinson, as butler/valet,
shortly after his marriage. Mrs. Palmer was an aunt of Captain
Tomkinson. When she died, she left him an estate in Leicestershire, near
Melton Mowbray, called Wanlip, on condition that he appended Palmer to
When my father and his brothers were born in Hurst, Lord & Lady
Palmer-Tomkinson were at Hurst Lodge, and my grandfather was still their
butler. My grandmother had been their cook until she had children.
William McMinn worked Hurst Lodge, until 1949, The address in Hurst
was Hurst Lodge Cottages. Now, the cottages were known as 1 & 2 New
Cottages, Broadcommon Lane.
In 1949, the McMinns moved to "Totterdown" in Inkpen, Berkshire,
continuing to work for the Palmer-Tomkinsons, and living at 2 New
Judging by the memorial, it would suggest that the Palmer-Tomkinsons
moved out to
Inkpen during the war, although I know my grandparents didn't go until
1949. I suppose it depends when the WW2 casualties were put on the