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The Airmen's Stories - P/O J R Caister


James Russell Caister was born on 19th October 1906 and joined the RAF as an Aircrafthand about January 1925. He later applied for pilot training and was accepted.

He served in Palestine in the thirties as a Sergeant-Pilot.

Caister married Emma Bourn Forrest in late 1939.


Above image courtesy of and copyright the David Ross Collection.

Above: with 603 Squadron

P/O JR Caister, P/O HK MacDonald, F/O GK Gilroy, P/O JS Morton, P/O P Gifford, S/Ldr. GL Denholm.



In early 1940 Caister was serving with 603 Squadron at Dyce. On 16th April he shared a Do17. Caister shared a Ju88 on 3rd July 1940, shared a Do17 on the 6th and shared a He111 on the 12th.

Commissioned in August, Caister claimed a He111 destroyed on the 30th and a Me109 on 3rd September, 603 Squadron now operating from Hornchurch.

Three days later he was in combat over the Channel with Hauptmann Hubertus von Bonin of I/JG54, Caister's Spitfire suffered several hits which left him with his engine firing on only six cylinders and the hydraulics destroyed.

He landed his damaged Spitfire, X4260, with the flaps and undercarriage up near Guines just outside Calais, uninjured. Von Bonin, a Condor Legion veteran, invited Caister to dinner in the officers mess, the next day he began five years as a PoW.

Von Bonin was killed in action on the Eastern Front on 15th December 1943, credited with 77 victories.

The Germans recovered and repaired X4260 and took it to their test and evaluation centre.


Above: Luftwaffe personnel examine his Spitfire.


Caister was awarded the DFM (gazetted 13th September 1940).

At some time Caister was in Stalag Luft III.

He was released from captivity in early May 1945 and left the RAF on 8th June 1946 as a Flight Lieutenant.

He died in 1994.


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