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Air Commodore John Ellacombe CB DFC* (deceased)
|John Ellacombe joined the RAF in 1939 and was posted to 151 Squadron in July 1940, immediately converting to Hurricanes. On 24th August he shot down a He111, but a week later his Hurricane was blown up in combat and he baled out, with burns. Rejoining his squadron a few months later, in February 1941 was posted to 253 Squadron where he took part in the Dieppe operations. On 28th July, flying a Turbinlite Havoc, he probably destroyed a Do217. Converting to Mosquitos, John was posted to 487 Squadron RNZAF, and during the build up to the Normandy Invasion and after, was involved in many ground attacks on enemy held airfields, railways, and other targets of opportunity. He completed a total of 37 sorties on Mosquitos. Flying a de Havilland Mosquito XIII with a devastating set of four 20mm cannon in the nose, John Ellacombe flew deep into occupied France on the night before D-Day searching out and destroying German convoys and railway targets. As the Normandy campaign raged on, 151 Squadron intensified its interdiction sorties - including night attacks on Falaise and the Seine bridges. On August 1st Ellacombe took part in the famous attack by 23 Mosquitoes on the German bar-racks in Poitiers, led by Group Captain Wykeham Barnes. Ellacombe had first joined 151 Squadron during the Battle of Britain, direct from Flying Training School. Within weeks he had scored his first victory but also force landed in a field, having shot down a He 111, and baled out of a blazing Hurricane. He baled out a second time during the Dieppe Raid in 1942 but was picked up safely. Postwar he had a long and successful career in the RAE. Air Commodore John Ellacombe, who has died aged 94, survived being shot down three times during the Second World War - twice during the Battle of Britain. On August 15th 1940 the Luftwaffe launched Adler Tag (Eagle Day), with the object of destroying Fighter Command by attacking the ground organisation and drawing the RAF's fighters into the air. Nine Hurricanes of No 151 Squadron were scrambled during the afternoon and met enemy fighters near Dover at 18,000ft. Ellacombe attacked a Messerschmitt Bf 109 and fired three bursts. The enemy fighter rolled on to its back and dived into the sea. There was heavy fighting over the next few days, and on August 24 Ellacombe engaged a Heinkel III bomber. His fire hit its engines and the bomber crash-landed in Essex . During intense fighting on August 30 he attacked a formation of Heinkels head on. He hit one, which crashed, but return fire damaged the engine of his Hurricane and he was forced to land in a field, where a farmer accosted him with a pitchfork. On the following day Ellacombe damaged two Bf 109s before attacking a Junkers 88 bomber. When the Junkers returned fire, setting his Hurricane's fuel tank ablaze, he bailed out. As he drifted to the ground, a member of the Home Guard fired on him. He was then marched to a police station where he was assaulted by a constable who thought he was German. Later in life Ellacombe remarked: In two days, a farmer had attempted to kill me, the Home Guard had shot at me and a policeman had tried to kill me — quite apart from the Germans. I wondered whose side I was on. He received hospital treatment for his burns, and his fighting days during the Battle of Britain were over. After several months convalescing Ellacombe returned to No 151, which had been reassigned to night fighting. Equipped with the Hurricane and the Defiant, the squadron had little contact with the enemy; but Ellacombe developed a reputation for flying at night in the worst weather, and in April 1942 he was awarded a DFC for his service in the Battle of Britain and for showing the greatest keenness to engage the enemy. Posted to No 253 Squadron as a flight commander, he found night fighting dull, and volunteered for daylight operations. He flew in support of the ill-fated raid on Dieppe, and as he attacked a gun battery his aircraft was hit by flak. Ellacombe managed to get over the sea before bailing out and being picked up by a Canadian landing craft. After a rest tour, Ellacombe converted to the Mosquito before joining No 487 (NZ) Squadron, flying low-level intruder missions over France and the Low Countries. He attacked V-1 sites in the Pas de Calais and bombed roads and railways in support of the Normandy landings. He saw constant action attacking targets in support of the Allied armies and during the breakout from the Falaise pocket. After 37 intruder bombing patrols Ellacombe was rested and awarded a Bar to his DFC. He spent the remainder of the war on training duties, but still managed occasionally to take a Mosquito on an operational sortie. The son of an English doctor who had served during the Boer War, John Lawrence Wemyss Ellacombe was born at Livingstone, Northern Rhodesia, on February 28 1920 and educated at Diocesan College (Bishops) in Cape Town. In May 1939 he went to Britain to join the RAF, trained as a pilot and in July 1940 was posted to No 151 Squadron; he had never flown a Hurricane. Post-war he remained in the RAF, most of his flying appointments being in Fighter Command. After service in Aden he led No 1 Squadron, flying Meteor jets, and he commanded the Fighter Development Unit at the Central Fighter Establishment, developing tactics for the Hunter and Lightning . He served in Washington as a liaison officer with the USAF on fighter operations before commanding the RAF flying training base at Linton-on-Ouse, near York. Ellacombe was the senior serving representative at the Defence Operational Analysis Establishment, and on promotion to air commodore in 1968 was appointed Air Commander of Air Forces, Gulf, with headquarters at