Eagle Squadrons

Discussion in 'Biographies' started by liverpool annie, Mar 26, 2009.

  1. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    As activity in the Battle of Britain began to gain a lot of attention in October of 1940, Americans came to the British call to fly Hurricanes and Spitfires and fill the depleted ranks in the RAF. Nearly 250 men were selected by the Knight Committee to fly in what became known as the "Eagle Squadrons."

    Seven American volunteer pilots fought alongside the RAF pilots during the Battle of Britain. One, P/O William Fiske, died of wounds on August 17, 1940. (Could P/O Fiske have been the first American casualty of World War II ?) Only one of the other six, Pilot Officer Havilland, survived the war. (During the Battle of Britain, the German Luftwaffe lost 1,882 planes, the RAF lost 1,265 planes. In all, 537 pilots were lost to Fighter Command, 718 pilots to Bomber Command and 280 pilots were lost to Coastal Command.)

    Many American pilots served in the Royal Air Force and in order to circumvent the US Neutrality Act they assumed Canadian or South African nationality. They formed the Eagle Squadrons, approved by the British Air Ministry in September, 1940, and operated within the RAF Fighter Command. The first Eagle Squadron was No. 71 Squadron, formed with Hurricanes at RAF Station, Kirton-in-Lindsay, in Lincolnshire. The ultimate total of US pilots thus serving numbered 243 with additional squadrons Nos. 121 and 133 operating from Kirton-in-Lindsay and Coltishall respectively. On September 29, 1942, airmen of the three Eagle Squadrons of the RAF were transferred into the US 8th Air Force the first contingent of which arrived in England on May 12, 1942.

    The Airmen's Stories - P/O J K Haviland

    Born on 19th January 1921 in Mount Kisco, New York, John Kenneth Haviland was the son of a US Navy officer and an English mother. He spent a lot of his early life in England, going to school there and and enlisting in the RAF Reserve in July 1939. Called up on 1st September 1939 he completed his flying training at 10 FTS and was posted to No 1 Army Co-Operation squadron at Old Sarum near Salisbury.

    In August 1940 he volunteered for Fighter Command and ended up with 151 Squadron flying Hurricanes. A mid-air collision on 24th September resulted in a force-landing at Waddington. Haviland served throughout the war, doing tours as an instructor, intruder operations and bomber support. He was awarded the DFC on 16 February 1945.

    After the war he settled in Canada, later becoming a Professor at the School of Engineering, Virginia University in the USA on aerospace projects. He died on 1 July 2002.

    Of the ten US volunteers in the Battle of Britain he was the only one known to have survived the war (the fate of D D Brown is unsure though he does not appear in casualty lists).

    Battle of Britain London Monument - P/O J K HAVILAND

    P/O John Kenneth Haviland an American was born on the 19th of January 1921 in Mount Kisco, New York. He spent most of his early life in England, starting school there at the age of five. John went to Nottingham University at 17. He obtained his 'A' Licence and joined the R.A.F.V.R. He was called up at the outbreak of war and was posted to I.T.W. at Pembroke College, Cambridge in November 1939. After completing his flying training he went to the No 1 School of Army Co-operation, Old Sarum. He volunteered for Fighter Command, was posted to No 6 - O.T.U. Sutton Bridge in August 1940 and after converting to Hurricanes joined No 151 Squadron at Digby on the 23rd of September 1940. The following day, the 24th of September he collided with another Hurricane during formation practice and made a forced-landing in a paddock at Waddington. He was awarded the D.F.C. on the 16th of February 1945, as a Flight Lieutenant with No 141 Squadron.

  2. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    John Kenneth Haviland 1921-2002

    John Kenneth Haviland, a professor and scholar, died in July. He was the last remaining American survivor of the Battle of Britain.

    Haviland was born in New York of an American father and a British mother. He moved to England when he was 4, following the death of his father. His love of flying was evident throughout his life and led him to join the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve when he was 18. "I joined the RAF in 1939, not because I thought there was going to be a war, but because it looked like a good way to get in some free flying," he often said. He flew some 1,562 hours during the war and received the Distinguished Flying Cross. "He loved to fly and he loved to teach," said his son David.

    Haviland earned a degree in mechanical engineering at London University and later earned a PhD in aeronautical and astronautical engineering at MIT. He joined the University of Virginia faculty in 1967, teaching first in the Hampton Roads area and then on Grounds for a total of 24 years.

    He was an authority in the fields of structural dynamics, acoustics, and vibration absorption in aircraft, helicopters and space structures. "He loved airplanes and could tell you anything you wanted to know about just about any aircraft," said Walt Pilkey, a fellow professor in the MAE department. 'He was great to have in the department and he was a great friend."

    A display in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum honors Haviland and six American RAF flyers who were killed in the war. The Dr. John Kenneth Haviland Scholarship in Engineering and Applied Science has been established in his name.

    Virginia Engineering Magazine, Class Notes
  3. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

    Spitfires, Thunderbolts and Warm Beer by Philip D. Caine is a good read of an American, LeRoy Gover (very American name!) who joins the RAF (but not the Eagle Squadrons) and then transfers to the Eighth AF. He's quite candid about his experiences but modest about his abilities despite obviously being a very good pilot.
  4. Kyt

    Kyt Άρης

    Scroll to the bottom of the page for links to the history of each of the squadrons and roll of pilots

    Eagle Squadrons

    And it wasn't just in fighter command that Americans served. Whilst browsing Amazon yesterday I found this forthcoming book:

    No Need to Die: American Flyers in RAF Bomber…Amazon.co.uk: Gordon Thorburn: Books


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