There are twelve airmen on the cover of our Limited series scale
kit Spitfire Story: The Few. Who are they and what were their stories?
On the top of the cover you can see F/O Blair Dalzel Russel (1917 –
2007), born in Toronto, Canada. As a member of No. 1 (RCAF) Squadron
he was awarded in 1940 the DFC, one of the first two to be awarded to
the RCAF in the war.
After Battle of Britain he served with 14 (RCAF) Squadron, 411 (RCAF),
442 (RCAF) and twice led No. 126 (Canadian) Wing. In all he had flown
256 operational sorties. Russel was also awarded the Croix de Guerre
(French) with Silver Star, the Order of Orange-Nassau with Swords and
in 1948 he got Czechoslovak War Cross. But why is a Hurricane pilot on
cover of our Spitfire Story? He was the first Spitfire pilot to land in France after D-Day! Details: http://www.bbm.org.uk/airmen/as-russel.htm
On the group photo you can see Spitfire pilots of No. 610 Squadron relaxing between sorties at ‚A‘ Flight dispersal at Hawkinge, 29 July 1940.
Left to right: F/Lt. E. B. B. Smith (sitting), F/O S. C. Norris, commander
of the unit S/Ldr. J. Ellis (obscured), Sgt. H. H. Chandler, Sgt. N. H. D.
Ramsay, F/O W. H. C. Warner, Sgt. R. F. Hamlyn, F/O F. T. Gardiner.
Sitting Sgt. C. A. Parsons (rear), F/O C. O. J. Pegge (lying) and Sgt. D.
Formerly unit of Royal Auxiliary Air Force, No. 610 Squadron was
comprising very high quality pilots, often ex-RAF officers and occasionally locally based test pilots from companies such as de Havilland
and Airwork. Its pilots were initially part timers who would spend their
weekends and spare time flying and practicing combat maneuvers. The
squadron was named the „County of Chester“ and adopted the motto
„Alifero tollitur axe ceres“; which translates as „Ceres rising in a winged
chariot“. Ceres being the Roman Goddess of Wheat, a reference to
Chester‘s agricultural sector.
Edward Brian Bretherton Smith, DFC (1915 - 2013) from Formby,
Lancashire became ace in Battle of Britain, but got seriously wounded
in August battles. In 1944 as commander of parachute training school
in Italy he jumped regularly with his instructors and with his dog Sally,
who had her own parachute.
Stanley Charles Norris, DFC + Bar (1919 - 1991) from Tooting, London
became „B“ Flight commander in August 1940. In 1941 he joined defenders of Malta. Details: http://www.bbm.org.uk/airmen/NorrisSC.htm
John Ellis, DFC (1917 - 2001) from Deal became commander of
No. 610 Squadron on July 26. He later joined Malta defenders as well,
but on June 13, 1943 he was shot down in combat with Bf 109 piloted
by commander of II./JG 53 Major Gerhard Michalski and became POW.
In Stalag Luft III he became active in the Escape Committee as deputy
to Roger Bushell. His final score was 14 and 1/2 victories.
Horatio Herbert Chandler, DFM (1916 - 2000) from Bexhill on-Sea
joined squadron in October 1939. He became an ace in Battle of Britain,
but also downed in error a Blackburn Skua of Fleet Air Arm. Details:
Norman Hugh Donald Ramsay (1919 - ??) from Eastcote, Middlesex joined No. 610 Squadron in June 1940. After further service with
No. 222 Squadron he joined defense of Malta. After retirement from
RAF in 1962 he moved to New Zealand.
William Henry Cromwell Warner (1918) from New Brighton, Cheshire
was commissioned in No. 610 Squadron in May 1937 and was called up
on August 1939. In late July 1940 he became commander of „B“ Flight.
He was killed in combat on August 16, 1940 off Dungeness. His body was
not found. Details: http://www.bbm.org.uk/airmen/Warner.htm
Ronald Fairfax Hamlyn, DFM (1914 - 1991) from Harrogate joined
No. 610 Squadron in early June 1940. On August 24 he became „ace
in a day“. In 1944 he was acting as Tactics Liaison Officer with the
9th US Army Air Force in Normandy.
Frederick Thomas Gardiner, DFC (1917 - 2003) from Belfast joined
the squadron in mid June 1940. During the Battle of Britain he was
wounded in combat three times. The third wound came on August 25
when he shot down by 109, possibly flown by Adolf Galland as first
victory of the German ace in role of JG 26 Kommodore. Later in the war
Gardiner commanded No. 254 Squadron equipped with Beaufighters.
After the war he moved to Canada.
Claude Arthur Parsons (1914) of Halterworth, Romsey, Hampshire
joined No. 610 Squadron in mid June 1940. In September 1940 he was
posted to No. 66 Squadron. On February 14, 1941 he has been wounded
in combat off Dover with 109s from JG 52 and I.(J)/LG 2. He was shot
down again on August 20, 1941 off Dutch coast and did not survive. His
opponent was Bf 109 of operational training unit 1. Erg/JG 3 piloted
by future ace anf Knight cross holder Hans-Joachim Kirschner or Bf 110
crew of 5./ZG 76.
Constantine Oliver Joseph Pegge, DFC + Bar (1914) of Slough, Buckinghamshire joined No. 610 Squadron in mid June 1940. Later during
the war he commanded No. 126, 127 and 607 Squadrons including Western Desert and Burma. His ability to read books in low level flight in
Spitfire was well known. Pegge was killed on May 9, 1950 whilst flying in
Meteor F.4. Details: http://www.bbm.org.uk/airmen/Pegge.htm
Douglas Frederick Corfe (1918) from Hoylake, Cheshire joined No.
610 Squadron in 1936 as ground staff, later becoming an pilot of the unit
and being twice shot down during Battle of Britain. In 1942 he reached
Malta with No. 229 Squadron equipped with Hurricanes. On April 25,
during intercept of enemy formation, he was shot down and killed by
German fighter. His assailant was most likely commander of III./JG 53
Hptm. Wolf-Dietrich Wilcke.