The third edition of Men of the Battle of Britain by Kenneth G Wynn was published by Frontline Books in association with the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust in 2015. The Trust has owned all rights to the book since 2010.
Research into the lives of the Few is ongoing, and the Trust publishes new information, updates and corrections on this website from time to time.
Please note: THE COPYRIGHT IN ALL MATERIAL RELATING TO MEN OF THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN IS OWNED BY THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN MEMORIAL TRUST CIO.
Updated/new information – 11th update, February 2018:
ALFRED BERNARD CUMBERS
RAYMOND JOHN KITCHELL GENT
Updated to show that Gent was born in 1916 at East Preston between Littlehampton and Worthing. In the 1911 census his father gave his occupation as railway clerk.
RONALD JOSEPH GOULDSTONE
Additional information to show that Gouldstone was born in 1921 at Malling, Kent.
Additional information to show that Hardie was born on April 26 1921 in Levenshulme, Manchester. His father was a commercial traveller, working in the cocoa business.
Mc Phee’s date of death – January 14, 2018 – added, along with a photograph.
HERBERT ROBERT CASE
83272 PO Pilot British 64 and 72 Squadrons
Case was born on July 9, 1916, the son of a farmer at Withycombe, Somerset, and was educated at Minehead Grammar School. He lived in digs in Thirlmere Avenue, Stretford, Lancashire, while with Metropolitan Vickers at nearby Old Trafford, completed a four year apprenticeship with the company and became an electrical engineer. He had studied part time at Manchester Municipal College of Technology. Supported by his employer, Case enlisted in the class ‘F’ Reserve, as an Airman u/t Pilot, about June 1936 (700690). He was called to full-time service on September 1 1939 and completed his flying training at 2 FTS, Brize Norton, on No 47 Course, which ran from April 28 to August 3 1940.
Case was commissioned and he went to 7 OTU, Hawarden on August 10 and, after converting to Spitfires, joined 64 Squadron at Leconfield on the 28th.
He flew his first operational sortie on September 3 and his last on the 14th.
He moved to 72 Squadron at Biggin Hill about September 15. Case was killed on October 12, when he fell out of formation and crashed in a field off Winehouse Lane at Capel-le-Ferne, near Folkestone, in Spitfire P9338.
An Army officer’s wife wrote to Case’s mother saying that she had witnessed his aircraft being attacked by Bf109s immediately before he crashed. Other witnesses gave similar accounts. Soldiers of The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment) guarded Case’s body until it was collected by the RAF.
He was buried in St Nicholas’ churchyard, near his home in Withycombe, where a small display in the church now commemorates him. Case was 24 years old.
JOHN REYNOLDS COCK
40674 FO Pilot Australian 87 Squadron
Born in Renmark, South Australia on March 3 1918, Cock was educated at Renmark High School, Prince Alfred College, Adelaide and Roseworth Agricultural College. He learned to fly privately and went to England in early 1938 and joined the RAF on a short service commission in March.
He began his ab initio flying on March 7 1938, as a pupil pilot. He completed his training at 6 FTS, Little Rissington, after which he joined 87 Squadron at Debden from 6 FTS on December 17 1938.
Cock went to France with the squadron at the outbreak of war. On April 10 1940 Cock destroyed a He111 off Le Touquet. On May 10 he shared a He111 and damaged two Do 17s, on the 12th destroyed a He111, on the 13th destroyed a Bf 109, on the 16th probably destroyed a Ju88, on the 18th destroyed a Ju87 and damaged another and on the 19th he shared a Hs 126.
The squadron was withdrawn to Debden on the 24th, moving to Church Fenton a few days later to refit. On July 5 1940, 87 Squadron moved to Exeter. Soon after midnight on the 26th Cock shot down a He111, which crashed at Smeatharpe, near Honiton.
On August 11 he shot down a Ju88 and a Bf109 and probably shot down a Bf110 and another Ju88. In this engagement Cock’s Hurricane, V7233, was hit by a Bf109 and he baled out, slightly wounded. A Bf109 fired at him under his parachute, but was shot down by Pilot Officer Dennis David of 87. Cock landed in the sea off Portland Bill, swam ashore at Chesil Beach and was admitted to hospital.
Cock rejoined 87 on September 11 1940. On the 26th he claimed a Ju88 destroyed and a Bf109 damaged, on the 30th a Ju88 destroyed and probably a Bf109 and on October 10 he claimed another probable Bf109.
After his engine cut out on patrol on October 24, Cock was unable to avoid colliding with Pilot Officer D T Jay. Cock managed to make a forced-landing but Jay was killed while attempting to bale out.
Cock suffered shock in this incident and was posted to RAF Exeter on November 24, (w.e.f. October 24), as non-effective sick. He rejoined 87 Squadron on December 3 1940. Awarded the DFC (25.10.40), Cock was posted away from 87 to 2 CFS on December 8, for an instructors’ course.
In September 1941 he was instructing at 9 FTS, Hullavington. On July 15 1942 Cock was posted to 453 Squadron, recently reformed at Drem, as a Flight Commander. Cock left the squadron on August 30, for a course as a pilot gunnery instructor.
After a short attachment to 222 Squadron at Ayr in November, he returned to Australia, where he was attached to the Spitfire Wing at Darwin, as a supernumerary. Cock later went to the Gunnery School at Mildura and lectured at various units.
In April 1944 he returned to the UK and did a tour with 3 Squadron in France, flying Tempests, after which he went back to England. Cock was released from the RAF in February 1948, as a Squadron Leader. Later for a time he was the Secretary of what was then the Australian Division of the Battle of Britain Fighter Association
He returned to the UK, to be present when the wreckage of Hurricane, V 7233, in which he had been shot down on August 11 1940, was salvaged from the sea on August 30 1983.
He died in Australia on August 20 1988.
APO 7.4.38 PO 7.3.39 FO 3.9.40 FL 3.9.41 SL 1.1.44
JAMES BAIRD COWARD
39412 FL Pilot British 19 Squadron
Coward was born in Teddington, Middlesex on May 18 1915, and educated at St John’s School, Leatherhead. He was an apprentice bookkeeper before joining the RAF as a candidate for a short service commission and began his ab initio course on November 16 1936, at 9 E&RFTS, Ansty.
He did his intermediate and advanced flying training at 2 FTS, Digby from mid-February to September 1937. With training completed, he joined 19 Squadron.
On November 6 1939, Coward was posted to 266 Squadron, then reforming at Sutton Bridge, as ‘A’ Flight Commander.
Over Dunkirk on June 2 1940 he probably destroyed a Bf 109. Coward rejoined 19 Squadron, at Fowlmere, from hospital on June 27. He flew his first sortie on July 6. He fell ill soon afterwards and did not fly operationally again until August 28.
On August 31 he was shot down during an attack on Do 17s ten miles E of Duxford. He baled out, badly wounded, and landed near the Royston-Newmarket Road. A farm worker who had watched his descent stopped a passing car which proved to contain a doctor. Coward was taken to Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge, where his left leg was amputated below the knee. During his descent, Coward had taken off his helmet and used the radio lead as a tourniquet for the leg.
Fit again, Coward was posted to Mr Churchill’s personal staff, in charge of roof-spotting at Chequers and Chartwell. In early January 1942 he went on a three month refresher course at Hullavington, after which he was posted to 52 OTU, Aston Down, to command a squadron. In October 1942 Coward went as CFI to 55 OTU, Annan. On November 21 1943 he took command of No 1 ADU at Croydon.
Coward was sent on a course at RAF Staff College on June 17 1944, following which he was posted to the Air Ministry, in charge of Fighter Operational Training.
He stayed in the RAF after the war, serving as air attaché in Oslo and at the RAF College Cranwell before being given command of an advanced flying training school equipped with Meteor jets. He carried out many test flights investigating the spinning characteristics of the aircraft and for this work was awarded the AFC (1.1.54).
In 1957 Coward took command of RAF Boulmer in Northumberland. Three years later he went to Australia, serving on the British Defence Liaison Staff. For four years he was the Air Officer Commanding Air Cadets and Commandant of the Air Training Corps before being appointed, in 1966, defence attaché in Pretoria, South Africa.
He retired from the RAF on September 8 1969, as an Air Commodore and went to live in Australia. He died in Yass, New South Wales on July 25 2012.
APO 28.1.37 PO 16.11.37 FO 16.6.39 FL 3.9.40 SL 1.12.41 SL 1.8.47 WC 1.7.52 GC 1.7.58 AC 1.7.62
HENRY LA FONE GREENSHIELDS
Sub-Lieutenant (FAA) Pilot British 266 Squadron
Greenshields was born in 1918. His father served in the Royal Artillery, reaching the rank of Major. Henry Greenshields was turned down by the RAF because of defective eyesight, but joined the RNVR and was called to full-time service in September 1939.
Greenshields was attached to the RAF and sent to 7 OTU, Hawarden on June 17 1940. He converted to Spifires, joining 266 Squadron at Wittering on July 1.
He probably destroyed a Bf110 and damaged two others on August 12 and destroyed a Bf109 SE of Dover on the 15th. Next day he failed to return from a combat with Bf109s that he had pursued out over the Channel. He was shot down and killed by Leutnant Müller-Duhe of JG26. His Spitfire, N3240, crashed in the suburbs of Calais on the bank of a canal. Local people were convinced that the pilot had remained at the controls trying to avoid buildings and streets. The Germans mounted a guard which saluted as the body of Greenshields was removed from the wreckage. He was buried in Calais Southern Cemetery beside, and at the same time as, Flying Officer L L Pyman of 65 Squadron, who had been killed on the same day. The two pilots were given a German Guard of Honour.
Greenshields was 22. In October 1996 a commemorative tablet to him was placed in the village church at Hawkchurch, Devon.
JOHN HARVEY HEYWORTH
32079 SL Pilot British 222 and 79 Squadrons
Heyworth was born on March 20 1910 in Belper, Derbyshire and educated at Rugby School. He was an outstanding sportsman, particularly at rugby and cricket, and gained a place at Edinburgh University to study medicine, his father’s profession. However, Heyworth joined the RAF on a short service commission on September 11 1931 and on the 26th he was posted to 5 FTS, Sealand.
After his flying training was completed in late August 1932, he was posted to 54 Squadron at Hornchurch. In 1934 he was part of the squadron’s aerobatic display team at the Hendon Air Pageant.
On November 22 1934, Harvey Heyworth went to 504 Squadron, AAF at Hucknall, as Officer Commanding ‘B’ Flight. He went on to Class ‘A’ of the RAFO in September 1936, with the Officer Commanding 504 Squadron writing that Heyworth “has completed 1100 flying hours to date. An exceptionally keen and very capable pilot who is particularly good in bad weather. Would make a good test pilot or flying instructor. Flying assessment: Exceptional.”
Heyworth immediately joined Rolls-Royce as a test pilot. One of his projects was fuel management trials with the Fairey Battle.
Recalled to the RAF on August 25 1939, he was posted to No 22 (Army Co-operation) and sometimes acted as personal pilot to the Group’s Commander.
He arrived at 5 OTU, Aston Down for a refresher course on May 21 1940. The next day he soloed on a Spitfire Mk l, but crashed on landing. He was unhurt and the aircraft, P 5916, was repairable. On July 9 he joined 222 Squadron at Kirton-in-Lindsey, as a supernumerary. He took command of 79 Squadron at Acklington on July 12. On August 15 he shared in the destruction of a Bf 110 and a Do 17 and on the 31st he probably destroyed a Ju88.
The squadron went south to Biggin Hill on August 27 1940. On September 6 Heyworth damaged a Ju88, on the 7th he probably destroyed another and on the 27th he shared in the destruction of a He111 and also in the probable destruction of another.
On April 2 1941, flying from Pembrey, he probably destroyed a He111 off Linney Head and on the 9th he shot a He111 down into the sea off St David’s Head, Pembrokeshire.
Heyworth was posted away from 79 Squadron and attached to Rolls-Royce in June 1941, for test pilot duties. He flew many different types of aircraft before testing jets. Heyworth was seconded from the RAF to Rolls-Royce in 1942. He was awarded the AFC (1.1.46).
After release from the RAF in 1945, as a Wing Commander, Heyworth re-joined Rolls-Royce, as a test pilot. He became Chief Test Pilot in 1951.
On January 22 1954 he crashed in Dart Lancaster, N G 465, on Holmwell golf course, due to fuel starvation affecting all four engines. The purpose of the flight was to test de-icing equipment. Three Rolls-Royce staff, acting as flight observers were uninjured. Heyworth’s injuries meant the end of his test-flying career. When he resumed flying in June 1954, it was only in light communications aircraft.
H N D Bailey (qv), a Battle of Britain pilot from 54 Squadron, succeeded him as Chief Test Pilot and Heyworth joined the Aero Division sales staff.
Heyworth’s brother, A J (James), also employed at Rolls-Royce, took over the role of Chief Test Pilot in January 1955, when Mr Bailey was appointed Manager of the Technical Administration at Rolls-Royce. Jim Heyworth had flown Wellingtons and Lancasters in 12 Squadron, Bomber Command and been awarded an immediate DFC after bringing back a Wellington on one engine from an attack on Nuremberg. He received a bar to the DFC after his 60th operation.
In the summer of 1955 Heyworth suffered a severe stroke. The early medical advice was that he would never walk or speak again, but, in fact, he eventually regained his driving licence and returned to work in the Export Sales Department of the Rolls-Royce Aero Engine Division. On October 6 1957 his son, Paul, serving as a Senior Aircraftman in the RAF, was killed in a motor cycle accident, aged 19. Harvey Heyworth had a further haemorrhage on September 21 1959 and died, aged 49. The tribute to him in Rolls-Royce News referred to him as “the first test pilot in the world to complete 1000 flying hours on jets”.
Squadron Leader Jim Heyworth died on June 10 2010, aged 88.
PO 11.9.31 FO 11.3.33 FL 1.4.36 FL (RAFO) 11.9.36 SL 1.3.40 WC 1.3.42
PETRUS HENDRIK HUGO
4i848 FO Pilot South African 615 Squadron
Born on a farm at Pampoenpoort, Cape Province, South Africa on December 20 1917, Hugo went to the Witwatersrand College of Aeronautical Engineering. He joined the RAF on a short service commission and began his ab initio training at 6 E&RFTS, Sywell on January 23 1939, as a pupil pilot.
After completing his flying training at 13 FTS, Drem, Hugo went to the 11 Group Pool, St Athan on October 23 1939. He was posted to No 2 Ferry Pool at Filton on November 17 and he then joined 615 Squadron at Vitry in France on December 17 1939.
On May 20 1940 Hugo destroyed a He111. The squadron was withdrawn to Kenley next day.
On May 23 Hugo was one of six 615 Squadron pilots who were formed into ‘G’ Flight, to fly Gladiators. The Flight went immediately to Manston, where it was attached to 604 Squadron for operations. On May 30 the Gladiators returned to Kenley and ‘G’ Flight was disbanded.
On July 14 Hugo probably destroyed a Ju87, on the 17th he damaged a Do17, on the 20th probably destroyed two Bf109s, on the 25th probably another Bf109 and on the 27th he shared in destroying a He59 floatplane.
