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The Airmen's Stories - F/Lt. J F F Finnis


John Frederick Fortescue Finnis was born on 11th October 1909 in Simla, India.

At some time he went to Southern Rhodesia and was awarded Aero Certificate 9227 at the de Havilland Flying School there on 1st July 1930. He later flew with Cairo to Capetown Airways.



By 1938 he was an instructor with the Southern Rhodesia Air Force but transferred to the RAF and was given a commission for the duration of the war. He was gazetted as a Pilot Officer/ Temporary Flight Lieutenant on 1st August 1940 with seniority from 1st January 1940.

Finnis joined 1 Squadron at Northolt in early September 1940. On the 7th he damaged a Do17.

He was posted to 229 Squadron at Northolt on 17th October 1940, was then attached to 302 Squadron on 17th November, returning to 229 on 13th December.


Above (L to R) 229 squadron: F/O HNE Salmon, P/O V Ortmans (BEL), F/Lt. JFF Finnis, Sgt. GF Silvester.

Above image courtesy of the family of F/Lt. JB Holderness.


Above: 229 Squadron

P/O V Ortmans, Sgt. J Arbuthnot, F/O RE Bary, F/Lt. JB Holderness, F/Lt. JFF Finnis,

Sgt. FJ Twitchett, Sgt. GF Silvester, Sgt. CG Hodson


On 13th February 1941 Finnis was airborne from Speke in Hurricane P3588 over Manchester. The engine began misfiring and then failed completely. Descending for a forced landing, he stalled while trying to avoid high tension cables and the aircraft dived into a railway embankment near Little Hulton. Finniss was badly injured.

Once recovered Finnis was posted on 9th June 1942 to 127 Squadron in the Western Desert as a Flight Commander. He was not there long, being given command of 33 Squadron on 20th July, an appointment he held until 31st October 1942.

He attended 5 Lancaster Finishing School at Syerston in 1944 but returned to Rhodesia before the course ended.

Finnis returned to the Southern Rhodesian Air Force on 8th September 1945. He subsequently served as a civilian air traffic controller.

He died in 1954.


Additional research courtesy of Steve Brew, author 'Blood, Sweat and Courage, 41 Squadron RAF 1939-1942 Hardcover – 2014'.


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