The Airmen's Stories - F/O F D Hughes
Frederick Desmond Hughes was born in Donaghadee near Belfast, the son of the director of a linen firm, on 6th June 1919 and educated at Campbell College, Belfast and Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he read Law.
He learned to fly with the University Air Squadron and he was granted a Direct-Entry Commission in the RAF on 3rd October 1939.
He went to No. 1 ITW Cambridge in November 1939. On 1st January 1940 Hughes was posted to RAF College FTS Cranwell on No. 2 war course.
He was detached for a few days in May to 5 FTS Sealand to convert to Masters. He then returned to Cranwell, where the course ended on 1st June. Hughes was sent immediately to No. 1 School of Army Co-operation at Old Sarum for No. 8 Course. On 10th June Hughes was one of 20 officers from the course who were posted to 5 OTU Aston Down. After converting to Defiants he was posted to 264 Squadron at Duxford on the 19th.
Flying with Sgt. F Gash as his gunner, Hughes claimed two Do17's destroyed on 26th August, a He111 destroyed during the night of 15th/16th October, a He111 damaged on 23rd/24th November, a He111 destroyed on 12th/13th March 1941, a He111 probably destroyed on 8th/9th April and a He111 shot down on 10th/11th April.
Hughes was awarded the DFC (gazetted 18th April 1941) and Gash the DFM.
In January 1942 Hughes was posted to 125 Squadron at Colerne as a Flight Commander. He shared in the squadron's first victory, a Ju88 on 27th June.
Later that year he also became the first (or one of the first) to take his pet dog on a sortie. His mongrel Scruffy, dressed in flying overalls for warmth, survived the sortie, only to be killed by a WAAF truck driver shortly afterwards.
Later in the year he teamed up with P/O L Dixon and they shared in the destruction of a Ju88 on 4th November.
Hughes joined 600 Squadron in North Africa on 19th January 1943 as a Flight Commander. Dixon went with him and during the night of 23rd/24th January they claimed two Ju88's destroyed and on 12th/13th February a Cant Z1007.
Hughes was awarded a Bar to the DFC (gazetted 13th April 1943).
On 25th/26th April they claimed a Ju88 destroyed, on 12th/13th July a He111, on the 20/21st a Ju88, on 11th/12th August three Ju88's and on the 17th/18th a Ju87.
Hughes was awarded a second Bar to the DFC (gazetted 28th September 1943).
At the end of 1943 he was posted back to the UK and went to a staff job at Fighter Command. In February 1944 he was promoted to Acting Wing Commander and posted to 85 Group TAF. Hughes returned to operations on 19th July 1944, taking command of 604 Squadron at Hurn.
In early August the squadron was operating from A-8, an airstrip close to the Arromanches beaches. With Dixon as his navigator, Hughes destroyed a Ju88 on 6th/7th August and they claimed their final victory on 13th/14th January 1945, a Ju188 over Rotterdam.
Hughes was awarded the DSO (gazetted 23rd March 1945).
He served on the directing staff of the RAF Staff College, Bracknell between 1954 and 1956 after which he was personal staff officer to the Chief of the Air Staff, then Air Chief Marshal Sir Dermot Boyle, for two years. Between 1959 and 1961 he was station commander at Geilenkirchen in West Germany. In 1962-64 he was director of air staff plans at the Ministry of Defence and ADC to the Queen.
As commandant of the RAF College, Cranwell between 1970 and 1972 he supervised the Prince of Wales's flying training and presided over the college's 50th anniversary celebrations.
Hughes was awarded the AFC (gazetted 1st January 1954), made a CBE (gazetted 1st January 1962), a CB (1972) and retired on 6th June 1974 as an Air Vice-Marshal.
He was made a Deputy Lieutenant of Lincolnshire in 1983.
He died on 11th January 1992.