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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. B Capel


Bernard Capel was born on 15th March 1919 at Crewkerne. After leaving school he worked for an insurance company. He joined the RAF on 8th September 1939 as an Aircrafthand and reported to RAF Uxbridge.

After a spell at RAF North Coates, Capel remustered as an u/t Air Gunner. On 30th December he was posted to a gunnery course at 5 BGS Jurby. With his training completed, Capel was posted to 235 Squadron on 27th March 1940.

He joined 23 Squadron at Collyweston on 29th May and served with the squadron throughout the Battle of Britain.

With the advent of the Beaufighter and airborne radar, many air gunners were posted to Bomber Command. Capel was serving with 7 Squadron at Oakington in 1941 when he was awarded the DFM (gazetted 15th August 1941).

The citation stated that he was rear gunner of an aircraft attacking the German battleship Scharnhorst at La Pallice. His Stirling was engaged by six enemy fighters. With accurate and well-controlled fire he shot down the first two which attempted to attack and the others flew away. He was decorated by the King at Buckingham Palace on 2nd December 1941.

Capel did not fly again after September 1941. He married Pauline Ryan at Uxbridge on 16th June 1942.

He later retrained as a photographic technician. He was serving in Germany with 6016 SE prior to his release from the RAF on 14th January 1946.

Capel died in Wales on 17th March 1976.

Battle of Britain Monument