Hugo was attached to the Air Fighting Development Unit, Northolt on July 29, for a course. His next operational sortie with 615 was on August 12, during which he destroyed a Bf109.
On the 16th he damaged a He111 in the Brighton area. During this combat, his aircraft was severely damaged by a Bf110 and he returned to Kenley, slightly wounded in both legs.
On the 18th Hugo made a crash-landing at Orpington, after a combat with Bf109s, in Hurricane R4221. He was admitted to Orpington Hospital, with wounds to the face. He was awarded the DFC (23.8.40), returned to the squadron on September 22 and flew his first operational sortie on the 24th.
Hugo was appointed a Flight Commander in September 1941. On October 14 he shared a He59 and he was awarded a Bar to the DFC (25.11.41). In November he was given command of 41 Squadron at Merston. He destroyed a Bf109 and damaged another on February 12 1942 and destroyed two more on March 14 and 26.
Hugo was made Wing Leader at Tangmere on April 12 and on this day he damaged a FW190, on the 16th he damaged a Bf109 and on the 27th he got a probable FW190 and damaged another. He was shot down in this engagement, baled out into the Channel and was picked up by an ASR launch, wounded. He was awarded the DSO (29.5.42).
After a spell at HQ 11 Group, Hugo was appointed Wing Leader at Hornchurch on July 18 1942 but stayed only until August 31, being then posted to lead 322 Wing in North Africa. On November 12 he shared a Do217 over Bougie, Algeria, on the 13th he probably destroyed a Ju88, on the 15th a probable He111, on the 16th and 18th destroyed Ju88s and on the 21st, 26th and 28th Bf109s.
On November 29 1942, Hugo took temporary command of 322 Wing, when the CO was injured in an attack on the airfield. On December 2 he destroyed a SM79 and shared another and on the 14th destroyed a SM79. Hugo was awarded a second Bar to the DFC (16.2.43) and posted to HQ North West African Coast Air Force on March 13 1943.
He took command of 322 Wing again in June 1943. On the 29th he damaged a Bf109, on September 2 destroyed a FW190 and an Arado Ar196 on November 18. Hugo damaged a Bf109 on July 10 and continued to lead the Wing until its disbandment in November 1944, when he was posted to HQ Mediterranean Allied Air Forces.
He was later seconded to Marshal Tolbukin’s 2nd Ukranian Army, then moving from Romania to Austria. After returning to the UK, Hugo was posted to the Central Fighter Establishment.
In addition to his other awards, he received the C de G (Fr) and the DFC (US) (14.11.44). “Dutch” Hugo retired from the RAF on February 19 1950, as a Squadron Leader, retaining the rank of Group Captain.
He ran a cattle farm on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanganyika (now Tanzania) but this was taken by the government in 1971 and he returned to South Africa, where he died on June 6 1986. His portrait was done by Cuthbert Orde in February 1941.
APO 1.4.39 PO 21.10.39 FO 21.10.40 FL 21.10.41 SL 12.7.42 SL 1.9.45
NORMAN LANCELOT IEVERS
37812 FL Pilot Irish 312 Squadron
Ievers was born in Patrickswell, County Limerick, Ireland on March 16 1912. When he was eight the family moved to County Wicklow and he went to a boarding school in Bray, moving to Campbell College in Belfast. There he excelled at rugby, playing in the 1st XV for three years.
In 1930 he took up an engineering apprenticeship with Thornycroft in Basingstoke, Hampshire. He learned the manufacture, fitting and testing of engines. On completion, after four years, he joined the factory workforce and acquired a motorbike. But after a year there were layoffs and he found himself working on a farm near Winchester.
Ievers joined the RAF on a short service commission and began his ab initio course on March 9 1936. He was posted to 10 FTS, Ternhill on May 14, for intermediate and advanced training, and, with the course completed, joined 56 Squadron at North Weald on December 25. He was posted away to 6 FTS, Netheravon on April 24 1939, as an instructor, and moved to 15 FTS, Lossiemouth on September 17. On March 20 1940, whilst out testing a Hawker Hind, Ievers overturned the aircraft, making a forced-landing 2 miles E of Elgin. Both he and his passenger-pupil were unhurt.
From September 17 1940, Ievers was instructing at No 1 FTS, Leuchars. On October 19 he joined 312 Squadron at Speke and he was appointed ‘B’ Flight Commander the next day.
Ievers was posted away to 308 Squadron at Baginton on December 2 1940 and on the 16th he joined the High Altitude Flight at the A&AEE, Boscombe Down. His testing was mostly related to experiments in the development of pressurised cockpits and he recorded many flights at altitudes up to 40,000 feet plus at least one engine failure followed by a forced-landing.
On July 28 1941 he joined 257 Squadron at Coltishall, moved to 19 Squadron at Matlask on September 9 and was posted to the Middle East on November 3.
Ievers took command of 80 Squadron in the Western Desert on the 13th. He was posted to the Air Staff, HQ Middle East on January 23 1942 and sailed for the Far East in mid-February in the SS Orestes, acting as OC Troops.
He served on the staffs at 221, 222 and 224 Groups and on August 20 1942 he was made Acting Station Commander at RAF Kanchrapara. He was posted to 320 MU, Karachi on February 20 1943.
Ievers returned to the UK later in the year and was released from the RAF in 1944 as a Squadron Leader. He returned to Ireland, eventually settling at Mount Ievers, County Clare, a house he bought from a cousin. In the 1980s, with his wife, he began a major restoration programme, assisted by a grant from the Irish Georgian Society. The house was used as a location for the 1997 film, The Serpent’s Kiss.
He died on November 21 1993.
One of his brothers, Major Frederick Robert (“Freddie”) Ievers, Royal Artillery, attached to 3 Lt AA Regiment, Hong Kong and Singapore Royal Artillery died in a Japanese PoW camp on September 17 1943, aged 33, and is buried in Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, Thailand.
APO 4.5.56 PO 9.3.37 FO 9.10.38 FL 3.9.40 SL 1.12.41
LESLIE NINIAN LANDELS
84695 PO Pilot British 32, 3 and 615 Squadrons
Landels was born in Durban, South Africa of Scottish parents and, in 1914, moved with them to Haddington, east of Edinburgh and then in Haddingtonshire. He joined the RAFVR in 1936 as an Airman u/t Pilot (740963). He undertook training at the de Havilland School of Flying, Hatfield. Called up on September 1 1939, he completed his training, was commissioned and then sent to No 1 School of Army Co-operation at Old Sarum on August 24 1940, presumably for a course.
He may have volunteered for Fighter Command because he arrived at 6 OTU, Sutton Bridge on September 4, converted to Hurricanes and was posted to 32 Squadron at Acklington on September 21.
Landels moved to 3 Squadron at Turnhouse on the 27th and to 615 at Northolt on October 11.
After destroying a Bf109 on November 8, he was shot down over Maidstone and made a crash-landing at Challock, in Hurricane V7652, slightly injured. Landels was admitted to hospital and was posted to RAF Northolt as non-effective sick.
It is not known where he was after recovery but in late 1941 Landels was in the Far East. He commanded 232 Squadron at Seletar, Singapore, briefly in January 1942, before being killed on the 20th, as an Acting Flight Lieutenant.
On the morning of January 20, 80plus Japanese bombers, escorted by fighters, attacked Seletar airfield. Twelve Hurricanes from 232 Squadron scrambled from the field at 0700. They reached 28,000ft and were ordered by Ground Control to attack the bombers which were around 8,000ft below them. The Japanese fighters were not immediately spotted as they climbed to intercept the Hurricanes. Landels was shot down and killed by a Ki-43 flown by First Lieutenant Yonesaku Hatta. Landels’ Hurricane BM906 struck the mast of a Chinese fishing vessel before crashing into the sea. Hatta was shot down and killed shortly afterwards by Landels’ number 2, Pilot Officer Parker.
Landels is remembered on the Singapore Memorial, Column 411.
In 1948 his widow emigrated to New Zealand. Their son David served in the Royal New Zealand Navy from 1957 until retiring in 1993.
PO 24.8.40 FO 17.8.41
DENYS EDGAR MILEHAM
77678 PO Pilot British 610 and 41 Squadrons
Mileham, from Boxmoor, Hertfordshire, was one of six children and attended Berkhamsted School and joined the RAFVR in about July 1938, as an Airman u/t Pilot (741902). He undertook training at Luton.
Called up on September 1 1939, he completed his training, was commissioned on February 1 1940 and then went to No 1 School of Army Co-operation, Old Sarum.
By May 17 1940 Mileham was with 26 Squadron at Authie in France, flying Lysanders on army co-operation duties.
Mileham later volunteered for Fighter Command and was posted to 7 OTU, Hawarden on August 21. After converting to Spitfires, he joined 610 Squadron at Acklington on September 3 1940. He moved to 41 Squadron at Hornchurch on the 29th and destroyed a Bf 109 on October 5 and another on November 17.
In February 1941 he was posted as an instructor to 58 OTU Grangemouth. He went on to at least one other instructing post.
In March 1942 he went to 234 Squadron at Ibsley as a Flight Commander. Mileham was killed on April 15 1942 as a Flight Lieutenant in Spitfire Vb AB 987. The squadron ORB records: “The squadron gave close escort to nine Boston aircraft in an attack on Cherbourg harbour. Six of our aircraft were attacked as they left the target by Me109s. F/Lt. Mileham and P/O Simon are missing from this operation. Subsequent searching by our aircraft and Lysanders failed to report anything of interest.”
From post-war examination of Luftwaffe claims it seems likely that Mileham was shot down by either Oberleutnant E Mayer or Unteroffizier W Beckers of 7/JG2.
Mileham is remembered on the Runnymede Memorial, Panel 66.
The name of Pilot Officer Michael Lemuel Simon, an American serving in the RAFVR, is on Panel 71 of the Runnymede Memorial.
PO 1.2.40 FO 1.2.41
JOHN BAILLIE MILLS
629563 AC1 Radar Operator British 23 Squadron
John Baillie Mills was born in 1921 in Ballyhay, a rural community near Donaghadee, County Down, Northern Ireland. His father had earlier returned from Philadelphia in the USA; his mother died of consumption in 1927.
J B Mills attended Ballyvester, Castle Gardens and Movilla elementary schools, leaving at the age of 14 to become an apprentice electrician.
Mills joined the RAF in December 1938, as an Aircrafthand. After completing his training he was posted to the BEF in France. He was based at Arras as a member of a Lewis Gun crew. During the German advance in May 1940 his unit retreated along the coast through Dunkirk and Cherbourg, eventually being evacuated in one of the last ships out of St Nazaire.
He volunteered for aircrew duties and after a short radar course he was posted to 23 Squadron at Collyweston on June 16 1940.
Mills flew his first operational sortie on July 28. He was posted away on March 21 1941 to join 85 Squadron. The squadron was exchanging its Hurricanes for Havocs and going over to night-fighting.
Mills developed septicaemia and was eventually declared medically unfit to fly. He was then sent to an RAF forward control post preparing for the invasion of France. Some time after D-Day he went ashore at Gold Beach, driving one of the unit’s vehicles. Landing areas were built to be used by Hawker Typhoons. The unit would direct them, using the cab rank system, in close support of ground forces. He remained with the unit till the end of the war in Europe, taking part in the Rhine crossing.
Mills was selected for posting to the Far East, where the war with Japan was still in progress, and he sailed in the SS Uganda to Sydney, Australia in early 1945. He was involved with supply line maintenance to the Pacific theatre. He returned on the RMS Athlone Castle and was demobbed in Northern Ireland in 1946.
Mills lived in Whiteabbey, County Antrim and worked for 30 years in Belfast telephone exchanges, becoming a supervisor. He kept fit at a gym until he was 91 and died of a heart attack, aged 93, on October 30 2014.
A photograph has also been added to this entry.
742128 Sgt Pilot British 43 Squadron
Dennis Noble, who came from Retford, Nottinghamshire, was educated at the Methodist Day School and Sir Frederick Milner School, Retford. He was a member of The Boys’ Brigade and his hobbies included making model aeroplanes and repairing radios and other electrical items. Before the war he was employed by an electrical retailer and then worked as Chief Radio Engineer for Masto Ltd of Watford. He applied for a patent for a shaver power supply unit he designed.
He joined the RAFVR about October 1938, as an Airman u/t Pilot, and was called to full-time service on September 1 1939.
He completed his training at 11 FTS, Shawbury on No 18 Course, which ran from January 31 to June 29 1940. He arrived at 6 OTU, Sutton Bridge on July 6.
After converting to Hurricanes, Noble joined 43 Squadron at Northolt on August 3 1940. On the 13th he made an emergency landing at Tangmere after an operational sortie, with damage to his glycol system and radiator. On the 16th Noble claimed a Ju87 destroyed.
He was shot down and killed by a Bf 109 off the Sussex coast on August 30. His Hurricane, P 3179, crashed near the junction of Portland and Woodhouse Roads, Hove.
Noble was 20. A funeral was held at East Retford Cemetery and a coffin was buried. Rumours persisted at the time that it contained only stones and was tilting to one side when lowered into the grave.
On November 9 1996 Noble’s aircraft was being excavated when it was discovered that human remains were still in the cockpit. Work was halted and the remains were removed. Other items recovered included Noble’s wallet, address book and prayer book, as well as a set of maps.
There was subsequently a memorial service (conducted by the Rev Anthony Martlew who, as a child, had watched Noble’s Hurricane falling) and a burial of remains took place at East Retford, on January 23 1997. On August 21 1998 a new block of flats close to the crash site was named Noble Court. Between 2013 and 2017 a local pub displayed the name Noble House.
P1381 FO Pilot Polish 303 Squadron
Pisarek was born on January 3 1912 at Jasinowo Gorne, in Poland. He was commissioned in the Army in 1934 and, having volunteered for the Air Force, completed flying training at Deblin in 1935. He was posted to 61 Eskadra. After advanced training, Pisarek joined 141 Eskadra at Torun. In the fighting of September 1939, he and another pilot, Stanislaw Skalski, shared in the destruction of a Hs 126 on the 1st. Pisarek destroyed a Hs126 and a Do17 on the 2nd and on the 3rd he was given command of 141 Eskadra. On the 4th he damaged Ju87.
Following Poland’s defeat, He escaped to Romania and travelled to France via Yugoslavia and Italy. He was involved there with the training of Polish airmen and did not fly operationally. Moving from airfield to airfield, as the Germans advanced, Pisarek ended up at Gaillac near Toulouse. He was part of a group of Polish airmen who flew in a Caudron Goeland aircraft to Oran via Perpignan. They moved on via Casablanca and Gibraltar to the UK.
Pisarek arrived in England on June 23 1940. He went to the Polish Wing at 3 S of TT, Blackpool, to await a posting. On August 21 he joined 303 Squadron at Northolt.
He claimed a Bf109 destroyed on September 7. On this day Pisarek was himself shot down by a Bf 109 and baled out, unhurt. His Hurricane, R4173, crashed in the back garden of 40 Roding Road, Loughton, Essex, killing three ARP personnel in an air raid shelter. Pisarek was roughly handled by Home Guard members until they accepted that he wasn’t German.
On September 15 Pisarek destroyed a Bf 109 and on the 28th he was appointed joint ‘B’ Flight Commander. On October 5 he destroyed a Bf110 and damaged another and on the 7th destroyed another Bf109. He was awarded the VM (5th Class) (23.12.40).
