RAF Air Wings

RAF Squdron Crest
RAF Biggin Hill Wing

Supermarine Spitfire photographs

Aircrew RAF 125FW pilots George Keefer (left) John Lane 01

Aircrew RAF 322 Wing Group Capt PH Hugo and Wing Commander R Berry IWM CNA282

Aircrew RAF 322 Wing Group Capt PH Hugo and Wing Commander R Berry IWM CNA282

Group Captain P H 'Dutch' Hugo (left), Commanding Officer of No. 322 Wing RAF, and Wing Commander R 'Raz' Berry, who took over leadership of the Wing in January 1943, conversing at Tingley, Algeria. Petrus Hendrik Hugo, a South African, joined the RAF on a short-service commission in February 1939. He flew with No. 615 Squadron RAF during the Battle of France and the Battle of Britain, and became a flight commander in September 1941. He was posted to command No. 41 Squadron RAF in November 1941, and then took over the leadership of the Tangmere Wing in April 1942 but was shot down (for a second time) and wounded shortly after. On recovery Hugo became Wing Leader at Hornchurch, but was soon posted to lead No. 322 Wing in the forthcoming invasion of North Africa (Operation TORCH). He took command of the Wing in November 1942 and added significantly to his victory score over Algeria and Tunisia. From March to June 1943, Hugo served on the staff at HQ North-West African Coastal Air Force, but returned to command 322 Wing in Malta, Sicily, France and Italy until it disbanded in November 1944. Having achieved 17 confirmed and 3 shared victories, he then joined the staff HQ Mediterranean Allied Air Forces and finished the war flying with the Central Fighter Establishment.

Imperial War Museum IWM CNA 282 https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205209189

Aircrew RAF 322 Wing Wing Commander ADJ Lovell IWM CNA3323

Aircrew RAF 322 Wing Wing Commander ADJ Lovell IWM CNA3323

Wing Commander A D J Lovell (right) of Portrush, Northern Ireland, receives the American Distinguished Flying Cross from Brigadier General Thomas C D'Arcy, Commanding General of XII Tactical Air Command, 15th USAAF, during an awards ceremony at Headquarters, Mediterranean Allied Air Forces, Caserta, Italy. The award was made in recognition of Lovell's able and aggressive leadership of No. 322 Wing RAF, while operating as part of XII TAC over north-west Italy and the South of France between March and August 1944. Lovell achieved his first aerial victories as a fighter pilot with No. 41 Squadron RAF over Dunkirk and during the Battle of Britain. He briefly commanded No. 145 Squadron RAF and moved to the Middle East in October 1941, becoming an operations controller at HQ RAFME, before a further posting to Malta in June 1942 where he took command of No. 1435 Flight, later 1435 Squadron RAF. After an impressive series of victories over the island he was again returned to controller duties at the begining of 1943 but rejoined operations leading the Safi Wing until November 1943. In December he joined 322 Wing, leading them to Corsica in March 1944, and then became leader of 244 Wing RAF in Italy, during which time he received his American DFC. In December 1944 he was posted to No. 71 Operational Training Unit as Chief Instructor, returning to the United Kingdom at the end of the War in Europe with a total of 16 and six shared victories. He was killed in a flying accident at Old Sarum on 17 August 1945.

Imperial War Museum IWM CNA 3323 https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205210894

Aircrew RAF 324 Wing Group Capt WGG Duncan Smith at Venafro Italy IWM CNA2823

Aircrew RAF 324 Wing Group Capt WGG Duncan-Smith at Venafro Italy IWM CNA2823

Group Captain W G G Duncan-Smith, Officer Commanding No. 324 Wing RAF, briefs some of his pilots at Venafro, Italy, for a morning fighter sweep in support of Operation DIADEM.

Imperial War Museum IWM CNA2823 https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205209374

Aircrew RAF Ace JE Johnnie Johnson in his Spitfire JEJ 01

Aircrew RAF Ace JE Johnnie Johnson in his Spitfire MkIX RAF 144 (Canadian) Wing Bazenville Normandy 01

Aircrew RAF Ace Wg Cdr JE Johnnie Johnson DSO DFC with Labrador Sally at Bazenville Normandy July 1944 01

Aircrew RAF Ace Wg Cdr JE Johnnie Johnson DSO DFC with Spitfire MkIX JEJ Normandy 1944 01

Aircrew RAF Air Vice Marshal Dickson near Venafro Italy 1943 IWM NA13987

Aircrew RAF Air Vice Marshal Dickson near Venafro Italy 1943 IWM NA13987

Air Vice Marshal W P Dickson, Air Officer Commanding the Desert Air Force, sitting down to afternoon tea while attending a conference at the Tactical Headquarters of the 8th Army, near Venafro, Italy.

Imperial War Museum IWM NA 13987 https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205208070

Aircrew RAF Air Vice Marshal Keith Park at Malta Jun 1943 IWM TR1062

Aircrew RAF Air Vice Marshal Keith Park at Malta Jun 1943 IWM TR1067

Aircrew RAF at Kuala Lumpur selected to form part of occupation in Japan IWM CF1123

Aircrew RAF at Kuala Lumpur selected to form part of occupation in Japan IWM CF1123

Spitfire FRXIV's at Kuala Lumpur, Lieutenant General J Northcott CB, MVO, Chief Officer Commanding British Commonwealth Occupation Forces in Japan, speaks to Flight Sergeant A D Denton, a pilot in one of two Spitfire squadrons selected to form part of the Allied forces of occupation in Japan. Behind General Northcott stands Air Vice Marshal C A Bouchier CB, CBE, DFC, Air Officer Commanding British Commonwealth Air Forces of Occupation in Japan.

Imperial War Museum IWM CF 1123 https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205207778

Aircrew RAF Battle of Britain Anniversary fly past over London IWM CH16283

Aircrew RAF Battle of Britain Anniversary fly-past over London IWM CH16283

Air Chief Marshal Lord Dowding talking with Group Captain D R S Bader and other veteran fighter pilots before they took off from North Weald, Essex, for the Battle of Britain Anniversary fly-past over London. They are (left to right); Wing Commander J Ellis, Wing Commander T A Vigors, Wing Commander D Crowley-Milling, ACM Lord Dowding, Group Captain D R S Bader, Squadron Leader R Buch, Wing Commander B Drake (partially behind Buch), Wing Commander P M Brothers, and an unknown pilot (behind Brothers).

Imperial War Museum IWM CH 16283 https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205210755

Aircrew RAF Biggin Hill Wing Commander AG Malan DSO DFC in Spitfire 2nd Jan 1943 01

Aircrew RAF Biggin Hill Wing Commander AG Malan with SqnLdr Hugo Armstrong 2nd Jan 1943 01

Aircrew RAF Biggin Hill Wing Robert Stanford Tuck 01

Aircrew RAF Douglas Bader with Adolf Galland Aug 9 1941 01

Aircrew RAF Douglas Bader with Adolf Galland Aug 9 1941 02

Aircrew RAF Group Captain A G Malan CO RAF 20 Wing IWM CH2661

Aircrew RAF Group Captain A G Malan CO RAF 20 Wing IWM CH2661

Group Captain A G Malan when Officer Commanding No. 20 Wing

Imperial War Museum IWM CH 2661 https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205210528

Aircrew RAF Group Captain A G Malan CO RAF 20 Wing IWM CH2661a

Aircrew RAF Neville Duke during Battle of Britain at RAF Biggin Hill 1941 01

Aircrew RAF Wing Leader Douglas Bader 1945 01

Aircrew RAF Wings during the Dieppe Raid at Tangmere IWM HU88314

Aircrew RAF Wings during the Dieppe Raid at Tangmere IWM HU88314

Group Captain Charles Appleton (centre), Station Commander at Tangmere, flanked by some of the wing leaders and squadron commanders who flew on the Dieppe Raid. On the left, Wing Commander 'Johnnie' Walker (Tangmere Wing) and 'Pat' Gibbs (Ibsley Wing). On the right, Squadron Leaders 'Bertie' Wootten (No 118 Squadron) amd 'Bobby' Yule (No 66 Squadron). Seated on the Hurricane behind is 'Dan' Du Vivier, the Belgian CO of No 43 Squadron.

Imperial War Museum IWM HU 88314 https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205094158

Airworthy Spitfire warbird RAF MK297 DB 01

Airworthy Spitfire warbird RCAF 416Sqn IRG AB910 01

Airworthy Spitfire warbird RCAF 416Sqn IRG AB910 02

Airworthy Spitfire warbird RCAF 416Sqn IRG AB910 03

Airworthy Spitfire warbird RCAF 416Sqn IRG AB910 04

Airworthy Spitfire warbird RCAF 416Sqn IRG AB910 05

Airworthy Spitfire warbird RCAF 416Sqn IRG AB910 06

Airworthy Spitfire warbird RCAF 416Sqn IRG AB910 07

Airworthy Spitfire warbird RCAF 416Sqn IRG AB910 08

Airworthy Spitfire warbird RCAF AE AB910 01

Art LFIX RAF 602Sqn JE J Johnson MK392 Turner 0A

Luftwaffe Siebel Si 204 captured by RAF 232 Wing at Klagenfurt Austria IWM CNA3636

Siebel Si 204 captured by RAF 232 Wing at Klagenfurt Austria IWM CNA3636

Cooks of No. 324 Wing RAF, Desert Air Force, prepare the midday meal in field ovens set up by the airfield at Klagenfurt, Austria. Parked in the foreground are a number of Siebel Si 204 communications aircraft left by the Germans and, beyond them, a Douglas Boston of No. 232 Wing RAF.

Imperial War Museum IWM CNA 3123 https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205209407

Luftwaffe Siebel Si 204 captured by RAF 232 Wing at Klagenfurt Austria IWM CNA3636a

Spitfire external fuel tank filled with beer for Allied forces in Normandy 1944 01

Spitfire F24 RAF 80Sqn W2P Guy Mott VN317 Kai Tak Wing Hong Kong 1947 0A

Spitfire LFIXc RAF 324FW RduV Daniel Le Roy MJ628 TC15015 Supermarine Spitfire MkIX Page 20

Spitfire LFIX RAF 132FW Norwegian RAB PV181 profile by Bjornar Noras 0A

Spitfire LFIX RAF 132FW Norwegian RAB PV181 TC15015 Supermarine Spitfire MkIX Page10

Spitfire LFIX RAF 132FW Norwegian RAB PV181 TC15015 Supermarine Spitfire MkIX Page11

Spitfire LFIX RAF 144 Wing JEJ MK392 Johhnnie Johnson OC MK392 1944 0A

Spitfire LFIX RCAF 126 Wing BDR Blair Dal Russel ML422 Sep 1944 01

Spitfire LFIX RCAF 411Sqn DBJ NH471 ex132S FFC Dec 1944 01

Spitfire LFVb RAF 142FW John Checketts AB509 England 1944 01

Spitfire LFVb RAF 142FW John Checketts AB509 England 1944 0A

Spitfire LFVb RAF 244 Wing IRG AB502 over the Tunisian coast IWM CNA816

Spitfire LFVb RAF 244 Wing IRG AB502 over the Tunisian coast IWM CNA816

Spitfire LF Mark VB, AB502 IR-G, the personal aircraft of Wing Commander I R "Widge" Gleed, No. 244 Wing Leader based at Bu Grara, Tunisia, in flight off Djerba Island. The aircraft is fitted with an Aboukir air filter and has clipped wings in order to assist low-level performance

Imperial War Museum IWM CNA 816 https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205209220

Spitfire LFVb RAF 244 Wing IRG AB502 over the Tunisian coast IWM CNA818

Spitfire LFVb RAF 601Sqn IRG AB502 UFV ER220 UFF EP481 off the Tunisian coast IWM CNA818

Three Spitfire LF Mark VBs of No. 244 Wing RAF based at Bu Grara, flying in close starboard echelon formation off the Tunisian coast after escorting light bombers on a sortie to Mareth. AB502 IR-G, in the foreground, is the personal aircraft of the Wing Leader, Wing Commander I R "Widge" Gleed, which he flew when he was shot down and killed over Cap Bon on 16 April 1943, while the two accompanying aircraft are ER220 UF-V and EP481 UF-F of No. 601 Squadron RAF. All three are fitted with Aboukir air filters and have clipped wings in order to assist low-level performance.

