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The Airmen's Stories - F/Lt. W D David

William Dennis David was born in Surbiton, Surrey on 25th July 1918 and spent his early childhood at Tongwynlais, a village near Cardiff. The family moved again and he went to Surbiton County School. He left school at 14 and went to work for his uncle in his footwear and clothing business.

David joined the RAFVR in April 1937 as an Airman u/t Pilot before joining the regular RAF as a candidate for a short service commission. He began his elementary flying training at 5 E&RFTS Hanworth on 4th April 1938.


Above: David (left) as best man to his 152 Squadron colleague P/O DH Fox-Male.


After a short induction course at No. 1 RAF Depot Uxbridge, David was posted to 5 FTS Sealand. In late 1938 David was in the Fighter Pool at RNAS Ford, awaiting a posting.

In early 1939 he joined 87 Squadron at Debden and flew to France on 9th September 1939. He damaged a He111 on 2nd November.

The German blitzkrieg was launched on 10th May 1940. On this day David claimed a He111 and a Do17 destroyed and shared another Do17, on the 11th he shot down a Ju87 and a Do17, on the 12th a He111, on the 14th a He111 and shared another, on the 16th he shared a Me109, on the 18th he damaged two Me109s and on the 19th a probable Me109, shot down a Me110, probably another and shared a He111.

87 Squadron was withdrawn to Debden on the 22nd and then went to Church Fenton to refit. David was awarded the DFC (gazetted 31st May 1940) and Bar (gazetted 4th June 1940), the citations crediting him with eleven enemy aircraft destroyed.

On 11th August he claimed a Me109 and a Ju88 destroyed, on the 13th a Ju87 destroyed, on the 15th a Ju87 destroyed and a Me110 probably destroyed, on the 25th two Ju88s destroyed and on 15th September a He 111.

David was posted to 213 Squadron at Tangmere on 16th September as ‘B’ Flight Commander. He destroyed a Ju88 on 19th October. He rejoined 87 Squadron on 23rd October before going to 152 Squadron at Warmwell on 13th November as a Flight Commander.

Tour-expired, David was posted to 55 OTU Usworth on 24th March 1941 as CFI. He moved to 59 OTU Crosby-on-Eden on 19th June 1941 as Assistant CFI and returned to 55 OTU on 23rd November 1941 as Wing Commander Training. Awarded the AFC (gazetted 1st January 1943), David was posted to the Middle East in February 1943 as SASO 209 Group.

On 19th July 1943 he took command of 89 Squadron, a Beaufighter night-fighter unit. He led the squadron to Ceylon on 15th October. David was appointed Sector Commander at Trincomalee on 4th March 1944, he became Base Commander at Minneriya on 5th May and Base Commander at Kankesanturai on 30th August.

Later in 1944 David was promoted to Acting Group Captain and appointed Air Adviser to the Commander of the 15th Indian Corps at Arakan, Burma.

He was SASO 224 Group from 6th January 1945 to 16th November when he became SASO Air HQ Dutch East Indies at Batavia. David, who had been granted a Permanent Commission in September 1945, returned to the UK in April 1946.

He held a series of appointments and commands in the post-war RAF, including Honorary Aide to Viscount Trenchard until his death.

In 1949 he was posted to command a wing of Vampire jets at Deversoir on the Suez Canal, and in Cairo enjoyed the hospitality of King Farouk.

David was Air Attaché in Budapest during the unsuccessful Hungarian uprising in 1956, during which time he assisted many to flee the country.

David was made a CBE (gazetted 1st January 1960) and retired on 26th May 1967 as a Group Captain.

He set up an engineering business, Dove Enterprises and was in demand as a lecturer plus advising on films such as the Battle of Britain (1969) and Aces High (1974). David was president of the Hurricane Society and gave his time to the RAF Benevolent Fund and Royal Air Forces Association. He later restored antique furniture and china and wrote a memoir, Dennis 'Hurricane' David (1999).

In 1991 he was made a Freeman of the City of London.

David died on 25th August 2000.

His portrait was made by Cuthbert Orde (below).





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