Pisarek was posted to 315 Squadron at Acklington at its formation on January 21 1941. He was awarded the KW (1.2.41). On March 30 he was posted to 308 Squadron at Baginton, as a Flight Commander. He took command of the squadron on June 23 1941.
He destroyed Bf109s on July 2 and 17, probably destroyed one on the 22nd and destroyed another four Bf109s on August 14, September 20 and 21 and October 13. Pisarek was awarded three Bars to the KW and the DFC (30.10.41).
He was posted away to HQ 11 Group on December 8 1941, as Polish Liaison Officer. Pisarek was appointed Wing Leader of the Northolt Polish Wing on April 17 1942. He was killed on April 29, leading the Wing over France, in Spitfire MB307, which was shot down by a FW190. He probably crashed into the sea and his body was not found. He is remembered on the Polish Air Force Memorial at Northolt. He was awarded the VM (4th Class) (31.10.47). His portrait was done by Eric Kennington and Cuthbert Orde.
FO 1.3.41 FL 1.9.41
WYNFORD ORMONDE LEONI SMITH
37366 FL Pilot British 263 Squadron
Smith was born in 1915. In 1911 his father was a bank clerk. W O L Smith joined the RAF on a short service commission in October 1935. He was posted to 6 FTS, Netheravon on October 19 and, with training completed, went to the School of Army Co-operation at Old Sarum for a course. On February 11 1937, Smith was posted to the Aircraft Depot, Karachi, moving afterwards to 5 (Army Co-operation) Squadron at Risalpur.
It would appear that Smith was a flying instructor at No 1 FTS, Leuchars in Spring 1940. He joined 263 Squadron at Drem from No 1 FTS on June 20 1940.
On July 13 he was involved in a night flying accident, crashing at Carstairs Junction, Lanark, attempting to land in a built-up area. Smith was unhurt. The Hurricane, P 2991, was written off.
He assumed command of ‘C’ Flight of 263, when it was formed on July 15, to develop the Whirlwind. However ‘C’ Flight was disbanded on August 7 1940, when ‘A’ Flight became non-operational with Whirlwinds and ‘B’ Flight remained operational with Hurricanes. Smith then ceased to be a Flight Commander and joined ‘A’ Flight, commanded by Squadron Leader J G Munro.
Smith was killed on December 29 1940, when he crashed near Bovey Tracey in Whirlwind P 6975. He was 25 and he is buried in Exeter Higher Cemetery, Devon.
Smith’s brother, Hugh Thomas Leoni Smith (born February 6 1911), gained a Royal Aero Club aviators’ certificate through the London Air Park Flying Club on August 23 1939. He was a Pilot Officer in the RAFVR in 1940. The London Gazette for November 11 1947 shows his appointment as a Flying Officer in the RAFVR (General Duties Branch) on September 13 that year. On July 2 1965 the Gazette recorded that H T L Smith, then living at West Horsley, Surrey, and a bank clerk by profession, had changed his name by deed poll on June 28 that year to Hugh Thomas Leoni Leoni-Smith. He died at West Horsley on August 15 1985.
APO 7.10.35 PO 7.10.36 FO 7.5.38 FL 7.5.40
47504 F/Sgt Pilot British 46 Squadron
Tyrer was born in 1915 at Toxteth Park, Liverpool. He joined the RAF on April 27 1932, as an Apprentice Clerk at RAF Records, Ruislip (590612) and passed out on April 24 1934. He later applied for pilot training and was selected.
With training completed, Tyrer appears to have been a staff pilot at No 1 AAS, Manby. He joined 610 Squadron at Wittering from Manby on November 1 1939.
Tyrer arrived at 12 Group Pool, Aston Down on November 10, and after converting to Hurricanes he was posted on December 8, joining 611 Squadron at Rochford on December 16 1939.
He was posted from 611 to 27 MU, Shawbury on April 26 1940 but he was with 46 Squadron by early May and went with the squadron to Norway later in the month. On June 2 Tyrer shared in damaging a Ju 87 near Skaanland. He was evacuated by the Royal Navy on June 8 and he rejoined 46 Squadron when it was reformed at Digby on June 15.
Tyrer damaged a Do17 and a Bf109 on September 7, destroyed a Do17 on the 15th and probably destroyed a Ju88 and a Bf110 and damaged a Bf109 on the 27th. He held the rank of Flight Sergeant at this period of the Battle of Britain.
Commissioned in November 1941, he was released from the RAF in 1945 with the rank of Flight Lieutenant.
On April 1 1946 Tyrer was killed piloting Dragon Rapide G-AERZ, operated by Railway Air Services Ltd, which crashed in dense fog on Royal Belfast Golf Course, Craigavad, County Down, about 200 yards from the club house. Another crew member and four passengers were also killed. The aircraft had been en route from Speke, Liverpool, to Belfast on a scheduled passenger service. It was approaching Belfast City Airport when it hit trees. Heavy rain was also encountered and it was believed that the pilot had reduced altitude to try to retain ground visibility. People associated with the golf club, including the head steward and a bar steward, ran to try to help. One casualty was found outside the burning wreckage and was able to speak, but later died.
At the time of his death Tyrer lived in Allangate Road, Grassendale, Liverpool, with his wife. A daughter was born in 1946.
PO 29.11.41 FO 1.10.42 FL 29.11.43
Updated/new information – 10th update, January 2018:
RICHARD COCKBURN COCKBURN
The following additional paragraph has been added:
As with a number of the aircrew who qualified for the Battle of Britain Clasp in Scotland, Richard Cockburn did not regard himself as one of The Few. However, he visited the National Memorial at Capel-le-Ferne shortly before his death and saw his name on the Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial Wall.
ALEXANDER JOSEPH GLEGG
Entry amended to show that Glegg joined 601 Squadron AAF in 1931, NOT 1935.
JERROLD LE CHEMINANT
Early family details revised in first paragraph to read as follows:
Le Cheminant was born on April 24 1918 in Hampshire. His father was a native of Guernsey. Jerrold Le Cheminant joined the RAFVR about January 1939 as an Airman u/t Pilot (742864).
WILLIAM HOWARD MACHIN
Updated to show that Machin was born in 1920 in West Bromwich, Staffordshire.
WHITNEY WILLARD STRAIGHT
Post-service career information updated as follows:
When BEA was established in 1946, Straight became its Deputy Chairman and Managing Director. He chaired a government advisory committee on private flying and was Chairman of the Royal Aero Club from 1946 to 1951. In 1947 he became Deputy Chairman of BOAC. He later held Board appointments at Rolls-Royce, Midland Bank and the Post Office.
IAN LEWIS MCGREGOR HALLAM
39730 FL Pilot British 610, 222 and 73 Squadrons
Hallam, the son of a doctor, was born in Edinburgh on November 2 1918. Shortly afterwards the family moved from Morayshire to Yalding, Kent. Hallam was educated at Repton School. He joined the RAF on a short service commission and began his ab initio course on March 15 1937, as a pupil pilot. He went on to No 1 RAF Depot, Uxbridge on May 18, for a short induction course.
He was posted to 2 FTS, Digby on June 5 and with intermediate and advanced training completed, he joined 2 (Army Co-operation) Squadron at Hawkinge in January 1938.
The squadron went to France on September 6 1939 and was withdrawn to England on May 19 1940. Hallam was sent to the PRU at Heston on July 6 1940, for training, following which he joined 225 (AC) Squadron at Tilshead.
In August he volunteered for Fighter Command and arrived at 7 OTU, Hawarden on the 22nd. After converting to Spitfires, Hallam joined 610 Squadron at Acklington on September 3, moving on to 222 Squadron at Hornchurch on the 30th. During the Battle of Britain, Hallam is believed to have claimed one Bf 109 destroyed, another probably destroyed and four damaged.
On October 24 1940 he was posted to 73 Squadron at Castle Camps.
He made a crash-landing on November 3 near Redhill, in a Hurricane.
He did not go with 73 when it left Debden for the Middle East on November 13 but joined 151 Squadron at Digby on the 19th.
Hallam served briefly with 303 Squadron at Leconfield, as ‘B’ Flight Commander, from December 4 until the 23rd, when he went to 213 Squadron, also based at Leconfield.
In 1941 Hallam was posted to No 2 CFS, Cranwell, as an instructor. In early March 1942 he went to South Africa and instructed at 5 (SAAF) Wing at Germiston and later at 21 Air School, Kimberley.
In early July 1942 he was posted to Egypt, to join 208 Squadron, a photo-reconnaissance unit, equipped with Hurricanes. Based in the Western Desert at LG 100, Hallam failed to return on August 24 1942, from a reconnaissance operation over the Alamein area. A month later the Germans broadcast his name as a PoW.
At some time he was held in Stalag Luft 3 at Sagan and Belaria (PoW No 648) and Oflag XXIB at Szubin, Poland. He was freed by American troops in early May 1945.
Hallam stayed on in the RAF. He was killed on May 10 1952, when his aircraft crashed at Haddo House home farm, near Methlick, Aberdeenshire, whilst on a training flight from Dyce. Cadet pilot John Lawrie was also killed. At that time Hallam was a Squadron Leader and CO of the Aberdeen University Air Squadron. He was buried at Dyce Old Churchyard, Aberdeenshre. His widow, a former WRNS communications officer, died in 2002 and her ashes were placed at the grave.
APO 18.5.37 PO 15.3.38 FO 15.10.39 FL 15.10.40 SL 1.12.41 SL 1.8.47
754673 Sgt Pilot British 232 Squadron
Hardie was born in 1921 in Stockport, Cheshire. He joined the RAFVR about July 1939, as an Airman u/t Pilot.
Called up on September 1, he did his elementary flying training at 7 EFTS, Desford. He moved on to 10 FTS, Ternhill for No 20 Course, which ran from May 13 to August 17 1940. He arrived at 6 OTU, Sutton Bridge on the 17th. Hardie made a forced-landing near Holbeach on September 3, in Master N 7969, as a precaution against fuel shortage. He converted to Hurricanes and joined 232 Squadron at Castletown on September 22. Hardie was posted to No 4 Delivery Flight on June 7 1941 but rejoined 232 Squadron on the 19th, going with it to the Far East at the end of October 1941. At some time in January 1942 Hardie was shot down into the sea off Singapore by Japanese fighters. He was picked up. He flew a 232 Squadron Hurricane to Sumatra on February 5 1942 and on the 25th joined 242 Squadron at Tjilitan when 232 was disbanded.
Hardie was commissioned from Warrant Officer on July 26 1943. He died, as a Flying Officer, on April 10 1944 in a flying accident. Master AZ 725 of No 5 (P) AFU crashed on take-off from Chetwynd after hitting the wind-sock. Flying Officer T Rutherford, RCAF was also killed. Hardie is buried in Stockport (Willow Grove) Cemetery, Reddish.
ALISTAIR THOMAS JAMES KINDERSLEY
Lieutenant (FAA) Pilot British 808 Squadron
Kindersley’s father was Lieutenant Colonel A O L Kindersley, CMG, DL, who had served with the Highland Light Infantry and, in the Second Boer War, with the Cameronians (Scotttish Rifles). After diplomatic service he returned to the Army in the First World War and held commands in the Seaforth Highlanders and the Cameronians.
A T J Kindersley, born in 1915 in Edinburgh, had a brother and sister. From 1919, the family lived at Hamstead Grange, Hamstead, near Yarmouth, Isle of Wight. Kindersley joined the Navy as a Cadet and passed out on September 1 1932. He was granted a temporary commission in the RAF for service with the FAA, as a Flying Officer, on January 5 1937. He relinquished this on July 26 1939.
On July 8 1940 he joined 808 Squadron at Wick, flying Fulmars on dockyard defence. He was with the squadron when it embarked on HMS Ark Royal on October 22 1940.
In 1941 the carrier was in the Mediterranean, as part of Force H. On May 8 Kindersley shared in destroying a SM 79 bomber. He was killed on July 25 1941. In an action to protect convoy GM1, bound from Gibraltar to Malta, his 808 Squadron Fulmar was shot down by return fire whilst attacking 12 SM 79 bombers seeking to reach the convoy, 120 miles SW of Sardinia. Petty Officer F A Barnes was also lost in Kindersley’s aircraft. The FAA force was led by Lieutenant R C Cockburn (qv) whose aircraft was also shot down but he and his crew member survived. Cockburn was awarded the DSO.
A recommendation for a posthumous VC was submitted in the case of Kindersley.
When the Second Sea Lord, Admiral Sir William Whitworth, reviewed the decorations recommended for the action he wrote, “I am not sure that there is a strong enough case for giving Kindersley a posthumous VC.
“Kindersley and Cockburn in company achieved the same success in the face of heavy odds: Cockburn survives and is recommended for a DSO, Kindersley is killed and it is proposed to award a posthumous VC. There is no saying that Cockburn was not the more valiant of the two. It is also observed that the FOH [Flag Officer Home Fleet] puts Lieutenant Lewin, another Ark Royal pilot, ahead of Kindersley in his order of merit.
“I feel, therefore, that a Mention for Kindersley would be more equitable unless it is particularly desired to give the Fleet Air Arm a VC.”
Kindersley and Barnes were Mentioned in Despatches.
Kindersley was 26. He is remembered on the Fleet Air Arm Memorial at Lee-on-Solent. There is a plaque in his memory in St Michael’s church, Shalfleet, Isle of Wight.
Midshipman 1.5.33 Actg Sub-Lt 1.9.35 Sub-Lt 23.11.36 FO 5.1.37 Lt 16.1.38
DUGALD THOMAS MOORE LUMSDEN
33545 PO Pilot British 236 Squadron
Lumsden was born on June 27 1920 and educated at Deytheur Grammar School, Llansaintffraid, Montgomeryshire. He entered RAF College, Cranwell in January 1939, as a Flight Cadet. After the outbreak of war, cadets who had not completed their courses were enlisted in the regular RAF on September 7 1939, as Airmen u/t Pilots and each given an Airman number.
Lumsden (581730) graduated on December 23 1939 and was granted a Permanent Commission. He joined the recently-reformed 236 Squadron at Martlesham Heath on January 4 1940.
After operating with Fighter Command until July 1940, the squadron was transferred to Coastal Command and moved to St Eval on August 8. On the 21st Lumsden was detached to Farnborough, for a short High Altitude Flying Course.
On November 9 1940 a He111 was attacked by Lumsden, flying with Sergeant. C M Gibbons and Sergeant E E Miles. It jettisoned its torpedo but crashed into the sea off Brest.
In July 1941 Lumsden was posted to 2 (Coastal) OTU at Catfoss, as an instructor. Whilst there, he converted to Beaufighters and in late May 1942 returned to operations, joining 248 Squadron at Dyce.
On July 11 1942 Lumsden was on a sortie from Sumburgh searching for the German ships Scharnhorst and Tirpitz. While flying low over Ramsoyfjord the Beaufighter was intercepted by Bf 109s from nearby Orland. The aircraft was brought down in the sea off the island of Hitra. Lumsden, injured by shrapnel, and his navigator, Warrant Officer D H Goffee, were able to get out and swim to the settlement of Forsnes on the island, where they later became PoWs. The Beaufighter was claimed by Unteroffizier Erich Koch.