Imperial War Museum IWM CNA 818 https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205209221

Spitfire LFVb RAF 244 Wing IRG AB502 over the Tunisian coast IWM CNA821

Spitfire LFVb RAF 601Sqn IRG AB502 UFV ER220 UFF EP481 off the Tunisian coast IWM CNA821

Three Spitfire LF Mark VBs of No. 244 Wing RAF based at Bu Grara, flying in close starboard echelon formation off the Tunisian coast after escorting light bombers on a sortie to Mareth. AB502 IR-G, in the foreground, is the personal aircraft of the Wing Leader, Wing Commander I R "Widge" Gleed, which he flew when he was shot down and killed over Cap Bon on 16 April 1943, while the two accompanying aircraft are ER220 UF-V and EP481 UF-F of No. 601 Squadron RAF. All three are fitted with Aboukir air filters and have clipped wings in order to assist low-level performance.

Imperial War Museum IWM CNA 821 https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205209222

Spitfire LFVb RAF 244 Wing IRG AB502 over the Tunisian coast IWM CNA821a

Spitfire LFVIII RAF 239FW FB Robert Boyd MD371 Baigachi India 1944 0A

Spitfire LFVIII RAF WFD JF814 Air Vice Marshal WF Dickson northern Italy IWM CNA3175

Spitfire LFVIII RAF WFD JF814 Air Vice Marshal WF Dickson northern Italy IWM CNA3175

Air Vice Marshal W F Dickson, Air Officer Commanding the Desert Air Force, stands by his personal Supermarine Spitfire LF Mark VIII, JF814 WFD at a landing ground in northern Italy.

Imperial War Museum IWM CNA 3175 https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205209416

Spitfire LFVIII WFD JF814 Air Vice Marshal William Forster Dickson personal ac Italy 1943 01

Spitfire LFVIII WFD JF814 Air Vice Marshal William Forster Dickson personal ac Italy 1943 02

Spitfire LFXVI RAF 302sqn QHV 131FW Polish crash landed T Pyzik KIA Mar 3 1945 01

Spitfire MkIa RAF Tangmere Wing DB Douglas Bader Tangmere 1941 01

Spitfire MkIa RAF Tangmere Wing DB Douglas Bader Tangmere 1941 0A

Spitfire MkIXs RAF 144 Wing at B3 Sainte Croix sur Mer Normandy 1944 IWM CL87

Spitfire MkIXs RAF 144 Wing at B3 Sainte Croix-sur-Mer Normandy 1944 IWM CL87

Supermarine Spitfires of No. 144 Wing, the first RAF formation to fly into France, at readiness on the advanced landing ground at B3/Sainte Croix-sur-Mer, Normandy.

Imperial War Museum IWM CL 87 https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205210530

Spitfire MkIXs RAF 281 Wing X and Y at Prkos Yugoslavia IWM CNA3509

Spitfire MkIXs RAF 281 Wing at Prkos Yugoslavia IWM CNA3509

Supermarine Spitfire Mark IXs of No. 281 Wing RAF are prepared for a sortie at Prkos, Yugoslavia, as the pilots confer before take off.

Imperial War Museum IWM CNA 3509 https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205209459

Spitfire MkVb RAF 322 Wing C ES187 and T ES191 at Tingley Algeria IWM CNA278

Spitfire MkVb RAF 322 Wing C ES187 and T ES191 at Tingley Algeria IWM CNA278

Supermarine Spitfire Mark Vs of No. 322 Wing RAF, parked in their dispersals at Tingley, Algeria. In the foreground Mark VBs ES187 'C' and ES191 'T' of No. 154 Squadron RAF are being brought to readiness for a patrol. Note the extensive use of pierced steel planking (PSP) to surface the dispersals and taxiways.

Imperial War Museum IWM CNA 278 https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205209189

Spitfire MkVb RAF Air Vice Marshal Keith Park at Safi Malta 15 May 1943 IWM TR1066

Spitfire MkVb RAF Air Vice Marshal Keith Park at Safi Malta 15 May 1943 IWM TR1068

Spitfire MKVb RAF Ibsley Wing RG with IR Gleed at Ibsley Hampshire IWM CH5908

Spitfire MkVb RAF Ibsley Wing RG with IR Gleed at Ibsley Hampshire IWM CH5908

Wing Commander I R "Widge" Gleed sitting in the cockpit of his Supermarine Spitfire Mark VB, AA742 'R G', at Ibsley, Hampshire, when leading the Ibsley Wing. Note Gleed's personal emblem, depicting "Figaro" the cat swatting a swastika, beneath the cockpit.

Imperial War Museum IWM CH 5908 https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205210199

Spitfire Mk VB Trop Air Vice Marshal Sir Keith Park at Safi May 1943 IWM TR1069

Spitfire MkVIII RAF 906 Wing HGG JG253 at Tabingaung 1944 IWM CF269

Spitfire MkVIII RAF 906 Wing HGG JG253 at Tabingaung 1944 IWM CF269

Supermarine Spitfire LF Mark VIII, JG253, the personal aircraft of Group Captain H G Goddard, Commanding Officer of No. 906 Wing RAF, being serviced and refuelled at Tabingaung, Burma. Behind this aircraft are parked other Spitfire LF Mark VIIIs, belonging to No. 155 Squadron RAF, detached from Tulihal to assist in operations in support of the 14th Army.

Imperial War Museum IWM CF 269 https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205207721

Spitfire RAF 145 Wing Group Capt AG Sailor Malan at Merston IWM CH12859

Spitfire RAF 145 Wing Group Capt AG Sailor Malan at Merston IWM CH12859

Group Captain A G 'Sailor' Malan, Officer Commanding No. 145 Wing based at Merston, climbing in to the cockpit of his Supermarine Spitfire before taking off from Appledram, Sussex.

Imperial War Museum IWM CH 12859 https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205210538

Spitfire RAF 244 Wing at Lentini Sicily IWM CNA1330

Spitfire RAF 244 Wing at Lentini Sicily IWM CNA1330

Fitters at work on a bench propped on ammunition boxed in a canvas shelter on the edge of the airfield at Lentini West, Sicily. In the background a Supermarine Spitfire of No. 244 Wing RAF is being painted with its identification letters.

Imperial War Museum IWM CNA 1330 https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205212483

Spitfire XIVc RAF Detling Wing CG Colin Grey RM787 Lympne 1944 01

Spitfire XIVc RAF Detling Wing CG Colin Grey RM787 Lympne 1944 02

RAF Tangmere Wing

Spitfire MkVb Tangmere Wing DB flown by Wing Commander Douglas Bader while Officer Commanding Tangmere Wing, March 1941.

Asisbiz: the serial EE606 is for Vc WA2822 West M46 6MU 14-9-42 215MU 23-9-42 Port Wyndham 9-10-42 Australia 21-11-42 RAAF as A58-106 auth for writeoff 5-46 SOC 11-48 restored as G-MKVC written off 1.7.89

Spitfire MkI RAF Tangmere Wing P7966 D-B 'Manxman' flown by Wing Commander Douglas Bader while Officer Commanding Tangmere Wing, March 1941.

Pilots RAF Douglas Bader with JG26 Adolf Galland Aug 9 1941 01-02
Photo's 01-02: The RAF's policy of wearing down the Luftwaffe and forcing the withdrawal of units from the Russian Front was not achieved and Fighter Command suffered high losses. One notable British loss occurred during Circus 68 on 9 August 1941 when the well-known Tangmere Wing Leader, W/Cdr. Douglas Bader, who had lost his legs in a pre-war flying accident, was forced to abandon his Spitfire over the French coast after colliding with a Bf-109, possibly that flown by Uffz. Albert Schlager of 3./JG26. After being captured, Bader was entertained by Adolf Galland and members of JG26 at Audembert (Photo 01) and allowed to inspect one of the unit's Bf-109Fs at close quarters (Photo 02).

Spitfire MkVa Tangmere Wing DB Douglas Bader W3185 Tangmere 1941

Pilots RAF Douglas Bader with JG26 Adolf Galland Aug 9 1941 01-02

Photo's 01-02: The RAF's policy of wearing down the Luftwaffe and forcing the withdrawal of units from the Russian Front was not achieved and Fighter Command suffered high losses. One notable British loss occurred during Circus 68 on 9 August 1941 when the well-known Tangmere Wing Leader, W/Cdr. Douglas Bader, who had lost his legs in a pre-war flying accident, was forced to abandon his Spitfire over the French coast after colliding with a Bf-109, possibly that flown by Uffz. Albert Schlager of 3./JG26. After being captured, Bader was entertained by Adolf Galland and members of JG26 at Audembert (Photo 01) and allowed to inspect one of the unit's Bf-109Fs at close quarters (Photo 02).

MJ931 LFIX CBAF M66 33MU 4-1-44 312S 31-1-44 AST 25-5-44 302S 9-11-44 AST 8-12-44 331S 10-5-45 RNorAF 21-9-45 as 'A-AI'

Tangmere, England, United Kingdom Map

131 Coltishall Wing

Spitfire LFIX RAF 131 Wing SZ-G Aleksander Gabszewicz NH214 England 1944

NH214 LFIX CBAF M66 6MU 6-5-44 82MU 19-5-44 GAL 12-8-44 302S 19-10-44 ASTH 1-3-45 39MU 5-7-45 sold Turkey 16-10-47

Spitfire LFIX RAF 131 Polish Wing SZ-G Gabszewicz NH342 England 1944

NH342 LFIX CBAF M66 6MU 1-5-44 AST 18-5-44 317S 15-6-44 302S 9-11-44 317S 11-1-45 CB ops 28-2-45 Miles Aircraft 9MU 15-6-45 165S 20-6-46 165S 27-6-46 66S 2-9-46 sold scrap R.J.Coley 3-2-50

RAF 142 Wing

Spitfire LFVc RAF 142 Wing J-MC JM 'Johnny' Checketts AB509 1944

AB509 Vc 2542 M45 FF 29-1-42 24MU 31-1-42 66S 15-3-42 AST 16-9-42 131S 31-12-42 412S 23-1-43 310S 3-3-43 144AF 3-3-44 Scottish Aviation 20-3-44 402S 22-5-44 53OTU 29-9-44 SOC 31-5-45

RAF 145 Wing

Supermarine Spitfire MkIXc RAF 145 Wing 2nd TAF AL Commander Alan Deere EN568 England May 1944

RAF 239 Wing

Supermarine Spitfire LFVIII RAF 239 Wing FB Robert Boyd MD371 India 1944.

