The Airmen's Stories - F/O J J O'Meara
James Joseph O'Meara was born in Barnsley, Yorkshire on 20th February 1919. He joined the RAF on a short service commission on 3rd April 1938. After training at 9 FTS Hullavington he joined 64 Squadron at Church Fenton on 14th January 1939.
Still with 64 in May 1940, O'Meara probably destroyed a Ju88 on the 21st and a Me109 over Dunkirk on the 31st. He claimed a Me109 destroyed on 19th July, two Ju87's and probably another on the 29th, two probable Me109's on 11th August, a Me109 destroyed on the 12th, a Me109 and a Ju88
destroyed on the 13th, two He111's damaged on the 15th, a Me110 damaged on the 16th and a Ju88 and a He111 shared on the 18th.
O'Meara was posted to 72 Squadron at Biggin Hill on 20th September and awarded the DFC (gazetted 24th September 1940). He damaged a Do17 on the 27th and destroyed a Ju88, probably another and damaged a Me109 on the 29th.
He joined 421 Flight on 3rd October at its formation at Hawkinge. Flying a high performance blue-painted Spitfire on 26th November, O'Meara shot down a He59 into the Channel. He damaged a Do17 on 3rd December, destroyed a Me109 and damaged another on the 5th and on 7th January 1941 he damaged a Ju88.
On 11th January 421 Flight was expanded and renumbered 91 Squadron. On the 19th O'Meara damaged another Ju88, and on 2nd February damaged a Do17. He was awarded a Bar to the DFC (gazetted 18th March 1941) and rejoined 64 Squadron at Hornchurch as a Flight Commander. On 9th April O'Meara shot down a He59.
Rested in October 1941, he went to 1491 Target-Towing Flight at Tain. In July 1942 he joined 164 Squadron but was then posted to Nigeria, to join 1432 Flight. He returned to the UK in August 1942 and was appointed RAF liaison officer to the Army Chief of Staff.
In January 1943 O'Meara joined 234 Squadron as a supernumerary. In March he was given command of 131 Squadron at Castletown. On 3rd August he damaged a Fw190 north of Brest, his final operational success.
O'Meara relinquished command of 131 in May 1944 and went to HQ 10 Group. He was awarded the DSO (gazetted 27th October 1944), being then credited with twelve enemy aircraft destroyed.
He later served in the South-West Pacific and India but did not fly operationally again.
O'Meara retired from the RAF on 31st July 1959 as a Squadron Leader.
He found civilian life difficult but worked as an architect for Wimpey Homes for a time before owning and running several business including a grocers and a restaurant. Distraught after his daughter was hit by a car and killed in 1969 he divorced and remarried before going on to run a Hotel in Port Gaverne, Cornwall called 'The Headlands Hotel'.
On 4th June 1974 he died in Barnstaple Hospital after suffering for many years with a liver infection from a parasite he picked up whilst stationed in India.
O'Meara is buried in Old Town Cemetary in Bideford.