Lumsden spent some months in Trondheim hospital before being transferred to Stalag Luft 3, at first in the East Compound (PoW No 578). He took part in the “Long March”.
Freed in May 1945, Lumsden joined 254 Squadron at Chivenor in September, flying Beaufighters. He went on to serve in Ceylon.
After further postings, including to the Air Ministry, he went to Manby for a conversion course onto the Canberra. He then commanded 17 Squadron at Wildenrath, Germany. The squadron flew the Canberra PR7 in the photographic reconnaissance role. His final posting was as an instructor at the RAF Staff College, Bracknell.
Lumsden was made MBE (1.6.53) and retired on May 16 1964, as a Wing Commander. He died on November 7 1995 in Chesterfield, Derbyshire.
PO 23.12.39 FO 23.12.40 FL 23.12.41 SL 1.8.47 WC 1.7.53
JOHN BASIL RAMSAY
41204 PO Pilot British 151 Squadron
Ramsay was born in India on July 7 1919. He was educated at Bishop’s Stortford College. He joined the RAF on a short service commission and began his ab initio course on July 25 1938, as a pupil pilot at 10 E&RFTS, Yatesbury.
Ramsay went to No 1 RAF Depot, Uxbridge on September 17 1938 for a short disciplinary course.
Ramsay moved on to 9 FTS, Hullavington on October 1, went to 6 Advanced Training Squadron at Warmwell, for the final section of his course, on April 11 1939 and returned to Hullavington on May 5.
On May 14 1939 Ramsay joined 24 (Communications) Squadron at Hendon. The squadron went to France on January 23 1940 and was finally withdrawn to Hendon on May 29.
Ramsay was posted to 7 OTU, Hawarden on July 13 and after converting to Hurricanes, he joined 151 Squadron at North Weald on July 29 1940.
Ramsay failed to return from an engagement with enemy aircraft over Chelmsford on August 18, in Hurricane R 4181, and was reported ‘Missing’. It was his fifth sortie of the day. His name appears on the Runnymede Memorial, Panel 9.
However, a post-war excavation of a Hurricane at Deal Hall Farm, Holliwell Point, Essex proved it to be Ramsay’s and his remains were still in the cockpit. Items recovered included a gold signet ring, with the initials “JBR” on it, marking his 21st birthday the previous month, and some of his visiting cards.
He was buried with full military honours at Brookwood Military Cemetery on October 25 1983. A wreath laid by his cousin Joan Worth read: “In affectionate memory of our dearest John who disappeared so long ago and who gave his life freely for us all. One of the few and one of the best.”
APO 17.9.38 PO 25.7.39
NEVILLE DAVID SOLOMON
79731 PO Pilot British 29 and 17 Squadrons
Solomon was born on February 21 1914 in King’s Norton, Leicestershire. His father, Archibald Baron Z Solomon appears in a Freemason membership register of 1919 as a dealer in fine art. N D Solomon joined the RAFVR about September 1938, as an Airman u/t Pilot (742006). He carried out his elementary flying training at 27 E&RFTS, Nottingham.
Called up on September 1 1939, he completed his training at 10 FTS, Ternhill on No 17 Course, from December 9 1939 to May 26 1940. When the course ended, he was commissioned and sent to 5 OTU, Aston Down on May 27.
After converting to Blenheims, Solomon joined 29 Squadron at Digby on June 16. He arrived at 6 OTU, Sutton Bridge on July 16, on attachment from 29 Squadron, for a refresher course but on the 18th his attachment ceased and he was posted to 17 Squadron at Debden. With no Hurricane experience, Solomon returned to 6 OTU on July 25, converted to Hurricanes and rejoined 17 Squadron on August 10. Solomon was reported ‘Missing’ on August 18 1940, after an action with Bf 109s off Dover. He was weaving at the rear of Red Section when he disappeared. His Hurricane, L 1921, crashed into the sea. He was 26 and is buried in Pihen-les-Guines Cemetery, France.
JOHN GRAHAM THIELMANN
37701 FL Pilot British 234 Squadron
Theilmann was born on April 2 1912 at Sculcoates, on the outskirts of Hull. He joined the RAF on a short service commission and began his ab initio course on January 27 1936, as a pupil pilot. He was posted to 9 FTS, Thornaby on April 4 and, with training completed, he joined 41 Squadron at Catterick on October 11 1936.
When 234 Squadron was reformed at Leconfield on October 30 1939, Theilmann joined it as ‘A’ Flight Commander.
He relinquished this post when he was posted to RAF St Eval on August 7 1940, as non-effective sick, suffering from asthma.
When he recovered he became an instructor at 10 SFTS Tern Hill, 2 CFS Cranwell, 13 EFTS Peterborough and 21 EFTS Booker before going in 1941 to 4 Air School (SAAF) Benoni, South Africa and then 6 Air School (SAAF) at Potchefstroom in 1942.
His last South African posting was 45 Air School (SAAF) at Oudtshoorn before he returned to the UK in May 1944.
Theilmann was posted to 529 Squadron, which was developing early helicopters at Halton. After his release from the RAF in March 1946, as a Squadron Leader, he carried on this work at Air Contractors Ltd. He was appointed Chief Pilot at the BEA experimental helicopter unit, operating the Bell 47 and Sikorsky S-51 until June 1953, when he emigrated to Canada.
He remained in the helicopter field with Spartan Air Services, a Canadian surveying company, until retirement in 1961.
Theilmann died in Canada on February 2 1985.
APO 23.3.36 PO 27.1.37 FO 27.7.38 FL 27.7.40 SL 1.12.41
REGINALD ELLIS TONGUE
78551 PO Pilot British 3 and 504 Squadron
Tongue was born on July 17 1912 and educated at Sedbergh School. He made his first flight in 1931, in a Tiger Moth from Barton Airport, Manchester. He went to Exeter College, Oxford, where he read Medicine. He learned to fly with the University Air Squadron.
In July 1935 Tongue left the squadron, did a little more flying in 1936 and then bought his own Leopard Moth in 1937.
Tongue joined the RAFVR in April 1940 with a direct-entry commission. He went to 9 FTS, Hullavington on April 10 and with the course completed, he was posted to 3 Squadron at Wick on July 27.
He was attached to 5 OTU, Aston Down on August 5. Next day he crashed in Master N 7782, unhurt. After converting to Hurricanes, he returned to Wick on September 2. He moved to 504 Squadron on the 28th. He made a forced-landing near Whitchurch on October 16, running into a pond, in Hurricane R 4178.
On November 10 1940 Tongue went to 249 Squadron at North Weald, moving to 46 Squadron there on the 16th. Apart from five weeks attachment to 71 Squadron in March/April 1941, Tongue remained with 46 until May 1. He then went overseas, spent two months at Takoradi and was back in the UK at the end of August.
On October 8 1941 Tongue was posted to 55 OTU, Usworth, as an instructor. He went to Rolls-Royce Ltd on March 7 1942, as Fighter Command liaison officer. He was put on the Special Duties List on November 11 and became a test pilot at Rolls-Royce.
Tongue continued this until October 19 1945. He was released from the RAF on December 14 1945, as a Flight Lieutenant. He died in 1992.
“Reggie” Tongue was a competitor in races and rallies. In 1934 he entered an Aston Martin in the Le Mans 24 hours race. Driving with Maurice Faulkner he finished 10th. He drove a Jaguar Mk 5, with P E Warr, in the 1951 Monte Carlo Rally. Setting off from Glasgow (the event started from various European venues at that time), they were classified 31st.
Tongue died on June 1 1992.
APO 10.4.40 PO 27.7.40 FO 27.7.41 FL 27.7.42
Updated/new information – 9th update, December 2017:
EDWARD ARISS ALEXANDER
While earlier editions assumed that Alexander was from Steyning, the address given by his widow at the time of his death, it has now been established that she did not move to Steyning until some time later. Alexander’s entry has been revised to show Hove as his address. It also adds that he was born on January 6 1919 and attended Brighton Grammar School from 1930.
DOUGLAS NORMAN RAINS
641910 Sgt Wop/AG British 248 Squadron
Rains was born in Great Ouseburn, Yorkshire in 1919. His father was shown in the 1911 census as a salesman of cotton goods. D N Rains was educated at Stockport Grammar School. He joined the RAF on May 2 1939, as an Aircrafthand. He later remustered as an Airman u/t Wop/AG and, with training completed, he joined 248 Squadron at Sumburgh on August 18 1940.
On August 12 1942 Rains was Wop/AG in the crew of Wellington T2919, of 7 (Coastal) OTU at Limavady, Londonderry. The aircraft was on a navigational training flight when the pilot came down through cloud and crashed into high ground in Co Londonderry. Rains and two other members of the crew were killed. He was a Flight Sergeant, aged 22.
He is buried in St George’s churchyard, Poynton, Cheshire. When his father (described as a company director) was granted probate on January 28 1943, the address given for D N Rains was Southfield, London Road, Poynton.
PERCY RONALD SMITH
581477 Sgt Observer British 236 Squadron
Smith was born in Hammersmith, London on September 11 1915. He joined the RAF in about June 1939, as a direct-entry Airman u/t Observer. He completed his training and was with 236 Squadron in early July 1940.
On November 19 Smith’s flight of 236 Squadron was posted to RAF Aldergrove, where it combined with a flight from 235 Squadron to reform 272 Squadron on the 21st. He flew his first sortie with 272 on that day.
Smith was killed on November 24 1940, serving as a Sergeant with 272 Squadron, aged 25. His aircraft was over Germany when it was lost.
He is remembered on the Runnymede Memorial, Panel 19.
JOHN HENRY SPIRES
121239 Sgt Observer British 235 Squadron
Spires was born on September 27 1920 in Luton, Bedfordshire. The 1911 census shows his father as a traveller in the straw hat trade. J H Spires joined the RAFVR about May 1939, as an Airman u/t Observer (751252). Called up on September 1, he completed his training at 4 B&GS, West Freugh on No 4 Air Observer Course, which ran from January 1 to March 9 1940.
With training completed, Spires joined 235 Squadron at North Coates on March 9. He was flying with Pilot Officer E H McHardy of 248 Squadron as pilot and LAC Heavisides as gunner, when they shot down a Bf 110 three miles off Blankenberge, Belgium.
He served with 235 Squadron in the Battle of Britain and is last mentioned in the squadron ORB on October 20 1940.
In October 1940 Spires was posted to 431 Flight at Luqa, Malta. Formed in the previous August, 431 Flight was equipped with Marylands, operating in the general reconnaissance role. The unit provided the photos used to plan the Royal Navy attack on the Italian fleet at Taranto on November 10 1940.
More Marylands arrived in January 1941 and the Flight was reformed as 69 Squadron. Spires frequently flew with Flight Lieutenant Adrian Warburton and they often engaged enemy aircraft. Spires was awarded the DFM (17.6.41).
His tour ended in January 1942 and he was returned to the UK as an instructor, firstly at No.1 EANS at Eastbourne and then at the Central Navigation School at Cranage. Spires was commissioned in May 1942.
In mid-1943 Spires returned to operations. After converting to the Mosquito he was posted to the Photographic Reconnaissance Unit at RAF Benson in October 1943.
From here he operated in Mosquitos over France and Germany, notably over marshalling yards. He was awarded the DFC (7.11.44) as a Flight Lieutenant.
Spires remained at Benson after his tour ended in August 1945.
On October 20 he was navigator to Wing Commander JRH Merrifield in Mosquito PR34 RG 241 of 540 Squadron which took off from St. Mawgan, Cornwall and landed at Gander, Newfoundland seven hours and two minutes later, an east-west record. The return flight, on October 23, was accomplished in five hours 10 minutes, a record which still stands for a twin piston-engined aircraft crossing the Atlantic.
Spires was released from the RAF in 1946 and commissioned in the RAFVR. He left the RAFVR in 1947.
Having lived in Luton for much of his life, Spires died there on January 5 1984, aged 63. His wartime papers are held by Imperial War Museums.
PO 1.5.42 FO 1.11.42 FL 1.5.44 PO (RAFVR) 1.7.46
90408 FO Pilot British 615 Squadron
Anthony Eyre was born in Lowestoft in 1918 but later lived in Purley, where his father had been appointed manager of a bank. He went to Whitgift School, Croydon, going on to study law. He joined 615 Squadron, AAF in 1938 and was mobilised on August 24 1939.
Eyre was attached to 11 Group Pool on September 18, converted to Hurricanes and rejoined 615 on the 27th. He was detached to RAF Kenley on October 5.
615 Squadron went to France on November 15 1939 but Eyre did not join it there until February 7 1940. He was in action in May 1940 and claimed two Bf109s probably destroyed on the 19th.The squadron was withdrawn from France to Kenley on the 21st and was operational again in early June. On the 11th Eyre claimed a Bf109 destroyed and a Bf110 damaged, on the 22nd a Bf110 destroyed and three damaged and on July 20 a Bf109 destroyed and another damaged. Eyre claimed a Ju87 destroyed and another shared on August 14, on the 15th he shared a Bf109, on the 20th he claimed a Do17 destroyed, on the 26th a Bf109 destroyed and a Ju88 and a Bf109 damaged and on the 28th a Do17 destroyed, a probable Bf109 and another damaged. Eyre was awarded the DFC (30.8.40).
On October 31 1940 he was appointed ‘A’ Flight Commander and on November 5 he was promoted to Acting Flight Lieutenant.
On February 28 1941 he took command of the squadron after the CO, Wing Commander Holmwood, was killed when his parachute caught fire and failed to open. In May 1941 Eyre was posted for a rest and he stayed at HQ 9 Group, Preston until January 1942.
He returned to operations when he was appointed to lead the North Weald Wing in early March. He led his first sortie on the 8th, in Spitfire W3276. Between Gravelines and Dunkirk a lone FW190 dived through the Wing and shot Eyre down. He crash-landed just S of Mardyck aerodrome and was captured.
At some time Eyre was held in Stalag Luft 3 (POW No 4). Freed in early May 1945, he became OC, Fairwood Common.
Eyre was killed on February 16 1946 in a flying accident during a practice flight in Tempest NV787. His engine gave trouble and he decided to land at St Athan as a precaution. On approach the engine cut out and the aircraft struck a large oak tree, killing Eyre instantly.
He is buried in St Cennydd’s Churchyard, Llangennith, Glamorganshire.
PO(AAF) 26.7.38 PO 24.8.39 FO 26.1.40 FL 26.1.41 SL 1.12.41
JAMES EDWARD SAYERS
560204 Sgt Pilot British 41 Squadron
Born on April 10 1910, Sayers was educated at Woolwich Polytechnic. He joined the RAF straight from school in January 1926, as an Aircraft Apprentice. He passed out in January 1929 as a Fitter, Airframe/Engines and was posted to 2 (Army Co-operation) Squadron at Manston.
Sayers did an air gunnery course in April 1930 and became an AG/FAE. He later volunteered for pilot training, was selected and on April 4 1934 was posted to 3 FTS, Grantham.
On passing out as a Sergeant-Pilot on February 27 1935, Sayers joined 65 Squadron at Hornchurch but moved to 41 Squadron at Northolt in September. The squadron was posted to Aden in October 1935 and returned to Catterick in August 1936.