MD371 LFVIII EA M66 9MU 5-2-44 222MU 21-2-44 Streafkerk 26-3-44 India 11-5-44 228 Grp CF SOC 28-8-47

Calcutta, West Bengal, India Map

RAF 244 Wing

Spitfire LFVb RAF 244 Wing IR-G Wing Commander Ian Gleed AB502 Egypt 1943

AB502 VbT 2541 M45 FF 28-1-42 6MU 13-2-42 Crosby Co 20-2-42 Denmark 11-3-42 Takoradi 9-5-42 Middle East 5-6-42 145S 'ZX-B' Aboukir filter fitt [Destroyed in air raid LG 154 22-8-42] 224Wing shot down by Bf109 Tunisia 16-4-43 A/C Gleed killed

Photos:Three Royal Air Force Supermarine Spitfire Vb on a patrol over Djerba Island, off Gabes, on their way to the Mareth Line area in early 1943. The planes "UF-V" and "UF-F" belonged to 601 Squadron. The plane "IR-G" (s/n AB502) in the foreground was the personal plane of Ian Richard Gleed, DFC, Wing Commander of No. 244 Wing. On 16 April 1943 Gleed was killed in a fighter sweep in the Cap Bon area. He was shot down in his Spitfire by German Messerschmitt Bf 109Gs from JG 77.

Spitfire LFVb RAF 244 Wing IR-G Wing Commander Ian Gleed AB910 Egypt 1943

AB910 Vb CBAF.1060 CBAF M45 MU 16-8-41 ? 92S 8-42 Middle East 1-9-42 VASM 7-6-43 fuel syst mods wing stiff 416S 1-7-43 53OTU took off Hibaldstow with WAAF Margaret Horton on tail 4-4-45 sold A/C Wheeler 14-7-47 M45M install G-AISU BoB Flight 'QJ-J' struck Hendy Heck at Wolverhampton 17-10-47 extant BBMF

Photos:Three Royal Air Force Supermarine Spitfire Vb on a patrol over Djerba Island, off Gabes, on their way to the Mareth Line area in early 1943. The planes "UF-V" and "UF-F" belonged to 601 Squadron. The plane "IR-G" (s/n AB502) in the foreground was the personal plane of Ian Richard Gleed, DFC, Wing Commander of No. 244 Wing. On 16 April 1943 Gleed was killed in a fighter sweep in the Cap Bon area. He was shot down in his Spitfire by German Messerschmitt Bf 109Gs from JG 77.

RAF 322 Wing

Supermarine Spitfire EN MkIXc RAF 322Wing CG Colin Falkland Gray MA408 Sicily 1943. On the 12th August 1943 Colin Falkland Gray who was escorting B-26 Marauders ran short of fuel and had to bail out North of Malta. He was rescued by HSL

Spitfire MA408 FF 11-2-43 R-RH Cv IX 9MU 13-2-43 47MU 25-2-43 Wanderer 12-3-43 Gibraltar 24-3-43 Malta 1-7-43 Sicily 1-8-43 Engine cut abandoned N of Malta 12-8-43 SOC 13-8-43

RAF 324 Wing

Spitfire MkVIII RAF 324 Wing BK Brian Kingcombe Termini 1943

Spitfire MkIXc RAF 324 Wing BK Brian Kingcombe TB539 Zeltweg Austria 1945

TB539 HFIX CBAF M70 39MU 1-2-45 Melton Mobray 23-2-45 MedAAF 5-3-45 137MU Cv LFIX M66 29-1-48 RHAF 27-5-48

Zeltweg, Austria Map

RAF Culmhead Wing

Spitfire MkVII RAF Culmhead Wing PB Pete Brothers MD188 England 1944

MD188 VII EA M64 33MU 21-5-44 3501SU 14-6-44 131S 25-6-44 SF Culmhead 25-6-44 RAF Colerne 9-10-44 high alt trials SOC 9-12-48

RAF Culmhead England Map

RAF Detling Wing

Supermarine Spitfire MkXIVc RAF Detling Wing CG Wing Commander Colin Grey RM787 Lympne, October 1944

RAF Lympne, England Map

RAF Luqa Wing

Spitfire MkVc Trop RAF Luqa Wing PP-H Wg.Cd Peter Hanks BR498 Luqa Malta 1942

Triq Hal Far, Luqa, Malta Map

RAF Portreath Wing

Spitfire MkVb RAF Portreath Wing MB Minden Blake W3561 Portneath 1942

W3561 Vb 1832 HPA M45 FF 2-7-41 33MU 3-7-41 313S 26-10-41 130S 17-12-41 Missing presumed shot down by Fw190s off Dieppe 19-8-42 FH118.20

Portreath, Cornwall Map

IL-2 Sturmovik Cliffs of Dover - COD/CLOD skins
 
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RAF wings

Group Captain Sir Douglas Robert Steuart Bader
CBE, DSO & Bar, DFC & Bar, FRAeS, DL

Group Captain Sir Douglas Robert Steuart Bader CBE, DSO & Bar, DFC & Bar, FRAeS, DL, RAF (21 February 1910 – 5 September 1982) was a Royal Air Force fighter ace during the Second World War. In 1928, Bader joined the RAF but only two years later lost both of his legs in an aircraft crash while doing aerobatics. Bader attempted to stay in the RAF but was forced to leave on 30 April 1933. After the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, he tried to rejoin the RAF eventually doing so. Posted to a fighter squadron in 1940 Bader scored his first kills during the Battle of France, over Dunkirk.

During the Battle of Britain Bader became a friend and supporter of Trafford Leigh-Mallory and his 'Big Wing' experiments, which led him into conflict with Air Chief Marshal Keith Park. In 1941 Bader participated in fighter sweeps over Europe as the RAF adopted a more offensive stance, but in August 1941 Bader was forced to bail out over German-occupied France and was captured. During his capture he met and befriended Adolf Galland, a prominent German Ace. Bader was to spend the rest of the war as a prisoner of war. During his time as a POW, Bader made as much trouble as possible, escaping in August 1942, only to be recaptured and sent to Colditz Castle. Bader was eventually liberated in April 1945. His request to return to action before the end of the war was denied. Douglas Bader ended the conflict with 22 aerial victories, scored in the Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire. Bader left the RAF for good in February 1946.

Bader was considered to be an inspirational British leader and hero of the era. His brutally forthright, dogmatic and often highly opinionated views (especially against authority) coupled with his boundless energy and enthusiasm inspired adoration and frustration in equal measures with both his subordinates and peers. Douglas Bader died in 1982.

Early years

Bader was born in St John's Wood, London, the second son of Major Frederick Roberts Bader of the Royal Engineers and his wife Jessie. Douglas also had an older brother Frederick, but the family called him 'Derick' . His first two years were spent with relatives in the Isle of Man as his father had returned to his posting in India shortly after the birth of his son, and was accompanied by his wife and eldest son. At the age of two, Douglas joined his parents in India for a year before the family moved back to London. Frederick Bader was a Sapper in the Royal Engineers. Frederick Bader fought in France during the First World War and died in 1922 of complications arising from shrapnel wounds that he suffered in 1917. Ironically his father died in a hospital in Saint-Omer, the area where Douglas would bail out and be captured in 1941. Douglas went to Temple Grove Prep School, in Eastbourne, then to St Edward's School, Oxford, which was also attended by Guy Gibson and Adrian Warburton. His mother re-married shortly thereafter, to Reverend Ernest William Hobbs. Bader was subsequently brought up in the rectory of the village of Sprotborough, near Doncaster, West Riding of Yorkshire now South Yorkshire. Douglas had been offered a place at Oxford University, but turned it down as he preferred Cambridge University. Bader was very sports minded, and played both cricket and football during his educational years, and took less of an interest in his education itself. Having lost his father in the war Bader received guidance from his schoolmaster, the Reverend Henry E. Kendall. Under Kendall's guidance Bader excelled and qualified as a Cadet at RAF Cranwell.

Joining the RAF

In 1928, Bader joined the RAF as an officer cadet at the Royal Air Force College Cranwell in rural Lincolnshire. On 13 September 1928 Bader took his first flight with his instructor Flying Officer W. J. 'Pissy' Pearson, in an Avro 504. After just 11 hours and 15 minutes Bader flew solo, on 19 February 1929, watched by his flight commander Flight Lieutenant (Later Air Marshal Sir) Douglas MacFayden. Bader recalled Pearson, and the RAF were strict about the terms used by pilots, allowing the words 'aircraft', or 'aeroplane', but never Americanisms such as 'ship' or 'kite'. Pearson died of tuberculosis on 22 January 1943.

As Bader reached the end end of his two year course, he found himself in a two horse race for the Sword of Honour with Patric Coote, and was beaten. The same day, 26 July 1930, Bader was commissioned into No. 23 Squadron RAF. Bader's friend Patric Coote, became Wing Commander of No. 211 Squadron, but was killed on 13 April 1941 when his Bristol Blenheim, L4819 flown by Flying Officer R. V. Herbert, was shot down over Greece. Coote had became the first of 29 kills of the Luftwaffe ace Unteroffizier, (later Leutnant) Fritz Gromotka.

Bader was an above-average pilot and an outstanding sportsman; he played rugby union for Harlequin F.C. coming close to national team selection. He played one first-class cricket match playing for the RAF cricket team against the Army cricket team at The Oval in July 1931; his batting scores were 65 and 1. Commissioned as a pilot officer in 1930, Bader was posted to Kenley, Surrey, flying Gloster Gamecocks and soon after, Bristol Bulldogs.

On 14 December 1931, while visiting Reading Aero Club, he attempted some low-flying aerobatics at Woodley airfield in a Bulldog Mk. IIA, K1676, of 23 Squadron, apparently on a dare. His aircraft crashed when the tip of the left wing touched the ground. Bader was rushed to the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, where, in the hands of the prominent surgeon Leonard Joyce, both his legs were amputated—one above and one below the knee. Bader made the following laconic entry in his logbook after the crash:
“ Crashed slow-rolling near ground. Bad show. ”
Douglas Bader,

In 1932, after a long convalescence throughout which he needed morphine for pain and relief, Bader was transferred to the hospital at RAF Uxbridge and fought hard to regain his former abilities now that he had a new pair of artificial legs. In time, his efforts paid off and was able to drive a specially modified car, play golf and even dance.

Bader got his chance to prove that he could still fly when, in June 1932, Air Under-Secretary Philip Sassoon arranged for him to take up an Avro 504 which he piloted competently. A subsequent medical examination proved him fit for active service. However, in April the following year, he received notification that the RAF had decided to reverse the decision on the grounds that this situation was not covered by the King's Regulations. In May, Bader was invalided out of the RAF took an office job with the Asiatic Petroleum Company and, on 5 October 1933, married Thelma Edwards.

Second World War

When war broke out in 1939, Bader used his RAF Cranwell connections to rejoin the RAF. Despite reluctance on the part of the establishment to allow him to apply for an A.1.B. – full flying category status, his persistent efforts paid off. Bader regained a medical categorisation for operational flying at the end of November the same year and was posted to the Central Flying School, Upavon, for a refresher course on modern types of aircraft. Starting with the Avro Tutor, Bader progressed through the Fairey Battle and Miles Master (the last training stage before experiencing Spitfires and Hurricanes). Bader retained the rank of Flying Officer, that which he held on his retirement in May 1933.

