The Airmen's Stories - P/O J F Soden
John Flewelling Soden was born in July 1921 in Winchcomb, Gloucestershire and educated at Woodbridge School, Essex and Cheltenham Technical College.
He joined the RAF on a short service commission in August 1939. With his training completed at 9 FTS, he arrived at 5 OTU Aston Down on 10th June 1940.
After converting to Spitfires he was posted to 266 Squadron at Wittering on 26th June. On 15th August Soden shared in destroying a He115 floatplane.
In combat with Me109s over Canterbury the next day his Spitfire K9864 was severely damaged and he made a forced-landing near Oare, Faversham, slightly wounded in the legs.
On 14th September Soden was posted to 603 Squadron at Hornchurch. He claimed Me109s destroyed on 30th September and 10th October. Following a combat with Me109s over the Sussex coast on the 25th Soden baled out and injured his right leg landing at Perryfields. He was admitted to East Sussex Hospital, Hastings. His Spitfire, P7325, crashed at Stonelink Farm, Brede.
Soden later flew Tomahawks in the Western Desert (photos above) and was returning to the UK when he was lost in the troopship SS Laconia, sunk by a U-boat on 12th September 1942. He is remembered on the Alamein Memorial.
Soden's father died of natural causes in 1942, his brother Ian Scovil was killed with the RAF on 18th May 1940 and his remaining brother Frank Graham was killed in the retreat from Burma on 18th May 1942.
Photographs courtesy of Colonel C R Romberg RA, British Embassy Cairo