“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 plans to publish new information, updates and corrections on this website from time to time.



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



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 



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



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, and after leaving in 1934 he 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 original 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 J F Maffett, died on February 12 1942, in unknown circumstances. He is remembered on the Runnymede Memorial. He was 29.

PO 9.6.40



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:



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.



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.



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:


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



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 



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 



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.