Sayers was admitted to Catterick hospital in October 1938 and remained medically unfit for flying until March 1940. He returned to 41 Squadron and flew his last sortie with the squadron, a convoy patrol, on July 15, . He was re-admitted to Catterick hospital on August 21, later being moved to Halton hospital. On being discharged on October 23 his medical condition (stomach ulcers) seems to have precluded him from further flying as he returned to his previous trade as Fitter, Airframe/Engines.
Promoted to Warrant Officer on November 1 1941, he became a Fitter 2E on September 3 1942. There were further spells in hospital. Sayers was discharged from the RAF on January 5 1953 as a Warrant Officer.
He worked at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich and the MoD Depot at Didcot before retiring in 1975. He settled in Bexhill, moving in 1997 to Huntingdon, where he died on March 13 1998.
CHRISTOPHER JOHN DRAKE ANDREAE
70018 FO Pilot British 64 Squadron
Andreae was born in Chislehurst, Kent on January 20 1917. He was educated at Shrewsbury School from 1930 to 1935 and then went to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he read natural science. He was with the University Air Squadron there, was commissioned into Class ‘AA’ of the RAFO on March 16 1937 and was commissioned in the RAFVR in January 1938.
Andreae was called to full-time service on December 15 1939 and completed his training at RAF College FTS, Cranwell, on No 8 Course, which ran from March 6 to June 22 1940.
He went to 6 OTU, Sutton Bridge on June 22, converted to Spitfires and joined 64 Squadron at Kenley on July 20. On August 11 he returned to base in Spitfire N 3293 with damage caused by cannon fire from an enemy fighter engaged off Dover.
Four days later Andreae failed to return from a combat with Bf 109s over the Channel. He was 23 years old. He was never heard of again and is remembered on the Runnymede Memorial, Panel 5.
Andreae’s brother Henry served as a Royal Navy officer and survived the war. Their father was in the Auxiliary Fire Service.
PO (RAFO) 16.3.37 PO (RAFVR) 1.1.38 PO 15.12.39 FO 15.12.39
PHILIP PURCHALL NORRIS
740810 Sgt Pilot British 213 Squadron
Norris was born in Burgess Hill, Sussex on September 4 1917, one of six sons and two daughters. Their father worked as the manager and engineer of a gasworks in Burgess Hill and the family lived in a house in Leylands Road, next to the gasworks. P P Norris was a member of the Congregational Church Youth Club, attended Brighton Grammar School and took an interest in boxing. He worked for Lloyds Bank in Brighton after leaving school and joined the RAFVR in about October 1937 as an Airman u/t Pilot. He learned to fly at Shoreham Aerodrome. After completing his flying training he arrived at 12 Group Pool, Aston Down on February 10 1940. He converted to Hurricanes and was posted to 213 Squadron at Wittering on March 9.
Norris was in ‘A’ Flight of 213. On May 17 the flight flew down from Wittering to Biggin Hill and in the afternoon it escorted a Bombay of 271 Squadron across the Channel to Abbeville.
In the afternoon the flight landed at Merville to refuel. It took off again at 17.45 for a patrol and returned to Biggin Hill, having seen no enemy aircraft all day.
On May 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22 the flight flew to France from Biggin Hill, mounted patrols from Lille/Marcq and Merville and returned to Biggin Hill each evening. The flight returned to Wittering on the 23rd.
In late May 213 sent a detachment to France for a few days. On the 31st Norris destroyed a BF 109 over Dunkirk.
Norris failed to return from an action over Portland on August 13, in Hurricane P 3348. His body was later washed ashore on the French coast and he is buried in Etaples Military Cemetery.
His brother Leslie served with the Royal Engineers, including in north west Europe, and was awarded an MC. Another brother, Eric, served with the Royal Corps of Signals. Two more brothers, Ken and Lewis (“Lew”), ran an engineering design consultancy and worked for Donald Campbell on “Bluebird” designs for water and land speed record attempts.
ROBERT FERGUSON PHILO
42433 PO Pilot British 151 Squadron
Philo was born in Cambridge on June 21 1911. He joined the RAF on a short service commission and began his ab initio course at 10 E&RFTS, Yatesbury on June 12 1939.
He moved on to 3 FTS South Cerney for No. 29 Course, which ran from September 25. Philo transferred to No. 30 Course, which ended on April 27 1940 and was then posted to the School of Army Co-operation at Old Sarum.
On July 17 Philo was piloting Lysander L 6870 of this unit near Exeter on an air photography sortie when it was challenged by three unidentified Hurricanes. The photographer/gunner, Pilot Officer B S T Brookes, fired off the colours of the day but the flares were not be seen by the Hurricanes, possibly due to intense sunlight. One of the Hurricanes opened fire, mortally wounding Brookes and severely damaging the Lysander. With his aircraft almost uncontrollable Philo carried out a fast crash-landing. The subsequent Court of Inquiry established that the flight had been carried out over part of a prohibited area, although Philo did not realise this. It has been suggested that the Hurricanes identified the Lysander as a Hs126, though these aircraft did not venture over the UK.
Philo arrived at 5 OTU Aston Down on September 4, converted to Hurricanes and joined 151 Squadron at Digby on September 18.
After a night patrol in Hurricane V 7439 on November 24 he struck trees on landing and was admitted to hospital. His subsequent service has not been established. He was released from the RAF in 1945 as a Flight Lieutenant.
It is known that Philo worked for BOAC between 1949 and 1951. He is recorded as going through a divorce in South Africa (having married in 1936) in about 1961 or 1962. His former wife died in the UK in 1990.
APO 5.8.39 PO 28.4.40 FO 28.4.41 FL 28.4.42
CHARLES VIVIAN WINN
40586 FO Pilot British 29 Squadron
Winn was born on April 20 1918 and educated at St Peter’s School, Weston-super-Mare and Wycliffe College. He joined the RAF on a short service commission and began his ab initio course on November 29 1937, as a pupil pilot at 12 E&RFTS, Yatesbury.
He was posted to 7 FTS, Peterborough on March 5 1938, and with training completed he joined 29 Squadron at Debden on September 17. He was detached from 29 to 4 E&RFTS, Brough from October 9 1938 to January 10 1939.
Winn served with the squadron throughout the Battle of Britain and was appointed ‘A’ Flight Commander on October 28 1940 and promoted to Acting Flight Lieutenant. He was shot down on December 24 1940 by a German fighter. His radar operator, Sergeant D J Hunter, spent two weeks in hospital but Winn seems to have been unhurt.
He was posted away on June 21 1941 and joined 1459 Flight when it was formed at Hunsdon on September 20 1941. The Flight was equipped with Turbinlite Havocs and flew in close co-operation with Hurricanes of 253 Squadron.
During the night of April 30/May 1 1942, Winn illuminated a He 111, which Flight Lieutenant D S Yapp of 253 attacked and destroyed.
Later in the month Winn took command of 1459 Flight. On July 28 he probably destroyed a Do 17 near Mablethorpe, with the assistance of Flight Lieutenant J L W Ellacombe of 253.
On August 11 he participated in the probable destruction of an enemy aircraft with Flight Sergeant McCarthy of 253. Winn was awarded the DFC (29.9.42), the citation stating: “This officer has displayed great keenness to engage the enemy, and his skill and leadership have inspired all with whom he has flown. One night in April, 1942, Squadron Leader Winn assisted in the destruction of a Heinkel 111.”
The flight was redesignated 538 Squadron on September 2 and Winn commanded it until it was disbanded on January 25 1943.
He rejoined 29 Squadron at West Malling in March 1943 as a Flight Commander. He moved to 141 Squadron at Predannack on April 24, again as a Flight Commander. On the night of June 21/22 1943 he destroyed a Ju 88 and on July 28 he damaged a Ju 88. On both occasions his radar operator was Flying Officer R A W Scott. Winn remained with 141 until November 18 1943, when he was posted to HQ ADGB.
In early 1944 Winn went to HQ 100 (Bomber Support) Group and on June 3 1944 he took command of 141 Squadron at West Raynham, remaining with it until it was disbanded on September 7 1945.
Winn was awarded the DSO, as an Acting Wing Commander and, with Flight Lieutenant Ray Amherst Winkworth Scott, a bar to his DFC (3.7.45), with the citation stating that: “As pilot and navigator respectively, these officers participated in an attack, by a small formation of aircraft, against the airfield at Munich-Neubiberb. The operation, which had been carefully planned, was brilliantly executed. Hangars and other buildings on the airfield were set on fire and much other damage was caused. By their skill, gallantry and determination, Wing Commander Winn and Flight Lieutenant Scott played a good part in the success achieved. These officers have a fine record of achievement and have set a splendid example to all.”
Winn was posted to West Africa and returned to the UK in October 1946 to attend RAF Staff College.
His post-war appointments included command of the RAF stations at Felixstowe, Weston Zoyland and Laarbruch (West Germany), as well as Chief Plans and Operations, HQ Far East Air Force Command, Air Commander, Malta and Commander Northern Maritime Air Region, as well as being AOC, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Winn was made OBE (1.1.51), received the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery in 1953 (for services rendered during the East Coast floods of that year), was made a CBE (1.1.63) and retired from the RAF on July 1 1974, as an Air Vice-Marshal.
He was Chief Recreation Officer for Anglian Water Authority and from 1982 to 1987 was Chairman of the Ex-Services Mental Welfare Society.
He died in September 1988.
APO 19.2.38 PO 29.11.38 FO 29.8.40 FL 29.8.41 SL 1.7.43 SL 1.9.45 WC 1.7.51 GC 1.1.59 AC 1.7.65 AVM 1.1.72
EDWARD CHATHAM WOLFE
37705 FL Pilot British 219 and 141 Squadrons
Wolfe was born in Hong Kong on June 11 1911, the son of the Hon E D C Wolfe, Inspector General of the Hong Kong Police and Chief Officer of the Hong Kong Fire Brigade. He was educated at Grange School, Folkestone and Tonbridge School. After a pleasure flight over Andover at the age of 16 he became fascinated by flying.
From 1929 to 1932 he was apprenticed in fire engineering at Merryweather & Sons, Greenwich. From 1932 Wolfe was employed at the company’s London branch, as a salesman and Fire Prevention Officer.
On March 4 1935 Wolfe joined Class ‘F’ of the RAF Reserve, as an Airman u/t Pilot (700085) and did his weekend flying at No 1 E&RFTS, Hatfield. He was released from the RAFR on being accepted for a short service commission in the RAF in January 1936.
Wolfe began his ab initio course at 4 E&RFTS, Brough on February 24 1936 as a pupil pilot, and moved to No 1 RAF Depot, Uxbridge on March 23 for a short disciplinary course. He was posted to 9 FTS, Thornaby on April 4 and, with his training completed, joined 64 Squadron at Martlesham Heath on October 11 1936.
He became ‘B’ Flight Commander in May 1938 and in December he was appointed Adjutant. On October 23 1939 Wolfe went to 219 Squadron at Catterick as ‘B’ Flight Commander, with the rank of Acting Flight Lieutenant.
He relinquished command of ‘B’ Flight and assumed command of ‘A’ Flight on May 17 1940. On August 15 he shared in damaging a He 111 and a Ju 88 in the Scarborough/Flamborough Head area.
Wolfe was posted from 219 to 141 Squadron at Biggin Hill on September 13 1940 as a supernumerary Acting Squadron Leader. He took command of the squadron on the 17th and was to convert it to a night-fighting role.
In the early hours of May 7 1941, with Sergeant A E Ashcroft as his gunner, Wolfe shot down a Ju 88. The aircraft crashed and exploded at Newlands, Lennoxtown, Stirlingshire. Two of the crew, one a Staffel Kapitan, were killed and two became PoWs. Wolfe was awarded the DFC (30.5.41) , the citation stating that: “On the night of 6/7th May 1941, S/Ldr Wolfe was on patrol over Glasgow when he sighted an enemy aircraft. He immediately closed to the attack while ordering his air-gunner to withhold fire until they were within 20 yds of their objective. His courage and determination in closing with the enemy to such short-range enabled him to remain ‘in formation’ while the enemy carried out evasive action, thus bringing his combat to a successful conclusion. The enemy aircraft still carrying a full load of bombs crashed to the ground and burst into flames. This officer has completed 174 hours night-flying since the outbreak of war during which time he has carried out no less than 40 operational flights by night. Since assuming command of 141 Squadron in September 1940 he has always shown great determination, skill and courage and his leadership has undoubtedly imbued his pilots with the same characteristics.”
Wolfe reverted to Flight Commander when the command was upgraded to Wing Commander rank.
In March 1942 Wolfe took command of 456 (RAAF) Squadron at Valley as a Wing Commander. Early on July 30, again with Ashcroft, he shot down a He 111 which crashed on to Pwllheli Beach. Wolfe was taken off operational flying in February 1943 and sent to the Eighth War Staff Course at RAF Staff College, Gerrards Cross. He was posted to 62 OTU, Ouston in May, as CFI.
In August 1943 he went to Orlando, Florida, for a short course at AAFSAT, followed by six weeks at the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth. After returning to the UK in November, Wolfe was appointed Operations Staff Officer at HQ 85 Group, TAF at Uxbridge. He moved in May 1944 to HQ 13 Group at Inverness, as Operations Staff Officer and Training Staff Officer.
In May 1945 Wolfe went to HQ 88 Group, RAF Norway. He received a Mention in Despatches in June for staff work and flying at 13 Group and in November he was awarded the Norwegian Liberation Cross for services in 88 Group.
He was released from the RAF in December 1945, as a Wing Commander,
Wolfe renewed his civil ‘A’ licence 9179 in January 1946 and joined Airwork Ltd (Overseas Division) flying passengers to Nice, transferring for an attachment with the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company at Abadan in September of the same year. He flew a total of 341 hours in a de Haviland Rapide all over Iran delivering freight and passengers, eventually becoming its most senior pilot.
On September 6 1951, Wolfe returned to the UK as a result of the Iranian nationalisation of the local assets of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, an occurrence which became known as the “Abadan Crisis”.
Wolfe gained his commercial pilot’s licence on May 2 1952, and on June 5 he joined the Iraq Petroleum Company at Kirkuk flying de Haviland Dove aircraft, again delivering freight and passengers all over the country. On April 11 1963 Wolfe took his last flight with the company from Baghdad to Kirkuk, retiring from flying, having flown a total of 11,375 hours in both military and civil aircraft.
Wolfe died on April 19 1994. He is honoured on a plaque at Tonbridge School, unveiled on November 26 2003.
APO 23.3.36 PO 27.1.37 FO 27.10.38 FL 3.9.40 SL 1.12.41 WC 1.7.44
Updated/new information – 8th update, November 2017:
RONALD HENRY SMYTH
103514 Sgt Pilot British 25, 111 and 249 Squadrons
Smyth was born in South Croydon on December 24 1920. His father had served in the Royal Engineers in the First World War. R H Smyth attended Sutton High School and, on leaving, became a civil servant. He joined the RAFVR on May 8 1939, as an Airman u/t Pilot (748579) and was called up at the outbreak of war. He went to No 1 ITW, Cambridge on September 7 and to 10 EFTS, Yatesbury on December 5 1939. Smyth went to 3 FTS, South Cerney for No 34 Course, from April 28 to August 3 1940.