Bader's first operational posting was in February 1940 to No. 19 Squadron based at RAF Duxford, near Cambridge, where a close friend from Cranwell days, Squadron Leader Geoffrey Stephenson, was the Commanding Officer, and it was then that he got his first glimpse of a Spitfire. At 29 years of age, Bader was considerably older than his fellow pilots. It was thought that Bader's success as a fighter pilot was partly due to having no legs; pilots pulling high 'G' in combat turns often 'blacked out' as the flow of blood from the brain drained to other parts of the body - usually the legs. As Bader had no legs he could remain conscious that much longer and thus had an advantage over more able-bodied opponents.

Battle of Britain

The following April, he left 19 Squadron to become a Flight Commander with No. 222 Squadron, also based at Duxford, commanded by another old friend of his, Squadron Leader Tubby Mermagen, and it was during this phase of Bader's flying career that he had his first taste of combat. While patrolling the coast near Dunkirk in his Spitfire at around 30,000 ft, he came across a Bf 109 in front of him, flying in the same direction and at approximately the same speed. Bader believed that the German must have been a novice, taking no evasive action even though it took more than one burst of gunfire to shoot him down. His second encounter was with a Dornier Do 17 a day or two later, in which he narrowly avoided a collision while silencing the aircraft's rear gunner during a high-speed pass. Shortly after Bader joined 222 Squadron, it relocated to RAF Kirton in Lindsey, just south of the Humber.

After flying operations over Dunkirk, he was posted to command No. 242 squadron as Squadron Leader at the end of June 1940; a Hurricane unit based at Coltishall, mainly made up of Canadians who had suffered high losses in the Battle of France and had low morale. Despite initial resistance to their new commanding officer, the pilots were soon won over by Bader's strong personality and perseverance, especially in cutting through red tape to make the squadron operational again. Upon the formation of No. 12 Group RAF No. 242 squadron was assigned to the Group while based at RAF Duxford.

On 11 July 1940 Bader scored his first kill with his new squadron. The weather was bad, the cloud base was down to just 600 feet while drizzle and mist covered most of the sky. Forward visibility was down to just 2,000 yards. Bader was alone on patrol, and soon directed toward an enemy aircraft flying north, up the Nolfolk coast. Spotting the aircraft at 600 yards through the mist Bader recognised it as a Dornier Do 17. He gave chase and fired two three second 'bursts' of fire into the bomber before it vanished into cloud. The Dornier was later confirmed by a coastal observer, it had crashed into the sea off Cromer. On 21 August a similar engagement took place. This time the Dornier went into the sea off Great Yarmouth and the Royal Observer Corps confirmed the kill again. There were no survivors.

Later in the month Bader scored a further two victories over Messerschmitt Bf 110s. On 7 September Bader claimed two Messerschmitt Bf 109s shot down followed by a Junkers Ju 88 and a Dornier Do 17 on 18 September.

As a friend and supporter of his 12 Group commander Air Vice-Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory, Bader joined him as an active exponent of the controversial 'Big Wing' theory. Bader was an outspoken critic of the careful 'husbanding' tactics being used by 11 Group commander, and at the time Air Vice-Marshall, Keith Park. Bader vociferously campaigned for an aggressive policy of assembling large formations of defensive fighters north of London ready to inflict maximum damage on the massed German bomber formations as they flew over southeast England. As the battle progressed, Bader often found himself at the head of a composite wing of fighters consisting of up to five squadrons. Achievements of the Big Wing were hard to quantify, as the large formations often took too long to form up, overclaimed kills and too often did not provide timely support of the overtasked 11 Group. The episode probably contributed to the departure of both Fighter Command commander Air Marshal Hugh Dowding and Air Vice Marshal Keith Park, who was replaced with Leigh-Mallory, in November 1940.

During the Battle of Britain Bader used only three Hawker Hurricanes. The first was P3061, in which he scored six kills. The second aircraft was unknown, but Bader did score one kill and two damaged in it on 9 September. The third was V7467, in which he destroyed four more and added one probable and two damaged by the end of September. The machine was lost on 1 September 1941, while on a training exercise.

Wing Leader

In 1941, Bader was promoted to Wing Commander and become one of the first 'Wing Leaders.' Stationed at Tangmere, Bader led his wing of Spitfires on sweeps and 'circus operations' (medium bomber escort) over northwestern Europe throughout the summer campaign. These were missions combining bombers and fighters designed to lure out and tie down German Luftwaffe fighter units that might otherwise serve on the Russian front. One of the Wing Leader's 'perks' was permission to have their initials marked on their aircraft as personal identification, thus 'D-B' was painted on the side of Bader's Spitfire. These letters gave rise to his radio call sign 'Dogsbody.'

During 1941 his wing was re-equipped with Spitfire VBs, which had two Hispano 20mm cannon and four .303 machine guns. However, Bader flew a Spitfire Va equipped with just eight .303 machine guns, as he insisted that these guns were more effective against fighter opposition.

Prisoner of war

By August 1941, Bader had claimed 22 German aircraft shot down, the fifth highest total in the RAF. On 9 August 1941, Bader was forced to bail out over German occupied France, and was taken prisoner. Douglas believed for years that he had collided in midair with a Messerschmitt Bf 109 over Le Touquet, although there is reason to believe he may have been shot down:

Recent research shows no Bf 109 was lost to a collision that day and he may have been shot down by a Bf 109 of II./Jagdgeschwader 26 flown by Feldwebel Meyer.[37] As he tried to bail out, his right prosthetic leg became trapped in the aircraft, and he only escaped when the leg's retaining straps snapped.

More recently, in a Channel 4 documentary 'Who Downed Douglas Bader?', first aired on 28 August 2006, research by air historian Andy Saunders now suggests that he may have been a victim of friendly fire, shot down by one of his fellow RAF pilots after becoming detached from his own squadron. RAF combat records indicate Bader may have been shot down by F/L 'Buck' Casson of No. 616 Squadron RAF who claimed a 'Bf 109 whose tail came off and the pilot bailed out.' Bader was flying at the rear of the German fighter formation, alone, and his squadron were the opposite side of the Germans. 'Buck' only had a few seconds in which he saw Bader and mistook his Spitfire for a Bf 109. Ironically, Casson was also shot down and made prisoner that same day. Whether Bader devised the collision story to cover for a fellow pilot is left unresolved.

Bader met Max Meyer in Sydney in 1981 during the Schofield Air Show, during which time Bader was to learn that Meyer had 'claimed him' shot down that morning. According to Luftwaffe records a Leutnant Kosse of 5./JG 26 and Meyer, of 6./JG 26 were the only German pilots to claim a victory that day. Furthermore Meyer mentioned that he had followed the downed Spitfire and watched the pilot bail out, something which Bader seems to confirm in his memoirs:

I was floating in the sunshine above broken, white cloud.... I heard an aeroplane just after I passed through. A Bf 109 flew past.

The machine that Bader was flying was a Spifire Mk V serial W3185 'D-B'. Bader had scored one kill and one probable in this machine prior to the 9 August.[41] Bader was captured by German forces, who treated him with great respect. General Adolf Galland, a German flying ace, notified the British of his damaged leg and offered them safe passage to drop off a replacement. The British responded on 19 August 1941 with the 'Leg Operation'—an RAF bomber was allowed to drop a new prosthetic leg by parachute to St Omer, a Luftwaffe base in occupied France, as part of Circus 81 involving six Blenheim bombers and a sizeable fighter escort. The Germans were less impressed when, task done, the bombers proceeded onto their bombing mission to Gosnay power station near Bethune, although bad weather prevented the target being attacked.

General Galland stated in an interview that the aircraft dropped the leg after bombing his (Galland's) airfield.

Bader tried to escape from the hospital where he was recovering, and over the next few years proved as big a thorn in the side of the Germans as he had been to the RAF establishment. He made so many attempts at escape that the Germans threatened to take away his legs. In August 1942 Bader escaped with Johnny Palmer and three others from the camp at Stalag Luft III in Sagan. Unfortunately a Luftwaffe officer of Jagdgeschwader 26 was in the area. Keen to meet the Tangmere wing leader he dropped by to see Bader. When he knocked on Bader's door there was no answer. Soon the alarm was raised, and a few days later Bader was recaptured. During the search the Germans produced a poster of Bader and Palmer asking for information. It described Baders disability, but said 'walks well without stick'. Twenty years later Bader was sent a copy of it by a Belgian civilian prisoner, who worked in a Gestapo office in Leipzig. Bader found this amusing, as he had never used a stick.[43] He was finally dispatched to the 'escape-proof' Colditz Castle Oflag IV-C on 18 August 1942, where he remained until the 15 April 1945 when it fell into the hands of the 1st US Army. When Bader subsequently arrived in Paris, true to form, he requested a Spitfire so that he could rejoin the fighting before the war was over, only to be refused.

Postwar

After his return to England, Bader was given the honour of leading a victory flypast of 300 aircraft over London in June 1945 and was later promoted to Group Captain. He remained in the RAF until February 1946, when he left to take a job at Royal Dutch/Shell.

Never a person to hide his opinions, Bader also became controversial for his political interventions. A staunch conservative with traditional Victorian values, his trenchantly-expressed views on such subjects as juvenile delinquency, apartheid and Rhodesia's defiance of the Commonwealth (he was a staunch supporter of Ian Smith's white minority regime) attracted much criticism. His association with figures on the radical right fringes of British politics contributed to a perception that he was a closet extremist and racist an impression that in the case of the politically unsophisticated Bader was almost certainly incorrect.

Following the death of his first wife, Thelma, Bader married Joan Murray on 3 January 1973.

In 1976 Bader was knighted for his services to amputees and his public work for the disabled.

On 4 June 1979 Bader flew for the last time as a pilot. He had recorded 5,744 hours and 25 minutes flying time. Adolf Galland followed Bader into retirement.

His workload was exhausting for a legless man with a worsening heart condition, and, after a London Guildhall dinner honouring the 90th birthday of the Marshal of the Royal Air Force, Sir Arthur 'Bomber' Harris, Bader died of a heart attack on 5 September 1982 at the age of 72. Bader had previously suffered a 'minor heart attack' three weeks earlier after a golf tournament in Ayrshire.

Honours and tributes

Douglas Bader has a road named after him in Mungo Park, Essex. Bader Way is a few minutes walk away from the old RAF base in Hornchurch. In Canford Heath, Poole, Dorset is Bader Road, and the pub now called The Pilot, previously called The Fighter Pilot was opened by him. Bader Close is located at, Kenley, Surrey —a few minutes away from the former RAF Kenley. The Bader Way in Woodley, Reading is located near a housing estate built on the site of the airfield where he had his famous crash and lost his legs. He has a road named after him in Birmingham. There is a Bader Way in the town of Kirton in Lindsey near a Royal Air Force base. Bader Walk is situated in the housing estate near the Sentinel statue in Castle Vale.

Sir Douglas Bader Intermediate School is located on Bader Drive, near Auckland International Airport, in South Auckland, New Zealand. There is a Sir Douglas Bader seniors' apartment building in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. There is a school, now owned and run by Norfolk County Council, called the Douglas Bader Centre on the former Coltishall RAF base. The area of former RAF housing on the site of Coltishall air base, and now privately owned, is to be called Badersfield.

