85 Squadron

Last of the Few

This section is devoted to the Pilot Officers. Lewis received his DFC in July 1940 and his citation read that during the Battle of France he shot down 5+ enemy aircraft single-handed in one day. He also destroyed in all a total of 7+ enemy aircraft and by his bravery and fortitude, was an inspiration for all the young 85 Suqadron pilots.

We have recently discovered in the archives that ‘Dickie’ Lee DSO DFC, Lewis, Hemmingway and Deacon flew early L-series MkI aircraft in the Battle of France along with other pilots.

I understand that my father, in his early days of the Battle of France and the Battle of Britain, looked after Lewis and others’ early MkI Hurricanes including the L-series. There is great reference to 85 Squadron in ‘Fighter Squadrons at War’ (Brookes).

Reference J.M. Ellis, Sergeant of ‘A’ Flight 150.200 E/A Me109, Me110 at 10,000-15,000 ft, attacked at 17.50 hrs, 109 destroyed and 110 damaged. Later on that day, 11 Hurricanes got airborne to intercept approaching enemy over Tunbridge-Kenley area. Sited 150-200 aircraft near Biggin Hill at 15,000 ft. Dornier 17s and 215s, 109s and 110s. 85 was at 5,000 ft below. Enemy losses were 6 destroyed. Squadron casualties 4 Hurricanes down, 2 damaged. Pilot Wood Scawen’s killed. Sgt Ellis missing – no trace of him or his machine found, therefore he is missing believed killed. PO Gowers wounded. Sgt Booth also wounded. 6 aircraft landed back at base – 1 landed with undercarriage retracted (PO Lewis).

On 30 September, 6 of the best remaining pilots of 85 Squadron — Townsend, Allard, Marshall, Hemmingway, Hodgson and Goodman – flew in formation over Halifax to raise subscriptions for a Spitfire fund. This sextet accounted for 24 of the 85 Squadron bag in the Battle of Britain, but even more important, 3 of these survived the Battle of France.

On the afternoon of 13 March 1941, Allard (now Flight Lieutenant and then Flight Commander) decided to fly a Havoc DB& Mk1 (serial number BJ500, believed to have been VY-S) from Debden to the Ford aerodrome. Unfortunately for Sammy and the crew, a small nose panel became loose and jammed in the aircraft’s rudder. It spun out of control, killing all on board. Allard’s body lies in Saffron Walden’s Borough Cemetry, Essex along with his friends Bill Hodgson and W/O Walker-Smith.

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