With the course completed, Smyth arrived at 5 OTU, Aston Down on August 3, converted to Blenheims and joined 25 Squadron at Martlesham Heath on August 19.
Two days later Smyth was transferred to 111 Squadron at Debden. He was detached to 5 OTU on August 26, to convert to Hurricanes, after which he rejoined 111, then at Drem, on September 19. He went to 249 Squadron at North Weald on October 2 and then to 615 Squadron on November 19 1940.
Smyth went to CFS, Upavon on May 8 1941, for an instructors’ course. On June 13 he joined the staff at 9 FTS, Hullavington and he was commissioned on August 5.
In October Smyth was posted to No 1 Glider Training Squadron at Thame, a newly-formed Development Unit, allied to the Airborne Forces to train instructors and Army pilots to fly Hotspur gliders. Smyth instructed, as a Flight Commander, at No 1 Glider Training School, Croughton until April 1943.
He was then posted to 3 School of General Reconnaissance at Squires Gate, under Coastal Command, qualified for his 2nd Class Air Navigator’s Licence and moved to 8 OTU, Dyce on June 22 1943 for photographic-reconnaissance training on Spitfires.
Smyth went to the Benson PRU in September and, after returning from a trip to Tunis, he joined 541 (PR) Squadron at Benson, on December 15. His longest PR flight from Benson was to Czechoslovakia and back.
He commanded the PRU in Gibraltar from March 9 to September 12 1944, when the Unit returned to Benson. Awarded the DFC (27.7.45), Smyth ferried communications during July and August between London and Churchill in Biarritz and Atlee in Berlin, for the Potsdam Conference. He left 541 Squadron in September 1945 and his final flying duties were high-level meteorological flights at Tain in October.
Smyth was released from the RAF in January 1946 as a Flight Lieutenant. He spent the rest of his career in the Civil Service, mainly in the Stationery Office. He died suddenly on October 26 2017.
PO 5.8.41 FO 5.8.4 FL 5.8.43
Updated/new information – 7th update, November 2017:
PHILIP ANTHONY LOWETH
42242 PO Pilot British 249 Squadron
Philip Anthony Loweth was born on October 1 1920 in Maidenhead, Berkshire. His father spent part of his career as a civil servant in the Air Ministry. P A Loweth joined the RAF on a short service commission and started his initial training on May 1 1939.
He began his intermediate and advanced course at 11 FTS Shawbury on July 8. He was marked out for bombers, but eventually joined 249 Squadron (Hurricanes) at Church Fenton on May 16 1940, direct from 11 FTS. His last sortie with the Squadron was on September 3.
The squadron ORB recorded on September 7 that Pilot Officers Loweth and Meaker drove to Maidstone hospital to collect the CO, Squadron Leader Grandy, who had baled out wounded the previous day, and continued: “On their return they arrived at Surrey Docks about five minutes before bombing took place and spent a very undignified 40 minutes laying on the pavement at the entrance to the Blackwall Tunnel.”
Loweth was taken off flying duties on September 20 and posted away suffering from appendicitis which became peritonitis.
Later he flew in Wellingtons in the Middle East with 38 Squadron. He returned to the UK, became an instructor and was then posted to Coastal Command. He flew Warwicks on air sea rescue operations, as well as Beaufighters.
He transferred to the reserve on May 1 1945, but appears to have quickly re-joined the RAF. He again went to the reserve in 1950 as a Flight Lieutenant, retaining the rank of Squadron Leader.
The London Gazette of December 31 1954 announced that Squadron Leader P A Loweth’s period of service had been extended for five years from August 15. On August 18 1959 it was announced that Flight Lieutenant Loweth had relinquished his commission in the RAF Reserve of Officers from August 15.
As a civilian, Loweth had a number of jobs. He ran the Thorpe Gardens pub (now the Rushcutters Arms) at Thorpe St Andrew, Norfolk, and hired out cabin cruisers. He also worked for Short Brothers as a delivery pilot. He died on September 7 2017.
APO 24.6.39 PO 11.5.40 FO 11.5.41 FL 11.5.42 FL 1.9.45
GODFREY FREDERICK RUSSELL
Lieutenant (FAA) Pilot British 804 Squadron
Russell’s parents lived in China, where his father was a merchant and where two daughters were born. Mrs Russell returned to the UK for the birth of her third child and G F Russell was born in London in late 1917. His father was still in China at the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and, shortly afterwards, Mr Russell was interned in Weihsein detention camp in Shandong Province. He died there in February 1944.
He was attached to the Fleet Air Arm on March 6 1939 and carried out his elementary flying training at 20 E&RFTS, Gravesend. Russell went to No 1 FTS, Leuchars for No 3 Course, which ran from May 8 to November 4 1939.
He moved to 759 (Fighter School) Squadron for deck-landing training on HMS Argus. On February 4 1940 Russell joined 804 Squadron. He was posted from 804 to 803 Squadron on May 23, flying operations over Norway from HMS Ark Royal.
He was wounded flying a Skua. A bullet grazed his right hand, struck his navel and was deflected by his parachute release disc. It then disappeared over his right shoulder, undoing his harness as it went.
Russell rejoined 804 Squadron at Hatston on June 22, flying Sea Gladiators on dockyard defence. He was appointed ‘B’ Flight Commander on June 27. The squadron was under the control of RAF Fighter Command during part of the Battle of Britain.
On September 20 Russell, with BIue Section of 804, embarked on the carrier HMS Furious by air and carried out fighter patrols 100 miles off Trondheim, Norway. The section disembarked by air from Furious and rejoined 804 at Hatston on September 23.
In December Russell was posted to 802 Squadron, forming at Donibristle for HMS Audacity. On a collection flight from Abbotsinch to Donibristle on December 13, Russell crashed into Beinn Bheula between Lochs Goil and Eck and was killed. He was 23.
He is buried in Douglas Bank Cemetery, Dunfermline, Scotland.
On April 25 1945 Russell’s elder sister Sybil married Wing Commander C N Overton (q.v.).
Midshipman 1.5.35 Sub-Lt 16.5.38 Lt 1.5.39
IAN CHARLES COOPER CLENSHAW
745067 Sgt Pilot British 253 Squadron
Clenshaw was born in 1918 in Essex. His father is shown in the 1911 census as “warehouseman for wholesale draper” and his mother’s maiden name was Cooper. I C C Clenshaw joined the RAFVR in February 1939, as an Airman u/t Pilot, and made his first flight in a Tiger Moth on February 19 at 34 E&RFTS, Rochford.
Called up on September 1 1939, Clenshaw went to 3 FTS, South Cerney on November 20 1939, on No 31 Course, which ended on May 25 1940.
In early June 1940 Clenshaw was with 253 Squadron at Kirton-in-Lindsey. On the 7th he crashed in Hurricane N 2436 and was slightly burned. On July 10, flying in bad visibility on a dawn patrol, he lost control and was killed when he crashed near the Humber coast, in Hurricane P 3359.
Clenshaw was 22. He was the first Fighter Command aircrew casualty in the Battle of Britain. He is buried in St Mary’s churchyard extension, Kelvedon, Essex. A memorial plaque was unveiled on July 10 2000, the 60th anniversary of his death, at Clenshaw’s former home in Shaftesbury Avenue, Thorpe Bay, Southend-on-Sea.
CHARLES ALFRED REAM
741907 Sgt Pilot British 235 Squadron
Ream was born on January 21 1916 in Doncaster. His father, Private Alfred Denis Ream, had served with the Yorkshire Light Infantry, but was with the Machine Gun Corps when he was killed in action on the Western Front on February 8 1917. He is buried at Serre Road Cemetery No 1, Pas de Calais.
C A Ream joined the RAFVR about August 1938, as an Airman u/t Pilot. Called up on September 1 1939, he completed his training and joined 235 Squadron at Bircham Newton on August 19 1940.
On November 19 Ream was posted with his flight to RAF Aldergrove, where it was combined with a flight from 236 Squadron to reform 272 Squadron. Ream flew his first sortie with 272 on December 8 1940. After that there are significant gaps in the knowledge of his service.
He appears to have spent time with 92 Squadron, as he was credited by that squadron with a share in the destruction of a Ju 87 which fell just outside Manston airfield on February 5 1941, with both crew members being killed.
Ream is known to have been aboard Beaufighter T 3317 of 272 Squadron which forced-landed in Spain on May 24 1941 while on a ferry flight to Gibraltar. The crew was interned but apparently soon released. Ream is also recorded as being injured on December 27 1941 in a 272 Squadron crash, by which time his rank was Warrant Officer.
Ream died of natural causes on April 26 1947 at 14 Abbey Drive West, Grimsby, Lincolnshire. He is buried in Scartho Road Cemetery, Grimsby. His headstone suggests that he was still serving in the RAFVR.
Ream’s twin, Thomas Edward John Ream, joined the RAFVR at about the same time as his brother. He was one of five Sergeant Pilots posted to 616 Squadron on October 14 1940 from 7 OTU Hawarden and he went on to serve with a number of squadrons and other units in the UK and Malta, being commissioned on July 14 1944. He died in 1980 and is also buried in Scartho Road Cemetery, where the stonework asserts that he “fought in the Battle of Britain & at the siege of Malta”. However, the poorly kept ORB of 616 Squadron does not show an operational flight by T E J Ream by the end of October 1940 and no other evidence has been found that he qualified for the Battle of Britain Clasp, although it is possible that he did.
Sub-Lieutenant (FAA) Pilot British 804 Squadron
Reardon-Parker was born in 1919 in Blackburn, Lancashire and registered with the name John Reardon. His father was shown in the 1911 census as an insurance agent. His mother’s maiden name was Parker. On November 29 1932 Mrs Reardon changed her name by deed poll to Reardon-Parker. Her son adopted the same name, although, on some documents, they both appear as Parker-Reardon.
John Reardon-Parker entered the Air Branch of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve on February 21 1939, rated as a Midshipman. He joined 804 Squadron at Hatston, Orkney on June 11 1940, flying Gladiators on dockyard defence. He was still with 804 on November 3. He was later with 757 Squadron at Worthy Down and in April 1941 he joined 752 Squadron at Piarco, Trinidad. On November 28 1941 Reardon-Parker’s commission was terminated.
He joined the Parachute Regiment and, in September 1943, took part in parachute training course No 81 at RAF Ringway, now Manchester Airport.
On the night of June 5/6 1944 – the start of D-Day – two Stirlings from 620 Squadron at Fairford, EJ 116 and EF 295, were tasked to drop men from parachute units to secure the area around the Orne and Caen Canal bridges. EF 295 carried a troop of 15 engineers from 591 Parachute Squadron, Royal Engineers, ordered to clear wooden poles and other obstructions from landing zones. Lance Corporal Reardon-Parker was in this party.
Both aircraft strayed off course and EJ 116 was shot down by flak near Chateau Grangues in the village of the same name east of Caen. There were no survivors. EF 295 was also hit and this detonated some of the explosives which the engineers were carrying. The pilot managed to bring the aircraft down in the chateau grounds, but eight of those on board were killed and the rest badly injured. The injured were brought to a stable block in the grounds of the chateau by German soldiers.
Eight members of 591 Squadron were taken out and shot by the Germans. On June 7 Reardon-Parker died in the stable block from his injuries sustained in the aircraft.
He was 26 years old and he is buried in the Ranville War Cemetery, France.
Midshipman 21.2.39 Sub-Lt 7.5.40
Updated/new information – 6th update, October 2017:
HUGH JOSEPH RIDDLE
90141 FL Pilot British 601 Squadron
Information on Hugh Joseph Riddle’s birth has been added to the existing entry:
Born at Wycombe, Buckinghamshire on May 24 1912, the son of a doctor.
37594 FO Pilot British 25 Squadron
Bull was born in India in 1916, the only son (along with two daughters) of Louis Albert Bull, a Commissioner in the Indian Civil Service, and his wife, formerly Florence Beatrice Balcombe-Jones. The family returned to the UK in 1926 on the SS City of London. C H Bull attended Imperial Service College. He joined the RAF on a short service commission and began his training on January 6 1936, as a pupil pilot. He was posted to 3 FTS, Grantham in March.
After completing his training, he was posted to No 1 Anti-Aircraft Co-operation Unit at Biggin Hill on April 26 1937, as a staff pilot. He went on a course at the School of Air Navigation, Manston on November 14 1938. He commanded RAF Flimstone training camp in Pembrokeshire.
At some time Bull joined 25 Squadron at Hawkinge. He was promoted to Acting Flight Lieutenant on April 13 1939 and appointed ‘A’ Flight Commander. He took part in the attack on the Luftwaffe seaplane base at Borkum on November 28. Twelve Blenheims took off from Bircham Newton, six from 25 Squadron and six from 601 Squadron. All aircraft returned safely, landing at Debden. Three He 115s were destroyed and another three damaged. It was the first fighter attack of the war on a German target. Bull received a Mention in Despatches.
In early July 1940 Bull was still with 25 Squadron, then at North Weald. He was killed in a shooting incident near Orielton, Pembrokeshire, close to his wife’s family home, on August 8, whilst on leave. A verdict of accidental death was recorded at the inquest.
Bull was 24 years old. He is buried in St David’s churchyard, Hindleton, Pembrokeshire.
APO 2.3.36 PO 6.1.37 FO 6.9.38
ALLAN ANTHONY BURTENSHAW
745616 Sgt Pilot British 54 Squadron
Burtenshaw was born in Windsor on February 23 1920. The family went to live in Snodland, Kent, where he played cricket for a local team. He attended the Eton College Choir School, making him, on leaving, an Old Chorister, rather than an Old Etonian. He joined the RAFVR in April 1939, as an Airman u/t Pilot. He was called up on September 1 and after completing his elementary flying training at 23 EFTS, Rochester, he was posted to 5 FTS, Sealand on June 16 1940, on No 49 Course.
With training completed, Burtenshaw went to 7 OTU, Hawarden on September 7 and, after converting to Spitfires, he joined 54 Squadron at Catterick on the 29th. He was shot down and killed on March 12 1941, still with 54 Squadron, aged 21. Burtenshaw is buried in Snodland Cemetery, Kent.
742857 Sgt Pilot British 238 Squadron
Gledhill was born in 1921 in Cardiff, the only son (there were three daughters) of Herbert “Jim” Gledhill and the former Mary Hannah Thomas. In the 1911 census Jim Gledhill was shown as a woollen salesman in Mytholmroyd, Yorkshire. He later became a surveyor. The family went to live in Harpenden, Hertfordshire and Geoffrey Gledhill attended St Albans Grammar School and was a member of the 3rd Harpenden Troop of The Boy Scouts. He joined the RAFVR in January 1939, as an Airman u/t Pilot. Called up on September 1, he completed his training at 5 FTS, Sealand, from February 1 to June 26 1940.
He arrived at 6 OTU, Sutton Bridge on July 6. After converting to Hurricanes, Gledhill joined 238 Squadron at Middle Wallop on August 4. He was killed on the 11th, shot down in combat during his first operational sortie, two miles E of Weymouth, in Hurricane P 2978.
Gledhill was 19. His body was washed up on the French coast and he is buried in Criquebeuf-en-Caux churchyard. Local people tended the grave. His name appears in the Second World War section of the Harpenden war memorial.