Northbrook College Sussex at Shoreham-by-Sea Airport has a building named after him in which aeronautical engineering and automotive engineering are taught.

Bader's biography, Reach for the Sky, was written after the war by Paul Brickhill and became a best seller. A feature film of the same title was made in 1956 and starred Kenneth More as Bader. An animated version of Douglas Bader appeared in the Gargoyles television series, voiced by Charles Shaugnessy, in an episode titled 'M.I.A.'

Two pubs have been named in Bader's honour. The first, the Douglas Bader, is located in the village of Martlesham Heath on the site of Martlesham Heath Airfield where Bader was briefly stationed in 1940. The second, the Bader Arms, is situated in the village of Tangmere, West Sussex near RAF Tangmere, where Bader was stationed in 1941.

The Douglas Bader Memorial Garden in Cupar, Fife was opened by Bader in 1982. After a public campaign, the citizens of Cupar backed a scheme by the new charity Douglas Bader Community Garden to create a world class garden and community centre in the Fife town. This would replace the original garden, which had been vandalised and was set to be closed by Fife Council, the local authority. In late 2007, the new project was given outline planning permission by Fife Councillors, who had initially expressed some concern about the scheme. Local Cupar Councillor Bryan Poole, who is independent, stated that he thought the new garden project would not happen at a public meeting.

Doncaster College immortalised Douglas Bader on a mural based on the famous people of Doncaster produced by the 2007–2008 First Diploma Art & Design students. The mural has been placed in the Doncaster Interchange.

On the 60th anniversary of Bader's last combat mission, his widow Joan unveiled a statue at Goodwood, formerly RAF Westhampnett, the aerodrome from which he took off. The 6 ft. (1.8 m) bronze sculpture, the first such tribute, was created by Kenneth Potts from Worcestershire, and was commissioned by the Earl of March, who runs the Goodwood estate on behalf of his father, the Duke of Richmond.

On many RAF Stations, including RAF Coltishall and RAF Coningsby there is a junior ranks' barrack block named after Douglas Bader.

Bader's artificial legs are kept by the RAF Museum at their store at Stafford and are not on public display. In January 2008 it was announced that one of Bader's prosthetic legs was to be sold at auction, along with several other items belonging to the RAF ace.

The Air Training Corps now uses a system to undertake many administrative duties named 'Project Bader'.

Combat credos

Bader attributed his success to the belief in the three basic rules, shared by the German ace Erich Hartmann:

* If you had the height, you controlled the battle.
* If you came out of the sun, the enemy could not see you.
* If you held your fire until you were very close, you seldom missed.

Quote; “Don't listen to anyone who tells you that you can't do this or that. That's nonsense. Make up your mind, you'll never use crutches or a stick, then have a go at everything. Go to school, join in all the games you can. Go anywhere you want to. But never, never let them persuade you that things are too difficult or impossible.”

Quote; 'Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the obedience of fools.'

Quote; 'I am not one of those who see war as a cricket match where you first give anything to defeat the opponent and then shake hands.'

Web Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas Bader

RAF wings

George Clinton 'Keefe' Keefer

Keefe (left) & John Lane, 4 June '42. After seeing a Very flair over the North African desert, Keefer lands & meets a downed & stranded SAAF pilot (John Lane). The 2 men squeezed into the cockpit of Keefe's Hurricane and flew home. This photo shows the pair - demonstrating for the press - how it was done.
RCAF W/C - DSO & Bar, DFC & Bar, Netherlands Flying Cross, French Croix de Guerre with Gold Star

Wing Commander George Keefer was now flying leader of 125 Spitfire wing under the command of Johnnie Johnson who had just been transferred from 127 wing and promoted to Group Captain. In his book 'Wing Leader' Johnny Tells this story about 'The bravest man I've ever known' ...

'We found a lot of Huns during the latter half of April. We destroyed fighters, bombers, transports, stuka dive bombers, trainers, and a bunch of seaplanes we'd found floating in a lake. We could not catch the Jets in the air but we knew they were operating from Lubeck on the Baltic Coast. We paid special attention to this airfield, shooting the Jets down when they took off or came in to land. Some of the enemy leaders showed flashes of their old brilliance but the rank-and-file were poor. One evening George Keefer led one of the squadrons on a sweep round the far side of the Elbe and I led a finger-four down sun from him. We swung toward an airfield neatly camouflaged in the midst of woods. Heavy flak bracketed us and George led us into the cover of the Low sun. On the airfield I saw a squadron of Messerschmitts about to take off. Five minutes later we returned in a fast dive from the sun. The 109's were still there. Hundreds of light flak guns joined the heavy barrage against us. My heart sack. Probably we all thought the same thing: the war could only last a few more days. The pilots of the 109's below had probably left their cockpits for the engines had stopped. What were the chances of getting through the flak now that the gunners were roused? I reckoned they were about 50-50.
George said, 'Graycap, I'm going in with my number 2 (F/O Trevarrow). Cover us will you?'
I wanted to say 'Is it worth it?' but only muttered: 'Okay George.'
The two spitfires got smaller and smaller as they went down in a fast dive. Their Gray-Green camouflage merged into the spring greenery below and for a second or two I lost them. But the gunners on the ground still saw them, and the whole airfield seemed to sparkle with the flashes from the guns. We saw the spits again when they streaked over the boundary of the airfield. We saw George's Cannon shells bouncing on the concrete. I shouted into my microphone 'Up a bit George you're under deflecting!'
Then his shells ripped into the last Messerschmitt in the line. It caught fire, its ammunition exploded and the Cannon shells slammed into the next 109. In a matter of seconds the whole lot were blazing and a great spiral of white smoke curled up from the airfield.
'You all right George?'
'Fine Graycap. Am climbing up.'
'Red 2?'
'I've been hit sir but she's flying' replied the wing man.
'Lead him home George and we'll cover you' I instructed.
I twisted my neck for a final look at the airfield. All 11 Messerschmitts were burning fiercely. It was the best and bravest strafing attack I had ever seen...

Born in New York, 1921; home in Charlottetown, PEI enlisted there 15 October 1940.
Trained at No.1 ITS (graduated 9 December 1940), No.11 EFTS (graduated 28 January 1941), and No.2 SFTS (graduated 10 April 1941).
Presented with DSO, DFC and Bar at Buckingham Palace - 7 November 1944; presented with Bar to DSO, 25 February 1947.
Died in Montreal, January 1985.

KEEFER, F/L George Clinton (J5022) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.274 Squadron
Award effective 12 January 1943 as per London Gazette dated 22 January 1943 and AFRO 272/43 dated 19 February 1943.

This officer has participated in numerous operational attacks in the course of which his determination and tenacity have resulted in twelve victories for his squadron, while many enemy aircraft have probably been destroyed or damaged. During an exceptionally long tour of flying duty he has continually displayed great gallantry and skill in strategy.

NOTE: Public Record Office Air 2/9612 has recommendation for a non-immediate award sent by Group Captain W.J.M. Akerman, Headquarters, Royal Air Force, Middle East to Air Ministry on 14 December 1942:

This pilot has flown more than 210 operational hours, covering 179 sorties, since November 1941. His determination in pressing home attacks and his strategy both as an individual and as a Section Leader have resulted in a dozen victories for his section, with numerous probables and damaged.

In addition he has either led the squadron or his section on 18 bombing trips since early June 1942, dropping thirty-six 250-pound bombs with great success. He was relieved from operational flying on 15th August and he had completed 511 hours flying, having continuously displayed gallantry during his nine and one-half months service with the squadron.

KEEFER, S/L George Clinton (J5022) - Bar to DFC - No.412 Squadron
Award effective 5 April 1944 as per London Gazette dated 14 April 1944 and AFRO 1020/44 dated 12 May 1944.

Squadron Leader Keefer has always performed his duties with unfailing coolness and courage. On many occasions he has escorted large formations of bomber aircraft over enemy territory, achieving much success. Since the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross he has continued to take part in operations with the greatest keenness and has engaged the enemy many times.

KEEFER, W/C George Clinton, DFC (J5022) - DSO - No.126 Wing
Award effective 20 October 1944 as per London Gazette of that date and AFRO 2637/44 dated 8 December 1944.

This officer has completed many sorties since being awarded a Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross and his record is outstanding. Within the past few months he has led large formations of aircraft on air operations during which forty enemy aircraft have been destroyed. The successes obtained reflect the greatest credit on the skill, gallantry and resolution of Wing Commander Keefer. This officer has been responsible for the destruction of eight hostile aircraft.

KEEFER, W/C George Clinton, DSO, DFC (J5022) - Bar to DSO - No.125 Wing
Award effective 10 July 1945 as per London Gazette of 24 July 1945 and AFRO 1619/45 dated 19 October 1945.

Since his appointment as Wing Commander of Operations, Wing Commander Keefer has led and trained his wing to a high pitch of keenness and efficiency. Under his leadership the wing has destroyed 191 enemy aircraft and damaged many more. In addition a great variety of enemy ground targets have been successfully attacked. During this period Wing Commander Keefer has destroyed four enemy aircraft in the air bringing his total victories to twelve aircraft destroyed. He has also destroyed at least sixty enemy transport vehicles. In April 1945, he completed a daring attack on eleven Messerschmitt 190s [sic] assembled on an airfield at Parchim. Despite intense and accurate anti-aircraft fire the attack was pressed home and all the enemy aircraft were destroyed. This officer has completed three tours of operational duty and has proved himself to be a leader of the highest order and a cool and fearless pilot.

KEEFER, W/C George Clinton, DSO, DFC (J5022) - Netherlands Flying Cross
Award effective 18 October 1947 as per Canada Gazette of that date and AFRO 576/47 dated 31 October 1947.

'In recognition of valuable services rendered during the recent war'. Public Records Office Air 2/9140 has recommendation as cleared by Air Ministry Honours ad Awards Committee.

Wing Commander Keefer took over the duties of Wing Commander (Operations) of No.125 Wing in November 1944, while they were in winter quarters at Eindhoven. During this phase of active operations, under extremely adverse weather conditions, Wing Commander Keefer's indomitable courage and brilliant leadership maintained the morale of his Wing at the highest level. This officer showed exceptional keenness to engage the enemy, and his steadfast determination was worthy of the highest praise. In the subsequent battles through Holland to the German border, this officer's exceptional qualities remained well to the fore. He displayed outstanding devotion to duty.

KEEFER, F/L George Clinton, DSO, DFC (J5022) - Croix de Guerre with Gold Star (France)
AFRO 485/47 dated 12 September 1947.

RAF wings

Wing Commander J M 'Johnny' Checketts

Wing Commander John Milne Checketts

Checketts was born in Invercargill on 20 February 1912 and was educated at the Invercargill South School and Southland Technical College. A motor mechanic by trade, he was twenty-eight - an advanced age for a trainee fighter pilot - when he joined the RNZAF in October 1940. He graduated from his Wings course in June 1941 as a Pilot Officer and was posted to the United Kingdom. After converting to Spitfires Checketts joined 485(NZ) Squadron in November 1941.

On 12 February 1942 the unit took part in operations over the Channel when the German battleships ’Scharnhorst’ and ’Gneisenau’ made their dash from Brest to reach safety in German ports. On 4 May 1942 Checketts was shot down, bailing out over the English Channel and eventually being rescued from his dinghy by the Royal Navy. In June 1942 he was posted to Sailor Malans’ Gunnery School before continuing to No 611 (West Lancashire) Squadron based at Biggin Hill in January 1943. Checketts was promoted to Flight Lieutenant and given command of A Flight in April. On 30 May 1943 he shot down an FW 190 5-8 miles south east of Trouville.

