The Airmen's Stories - P/O R D S Fleming
Robert David Spittal Fleming was born on 11th February 1920 in Aberdeen, the son of Major Robert Spittall Fleming MC DCM and Eleanor Fleming. He attended Aberdeen Grammar School from 1925 till 1937.
His family then moved to London and he continued his education at St. Paul’s School, going on to read Law at London University in October 1938 and joining the Air Squadron there. He passed the Intermediate Bachelor of Law exam in 1939.
Above: Fleming, standing second left, with the UAS.
Above image courtesy of Richard Davidson, Adjutant, University of London Air Squadron.
Fleming joined the RAFVR about July 1939, was called up on 1st September 1939 and then went to 1 ITW Cambridge in November 1939.
He moved to FTS Cranwell on 1st January 1940 (below).
His training completed, he was posted to No. 1 School of Army Co-operation at Old Sarum on 2nd June but eight days later went to 5 OTU Aston Down to convert to Hurricanes, after which he joined 249 Squadron at Leconfield on 23rd June 1940.
P/O TF Neil of 249 Squadron recorded:
Robert 'Boost' Fleming, was barely twenty years of age when he joined us in 249 Squadron during the last week of July 1940. Small, gentle and unfailingly polite, Fleming always reminded me of a sixteen-year-old choirboy, an appearance greatly at odds with his nickname 'Boost', which arose from his predilection for noisy, high-speed flights in a Spitfire during his training at OTU. However, as we were members of different flights in 249, I was never given the opportunity to know him intimately, although we flew together regularly when the squadron operated as a single formation.
Above image courtesy of Aberdeen Grammar School via Gordon Crookshanks.
Fleming was shot down and killed in combat with Me109s over Maidstone on 7th September 1940. His Hurricane, R4114, crashed at Hollingbourne. He had baled out but was seen after landing to be attempting to beat out fire in his clothing. He was taken immediately to Leeds Castle Military Hospital but shortly succumbed to shock and burns (report below).
Fleming was 20 years old and was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium.