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The Airmen's Stories - P/O D J Hammond

 

Derek John Hammond was born on 7th February 1921 in London. He attended Tonbridge School and joined the RAF on a short service commission, beginning his initial training course on 10th July 1939.

After completing his flying training he was posted to 4 Ferry Pilot Pool.

 

 

He went to 7 OTU Hawarden on 3rd September 1940. After converting to Spitfires he joined 54 Squadron at Catterick on the 24th.

The next day he flew, as a passenger, in a Magister from Catterick to Hawarden, piloted by P/O ARMcL Campbell. Hammond was en route to Aldergrove, where he joined 245 Squadron in order to convert to Hurricanes. He then moved to 253 Squadron at Kenley on 16th October.

Hammond damaged a Me109 on 5th November. He was posted away and embarked at Liverpool on 17th December 1940 for the Middle East. On 29th January 1941 he flew a Hurricane to Malta and joined 261 Squadron.

He returned to the Middle East in May because of ill health. By March 1942 Hammond was serving with 272 Squadron in Malta.

In May he was serving with the squadron in the Western Desert and on the 11th he probably destroyed a Ju88 and shared a He111.

After short postings in Kenya and Uganda he went in January 1942 to Burma via Singapore and India. In September of that year he volunteered to join a special force at Saugor in the Central Provinces of the country and began his training as a liaison officer for Wingate's first Chindit expedition.

Hammond took part in the first Chindit expedition, Operation Longcloth, in February 1943, serving in 7 Column under the command of Major K Gilkes MC. They went in on foot and caused much disruption to Japanese supply lines. By the end of March most men were exhausted and were without food, water or ammunition. The column was ordered to split into groups and return independently.

Hammond's group of 43 men was by then so far north that they struck out for the Chinese border on an arduous march that meant that the wounded or sick had to be left with friendly hill tribes.

The party eventually emerged in Tibet and were flown back to India aboard USAAF Dakotas based at Kunming.

Hammond also took part in the second Chindit expedition in February 1944, this was a bigger operation with men being flown in to airstrips built behind Japanese lines.

His participation in this and his subsequent service is currently undocumented until he was released from the RAF in 1947 as a Squadron Leader.

Hammond died on 2nd December 1988 in Chippenham.

 


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