“Men of the Battle”: new material

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 – 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.

Revised entries

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

 

ANTHONY EYRE

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:

Revised entries

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:

Revised entries

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.

G F Russell entered the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, as a cadet, and passed out on September 1 1934. He was rated as a Midshipman in the Executive Branch on May 1 1935.

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.

 

JOHN REARDON-PARKER

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.

Revised entries

Cecil Halford BullCECIL HALFORD BULL

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.

 

GEOFFREY GLEDHILL

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.

PO 9.6.40

 

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.

Revised entries

 

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

 

HILL HARKNESS

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

BoB pilot 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.

PO 23.10.39 

 

Updated/new information – 4th update, July 2017:

R G B Summers died on May 7 2017.

Revised entries

 

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.

Herbert Robert Case’s date of birth is July 9 1916.

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.

 

ALBERT LAMB

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.

 

New images

Neville Charles Langham-Hobart

Maurice Equity Leng

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Extended entries:

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.