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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. N Cameron


Neil Cameron was born in Perth, Scotland on 8th July 1920. He was educated at Perth Academy and after leaving he was employed as a clerk for the Royal Bank of Scotland. He joined the RAFVR on 13th May 1939 as an Airman u/t Pilot and learned to fly at 11 E&RFTS Perth.

Called up at the outbreak of war, Cameron went to 3 ITW Hastings on 1st October and on 26th March 1940 to 15 EFTS Redhill. On 8th June he was posted to 8 FTS Montrose and after completing the course he went to 5 OTU Aston Down on 31st August to convert to Hurricanes. He joined No. 1 Squadron at Wittering on 26th September 1940.



Above: Cameron, P/O JFD Elkington, P/O JK Ross, Sgt. RH Furneaux in Russia


Cameron joined 17 Squadron at Martlesham Heath on 15th October. He destroyed a Ju87, shared another and probably shared in the destruction of a third on 8th November 1940 and claimed a Me110 destroyed on the 17th.

He was one of the 17 Squadron personnel who were transferred to 134 Squadron, formed at Leconfield on 31st July 1941 for service in Russia. Cameron was commissioned at this time.

The squadron sailed on 19th August in the carrier HMS Argus from Abbotsinch and on 6th September flew off to Vaenga airfield. Some operations were flown in Russia and Cameron got a probable Ju88 and damaged another on 6th October 1941 but the main task was to convert and train Russian pilots on Hurricanes.

The squadron left Russia on 28th November and reached Rosyth on 6th December. It was given Spitfires and sent to Eglinton, Northern Ireland.

In April 1942 134 sailed for the Middle East, arriving at Tewfik on 6th June. In early July the CO and the most experienced pilots were attached to 213 Squadron in the Western Desert, while the remainder of the squadron went to Palestine. Cameron joined 213 on 28th August. He destroyed a SM79 on 14th November 1942.

He was posted to 335 (Hellenic) Squadron at Mersa Matruh on 3rd April 1943 for advisory and training duties. He received a Mention in Despatches (gazetted 2nd June 1943). On 5th October Cameron went to 224 Group Burma as a Staff Officer and on 1st February 1944 he was given command of 258 Squadron.

He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 21st November 1944) and on 11th February 1945 he shared in the destruction of a Ki-61 Tony over Rangoon. Cameron left the Squadron on 8th August 1945, returned to the UK and was awarded the DSO (gazetted 2nd October 1945). He was granted a permanent commission on 1st September 1945.

Cameron went on to a most distinguished career in the RAF, despite losing his full flying capacity through illness soon after the war.

Amongst other appointments Cameron instructed at the Staff College, commanded the London University Air Squadron, was Personal Staff Officer to the Chief of the Air Staff, commanded RAF Abingdon, was Deputy Commandant at Cranwell and Air Member Personnel.

He became Chief of the Air Staff in 1976 and in the following year, on the death of Sir Andrew Humphrey, he was appointed Chief of the Defence Staff, holding the appointment until 1979.

He was created a life peer, Baron Cameron of Balhousie, on 1st January 1983.

Cameron died on 30th January 1985 in the Middlesex Hospital. At the time of his death he was Principal of Kings College, London. He is buried in St. Michael's churchyard, Halton, Buckinghamshire.

In addition to his gallantry awards, Cameron was created CBE (1967), CB (1971), KCB (1975), GCB (1976) and KT (1983).

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