The Airmen's Stories - F/Lt. A C Rabagliati
Alexander Coultate Rabagliati was born in 1914 in Durban, South Africa where his father was an expert in tropical diseases. He was educated at Westerleigh School, St. Leonards-on-Sea and Charterhouse.
After completing an aircraft engineering course he joined the RAF on a short service commission in April 1935. He was posted to 2 FTS Digby on 7th May and joined No.1 Squadron at Tangmere on 4th March 1936.
Rabagliati was posted to 27 Squadron in India on 15th December 1936. He returned to the UK in 1939 and joined No. 1 AACU as a Flight Commander. On 28th May 1940 he arrived at 6 OTU Sutton Bridge and after converting to Hurricanes he was posted to 46 Squadron at Digby on 15th June as a Flight Commander.
Rabagliati claimed a Me110 destroyed and probably another on 18th August, damaged two Ju88s on 3rd September, destroyed a Me109 on the 5th, damaged two Do17s on the 7th, destroyed another Me109 on the 14th, got a probable Do17 on the 18th, destroyed a Me110 and a Ju88 on the 27th and destroyed Me109s on 29th October and 8th November. He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 22nd October 1940).
In December 1940 Rabagliati took command of 46 Squadron. On 22nd May 1941 the squadron pilots and aircraft sailed in HMS Argus for Gibraltar, where they transferred to the Ark Royal and then sailed into the Mediterranean. They flew off to Hal Far, Malta on 6th June.
On the 11th Rabagliati shared in the destruction of a SM79, on the 12th destroyed a CR42, on the 22nd damaged a Mc200, damaged a SM79 on the 25th, destroyed a Mc200 and damaged another SM79 on the 27th. The ground personnel of 46 Squadron had gone on to Egypt and remained there.
On 28th June 1941 the pilots in Malta formed the nucleus of a new squadron, 126, with Rabagliati as CO. On 9th July the squadron made an attack on the flying boat base at Syracuse and at least ten aircraft were damaged on the water.
Rabagliati destroyed a Z506B on 10th August, damaged another on the water at Syracuse on the 16th, damaged another on the water at Augusta on the 20th and destroyed Mc200s on the 26th and 4th September. He was promoted on 8th August, appointed Wing Commander Flying at Ta Kali and awarded a Bar to the DFC (gazetted 31st October 1941).
On 12th November Rabagliati destroyed a Ju87 in the air and a CR42 on the ground, on 21st December destroyed a Mc202, on 17th January 1942 and 11th February he damaged Ju88s, on the 15th claimed a Me109 destroyed and on 9th March he probably destroyed another.
Rabagliati left by air for Egypt on 15th March 1942, flew down to Cape Town and embarked on a ship there for the UK. After a spell at HQ Fighter Command as Wing Commander Tactics, he went on a course at RAF Staff College. In October 1942 Rabagliati was appointed Station Commander at Fairwood Common.
In early May 1943 he became Wing Leader at Coltishall. Flying from Ludham, Norfolk on 6th July 1943, Rabagliati was leading 195 Squadron on a shipping strike. His Typhoon Ib EK273 was shot down by a flak ship off Den Helder and went down into the sea.
He is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, panel 118.
On 2nd November 1940 Rabagliati had married Rhoda May Bourgein, a daughter Mary was born on 12th January 1942.
Above image courtesy of Dean Sumner