RAYMOND TOWERS HOLMES
68730 Sgt Pilot British 504 Squadron
Holmes was born on August 20 1914 at Wallasey, Cheshire and was educated at Wallasey and Calday Grange School. He was a journalist when he joined the RAFVR in February 1937, as an Airman u/t Pilot (740055) and began his flying training at 12 E&RFTS, Prestwick.
He later flew at 7 E&RFTS, Desford and 17 E&RFTS, Barton. Called up at the outbreak of war, Holmes was posted to 4 ITW, Bexhill on October 29 1939. He went to 5 FTS, Sealand on December 9 and whilst there he was court-martialled and severely reprimanded for low flying. With training completed, he joined 504 Squadron at Wick on June 18 1940.
The squadron moved south to Hendon on September 5 and on the 15th Holmes was one of the pilots involved in shooting down a Do 17 over Central London, probably the best-known German casualty in the Battle of Britain.
As Holmes sought to administer the coup de grâce to the already badly damaged aircraft, it broke up, a large section of wreckage falling on the forecourt of Victoria Station. The pilot, Oberleutnant Robert Zehbe, baled out, badly wounded. He landed in Kennington and was attacked and further injured by an angry mob of civilians. Although rescued by soldiers, he died next day and was buried in Brookwood Military Cemetery. Two members of his crew were killed and the two others were made PoWs.
Holmes’ aircraft was damaged, probably by wreckage from the Dornier, and he baled out, unhurt, and landed in Hugh Street, Chelsea. His Hurricane, P 2725, crashed and burned out outside Fountain Court, Buckingham Palace Road. It was excavated in 2005 and the engine and other parts were recovered. Holmes damaged another Do 17 on September 15 1940.
Holmes wrote in his combat report: “On my fourth attack from the port beam a jar shook my starboard wing as I passed over the E/A and I went into an uncontrollable spin. I think the E/A must have exploded beneath me.”
On September 26, 504 Squadron moved to Filton and on October 16 Holmes and Flying Officer B E G White took off on an interception sortie and were later diverted to Cardiff because of fog. They had breakfast there with Amy Johnson and returned to Filton later in the day.
Holmes was commissioned in June 1941. In late July ‘A’ Flight of 504 was re-numbered 81 Squadron and posted to Leconfield, where the personnel, Holmes included, were kitted out for an unknown destination. They flew to Abbotsinch in Harrows and embarked for Russia on the carrier HMS Argus, which carried crated Hurricanes. On September 1 the squadron flew off in sixes for Vaenga airfield, near Murmansk. Holmes destroyed a Bf 109 on September 26.
Operations were flown until mid-November, when pilots of the squadron began converting Russian pilots on to Hurricanes. 81 Squadron left Russia on November 29, leaving all equipment behind, and returned in HMS Kenya, landing at Rosyth on December 6 1941.
The squadron went to Turnhouse, where it received Spitfire Vbs in January 1942 and was operational again on February 1. On March 1 Holmes was posted to 2 FIS, Montrose, for an instructor’s course, after which he joined the staff at 5(P) AFU at Ternhill. He returned to 2 FIS on September 17 1942, as an instructor, and stayed with the unit until mid-November 1944.
After a short spell with 309 Squadron at Andrews Field in early 1945, Holmes joined 541 Squadron at Benson, a Spitfire photographic-reconnaissance unit. He became a King’s Messenger for Winston Churchill, when he was preparing for the Potsdam Conference, flying mail between London and Biarritz, and Berlin and London when he was at Potsdam.
Holmes left the squadron at the end of August and was released from the RAF on October 4 1945 as a Flight Lieutenant. He worked again as a journalist.
He was the subject of a television documentary in 2005. He was made a Freeman of the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral, Cheshire on January 24 that year. Holmes died on June 27 2005.
An apartment block, built in 2006 in the Wirral, was named Holmes Court in his memory.
PO 10.6.41 FO 10.6.42 FL 10.6.43
GERARD HAMILTON MAFFETT
80814 PO Pilot British 257 Squadron
Maffett was born in Murree, India (now in Pakistan) on June 11 1916. He was both a nephew and second cousin of the Liberal politician and businessman Cecil Harmsworth, later Lord Harmsworth. Maffett was educated at Imperial Service College, Windsor. He left in 1934 and went to work for the Daily Mail in London, which had been founded by Harmsworth’s older brother, Alfred, who became Lord Northcliffe. On April 30 1938 Maffett joined the RAFVR, as an Airman u/t Pilot (741503), and did his weekend flying on Tiger Moths at 13 E&RFTS, White Waltham. Called up on September 1 1939, he was posted to No 1 ITW, Cambridge in early November.
Maffett went to 12 FTS, Grantham on December 30, completed the course in early June, was commissioned and then sent to No 2 School of Army Co-operation at Andover on the 15th, as a supernumerary.
He went to 5 OTU, Aston Down on June 22 and, after converting to Hurricanes, joined 257 Squadron at Northolt on July 7 1940. Maffett made his first operational sortie on the 19th.
On August 18 he destroyed a Do 17 and damaged a He 111. He was shot down and killed in combat with Bf 110s over Clacton on August 31. His Hurricane, P 3175, crashed at Walton-on-the-Naze.
Maffett is buried in Windsor Road Cemetery, Bray, Berkshire. The orginal IWGC wooden cross was retained at the request of his mother. His family has provided protection from the elements for the cross in recent years. His brother, Wing Commander John Francis Maffett, was killed on February 12 1942 in Beaufighter Ic T 4889 of the OADU, presumed shot down off Malta by Bf 109s on a transit flight to Egypt.
Sgt. Brian Barkley Smith, RAAF, was also lost.
JOSEPH ERNEST SAVILL
740971 Sgt Pilot British 151, 242, 73 and 501 Squadrons
Savill was born on April 16 1911 in Hackney. His father was a teacher for at least part of his career and served with the ASC/RASC during the Great War. J E Savill joined the RAFVR in December 1937, as an Airman u/t Pilot. Called up on September 1 1939, he completed his training and was with 151 Squadron at North Weald by November 8 1939.
Savill destroyed a Do 17 on August 13 1940. He was posted to 242 Squadron at Coltishall on September 21, moved to 73 Squadron at Castle Camps on October 10 and finally to 501 Squadron at Kenley on the 17th.
Savill rejoined 73 Squadron on October 26 and was posted to 213 Squadron at Tangmere on November 3 1940. Savill was promoted to Warrant Officer on October 1 1941. No further service details traced. He died on June 6 1991 in the village of Small Dole, near Henfield, West Sussex
Updated/new information – 5th update, September 2017:
Kenneth Astill Wilkinson died on July 31 2017, aged 99
Geoffrey Harris Augustus Wellum was born on August 4 1921. In 2015 he became Chairman of the Battle of Britain Fighter Association.
Anthony James Rawlence was born on September 23 1913 in Wilton, Wiltshire. He died in Winchester, Hampshire, in 1979.
FRANCIS HEBBLETHWAITE POWELL CONNOR
39857 FO Pilot British 234 Squadron
Connor was born in Maymyo, Burma on October 4 1917. From the age of four he lived in Jersey, attending a prep school and then, as a boarder, Victoria College, Jersey.
He joined the RAF on a short service commission and began his ab initio course on May 10 1937. On July 17 he was posted to 9 FTS, Hullavington and, with training completed, he joined 22 (Torpedo-Bomber) Squadron at Thorney Island on June 12 1938.
In August 1939 Connor was a member of the crew of a Vildebeest which crashed into the sea off the Isle of Wight during an exercise. He was trapped underwater, with a badly injured knee, but managed to escape. The pilot survived without injury. Connor spent three months in Haslar Naval Hospital. The knee troubled him for the rest of his life, increasingly so as he grew older.
Connor went to 5 OTU, Aston Down on June 22 1940, converted to Spitfires and joined 234 Squadron at St Eval on July 6.
He shared in the destruction of a Ju 88 on July 27 and was shot down on August 16 during a combat with Bf 109s off Portsmouth. He baled out and was rescued by a Royal Navy vessel several hours later. His Spitfire, X 4016, crashed into the sea. Connor was given two weeks of sick leave before returning to the squadron. He did not fly operationally again.
On November 3 1940 he was posted to CFS, Upavon for an instructor’s course. From May 14 1941 until the end of the war he was a flying instructor in the UK and Canada. Connor’s final posting was to the Air Staff at HQ 50 Group, Reading.
He was released in July 1946 as a Squadron Leader. He worked as an air traffic controller in Jersey and died there on May 1 1982.
APO 5.7.37 PO 10.5.38 FO 10.12.39 FL 10.12.40 SL 1.9.42
29208 SL Pilot Irish 257 Squadron
Harkness was born on March 28 1911 at his family home, 28 Ardculee Avenue, Belfast. His parents were John Bell Harkness, a carrier and Martha Harkness, formerly Hill.
Hill Harkness joined the RAF on a short service commission in December 1930. He was posted to 2 FTS, Digby on January 10 1931 and, after training, went to 54 Squadron at Hornchurch on December 29 1931.
He joined the staff at the School of Naval Co-operation at Lee-on-Solent on January 6 1935 and at the end of his engagement he went on to Class ‘A’ of the RAFO on December 29 1937.
Recalled in October 1939, Harkness went to 12 FTS, Grantham on November 13, as a Flight Commander of the Intermediate Training Squadron. He arrived at 6 OTU, Sutton Bridge for a refresher course on June 8 1940.
After converting to Hurricanes, Harkness was posted to 257 Squadron at Hendon on July 6, as a supernumerary, and he took command at Northolt on July 22 1940. He probably destroyed a Do 17 on August 12 and shared in the destruction of a Ju 88 on the 13th.
He was posted away on September 12 1940 to the A&AEE, Boscombe Down, for flying duties. He went to 2 FTS, Brize Norton on October 1 1940 and joined 10 FTS, Ternhill on October 24, as OC 2 Squadron. In 1941 he was posted to Canada.
Harkness resigned his commission on December 4 1943. He later lived at various addresses in the London area and died in Chichester, Sussex in April 2002.
PO 29.12.30 FO 29.8.32 FL 1.4.36 FL (RAFO) 29.12.37 FL 16.10.39 SL 1.6.40
MARTYN AUREL KING
42845 PO Pilot British 249 Squadron
King was born on October 15 1921, at West Mersea, Essex. This date makes him one of the youngest pilots in the Battle of Britain, if not the youngest. He was the son of Dr George Edwin King, a medical missionary, and his second wife, formerly Ivy Ethel Wallis. Both G E King’s marriages had taken place in China and he would die there by drowning on September 5 1927.
M A King attended the prep (from 1927) and boys’ (from 1931) schools at Chefoo School in northern China, founded by the China Inland Mission. He was Captain of Boats and a member of the Football Xl. After leaving school in 1938, he returned to the UK and took a business course.
He joined the RAF on a short service commission and began his ab initio course on August 14 1939, as a pupil pilot.
King completed his training and arrived at 5 OTU, Aston Down on May 13 1940. After converting to Hurricanes, he was posted to 249 Squadron at Leconfield on June 9.
King was shot down by enemy fighters over Southampton on August 16, during the action in which Flight Lieutenant Nicolson earned the VC. King baled out but was killed when his parachute collapsed during descent. His Hurricane, P 3616, is believed to be the one that crashed at Toothill, near Lee. He was 18.
King was buried in All Saints’ churchyard, Fawley, Hampshire on August 22. A large crowd witnessed his interment.
Updated/new information – 4th update, July 2017:
R G B Summers died on May 7 2017.
FREDERIC GEORGE PAISEY
78753 PO Air Gunner British 235 Squadron
Paisey, a native of Bath, joined the RAFVR in April 1940, with a direct-entry commission as an Air Gunner. He was on No 12 Air Gunnery Course at 7 B&GS, which ran from May 6 to June 1 1940. With training completed, he was with 235 Squadron at Bircham Newton in early July 1940.
Paisey later retrained as a pilot and was awarded the DFC (17.7.45), as an Acting Wing Commander with 354 Squadron at Cuttack in India. The citation stated that he had shown great skill and courage in low-level attacks on enemy shipping and had been responsible for the destruction of two of the six ships sunk by the squadron.
He was released from the RAF in 1947, as a Wing Commander. He became an insurance agent, lived in the US for many years and was a member of The American Legion. He died on January 5 2006, aged 94, at his home in Sorrento, Florida.
APO 12.4.40 PO 1.6.40 FO 1.6.41 FL 1.6.42 SL 20.6.45
Updated/new information – 3rd update, May 2017:
Richard Stephen Demetriadi attended Eton College.
Peter Douglas Thompson’s final RAF appointment was as Air Attache at the British Embassy in Lima, Peru. After retiring from the RAF he lived in Minorca.
Harold Arthur Cooper Bird-Wilson’s post-war appointments included: command of the Central Flying Establishment’s air fighting development squadron, PSO to the Commander in Chief, Middle East Air Force, service with the British Joint Services Mission in Washington and command of the Central Flying School and AOC, Hong Kong.
Derek Pierre Aumale Boitel Gill – the diary of Dennis Humbert Fox-Male says of Boitel-Gill’s death:
“He was giving practice to the gunners on the gun posts round the airfield – a daily duty which we took in turn.
“Cloud base was about 600 to 800 feet. He was diving on the gun posts, flying low on the runway then climbing up into the cloud where he did a stall turn and came down in a dive again.
“The dive was steep and he flattened out at about five or six feet above the ground but poor Bottle [Boitel-Gill’s nickname] forgot that a Hurricane still sinks after the stick is pulled back hurriedly even if it is in a level or even climbing position. A Spitfire never behaved in this way, but Bottle left his pull out too late, the Hurricane sank and hit the ground.
“He was thrown out and killed.”
Arthur Roy Watson – from the diary of Dennis Humbert Fox-Male:
“Doc [Watson} had bailed out but his parachute had failed to open properly and he was killed when he hit the ground. It was a custom in the squadron if you landed safely by parachute to give the corporal in charge of the parachute packing section the princely sum (in those days) of ten shillings. Our corporal, although he looked rather gormless, had a good reputation and was extremely conscientious. We all admired and thanked him – as we had to.
“He was terribly upset at Doc Watson’s failure to open his parachute and of course there was an enquiry. I have read in a book, and in ….. (the) mess diary that he bungled the opening but from discussions in the squadron, after the investigation, I do not think that this was accurate.
“We were always instructed to check our parachutes first thing every day. The vital thing was to undo the ‘poppers’ over the flap which covered and protected the pin in the back of the parachute. When the rip cord was pulled it jerked the pin out of its metal holder and the parachute unfolded. It was essential to make sure that the pin was straight and not bent.
“I was told that Doc’s pin was found to be bent right back – as far as you can bend your index finger- and in trying to pull the bent pin out he had in the end ripped the whole patch out – too late for the parachute to open.”
(Watson’s nickname, “Doc”, came from the character in the Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle.)
