AB216, S/Ldr Robert W. Oxpring, No. 91 “Nigeria“ Squadron, RAF Hawkinge, Great Britain, April–June 1942
Spitfire serial number AB216 was one of the first Mk.Vc Spitfires manufactured. From the mid-March 1942 it flew with the No. 91 “Nigeria“ Squadron where it was a personal mount of S/Ldr Rober Oxpring who saddled it until June 1942. After its service with No. 91 Squadron, Spitfire AB216 was withdrawn from the operational flying and a towing device was installed on the tail wheel. Then it was tested for towing the Hotspur and Horsa gliders. Bobby Oxpring was born on May 22, 1919 in Sheffield, Yorkshire and during the Great War, his father had flown with an air reconnaissance unit. In March 1938, Oxpring joined RAF and as early as in December was transferred to the No. 66 Squadron, the same unit his father had flown with. He flew with this unit during the Battle of Britain where he scored eight confirmed victories a was decorated with DFC. In April 1941 he finished his tour of duty and was transferred to the No. 59 OTU where he flew as an instructor. In September 1941 he started his second tour of duty with the No. 616 Squadron but a week later he was ordered to the No. 41 Squadron where he led a flight. In January 1942 he assumed command of the No. 91 “Nigeria“ Squadron and in June the command of the No. 72 Squadron where he was awarded a bar to his DFC. In November 1942 the unit was relocated to the North Africa where it was, as one of the first units, equipped with the new Spitfires Mk.IX. During the first months of 1943, Oxpring scored further five victories and one of his victims was the famous German ace Anton Hafner from JG 51. Having received the second bar to his DFC in the end of April, he finished his second tour of duty and was transferred to the No. 242 Group Headquarters. In the end of the year he returned to Great Britain and was assigned to the Fighter Command Headquarters. In March 1944 he commenced his third tour of duty as a Wing Commander with the No. 24 Wing flying Spitfires Mk.XIV and during June and July he shot down five V-1 flying bombs. In September he was ordered to the No. 141 Wing and then to the Detling Wing. He finished his wartime service with 14 confirmed kills, two probable, 13 aircraft damaged and five V-1 flying bombs destroyed.
EE613, S/Ldr Michel G. B. Donnet, No. 350 Squadron, RAF Friston, Great Britain, June 1944
Mike Donnet was born in 1917 in Richmond, Great Britain. On March 1, 1938, he joined the Aviation Militaire Belge. He flew a Renard R.31 reconnaissance airplane with 9/V/1Ae based at Bierset. After the German invasion of Belgium on May 10, 1940, he flew several combat missions. After his country was occupied, he decided to flee and during the night of July 4–5 he managed to reach the Great Britain on a stolen Stampe SV-4b. On July 24, 1941, Michel Gabriel Libert Donnet was admitted to the ranks of the RAF and assigned to the No. 61 OTU to train on Spitfires. In September 1941, he was transferred to the No. 64 Squadron. Flying with this unit he took part in the missions against the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau battle cruisers and in the operation Jubilee at Dieppe. In 1943 he assumed command of the No. 64 Squadron. On March 23, 1944, he assumed command of the No. 340 Squadron and participated in the Normandy landing flying Spitfires Mk.Vc and IX. After the No. 350 Squadron converted to Spitfires Mk.XIV he flew missions against V-1 flying bombs, retreating German ground forces and providing the air cover at Arnhem. He led the unit until October 23, 1944, when he was decorated with DFC and promoted to the Wing Commander. In the beginning of 1945, he assumed command of the Hawkinge and Bentwater Wings flying Mustangs Mk.III. Leading the unit, he provided escort for the Mosquitos attacking the Gestapo Headquarters in Copenhagen. During his wartime career, Donnet flew 375 missions achieving the score of three confirmed kills, one probable and four damaged, all while flying with the No. 64 Squadron. After the war he served at the Belgium Department of Defense and reorganized the Belgium Air Force for the new jet equipment. Then he was given the job as a Chief of Staff of the 2nd Allied Tactical Air Force responsible for the Western Europe AA defense. In 1972 General Lieutenant Donnet was appointed the Belgium Military Attache at NATO. On June 1, 1975, he retired from the Belgium AF with the rank of General Lieutenant having logged 5000 flight hours. In 1968 he published a book about his many famous adventures titled “J’ai volé la liberté” (a Flight to Freedom).
Lt. Robert C. Curtis, 2nd FS, 52nd FG, 12th AF, Corsica, December 1943
Spitfire Mk.Vc carrying a white inscription Julie II on the starboard engine cowling featured the clipped wings and according to the memoirs of its pilot, Bob Curtis, it sported a non-standard camouflage of two shades of green, probably Dark Green and Olive Drab, on the upper surfaces. On February 19, 1944, Bob Curtis at its controls, shot down a Bf 109 and his opponent was most probably Oblt. Klippigen from 7./JG 53. Several days later he lost his Spitfire when the target he was attacking exploded and damaged his aircraft. After the 52nd FG converted to P-51 Mustangs, Curtis shot down another 13 enemy airplanes. After the war, until 1950, he served with USAF Reserves as a Meteorological Officer.
JK661, Cne. Georges Valentin, No. 326 Squadron (GC.II/7), Armée de l'Air, Corsica, September 1943
Georges Valentin was born on May 19, 1908, in La Ville, France. Since the early childhood he was a passionate aviation fan and won a scholarship enabling him to attend the courses at the Richard Aviation School where on February 6, 1927 he obtained his pilot’s licence. During that month, as a soldier he joined the 2nd group of the aviation workers in Istres. In the end of May he was attached to the 6e Escadrille 3e Regiment D’Aviation Mixte in Thionville. In November 1927 he was accepted to the professional warrant officers ranks. On April 1, 1933, he was promoted to S/C rank and in January 1936 he joined GC II/7. When on September 3, 1939, France declared war on Germany, Adj/Chef Valetin served as a pilot with 3. escadrille GC II/7 at the Luxeuil base equipped with MS.406. During the French campaign sous lieutenant Valentin flew 27 combat missions during which he scored eight confirmed victories and one probable. One of his victims was a Do 17 from Stab./KG 77 with a KG 77 commander, Gen. Maj. Wolff von Stutterheim on board, who succumbed to his wounds. After the armistice Valentin remained with the unit. After the Anglo-American landing and surrender of the French troops in Africa (operation “Torch”) his unit converted to Spitfires Mk.V a was renamed GC 2/7 “Nice”. In April 1943 the unit participated the final stage of the Tunisian campaign and then liberation of Corsica. During these battles, in the fall of 1943, lieutenant Valentin scored three victories. On June 1, 1944, he was promoted to Capitaine and on June 6 he assumed command of the 1 escadrille GC 2/7 “Nice”. In the beginning of September, the unit was relocated to France to support the Allied troops. On Friday September 8, 1944, around 5:20 pm, flying his 328th combat mission at a very low altitude, in Dijon sector, Capitaine Georges Valentin was shot down by a German AA fire. His Spitfire burst in flames and hit a house on Rue Auguste-Brulle nr. 12 in Dijon. Georges Valentin was a recipient of the Knight of Honorary Legion and Croix de Guerre decorated with seven palm trees and five stars. He flew 328 combat missions having logged 2,902 flight hours and was credited with eleven victories and two probable kills.