In July Johnny was promoted to Squadron Leader to command 485 (NZ) Squadron at Biggin Hill. On the 15th July he shot down an FW 190, on the 27th he destroyed two more, and on the 31st a Bf 109G. Leading the unit over St Pol on 9 August 1943, Checketts led a section against eight Bf 109’s and destroyed three of them. The other three New Zealand pilots in the section each destroyed one and Checketts damaged one of the two remaining 109’s as it escaped. For this action he was awarded the DFC.

While acting as high cover for bombers attacking an airfield near Amiens on 19 August the Squadron was jumped by a force of FW 190’s and Bf 109’s. In a running battle Checketts probably destroyed an FW 190 and damaged another.

On 6 September 1943 485 Squadron flew high cover for Marauders bombing the marshalling yards at Serquex. The Spitfires were attacked by twenty FW 190’s from above. Checketts shot one down but was then attacked by several others and his aircraft set on fire. Burned and wounded, he struggled to bale out. On landing he was approached by a French boy, who helped Checketts on to his bicycle and then wheeled him to a spinney.

The next day he was taken by a Frenchman to his own home, where his injuries were tended by the frenchman's wife. Having been passed from one house to the next by the French Resistance, Checketts eventually met another 485 pilot, Sergeant Kearins, who had been shot down on 15 July. These two were joined by a group of 11other escapees and taken across the English Channel in a fishing boat on 21 October 1943.

Johnny was posted to the Fighter Wing of the Central Gunnery School as an instructor.

In April 1944 he was given command of No. 1 Squadron equipped with the Hawker Typhoon but after six weeks was promoted to Wing Commander to lead 142 Spitfire Wing at RAF Horne. He later led this Wing from Westhampnett, Merston and Manston until 26th September 1944. His last operation was a high escort cover over Arnhem on that date when he shared in the destruction of a Bf 109 with one of his flight commanders.

In 1945 Johnny Checketts was appointed Wing Commander Tactics at the Central Fighter Establishment. He had been awarded the DFC on 13 August 1943, the DSO in December 1943, US Silver Star in August 1944 and the Polish Cross of Valour in April 1945. Johnny destroyed 14½ enemy aircraft, probably destroyed 3 and damaged 11.

After the war he returned to the RNZAF and became Station Commander of RNZAF Stations Wigram, Fiji and Taieri before leaving to take up aerial topdressing.

Johnny Checketts passed away at Christchurch on 21st April 2006 aged 94.

Web Reference: http://www.nzfpm.co.nz/article.asp?id=checketts

RAF wings

Pilot Officer Alan Christopher Deere
DFM & Bar

Alan Christopher b: 12 Dec 1917 r: 12 Dec 1967 d: 21 Sep 1995

DSO – 4 Jun 1943, OBE - 1 Jan 1946, DFC – 14 Jun 1940, Bar – 6 Sep 1940, DFC (US) - 18 Jan 1944

Act Plt Off (P): 9 Jan 1938, Plt Off: 28 Oct 1938, Act Flt Lt: xx May 1940, Fg Off (WS): 28 Jul 1940, Act Sqn Ldr: 1 Aug 1941?, Flt Lt (WS): 28 Jul 1941, Act Wg Cdr: 14 Dec 1942?, Sqn Ldr (WS): 14 Jun 1943, Sqn Ldr: 26 Mar 1946 [1 Sep 1945], (T) Sqn Ldr: 3 Dec 1946 [1 Jul 1943], Wg Cdr: 1 Jul 1951, Gp Capt: 1 Jan 1958, A/Cdre: 1 Jul 1964.

28 Oct 1937: U/T Pilot, De Havilland Flying School
9 Jan 1938: Granted a Short Service Commission.
9 Jan 1938: Initial Officer Training.
22 Jan 1938: U/T Pilot, No 6 FTS.
20 Aug 1938: Pilot - No 54 Sqn (initially attached No 74 Sqn)
xx May 1940: Flight Commander, No 54 Sqn
xx Jan 1941: Operations Controller, RAF Catterick (Act Sqn Ldr)
xx May 1941: Flight Commander, No 602 Sqn
1 Aug 1941: Officer Commanding, No 602 Sqn
xx Jan 1942: Lecture Tour of USA
30 May 1942: Officer Commanding. No 403 (RCAF) Sqn.
xx Aug 1942: Air Staff, HQ No 13 Group.
xx xxx xxxx: Attended RAF Staff College.
xx Feb 1943: Supernumerary, No 611 Sqn.
xx xxx 1943: Wing Commander Flying (Wing Leader), Biggin Hill Wing.
xx Sep 1943: Illness
xx xxx xxxx: Officer Commanding, Fighter Wing CGS
20 Mar 1944: Air Staff, No 11 Group, Fighter Command
xx May 1944: Officer Commanding, No 145 Airfield/Wing, 2nd TAF
xx xxx 1944: Wing Commander - Plans, HQ No 84 Group.
xx Jul 1945: Officer Commanding, RAF Biggin Hill
26 Mar 1946: Appointed to a Permanent Commission in the rank of Squadron Leader (retaining rank current at the time) [wef 1 Sep 1945]
xx Aug 1945: Officer Commanding, Polish Mustang Wing (Andrews Field)
xx Oct 1945: Officer Commanding, RAF Duxford.
xx xxx 1946: Attended US Air University.
xx xxx 1947: Staff, AHQ Malta
xx xxx 1949: Land/Air Warfare Officer, HQ No 61 Group.
xx xxx xxxx: Operations Officer, North-Eastern Sector, RAF Linton-on-Ouse.
xx xxx 1952: Officer Commanding, RAF North Weald.
xx xxx 1954: Wing Commander - Admin, RAF Wildenrath.
xx xxx 1955: Directing Staff, RAF Staff College.
4 Jan 1960: Deputy Director - Postings.
xx xx 1962: Attended Imperial Defence College
22 Mar 1961 - 30 Jun 1964: ADC to The Queen.
3 Feb 1963: Assistant Commandant, RAF College
25 Mar 1964: AOC, No 12 (East Anglian) Sector.
xx xxx 1966: AOC, RAF Halton/Commandant, No 1 School of Technical Training.
1 Dec 1967: Director of RAF Sport and Inspector of Recreational Grounds (Ret'd)

During the early part of World War Two, Alan Deere gained a reputation for 'losing' aircraft but managing to survive. Born in New Zealand, he was determined to become a pilot at the age of eight, when he got the opportunity to sit a biplane which landed near his home. Encouraged by their family doctor Alan applied to join the RAF in 1937. Having persuaded his mother to countersign his application, as he suspected his father would refuse, he attended a selection board the president of which was Wing Commander Hon. R A Cochrane.

Selected for the RAF he left Auckland in September 1937 and arrived in London five/six weeks later. His flying training at the De Havilland Civil School of Flying at White Waltham was delayed due his admission to Halford for observation owing to high blood pressure. His ab initio training complete, he attended a two week officer training course at RAF Uxbridge before arriving at No 6 FTS, Netheravon to undertake his service flying training. During this part of his career, he had his first lucky escape when, having been selected for the RAF Boxing team to tour South Africa, he was withdrawn at the last minute in order to complete his flying training. His replacement was killed along with all other passengers, when the aircraft carrying them crashed near Bulawayo.

His first posting was to No 54 Sqn at Hornchurch, but on arrival his unit being on block leave, he found himself attached to No 74 Sqn. Initially flying Gladiators, he quickly settled into the life on a typical peacetime fighter squadron. In March 1939 he flew his first Spitfire as 54 started the transition from biplane to monoplane. Declaration of war in September 1939 brought little action as the squadron settled into convoy patrols, occasional scrambles and continued training. However, with the start of the Dunkirk evacuation Al Deere found himself operating over the beaches and encountering German aircraft at last.

During this period he was involved in two incidents, the first when he and Johnny Allen flew escort to their Sqn CO, Sqn Ldr Leathart, who took a Master trainer to Calais/Marck aerodrome in France to rescue the OC of No 74 Sqn who had to make a forced landing. Shortly after this incident, he was hit during a dogfight but was able to make a forced landing on a Belgian beach. Setting off on foot, he eventually managed to make his way to Dunkirk, get himself evacuated from the beaches and to travel back to Hornchurch arriving 19 hours after taking off from there in his Spitfire.

With the real onset of the Battle of Britain he and 54 Sqn found themselves in the thick of things. He soon started building a reputation although not purely on based on his prowess as a fighter pilot and leader. He continued to be plagued by incidents which whilst often life threatening he somehow managed to escape from with little or no injury. He made another forced landing in July 1940 when, during a confused melee he collided with a Bf109 which attacked head-on. On 31 August he was leading his section in a 'scramble' during a German raid when a bomb exploded in the midst of his section, blowing all three aircraft over, Deere's being blown onto it's back. He was assisted out of his Spitfire by Plt Off Eric Edsall, his number three. Moved up to Catterick for rests during the Battle of Britain, No 54 arrived there again on 3 September to begin a period of re-grouping and training new pilots. During a training flight with a newly arrived Sergeant pilot, Al Deere was involved in another mid-air collision, when the Sergeant pilot got too close and sliced off Deere's tail with his propeller. Managing to struggle free from the cockpit, he was pinned against the remains of the tail unit only to discover on extricating himself from this that his parachute was damaged and did not fully open. However, luck being on his side again, he landed in cess pool which broke his fall.

Somewhat effected by this incident, he found himself rested from flying as a Controller in the Catterick Operations Room in the rank of Act Sqn Ldr. A return to operations arrived in May 1941 with appointment as a Flight Commander in No 602 Sqn. He had to make yet another forced landing on the coast following an engine failure over the North Sea and was once again able to crawl out through the cockpit door after the aircraft turned over. A move from Ayr to Kenley eventually brought his first command when he took over as OC, No 602. Rested again, he was posted to the USA to lecture on tactics to fighter units of the USAAF. Cutting short this duty, he returned to Britain and was given command of No 403 (RCAF) Squadron. A not too successful period in command of No 403 was followed by a more successful period as Wing Leader of the Biggin Hill Wing during which the Wing claimed it's 1000th confirmed victory.

Eventually taken off operations after destroying 22 enemy aircraft, he was firstly appointed to command the Fighter Wing of the Central Gunnery School before moving to a Staff job at 11 Group. However, his tenure at Group HQ was shorter than expected when his services were requested by General Valin (Chief of Staff of the Free French Air Force) to command the Free French Fighter Wing (No 145 Airfield) as part of the 2nd Tactical Air Force, a role which took him through to the end of war.

His final tally stands at 17 confirmed destroyed with one shared and two more and one shared being unconfirmed, four probables and seven damaged with a further one shared. His last wish was that when he died, his ashes were to be scattered over the River Thames from a Spitfire of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross

“Pilot Officer Alan Christopher DEERE (40370).

