The Airmen's Stories - F/O H C Mayers
Howard Clive Mayers was born in Sydney, Australia on 9th January 1910. He was at Canford School and later Jesus College, Cambridge, reading Engineering. He was a member of the University Air Squadron in 1929 and was commissioned in the RAFO in 1930. He relinquished this on completion of his service. Mayers lived in London before the war and was Managing Director of a company. He was back in the RAF in early 1940, was commissioned in March and then served at 5 MU, Kemble. He was posted from there to 6 OTU, Sutton Bridge on 9th July 1940, to convert to Hurricanes. On the 19th he landed in a cornfield north of the aerodrome when the engine of his Hurricane failed. He was unhurt.
On 3rd August Mayers was posted to 601 Squadron at Tangmere. Here Mayers claimed a Me109 destroyed on the 8th and a Ju88 destroyed, another probably destroyed and a Me110 damaged on the 13th. During a patrol later the same day, he probably destroyed a Me110 and was then shot down himself. Mayers baled out, was fired on by a Me110 but landed safely in the sea off Portland. He was picked up by an MTB and treated for slight shrapnel wounds at Portland Hospital. His Hurricane, P2690, crashed into the Channel off Whitnose, Weymouth.
On 26th August Mayers shot down two Ju87’s and probably a third that were attacking Tangmere. On the 18th he destroyed a Me109, on the 31st a Do17 and damaged another, on 4th September he shot down another Do17 and shared a probable Me110 and on the 25th he shot down a Me110 and damaged an Do17.
We are indebted to Mayers friend and colleague from 601 Squadron, F/Lt. CJ 'Jack' Riddle for the two B&W photos above.
Picture at right shows (L to R) F/O J Topolnicki, S/Ldr M Robinson, F/Lt CR Davis, P/O J Jankiewicz, Mayers and unknown at Tangmere in summer 1940.
Mayers was awarded the DFC (gazetted 1st October 1940). He made a forced-landing south of Axminster on 7th October after glycol tank damage during a combat with Me110’s over Portland. Mayers was slightly injured and the Hurricane, P4218, was written off.
On 20th May 1941 he was posted away and in July he took command of 94 Squadron at Ismailia, Egypt. Mayers shared in destroying a Ju88 on 11th September, damaged a Me109 on 23rd November and damaged another on 8th December. During a strafing attack on a German column on 25th December Mayers saw one of his pilots shot down by ground fire. He landed near the crashed aircraft and although enemy vehicles were approaching he waited for the pilot to reach him, put him in the pilot's seat, climbed in on top and took off and reached his base. For this action Mayers was awarded a Bar to the DFC (gazetted 13th February 1942).
In January 1942 he was promoted to lead a Hurricane Wing. On 26th April he was appointed Wing Leader of 239 Wing with Kittyhawks. Mayers claimed a Ju52 destroyed and another damaged on 12th May and a Me109 destroyed on 8th July. He was leading the Wing on 20th July and is believed to have destroyed a Mc202 before he himself was shot down by a Me109 of III/JG53. Mayers radioed that he was having engine trouble and was making a forced- landing in the Qattara Depression. His aircraft was found and, there being no trace of him, it was presumed that he had been captured.
Mayers was not heard of again and may have been lost in a Ju52 which was shot down whilst ferrying PoW’s to Germany. He was awarded the DSO (gazetted 28th July 1942) and is commemorated on the Alamein Memorial.
Photographs courtesy of Colonel C R Romberg RA, British Embassy Cairo