Extended and corrected entries:
STEPHEN GERALD BEAUMONT
90319 FL Pilot British 609 Squadron
Beaumont was born on May 2 1910. His father, Gerald Beaumont, joined the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry at the start of the First World War and went on to be awarded the MC and bar. S G Beaumont was at Oundle School and went up to New College, Oxford. He visited Kenya and then joined the family firm of solicitors. He learned to fly at West Riding Aero Club, Yeadon in 1935, becoming the first privately trained pilot to join 609 Squadron, AAF, when it formed at Yeadon on February 10 1936. Beaumont was commissioned in April and was one of the first three pilots trained with 609 Squadron, gaining his wings in August 1937.
He was one of 609’s original Flight Commanders, but in January 1939 he handed over to Flying Officer P H Barran because of business and other commitments. Embodied on August 24 1939, he took ‘B’ Flight over after Barran was killed on July 11 1940. Beaumont served with 609 until he was posted to 7 OTU, Hawarden on August 2 1940, as an instructor. The unit was redesignated 57 OTU on November 1 1940. Beaumont was posted to the newly-formed 59 OTU, Turnhouse on December 22 1940. He was made OBE (1.1.45) and was a Group Captain at 84 Group when he was released in 1945.
Beaumont went on to hold a wide range of civilian appointments including Deputy Coroner for Wakefield, Chairman of the Wakefield Hospital Management Group and Secretary of the Wakefield Chamber of Commerce. In 1967 he was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of the West Riding of Yorkshire and, in 1979, High Sheriff of West Yorkshire. In retirement he lived in Devizes, Wiltshire. He died in September 1997.
PO (AAF) 24.4.36 FO (AAF) 24.10.37 FO 24 8.39 FL 12.3.40 SL 1.6.41 WC 1.6.42
Updated/new information – 2nd update, March 2017:
Leonard Harold Bartlett died on February 11 2017.
Bernard Walter Brown died in January 2017.
George Edward Bowes Stoney was born in Dublin on March 24 1911. His father, Edward Bowes Stoney, served in the Great War with the Canadian Expeditionary Force.
Alexander Noel Constantine – replace last sentence of entry with:
Also killed were Constantine’s wife Beryl and Roy Hazlehurst, DFC. In 2016 the Australia Indonesia Association of New South Wales arranged for the graves of the three at Jogjakarta to be properly marked.
Extended and corrected entries:
MERRIK HUBERT HINE (note amended spelling – not Merrick)
745148 Sgt Pilot British 65 Squadron
Hine was born in 1916 and grew up on a farm owned by his father between Penn and Forty Green, Buckinghamshire. In the early 1930s he was employed by the LMS Railway. He learned to fly privately at the de Havilland School of Flying at White Waltham, in Tiger Moths.
He joined the RAFVR in March 1939, as an Airman u/t Pilot. He was called up on September 1, completed his training and went to 5 OTU, Aston Down on August 3 1940. He crashed at Kemble in Spitfire N 3106 on the 11th but was unhurt.
He joined 65 Squadron at Hornchurch on August 19. The squadron flew north to Turnhouse on the 28th. On September 23 Hine crashed on landing after a routine practice flight, in Spitfire K 9904. The aircraft was damaged but repairable.
Hine was lost in an action with a Ju 88 near Selsey Bill on December 12 1940. It is not clear whether he was shot down by return fire from the Ju 88 or whether he collided with Pilot Officer W H Franklin of 65, who was also lost. Hine was 24. He is remembered on the Runnymede Memorial, Panel 15.
1003621 Sergeant Radar Operator British 25 Squadron
Lamb was born on January 1 1921. He worked as a butcher before joining the RAFVR on June 7 1940, as an Aircrafthand. He volunteered for aircrew duties and was sent on a short radar course, after which he joined 25 Squadron at North Weald on July 21. He was promoted to Sergeant on September 23.
In April 1941 Lamb was involved in an aircraft accident, the details of which are unclear. He suffered third degree burns to his back and legs and was admitted to the RAF Hospital at Rauceby.
The squadron had re-equipped with Beaufighters and Lamb was sent to 54 OTU Church Fenton for advanced night-fighter, including a detachment to 3 Radio School. He went on to 62 OTU Charter Hall on July 24 1942 to prepare for overseas deployment. He then joined a convoy to Takoradi, Ghana, arriving in August 1942 to join 216 Squadron, which ferried men and supplies to Egypt.
His posting was delayed, however, by a bout of ill-health and he was treated at 63 General Hospital, Alexandria, Egypt from October 17 to 29, eventually joining 216 on November 3.
When this posting ended he went to 22 Personnel Transit Camp at Heliopolis, Egypt before joining 272 Squadron on January 10 1943. After two months he joined 46 Squadron.
Lamb is recorded as arriving at 1 Elementary Air Gunners School, in the UK, on September 4 1943, apparently as an instructor.
He must have applied to train as a pilot and his next posting was to a flying school in Rhodesia. He joined an overseas draft on January 14 1944 and arrived in Bulawayo on February 20, having left the ship in South Africa and continued by train.
He began his training at 28 Elementary Flying Training School, Mount Hampden on April 21, going on to advanced training at 23 Service Flying Training School, Heany, Bulawayo on September 15.
Lamb was due for promotion to Warrant Officer but before this came about he was demoted to AC2. This may have been for a low flying offence, possibly over a girlfriend’s house. He qualified as a pilot and arrived back in the UK on May 23 1945. He left the RAF on November 2 1945.
Lamb went on to work as an insurance clerk, but suffered ill health, apparently linked to his war service, and took his own life on January 5 1948. He is buried in West Road Cemetery, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
ERIC HUGH THOMAS
39138 FL Pilot British 19, 266 and 222 Squadrons
Born in Tunbridge Wells in 1917, Thomas joined the RAF on a short service commission and began his ab initio course on July 10 1936, as a pupil pilot. He was posted to 6 FTS, Netheravon on September 19 and, with training completed, he joined 19 Squadron at Duxford on May 22 1937.
Thomas was posted from 19 to RAF College, Cranwell on April 24 1939, as a flying instructor. He was still there at the outbreak of war.
He rejoined 19 Squadron, then at Fowlmere, on August 19 1940. He moved to 266 Squadron at Wittering on the 24th. Thomas was posted to 222 Squadron at Hornchurch, on September 10.
He shared in destroying a Do 17 on the 15th, damaged a Bf 109 on the 20th, shot down Bf 109s on October 9 and 25 and shared in the destruction of a Bf 109 and damaged a second on the 29th.
Thomas shared a probable Ju 88 on April 4 1941 and damaged a He 111 on May 14. He took command of 611 Squadron at Rochford on June 28 1941. He left the squadron on November 17 1941, to command 133 Squadron at Eglinton. Thomas was awarded the DFC (25.11.41).
He damaged a FW 190 on May 29 1942 and got a probable Bf 109 on June 5. In early August Thomas was appointed Wing Leader at Biggin Hill and led the Wing over Dieppe on August 19, in the Combined Operations raid. He destroyed a FW 190 and damaged another on October 9.
Thomas was awarded a Bar to the DFC (18.9.42). He was posted away from Biggin Hill on November 27 and awarded the DSO (2.2.43). His health began to fail and he left the RAF in late 1944 as a Wing Commander.
Thomas was employed at Ascot racecourse after the war but became increasingly unwell and was admitted to King Edward VII hospital near Midhurst where he died from complications following tuberculosis on 21st April 1959. He is buried in Tunbridge Wells Cemetery.
Both of Thomas’s brothers were killed in RAF service in the Second World War. Flying Officer B K Thomas was in a Battle trainer shot down near Grantham on May 18 1941 by a Bf 110. Flight Lieutenant C G Thomas was lost in a Lancaster of 49 Squadron on November 3 1943. The aircraft was downed by night fighters near Cologne on an operation to Dusseldorf. This was the raid on which Flight Lieutenant Bill Reid of 61 Squadron earned the VC.
APO 31.8.36 PO 10.7.37 FO 10.4.39 FL 3.9.40 SL 1.12.41
Updated/new information – 1st update, January 2017:
William Radclyffe Assheton died on November 4 2009.
Henry Collingham Baker died on July 3 2013.
Percival Harold Beake died on June 25 2016.
Henry William Beggs was born on September 6 1915 at Irvinestown, County Fermanagh.
Owen Valentine Burns died on June 30 2015.
Nigel George Drever died on July 16 2016.
Hubert (not Herbert) Luiz Flower (known by the first name of “Luiz”) died on April 15 2015.
Dennis Humbert Fox-Male retired to and died in Alderney, not Guernsey.
William James Green died on November 7 2014.
Allan Richard Wright died on September 16 2015.
Denis Norman Robinson died on July 28 2015.
Henry Arnold Sprague died on April 30 2015.
Tony Garforth Pickering died on March 24 2016.
Keith Ashley Lawrence died on June 2 2016.
Terence Michael Kane died on August 5 2016.
Ronald Mackay (not MacKay) was born on June 26 1917. He ran the family travel business in Scotland for many years.
Norman Taylor was in 1941 presented with a gold cigarette case by his former colleagues at the Standard Motor Company as a mark of respect for his participation in the Battle of Britain.
CHARLES PATRICK IGGLESDEN
39086 FO Pilot British 234 Squadron
Born on March 9 1918, in Eastbourne, Sussex, Igglesden joined the RAF on a short service commission and began his ab initio course on June 29 1936. He was posted to 8 FTS, Montrose on September 5, and with flying training completed, he joined 23 Squadron at Wittering on April 24 1937 and went to 64 Squadron at Church Fenton on May 15 1939.
Igglesden moved to 234 Squadron at Leconfield on February 20 1940. His logbook records on August 7, “Adverse flying report, temporarily taken off flying duties.” This may be linked to the comment for the same date in the squadron ORB, “Three interception scrambles by four aircraft. One Blenheim intercepted.” However, even if a Blenheim was mistaken for an enemy aircraft, the Spitfires did not open fire. Igglesden resumed operations on October 22. He was posted to No 2 Delivery Flight, Colerne on June 28 1941. He resigned his commission on September 27 1941 and joined the Royal Navy, as an Able Seaman. He became a fighter controller and served in at least two convoys to the Russian port of Murmansk
Commissioned in February 1943, Igglesden was released in Australia on March 30 1946 from HMS Golden Hind, having served as a Fighter Director Officer. He stayed in Australia for some years, returned to the UK and then emigrated to Canada. There he worked as a pharmaceutical salesman for the Rexall company. Later he was Regional Manager for H&R Block, a company which advised clients on preparing income tax returns. He died on December 19 2002 in Calgary.
APO 24.8.36 PO 29.6.37 FO 24.10.39 Acting Sub-Lt 19.2.43 Sub-Lt 19.8.43 Lt 30.12.43
ROBERT JAMES BAIN ROACH
42263 PO Pilot British 266 Squadron
Roach was born on October 25 1919 in Shanghai, where his father was a director of the Shanghai Power Company. R J B Roach attended Palmer’s School, Gray’s, Essex. He was an outstanding athlete, footballer (scoring a hat trick for the Public Schools Xl) and swimmer. Roach joined the RAF on a short service commission and began his ab initio course on May 1 1939, as a pupil pilot. He moved on to 8 FTS, Montrose, for No 12 Course, which ran from July 10 to December 9 1939. He joined 266 Squadron at Sutton Bridge on December 10.
He shared in the destruction of a He 115 floatplane and damaged a Bf 109 on August 15 1940, probably destroyed a Bf 109 on the 16th and shared a Do 17 on September 7. After being hit by return fire from a He 111 on the 11th, Roach baled out over Billericay, from Spitfire N 3244, unhurt. On this day he probably destroyed a He 111.
In 1946 Roach represented Great Britain, as a sprinter, at the European Championships in Norway.
Roach retired from the RAF on October 25 1965, as a Flight Lieutenant, retaining the rank of Squadron Leader. He became Secretary of Newquay Golf Club in Cornwall, acted as a youth athletics coach in the area and lived at St Columb Minor. He died in Newquay on September 11 1994.
APO 24.6.39 PO 9.12.39 FO 9.3.41 FL 9.3.42 FL 1.9.45
ALEXANDER HENDRY THOM
114075 Sgt Pilot British 79 and 87 Squadrons
Thom was born on May 25 1919. He began training as a quantity surveyor and joined the RAFVR on June 24 1939, as an Airman u/t Pilot (754243) and began his weekend flying at 11 E&RFTS, Perth.
Called to full-time service at the outbreak of war, he was posted to 3 ITW, Hastings on October 2, moved to 15 EFTS, Redhill on April 29 1940 and then to 15 FTS on June 15, firstly at Brize Norton and later at Chipping Norton.
On September 22 Thom went to 6 OTU, Sutton Bridge and after converting to Hurricanes, he joined 79 Squadron at Pembrey on October 6, moving to 87 Squadron at Exeter on the 30th. He made his first sortie with 87 on November 10 1940.
Thom was still with the squadron during 1941. On July 21 he and Flying Officer G L Roscoe shared in the destruction of a He 111 which crashed into the sea off the Scillies.
On October 20 1941 Thom probably destroyed a He 111 and on the 21st he shared in the destruction of another He 111, this time with Flying Officer E G Musgrove, SE of the Isles of Scilly.
Commissioned in early December 1941, Thom was appointed ‘B’ Flight Commander on July 10 1942 and awarded the DFC (14.8.42).
In November 1942, 87 Squadron went to North Africa. Thom shot a Me 210 down into the sea off Tunisia on April 19 1943. He was posted away on May 7 1943, to be a flying control officer at Bone.
He returned to 87 Squadron, then at Tingley, and took command on June 27 1943. He was again posted away on September 27, this time to return to the UK.
On November 17 Thom became an instructor at 55 OTU, Annan. He moved to 53 OTU, Kirton-in-Lindsey on March 12 1944.
He was appointed Flight Commander, Fighter Affiliation Flight at 84 (Bomber) OTU at Husbands Bosworth on May 19 1944 and remained there until October 10, when he went to RAF Peterhead, as adjutant.
Thom’s final posting was to HQ 13 Group, Inverness on May 8 1945, as a staff officer. He was released from the RAF on December 4 1945, as a Flight Lieutenant.
He qualified as a quantity surveyor and remained in that profession until retirement in the 1980s, eventually holding a senior post with the Western Regional Hospital Board in Scotland. Thom died on January 10 2016.
PO 3.12.41 FO 1.10.42 FL 27.9.43
ROBERT TUDOR THOMAS
754426 Sgt Pilot British 247 Squadron
Thomas joined the RAFVR in June 1939 as an Airman u/t Pilot (754426). Called up on September 1, he completed his elementary training at 10 EFTS, Yatesbury and moved on to 3 FTS, South Cerney on No 34 Course, which ran from April 28 to August 3 1940. Thomas arrived at 5 OTU, Aston Down on August 3, converted to Gladiators and then joined 247 Squadron at Roborough on the 14th.
He wrote off Gladiator N 5901 on August 27, after becoming lost while returning to St Eval (which the squadron used at night) from a night patrol over Plymouth. Low on fuel, he attempted to land in fields at Werrington, near Launceston. On the approach the aircraft struck trees, crashed and caught fire. Thomas escaped unhurt.
Returning to St Eval after a night patrol on November 21, Thomas lost his bearings, flew into High Willhays, Dartmoor, well north of his intended course, and was fatally injured, aged 22. He died before rescuers arrived on the scene and found the burnt out remains of the aircraft, with his body nearby. He is buried in St Stephen’s churchyard, Bodfari, Flintshire.