The website for Dr Martin Shaw OBE FRCM (1875 –1958)

"...they swoop where Hell is flaming, they soar in Heaven apart ..."

The Airmen


Studio portrait of a young man with far-away look in his eyes, in RAF uniform


4: The Airmen

Recording Artists: Iain Burnside & Roderick Williams

The Airmen is dedicated To the memory of Pilot Officer James Buchanan, who died in the Battle of Britain on July 27th 1940. Shaw would have known Buchanan since childhood, and would have mourned his loss deeply.


Martin Shaw and Iden

James Buchanan was the son of Shaw’s friend the farmer and artist Bertram Buchanan of Oxenbridge Farm at Iden, near Rye in East Sussex, where Shaw often went to pursue his hobby of farm work, helping with the harvest.

It was at Iden that Shaw learned to reap wheat with a sickle, and ‘tie a bond’, the band of corn holding each sheaf of wheat together. A private museum of farm implements on show at Iden has a sickle which may have been used by him.

In the 1920s and 30s Iden had a thriving artists’ community. Among the artists who lived there was Paul Nash, who illustrated some of Shaw's songs.



James Buchanan

Fully Trained RAF VR Pilot

James Buchanan from Iden, Sussex was a fully trained RAFVR pilot at the outbreak of the Second World War. He was commissioned in December 1939 and was posted to No 609 Squadron.


Battle of Britain

By July 1940, the beginning of the Battle of Britain, No 609 had been moved south to Middle Wallop, Hampshire. On 27 July, James Buchanan was reported ‘missing’ after being shot down by a Bf 109 (later found to be flown by Oberleutnant Framm) in combat when protecting a convoy off Weymouth, Dorset. His Spitfire, N 3023, was seen to crash into the sea. James had died, only 25 years old.


War Medals Posthumously Awarded

After his death, his war medals were posthumously presented to his family. James Buchanan’s medals are displayed in the central cabinet in the Battle of Britain Hall at Tangmere Military Aviation Museum, near Chichester. See the list of Helpful Friends below for a link to the museum.

With thanks to Tangmere Military Aviation Museum for the biographical details of James Buchanan



Margaret Armour (died 1943); Published in The Times, 28th May 1940 Cramer 1941 archive copies available priced £6.00. Contact: