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The Airmen's Stories - F/O W M Sizer

 

Wilfred Max Sizer was born at Chelmsford on 23rd February 1920 and educated at the King Edward VI Grammar School there.

He joined the RAF on a short service commission and began his initial flying course on 7th March 1938. After completing his training he joined 17 Squadron at Kenley in early 1939 and moved to 213 Squadron at Wittering on 2nd May 1939.

 

 

On 17th May 1940 'B' Flight of 213 went across to support the squadrons in France. The pilots flew their Hurricanes and the ground crews flew over in an Ensign and a Bombay. The flight was attached to 79 Squadron at Merville.

On the 19th Sizer shared in the destruction of two Hs126's and damaged another and on the 20th he shared a Do17. On this patrol Sizer was attacked by five Me109's and shot down. He landed two miles from La Panne, swam across a canal and was taken to a casualty clearing station with facial wounds. He was taken back to England and later rejoined the squadron, which was withdrawn from France on 21st May.


Over Dunkirk on the 28th Sizer destroyed a Me109 and on the 31st shot down a Me109 and damaged another.

 


He was himself shot down in this engagement, made a crash-landing in Hurricane P2434 south of Dunkirk.

Sizer took the parachute from his wrecked aircraft but left it in the sidecar of a motorcycle that had come to his aid. Realising that it was missing, he returned to retrieve it (as the squadron's parachute officer, he had often exhorted his colleagues to rescue the precious item in the event of a crash).
Clutching his parachute he was about to board a destroyer in Dunkirk harbour when a beach-master ordered him to leave and join a Clyde paddle steamer, the Plynlimon. As the steamer was setting off a swarm of Stuka dive-bombers attacked the destroyer and a direct hit ripped it apart.

On 11th August 1940 Sizer destroyed a Ju88, on the 12th a Me110, on the 15th two Ju87's and on 5th October he damaged a Ju88.


On the 23rd he was appointed 'B' Flight Commander. He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 8th November 1940) and posted to 58 OTU at Grangemouth as an instructor. He moved to 56 OTU at Sutton Bridge.


In late April 1941 Sizer went to No. 1 Squadron at Croydon as a Flight Commander. He joined 91 Squadron at Hawkinge in June, moving soon afterwards to No. 1 PRU. In August he went to 57 OTU Hawarden to instruct and moved to 52 OTU at Aston Down in January 1942.

Sizer joined 152 Squadron at Eglinton in April 1942 as a Flight Commander. On 23rd August he shared in the destruction of a Ju88.


The squadron went to North Africa in November. Sizer damaged a Mc202 on the 25th and damaged a Ju88 on 28th December.


He was given command of 93 Squadron at Souk-el-Khemis in February 1943. He damaged a Ju88 on 10th July, damaged a Me109 on the 12th, destroyed a Mc202, probably another and damaged four more on the 13th.


Sizer was posted away in August 1943 and awarded a Bar to the DFC (gazetted 28th September 1943). He went to 71 OTU Ismailia as an instructor.


Back in the UK, he did a course at the Empire Central Flying School and then returned to the Middle East, where he commanded 680 PRU at Deversoir. Sizer was released from the RAF in 1946 as a Wing Commander. He rejoined two years later.

He became a flying instructor and later assumed command of 54 Squadron in 1953, flying Meteor jet fighters before converting to the new supersonic fighter, the Hunter.


After service at the Air Ministry, he spent two years in Hong Kong before returning to the Air Ministry in 1961, retiring two years later to join Marconi Radar. Sizer worked for the company in the Middle East, before finally retiring in 1985.


As a young man Sizer had been a keen sportsman, representing the RAF at boxing and at hockey.

He died on 22nd December 2006. His portrait was made by Cuthbert Orde in October 1940 (below).


 


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