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The Airmen's Stories - S/Ldr. W A J Satchell


William Arthur John Satchell was born on 2nd February 1908 in Grimsby and educated at Denstone College.

He joined the RAF on a short service commission in March 1930. He was posted to 5 FTS Sealand on the 29th and joined 54 Squadron at Hornchurch on 8th March 1931.

He had married Marian Beatrice Barnett at Egleton, Leicester on 2nd March.

Satchell went to the School of Naval Co-operation at Lee-on-Solent on 16th December 1932. He was posted to 204 (GR) Squadron at Mount Batten, Plymouth on 5th June 1937 and went on to the SHQ staff there on 10th October 1938.



Satchell took command of 234 Squadron at Leconfield at its reformation on 30th October 1939. In early 1940 he was sent to France as a Fighter Controller based at Merville. During the retreat in May 1940 Satchell left Merville as the Germans were coming in. He walked forty miles to Boulogne, hiding during the day.

Back in the UK Satchell was given command of 302 Squadron at Leconfield at its formation on 13th July 1940. It became operational on 19th August and Satchell shot down a Ju88 on the 20th, the squadron's first victory.

On 15th September Satchell destroyed a Do17, probably another and probably a Me109 and on the 18th he destroyed a Do17. He made a forced-landing at Slough on 15th October after his Hurricane, P3812, was damaged in combat over the Thames Estuary. He claimed a Me109 probably destroyed on the 26th.

In January 1941 Satchell was posted away. Later in the year he was on HMS Ark Royal directing Hurricanes flying off to Malta. He arrived in Ta Kali on 20th December 1941 to be Station Commander there.

Satchell claimed a Ju88 destroyed on the 30th, destroyed a Me109 on 15th February 1942 and shot another down and damaged a Ju88 on 15th March.

During the last two weeks of April 1942 Satchell and S/Ldr. IB Westmacott set up a pair of Vickers machine-guns on Ta Kali airfield. Using these, Satchell claimed a Me109 destroyed, another Me109 and a Ju87 probably destroyed and five Me109s, four Ju88s and three Ju87s damaged in the two-week period.

On 1st May 1942 Satchell went to Air HQ Malta. He was awarded the DSO (gazetted 6th October 1942) and took no further part in operations.

He was demobilised April 1946 and moved to Kirkwall to set up the Orkney Flying Club at Hatston. He rejoined the RAF at some stage.

In late 1950 he was awarded the Polonia Rostiruta, the highest award possible from the Polish Government-in-Exile in London. The only other Britons so honoured were Churchill, Dowding and Sir Charles Portal.

Satchell retired from the RAF on 1st July 1956 as a Group Captain.

He died in March 1986.

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