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The Airmen's Stories - F/O D Secretan


Dennis Secretan was born on 22nd July 1920 and joined the RAF on a short service commission on 28th December 1938.

With his training completed, he went to No. 1 School of Army Co-operation, Old Sarum, for a course. He then joined 81 (Communications) Squadron at Amiens/Mountjoie on 20th December 1939, equipped with Tiger Moths.

The squadron was disbanded on 15th June 1940 and Secretan joined 26 Squadron at West Malling the next day. The squadron was equipped with Lysanders. He went on 225 Squadron on 11th July, also with Lysanders.

In August Secretan volunteered for Fighter Command and on the 23rd he went to 7 OTU Hawarden. After converting to Spitfires he went to 54 Squadron at Catterick on 3rd September and moved to 72 Squadron at Biggin Hill on the 27th.




Secretan shared in the destruction of a Me110 and damaged another on 27th October. He received a Mention in Despatches (gazetted 1st January 1941). In late August 1941 Secretan joined 403 (RCAF) Squadron but two weeks later he rejoined 54 Squadron, as a Flight Commander.

He probably destroyed a Me109 on 17th September 1941. He was given command of 242 Squadron in September 1942 and led it to North Africa, arriving at Maison Blanche on 8th November. On the 9th Secretan damaged a Ju88 over a convoy off Algiers.

On 25th November he damaged a Me109 and on 1st January 1943 Secretan damaged a Fw190. On 2nd January he destroyed a Ju87 but was then attacked by two Me109s, just as his ammunition was exhausted. His Spitfire was damaged and Secretan made a forced-landing seven miles north of Morris.

The 109s dived on the Spitfire but waited until Secretan got out before machine-gunning it. Secretan was awarded the DFC (gazetted 26th February 1943) and left 242 in March 1943.

After returning to the UK he served with Transport Command. He was released from the RAF in 1946 as a Wing Commander.

Secretan died on 10th February 1999 in Surrey.


July 2019 - Robert Smith writes:

I had the very good fortune to work with Dennis in the mid 1980s - he was a thorough gentleman through and through who never once mentioned his war service. We knew he had flown for civil airlines before retiring.

Dennis was a very kind soul and took particular care of new faces to the company, advising and assisting wherever needed without being asked, tasked or expecting anything in return.

They just don't breed the likes of that super generation any more - which is a great shame and pity. The picture of Dennis in his cockpit has been my PC background for a long while - any time I feel miffed, put out or overlooked I need only look at that to remind myself how lucky I have been in life.


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