During May, 1940, this officer has, in company with his squadron, taken part in numerous offensive patrols over Northern France, and has been engaged in seven combats often against superior numbers of the enemy. In the course of these engagements he has personally shot down five enemy aircraft and assisted in the destruction of others. On one occasion, in company with a second aircraft, he escorted a trainer aircraft to Calais Marck aerodrome, for the purpose of rescuing a squadron commander who had been shot down there. The trainer aircraft was attacked by twelve Messerschmitt log's whilst taking off at Calais, but Pilot Officer Deere, with the other pilot, immediately attacked, with the result that three enemy aircraft were shot down, and a further three severely damaged. Throughout these engagements this officer has displayed courage and determination in his attacks on the enemy.”

(London Gazette – 14 June 1940)

Citation for the award of the Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross
“Acting Flight Lieutenant Alan Christopher DEERE, D.F.C.(40370).

Since the outbreak of war this officer has personally destroyed eleven and probably one other enemy, aircraft and assisted in the destruction of two more. In addition to the skill and gallantry he has shown in leading his flight, and in many instances his squadron, Flight Lieutenant Deere has displayed conspicuous bravery and determination in pressing home his attacks against superior numbers of enemy aircraft, often pursuing them across the Channel in order to shoot them down. As a leader he shows outstanding dash and determination.”

(London Gazette – 6 September 1940)

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Service Order
“Acting Wing Commander Alan Christopher DEERE, D.F.C. (40370).

This officer has displayed exceptional qualities of skill, which have played a large part in the successes of formations he has led. His fearlessness, tenacity and unswerving devotion to duty have inspired all with whom he has flown. Wing Commander Deere has destroyed 18 enemy aircraft.”

(London Gazette – 4 June 1943)

Spitfire IXc flown by Wing Commander A.C.Deere DSO OBE DFC while Officer Commanding 145 Wing RAF from May 1944. Alan Christopher Deere was born in Westport on the South Island of New Zealand on December 12th 1917. During his years of education he excelled at sports, representing his school in rugby, cricket and boxing before his growing interest in aviation led to an application for a short service commission in the RAF. After sailing to England, he started training at 13 E&RFTS (Elementary & Reserve Flying Training School) in November 1937, then moved to 6 FTS (Flight Training School) in January 1938 and finally joined No: 54 Squadron during September that same year.

On May 23rd 1940, during the Battle of France, Deere and Pilot Officer J. Allen escorted Flight Lieutenant James Leathart to Calais-Marck airfield to rescue Squadron Leader F. White of No: 74 Squadron. It was during this mission that Deere claimed his first combat victories, shooting down two Bf109’s. Later the same day he destroyed another Bf109.

As the British Expeditionary Force made for the beaches of Dunkirk during late May, Deere was also engaging the enemy, shooting down a Bf110 on the 24th and two more Bf110’s were claimed on the 26th Days later during a patrol over the Belgian coast on May 28th he attacked a Do17 but his Spitfire was hit by return fire. He made a forced landing on a beach and was briefly knocked unconscious due to the impact in the sand. Rescued by a soldier, Deere was taken to Oost-Dunkerke where his head injuries were dressed. Eventually he made his way to Dunkirk in a British Army lorry, boarded a boat to Dover and then caught a train back to London. Less than 24 hours after taking off from Hornchurch with his squadron, he had returned.

Deere was awarded the DFC on June 12th 1940 and was presented it by King George VI during a ceremony at Hornchurch on June 27th. As the Battle of Britain entered its first phase, Deere shot down a Bf109 on July 9th shortly before he crash-landed in a field, near Manston, after colliding with another Bf109 of 4 Staffel JG51 that was flown by Oberfeldwebel Johann Illner. During August he was involved in the thick of the fighting. On the 11th he shot down a Bf109, on the 12th a further two Bf109’s plus a Bf110 and destroyed a Bf109 over the Channel on the 15th before being chased back by Bf109’s and baling out at low level. Sustaining minor injuries he spent the night in Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead before returning to Hornchurch. On the 28th Deere was shot down, in error, by another Spitfire and had to bale out. Quickly returning to combat, he claimed a probable Do17 destroyed on the 30th.

Whilst scrambling from Hornchurch, on August 30th, he was caught in a bombing raid on the airfield and his Spitfire, caught in the blast, was thrown over leaving him hanging by his harness. A badly injured Pilot Officer Eric Edsall crawled across to help Deere out of his damaged cockpit before they both ended up in the station’s sick quarters. A few days later, on September 3rd, No: 54 Squadron was rested from the battle and moved north to the airfield at Catterick.

On September 6th 1940, Deere was awarded a Bar to his DFC. In January 1941 he became the Operations Room Controller at Catterick before joining No: 602 Squadron at Ayr during May the same year. On August 1st he was given command of the squadron and on the same day shot down a Bf109. He remained there until January 1942 when he was posted to America to lecture on fighter tactics before returning to the UK in May to take command of No: 403 RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force) Squadron based at North Weald. During August 1942 he was posted on staff duties to HQ 13 Group, attended a course at RAF Staff College and remained with 13 Group until February 1943 when he returned to operations with No: 611 Squadron at Biggin Hill. While serving here he shot down an Fw190 and then became the Wing Leader to Biggin Hill until September 15th 1943.

On July 15th 1943, Deere was awarded the DSO. He went to Sutton Bridge to command the Fighter Wing, received a staff job in March 1944 at 11 Group and then took command of Merston airfield, France, in May where he led the Wing over the bridgehead on D Day. Soon afterwards after the Wing moved further into Europe, he was posted to HQ 84 Group Control Centre as Wing Commander Plans until July 1945 when he became Station Commander at Biggin Hill.

In August 1945, Deere was given a Permanent Commission and commanded the Polish Mustang Wing at Andrews Field, Essex until October when it was disbanded. He then became the Station Commander at Duxford. He remained within the RAF holding many appointments and commands. He was the ADC to the Queen in 1962 and had the honour of leading some of the Few as the main funeral cortege for Sir Winston Churchill on January 30th 1965. He officially retired on December 12th 1968 as an Air Commodore and had received additional honours, since the end of the war, of the DSO (US), the C de G (France) and was also made an OBE.

After fighting illness for many years, Alan Christopher Deere died on September 21st 1995 aged 77 years

RAF wings

Group Captain Colin Falkland Gray DSO, DFC and Two Bars

Group Captain Colin Falkland Gray DSO, DFC and Two Bars (9 November 1914 – 1 August 1995) was the top New Zealand fighter ace of the Second World War. Gray was credited with 27 aerial kills, two shared destroyed, six probable kills, with a further four shared probables.

Early life

He and his twin brother Ken were born in Christchurch. Both joined the Royal Air Force. Ken died in a flying accident on 1 May 1940.

RAF service in the Second World War

Colin Gray joined 54 Squadron in November 1939. After initial combats on 24 May (claiming two 'probable' victories) he downed his first confirmed enemy aircraft, a Messerschmitt Bf 109, on 25 May 1940, while escorting a formation of Fairey Swordfishes to dive-bomb Gravelines. His Spitfire was badly damaged in the engagement, and damage to the port aileron forced the aircraft into a dive that was controlled only with great difficulty. Gray's aircraft had also lost its airspeed indicator and control of guns, flaps or brakes. However Gray managed to force land safely at his base in Hornchurch.

On 13 July 1940, he shot down his second 109 (of JG 51) near Calais after a long chase at sea level. Another fighter was claimed on 24 July (of JG 54) and a pair of 109s both on 12 August and 16 August. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) on 15 August 1940. Two Bf 110s were destroyed on 18 August.

By early September, Gray had claimed 14.5 kills, as his squadron was sent North to rest and re-equip after being heavily engaged in the Battle of Britain. After a brief month stay with 43 Squadron, he returned to his old squadron as a flight commander in January 1941.

In June, he was posted to No. 1 Squadron, again as a flight commander, claiming a share in a Heinkel He 59 off Folkstone in June 1941.

He claimed a 109 as a 'guest' of No 41 Squadron on 22 August, before a posting to No. 403 Squadron RCAF but after two days, was sent to command No. 616 Squadron. On 20 September 1941, with a total of 17 confirmed victories, he was awarded the bar to his DFC. In February 1942, he was posted as Squadron Leader, Tactics, to HQ, 9 Group.

Returning to operations in September 1942, he was attached briefly to No. 485 Squadron for operational experience before taking over No. 64 Squadron, flying the new Mark IX Spitfire.

In December 1942, he was sent as Tactics Officer to No. 333 Group in Algiers and then took over No. 81 Squadron in January 1943. Following operation over Tunisia, in May 1943, Gray was awarded the Distinguished Service Order. He increased his tally by five, including a 109 of JG 53 and a Macchi C.202 of 5 Stormo on 23 March.

He was promoted to Wing Commander in May 1943 and took over No. 322 Wing for the Italian campaign. In June and July 1943, he claimed five more kills, including two JG 53 109-Gs on 14 June and 10 July, a Macchi C.202 of 1 Stormo on 17 June and two Junkers Ju 52 transports of TG 1 on 25 July. He was awarded a second bar to the DFC in November.

In early September, he returned to England, with a final total of 27½ confirmed victories, six (and four shared) probables, and 12 damaged, in 511 operational sorties. He commanded 61 OCU at Rednal and in July 1944, was appointed Wing Commander Flying of the Detling Wing. In July he transferred to RAF Lympne, overseeing the Griffon-engined Spitfires engaged in anti V-1 operations over the south coast.

Post-war

After the war, he continued in various command and staff posts, and was involved in the fighting in the Malayan Emergency. He retired as a Group Captain in 1961 and returned to New Zealand to work for Unilever as personnel Director until 1979.

In 1945, he married Betty Cook, with whom he had two sons and two daughters. He also wrote Spitfire Patrol, an autobiography detailing his time in the RAF. Gray died in Waikanae on 1 August 1995.

Web Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colin_Falkland_Gray

RAF wings

Wing Commander Roland Robert Stanford Tuck
DSO, DFC & Two Bars, AFC

Wing Commander Roland Robert Stanford Tuck DSO, DFC & Two Bars, AFC (1 July 1916 – 5 May 1987) was a British fighter pilot and test pilot. Tuck joined the RAF in 1935. Tuck first engaged in combat during the Battle of France, over Dunkirk, claiming his first victories. In September 1940 he was promoted to Squadron Leader and commanded a Hawker Hurricane squadron. In 1941 - 1942, Tuck participated in fighter sweeps over northern France. On 28 February 1942, Tuck was hit by anti-aircraft fire and forced landed in France and was taken prisoner. At the time of his capture Tuck had claimed 27 enemy aircraft destroyed, two shared destroyed, six probably destroyed, six damaged and one shared damaged.

Early years

Tuck was born of Jewish parents at Catford, SE London. After a less-than-stellar school career he left St Dunstan's College, Catford in 1932 to join the Merchant Navy as a sea cadet before joining the RAF on a short service commission in 1935. Following flying training, Tuck joined 65 Squadron in September 1935 and remained with them until May 1940 when he was posted to 92 Squadron, based at Croydon, as a Flight Commander flying Spitfires.

Battle of France

Tuck led his first combat patrol on 23 May 1940, over Dunkirk, claiming three German fighters shot down. The following day he shot down two German bombers and as aerial fighting intensified over the next two weeks his score rapidly mounted. Tuck was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) on June 11 and received it from King George VI at RAF Hornchurch on June 28.

