The Airmen's Stories - F/Lt. C B F Kingcome
Charles Brian Fabris Kingcome was born in Calcutta on 31st May 1917 and educated at Bedford. He entered the RAF College Cranwell in January 1936 as a Flight Cadet. Soon after he began his pilot course he was seriously injured in a car accident.
A RAF medical board told him he would never fly again as he was expected to suffer permanent double vision. But after months in hospital his resilience, will and strength paid off and he rejoined his course. He joined 65 Squadron at Hornchurch on 30th July 1938 and was still serving with it in 1940.
On 27th May Kingcome joined 92 Squadron at Northolt as ‘A’ Flight Commander.
Above: Kingcome (left) with P/O GHA Wellum
He claimed two He111's destroyed and another probably destroyed on 2nd June, shared in destroying Ju88's on 10th and 24th July, probably destroyed a Me109 on 9th September, destroyed a He111 on the 11th, damaged two Me109's on the 14th, damaged a Do17 on the 15th and shared a Ju88, probably destroyed a He111 and damaged another on the 18th.
Kingcome destroyed a Me109 on the 23rd, damaged a Ju88 and a Me109 on the 24th, got a probable Do17, damaged another, shared a Ju88 and damaged two others on the 27th, destroyed a Me109 on 11th October, destroyed two more and damaged a third on the 12th and destroyed another on the 13th.
On 15th October Kingcome was shot down in combat with Me109's. He baled out, wounded, and was admitted to the Royal Naval Hospital at Chatham.
His Spitfire, X4418, crashed at Wybornes Farm, High Halstow.
Kingcome was awarded the DFC (gazetted 25th October 1940).
He rejoined 92 Squadron on 23rd December 1940 after recovering.
On 16th June 1941 he probably destroyed a Me109 and on 24th July destroyed another. Kingcome was posted away in August to 61 OTU as a Flight Commander. He returned to operations in February 1942, taking command of 72 Squadron at Gravesend.
He damaged a Fw190 on 15th April and got a probable Me109 on 27th May. In late June 1942 Kingcome was promoted to Acting Wing Commander, to lead the Kenley Wing. On 27th August he damaged a Fw190.
He was posted in late 1942 to Charmy Down, where the Fighter Leaders School was being formed.
He was awarded the DSO (gazetted 15th December 1942).
In May 1943 Kingcome was posted to Malta, to lead 244 Wing, which flew in support of the Eighth Army in Sicily and Italy. After the invasion of Italy he was promoted to Acting Group Captain.
Kingcombe went on a course to the RAF Staff College Haifa in October 1944 and in March 1945 became SASO at 205 (Heavy Bomber) Group. The group was equipped with Liberators and he flew occasionally as a waist-gunner over northern Yugoslavia.
He remained in Italy after the wars end, then moved to Egypt, where he was mostly concerned with repatriating troops to the UK.
In mid-1946 Kingcome was posted to command 324 Spitfire Wing at Zeltweg, Austria.
He held various staff appointments and instructed at RAF Staff College before being invalided out of the RAF on 26th January 1954 as a Wing Commander, retaining the rank of Group Captain. His war service had taken a toll on his health and he had contracted tuberculosis.
In civilian life he engaged successfully in a London garage and car hire business with his Battle of Britain comrade Paddy Barthropp. In 1969, with his wife Lesley he set up ‘Kingcome Sofas’, an enterprise which involved the employment of Devon boat builders to craft sofas to each customers measurements.
Such was Kingcome's charm that on occasion even his bank manager drove his delivery van. The company was eventually bought by Colefax & Fowler.
His portrait was made by Cuthbert Orde in 1941 (below).
Kingcome died on 19th February 1994.