The Airmen's Stories - F/O K I Geddes
Keith Irvine Geddes was born in Woking on 25th October 1918. He was educated at Loretto School in Scotland and Caius and Gonville Colleges Cambridge, where he read Engineering.
Whilst there he learned to fly with the University Air Squadron in 1937/8 and was commissioned in the RAFVR in June 1939.
Called to full-time service at the outbreak of war, he was posted to the RAF College FTS Cranwell on 24th October 1939 to complete his training. Geddes went to 5 OTU on 22nd June 1940, converted to Blenheims and then joined 604 Squadron at Gravesend on 5th July.
On 14th July Geddes was detached from 604 to HQ 11 Group Uxbridge for a short R/T procedure and elementary fighter attacks course. He served with 604 throughout the Battle of Britain.
In March 1941, now flying Beaufighters, he teamed up with Sgt. B Cannon. During the night of the 12th they shot down a Ju88 engaged in a raid on Portsmouth, on the 14th a He111 was destroyed and on the 16th they damaged a He111.
In the early hours of 5th June 1941 Geddes and Cannon shot down another He111 into the sea off Ventnor, Isle of Wight. Soon after midnight on the 15th another He111 was destroyed. The teams final victory came during the night of 8th July 1941 when a Ju88 was shot down over Dorset.
Geddes was awarded the DFC (gazetted 4th July 1941).
Geddes left 604 in October 1941 and from early December 1941 he commanded GCI stations in the South-west. On 18th March 1944 he was posted to the staff at HQ Fighter Command (photo below) and was released from the RAF on 25th November 1945 as a Squadron Leader.
Having played rugby prewar, Geddes went on to lead the Scotland team from 1945 to 1947. Playing against France in Paris on 1st January 1947 Geddes was awarded a touch-down. He claimed that this had been given in error and the resulting play gave the victory to France. Impressed by his sportsmanship, the French team presented him with a cigarette case.
Geddes was an executive with the Orient Line from 1946 until its merger with P&O in 1961.
He then used his engineering skills in various industries until retirement.
Geddes died on 30th March 1991.
Images courtesy of Marcus Geddes (son).