Battle of Britain

His combat successes continued into July and August as the Battle of Britain gathered pace, although he himself was forced to bail out on 18 August. While attacking a formation of Junkers Ju-88s over Kent he shot one down and damaged another. However, during the exchange his Spitfire was hit by return fire and he bailed out near Tunbridge Wells. In another incident on 25 August Tuck's Spitfire was badly damaged during combat with a Dornier Do 17 bomber, which he destroyed, 15 miles off the coast. His aircraft had a dead engine but he glided it back to dry land to make a forced landing.

On 11 September, during the height of the Battle of Britain, Tuck was promoted to Squadron Leader and posted to command the Hawker Hurricane-equipped No. 257 Squadron RAF based at RAF Coltishall. He led his squadron into combat through September and continued to claim further victories. His last two official victories of the Battle were on 28 October, where he claimed two “probable” Bf 109s. He received a Bar to his DFC on 25 October, and the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) in January 1941. In March 1941, he was awarded a second Bar to his DFC, and in June he survived being shot down over the English Channel, being rescued by a Gravesend coal barge. Tuck claimed a total of seven destroyed, four probables and two damaged on the Hawker Hurricane.

He had an extraordinary piece of ill-fortune when he intercepted a German bomber heading towards Cardiff. He fired at extreme range in poor light, causing it to jettison its bombs in open countryside instead of on the city. The last of its stick of bombs caught one corner of an army training camp and killed one soldier. The soldier was the husband of Tuck's sister.

In July, 1941, Tuck was promoted to Wing Commander and appointed Wing Leader at RAF Duxford where he led fighter sweeps into northern France. After a brief trip to America with several other RAF Fighter Command pilots to raise awareness of Britain's war effort, he returned to a posting at RAF Biggin Hill as Wing Leader. It was while flying from Biggin Hill Tuck’s last aerial combat of the war occurred. On 28 January 1942, while on a low-level fighter sweep 'Rhubarb' mission over northern France, his Spitfire was hit by enemy ground-based flak near Boulogne and he was forced to crash land.

Prisoner of War

Captured by the very German troops he had been firing upon as his aircraft was hit, Tuck then spent the next couple of years in Stalag Luft III at Żagań (Sagan), before making a number of unsuccessful escape attempts from several other prisoner of war camps across Germany and Poland. In company with a Polish pilot, he finally escaped successfully on 1 February 1945 as his camp was being evacuated westwards from Russian forces advancing into Germany. Tuck's Russian, learned from his childhood nanny, was now crucial as he spent some time fighting alongside the Russian troops until he managed eventually to find his way to the British Embassy in Moscow. He eventually boarded a ship from Russia to Southampton, England.

With the war now over, he received his final decoration, a Distinguished Flying Cross from the United States Air Force on 14 June 1946, before he finally retired from the RAF and active service on 13 May 1949 as a Wing Commander. His final accredited aerial kills numbered 27 and two shared destroyed, one and 1 shared unconfirmed destroyed, six probables and six and one shared damaged.

Later life

Following retirement Tuck continued flying as a test pilot, including working on the RAF's long-serving English Electric Canberra, before he found peace and contentment on his mushroom farm in Kent, choosing to shun the publicity enjoyed by some of his better known Battle of Britain comrades.

Tuck also worked as a technical adviser to the film Battle of Britain (1969) and eventually developed a close friendship with the German fighter pilot Adolf Galland.
Robert Stanford Tuck died on 5 May 1987 at the age of 70.
Memorials

On 9 May 2008, a plaque was unveiled in Tuck's memory at the Parish Church of St Clement, Sandwich, Kent.

Web Reference:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Stanford_Tuck

RAF wings

Wing Commander Colin Grey

Group Captain Colin Falkland Gray DSO, DFC and Two Bars (9 November 1914 – 1 August 1995) was the top New Zealand fighter ace of the Second World War. Gray was credited with 27 aerial kills, two shared destroyed, six probable kills, with a further four shared probables.

Early life

He and his twin brother Ken were born in Christchurch. Both joined the Royal Air Force. Ken died in a flying accident on 1 May 1940.

RAF service in the Second World War

Colin Gray joined 54 Squadron in November 1939. After initial combats on 24 May (claiming two 'probable' victories) he downed his first confirmed enemy aircraft, a Messerschmitt Bf 109, on 25 May 1940, while escorting a formation of Fairey Swordfishes to dive-bomb Gravelines. His Spitfire was badly damaged in the engagement, and damage to the port aileron forced the aircraft into a dive that was controlled only with great difficulty. Gray's aircraft had also lost its airspeed indicator and control of guns, flaps or brakes. However Gray managed to force land safely at his base in Hornchurch.

On 13 July 1940, he shot down his second 109 (of JG 51) near Calais after a long chase at sea level. Another fighter was claimed on 24 July (of JG 54) and a pair of 109s both on 12 August and 16 August. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) on 15 August 1940. Two Bf 110s were destroyed on 18 August.

By early September, Gray had claimed 14.5 kills, as his squadron was sent North to rest and re-equip after being heavily engaged in the Battle of Britain. After a brief month stay with 43 Squadron, he returned to his old squadron as a flight commander in January 1941.

In June, he was posted to No. 1 Squadron, again as a flight commander, claiming a share in a Heinkel He 59 off Folkstone in June 1941.

He claimed a 109 as a 'guest' of No 41 Squadron on 22 August, before a posting to No. 403 Squadron RCAF but after two days, was sent to command No. 616 Squadron. On 20 September 1941, with a total of 17 confirmed victories, he was awarded the bar to his DFC. In February 1942, he was posted as Squadron Leader, Tactics, to HQ, 9 Group.

Returning to operations in September 1942, he was attached briefly to No. 485 Squadron for operational experience before taking over No. 64 Squadron, flying the new Mark IX Spitfire.

In December 1942, he was sent as Tactics Officer to No. 333 Group in Algiers and then took over No. 81 Squadron in January 1943. Following operation over Tunisia, in May 1943, Gray was awarded the Distinguished Service Order. He increased his tally by five, including a 109 of JG 53 and a Macchi C.202 of 5 Stormo on 23 March.

He was promoted to Wing Commander in May 1943 and took over No. 322 Wing for the Italian campaign. In June and July 1943, he claimed five more kills, including two JG 53 109-Gs on 14 June and 10 July, a Macchi C.202 of 1 Stormo on 17 June and two Junkers Ju 52 transports of TG 1 on 25 July. He was awarded a second bar to the DFC in November.

In early September, he returned to England, with a final total of 27½ confirmed victories, six (and four shared) probables, and 12 damaged, in 511 operational sorties.[3] He commanded 61 OCU at Rednal and in July 1944, was appointed Wing Commander Flying of the Detling Wing. In July he transferred to RAF Lympne, overseeing the Griffon-engined Spitfires engaged in anti V-1 operations over the south coast.

Post-war

After the war, he continued in various command and staff posts, and was involved in the fighting in the Malayan Emergency. He retired as a Group Captain in 1961 and returned to New Zealand to work for Unilever as personnel Director until 1979.

In 1945, he married Betty Cook, with whom he had two sons and two daughters. He also wrote Spitfire Patrol, an autobiography detailing his time in the RAF. Gray died in Waikanae on 1 August 1995.

Web Reference:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colin_Falkland_Gray

RAF wings

Wing Commander Minden Vaughan Blake

The son of a country schoolmaster, "Mindy" Blake was born at Eketahuna on February 13 1913. Academically gifted, he graduated from Canterbury University in 1934 with an MSc (Hons) in mathematics. His academic excellence was coupled with great sporting prowess and a very inventive turn of mind. Having become New Zealand pole vault champion in 1936, he went on to take RAF titles in the sport both before and after the war.

While lecturing in physics at Canterbury University in 1936 he narrowly missed being awarded a Rhodes Scholarship but was subsequently successful in being accepted for graduate entry into the RAF under a Commonwealth scheme.

Having completed his training in October 1937 Blake joined 17 Squadron, equipped with Gauntlet biplane fighters. He became a flight commander in June 1938 as the squadron began to receive its first Hurricanes.

On 8 September 1939 Blake had a lucky escape when his engine cut after he had overshot his airfield making a night landing. In complete darkness he slowed the Hurricane to stalling speed at 300 feet, hit the chimney of Purley Hospital and crashed on to the foundations of the new nurses' home. He escaped with eighteen stitches in his scalp. The cause of the engine seizure was hay in the air intake and a modification by Rolls Royce subsequently prevented further occurrences of this problem.

In April 1940 he was posted as an instructor but in the following August took command of 238 Squadron then moved on to command 234 Squadron in late September. During the Battle of Britain Blake destroyed three enemy aircraft and shared another. In late November he shot down a Do 17 and shared another leading to the award of the DFC.

234 Squadron was re-equipped with Spitfires in February 1941 and began offensive sweeps over France. On 10 July the unit escorted bombers to attack shipping at Cherbourg and as the Spitfires turned for home they were attacked by Bf 109's. Blake destroyed two but his own aircraft was hit and he decided to ditch in the sea rather than bale out. A favourable wind helped him paddle his dinghy from a point seven miles from the French coast to within two miles of the Isle of Wight where he was picked up after twelve hours in the sea.

In August 1941 Blake was appointed Wing Leader, firstly at Exeter, then Portreath, and by the time he received the DSO in July 1942 he had eight confirmed victories, with another three enemy aircraft shared. It was during this period that he used his inventive skills to produce the RAF's first gyroscopic gunsight.

On 19 August 1942 Blake led his Wing during the Combined Operations raid on Dieppe. After shooting down a FW 190, he was again shot down into the sea. His eyes were badly injured during the dogfight having been cut by perspex splinters when a cannon shell smashed his windscreen. Despite his injuries he paddled his dingy through that day and into the night but was picked up by a German launch when only five miles from Dover.

The Germans sent him to a hospital in Paris. After three weeks of treatment he was put on a train for Germany. He jumped from the train after escaping through a lavatory window but broke a hand and suffered further head injuries in the fall. After several days of freedom his already weakened condition worsened and he was recaptured, interrogated and sent to a prison camp from which he was not released until May 1945.

Blake stayed on in the RAF until his retirement in 1958. He continued to live in England until his death there in November 1981.

Web Reference: http://www.nzfpm.co.nz/article.asp?id=blake

Biggin Hill, England, United Kingdom Map

Duxford, England, United Kingdom Map

    Magazine References: +

  • Airfix Magazines (English) - http://www.airfix.com/
  • Avions (French) - http://www.aerostories.org/~aerobiblio/rubrique10.html
  • FlyPast (English) - http://www.flypast.com/
  • Flugzeug Publikations GmbH (German) - http://vdmedien.com/flugzeug-publikations-gmbh-hersteller_verlag-vdm-heinz-nickel-33.html
  • Flugzeug Classic (German) - http://www.flugzeugclassic.de/
  • Klassiker (German) - http://shop.flugrevue.de/abo/klassiker-der-luftfahrt
  • Le Fana de L'Aviation (French) - http://boutique.editions-lariviere.fr/site/abonnement-le-fana-de-l-aviation-626-4-6.html
  • Le Fana de L'Aviation (French) - http://www.pdfmagazines.org/tags/Le+Fana+De+L+Aviation/
  • Osprey (English) - http://www.ospreypublishing.com/
  • Revi Magazines (Czech) - http://www.revi.cz/

    Web References: +

  • History of RAF Organisation: http://www.rafweb.org
  • History of RAAF: http://www.airpages.ru/eng/ot/raaf_01.shtml
  • Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/

 

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