Muharraq, Bahrain. The withdrawal of British forces from Aden was scheduled for the end of that year, and Muharraq became a key staging post and support airfield . Ellacombe's calm handling of affairs in Bahrain was recognised by his appointment as CB. His final appointment was in the MoD, and he retired in 1973. Ellacombe then became Director of Scientific Services at St Thomas's Hospital in London, and later administrator to the hospital's trustees. A good cricketer and rugby player in his younger days, he played golf three times a week until he was 88, and he was a keen follower of Middlesex CCC. He particularly enjoyed watching his grandchildren play cricket (some of them at county junior level, including a granddaughter who turned out for Essex Ladies). John Ellacombe's wife, Mary, whom he married in 1951 when she was serving in the WRAF, had served on Winston Churchill's staff and been appointed OBE. She died in 2007, and he is survived by their son and two daughters. Air Commodore John Ellacombe, born February 28 1920, died May 11 2014.|
Flt Lt Leonard Davies
|Joined 151 Squadron in July 1940 and was wounded in combat over the Thames estuary on August 18th of that year. He later flew Sunderlands in the Middle East.|
|The Aircraft :|
|Spitfire||Royal Air Force fighter aircraft, maximum speed for mark I Supermarine Spitfire, 362mph up to The Seafire 47 with a top speed of 452mph. maximum ceiling for Mk I 34,000feet up to 44,500 for the mark XIV. Maximum range for MK I 575 miles . up to 1475 miles for the Seafire 47. Armament for the various Marks of Spitfire. for MK I, and II . eight fixed .303 browning Machine guns, for MKs V-IX and XVI two 20mm Hispano cannons and four .303 browning machine guns. and on later Marks, six to eight Rockets under the wings or a maximum bomb load of 1,000 lbs. Designed by R J Mitchell, The proto type Spitfire first flew on the 5th March 1936. and entered service with the Royal Air Force in August 1938, with 19 squadron based and RAF Duxford. by the outbreak of World war two, there were twelve squadrons with a total of 187 spitfires, with another 83 in store. Between 1939 and 1945, a large variety of modifications and developments produced a variety of MK,s from I to XVI. The mark II came into service in late 1940, and in March 1941, the Mk,V came into service. To counter the Improvements in fighters of the Luftwaffe especially the FW190, the MK,XII was introduced with its Griffin engine. The Fleet Air Arm used the Mk,I and II and were named Seafires. By the end of production in 1948 a total of 20,351 spitfires had been made and 2408 Seafires. The most produced variant was the Spitfire Mark V, with a total of 6479 spitfires produced. The Royal Air Force kept Spitfires in front line use until April 1954.|
|Me109||Willy Messerschmitt designed the BF109 during the early 1930s. The Bf109 was one of the first all metal monocoque construction fighters with a closed canopy and retractable undercarriage. The engine of the Me109 was a V12 aero engine which was liquid-cooled. The Bf109 first saw operational service during the Spanish Civil War and flew to the end of World War II, during which time it was the backbone of the Luftwaffe fighter squadrons. During the Battle of Britian the Bf109 was used in the role of an escort fighter, a role for which it was not designed for, and it was also used as a fighter bomber. During the last days of May 1940 Robert Stanford-Tuck, the RAF ace, got the chance to fly an Me109 which they had rebuilt after it had crash landed. Stanford-Tuck found out that the Me109 was a wonderful little plane, it was slightly faster than the Spitfire, but lacked the Spitfire manoeuvrability. By testing the Me109, Tuck could put himself inside the Me109 when fighting them, knowing its weak and strong points. With the introduction of the improved Bf109F in the spring of 1941, the type again proved to be an effective fighter during the invasion of Yugoslavia and during the Battle of Crete and the invasion of Russia and it was used during the Siege of the Mediteranean island of Malta. The Bf109 was the main fighter for the Luftwaffe until 1942 when the Fw190 entered service and shared this position, and was partially replaced in Western Europe, but the Me109 continued to serve on the Eastern Front and during the defence of the Reich against the allied bombers. It was also used to good effect in the Mediterranean and North Africa in support of The Africa Korps. The Me109 was also supplied to several German allies, including Finland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Slovakia. The Bf109 scored more kills than any other fighter of any country during the war and was built in greater numbers with a total of over 31,000 aircraft being built. The Bf109 was flown by the three top German aces of the war war. Erich Hartmann with 352 victories, Gerhard Barkhorn with 301 victories and Gunther Rall with 275 kills. Bf109 pilots were credited with the destruction of 100 or more enemy aircraft. Thirteen Luftwaffe Aces scored more than 200 kills. Altogether this group of pilots were credited with a total of nearly 15,000 kills, of which the Messerschmitt Bf109 was credited with over 10,000 of these victories. The Bf109 was the most produced warplane during World War II, with 30,573 examples built during the war, and the most produced fighter aircraft in history, with a total of 33,984 units produced up to April 1945. Bf109s remained in foreign service for many years after World War II. The Swiss used their Bf109Gs well into the 1950s. The Finnish Air Force did not retire their Bf109Gs until March 1954. Romania used its Bf109s until 1955. The Spanish Hispanos flew even longer. Some were still in service in the late 1960s.|
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