Sad loss of another of the Few

A member of ‘the Few’ who went on to win an OBE for his “gallant and distinguished services” during the Mau Mau emergency in Kenya has died at the age of 95.

Wing Commander Dick Summers was born in Berveley, East Yorkshire, on October 18 1921 and educated at Ermysted’s Grammar School at Skipton. He joined the RAF in April 1939 and trained as an observer – the then term for what became known as a navigator in 1942.

In December 1939, Summers was posted to Church Fenton to join No 242 Squadron, then equipped with Blenheims. He went to No 219 Squadron at Catterick in April 1940 and left the squadron on September 28 to join the Ferry Pool and Defence Flight, Takoradi, in West Africa.

In early July 1941 Summers’ aircraft made a wheels-up forced-landing on a beach in Liberia. To escape internment, he walked 48 miles in bare feet before putting out to sea and being picked up by a British merchantman. For this incident, he was awarded the Air Force Medal.

Commissioned in May 1942, he was posted back to the UK, where he was made a Bombing Leader on Hudsons, based initially at Silloth before being posted to No 48 Squadron at Gibraltar on May 22 1943.

Returning to the UK in 1944, he served at Aldergrove before embarking on a specialist armament course. He was appointed Armament Staff Officer at HQ 15 Group, Liverpool in November 1944 and moved to RAF Lossiemouth on August 7, 1945, as Station Armament Officer.

In October 1946, Summers was posted to the staff of ACAS (Training) at Air Ministry, as an Acting Squadron Leader. Pre-selected for RAF Staff College in 1949, he graduated at the end of 1950 and was appointed Command Weapons Officer at HQ Bomber Command.

From August 1953 until January 1956, Summers was Deputy Station Commander at RAF East Leigh, Kenya, during the Mau Mau Emergency, being made an OBE for his services. Back in the UK, he returned to flying and commanded No 109 Squadron at Binbrook before being promoted to Acting Wing Commander and taking command of No 2 Wing, RAF Cosford.

In July 1959, Summers did an RAF Flying College Course at RAF Manby, followed by a conversion course on Vulcans, and was then appointed Wing Commander Operations at RAF Finningley, a Vulcan station.

In December 1962 he was posted to the staff of SHAPE in Europe, for ‘nuclear activities’. He returned to the UK in December 1966 and became a staff officer in the Department of the Chief of Defence Staff, retiring from the RAF on October 18, 1968 as a Wing Commander.

The information here is contained in the latest edition of Men of the Battle of Britain. Why not buy your own – signed – copy?

Prince Charles with Richard Summers

Sharing a private joke with His Royal Highness Prince Charles

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