The Airmen's Stories - P/O R J B Roach
Robert James Bain Roach was born on 25th October 1919 in Shanghai, China.
His family had left Scotland for China when his father was appointed director of the Shanghai Power Company. He had then joined the Indian army when the Japanese invaded China in 1937. Robert’s mother and sister went to live in Australia while he was sent to school in England. His father died in an air crash at the end of war.
Roach was enrolled at Palmers School in Grays, Essex in 1936 and soon became recognised as an outstanding sprinter when he represented the school at amateur athletics meetings. He also excelled at football and swimming.
Roach joined the RAF on a short service commission and began his initial training on 1st May 1939. He moved on to 8 FTS Montrose for No. 12 Course, which ran from 10th July to 9th December 1939. He joined 266 Squadron at Sutton Bridge on 10th December.
He shared in the destruction of a He115 floatplane and damaged a Me109 on 15th August 1940, probably destroyed a Me109 on the 16th and shared a Do17 on 7th September.
On 11th September his Spitfire N3244 was hit by return fire from a He111 and Roach baled out over Billericay, he was unhurt. On this day he probably destroyed a He111.
On 2nd August 1941 he married Mary Miles at St. Martins Church, Boston, Lincs.
His subsequent service is currently undocumented though it is known that he remained in the RAF postwar and retired from the RAF on 25th October 1965 as a Flight Lieutenant, retaining the rank of Squadron Leader.
He represented the RAF at athletic events in the immediate postwar years.
After his retirement Roach took up a post as secretary of Newquay Golf Club in Cornwall while coaching junior athletes in his spare time.
He settled in St. Columb Minor and died in Newquay on 11th September 1994.
Additional research courtesy of the Old Palmerians Association.