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The Airmen's Stories - S/Ldr. W M Churchill


Walter Myers Churchill was born in Amsterdam on 24th November 1907. He graduated BA from Pembroke College, Cambridge then was employed by Hawker Siddeley as an engineer.

He later formed his own company Churchill Components (Coventry) Ltd. Churchill joined 605 Squadron, Auxiliary Air Force in 1931 and was commissioned in January 1932.

He married Joyce Hartley in April 1934 in Upton, Worcestershire.

Having been placed on the Reserve of Officers in June 1937, he was recalled to full-time service with 605 Squadron on 24th August 1939. In November Churchill was posted to 3 Squadron at Croydon as a Flight Commander.


Above: Churchill in August 1931


On 10th May 1940 the squadron was attached at short notice to 63 Wing in France and Churchill was given command of the squadron when the CO was killed. He shared in the destruction of two Hs126s on 12th May, shared a He111 on the 13th, destroyed three Ju87s and possibly a fourth on the 14th and shot down a Me109 and possibly a second on the 16th.

After ten days of fighting the squadron was withdrawn to Kenley.



His portrait was made by Eric Kennington (above left) and Cuthbert Orde (above right).


Churchill was awarded the DSO and the DFC (gazetted 31st May 1940). In early June he rejoined 605 Squadron, then at Drem, as Commanding Officer.

On 11th September his Hurricane P3588 was badly damaged in combat over Maidstone but he was able to land at Croydon, slightly wounded.

He was posted away on 29th September 1940 to form and command 71 (Eagle) Squadron at Church Fenton.

In late 1940 Churchill was suffering from sinus trouble and for this reason on 23rd January 1941 he relinquished his flying status and command of 71 Squadron. He later commanded RAF Valley.

By July 1942 Churchill was again fit for flying and he was posted to command RAF Ta Kali, Malta. He flew a Spitfire off the aircraft carrier HMS Furious on 11th August 1942 and landed on Malta. He planned the first offensive sweeps over Sicily and led the first one on 23rd August 1942. Four days later, leading the second sweep, he was killed when his Spitfire V EP339 was hit by flak and crashed in flames.

Churchill was 35 and is buried in Syracuse War Cemetery.




Above cemetery images courtesy of The War Graves Photographic Project


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