The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. A W P Spears
Arthur William Peter Spears was born on 13th December 1915, a nephew of James McCudden VC. He was educated at Wanstead County High School and joined the RAF in January 1932 as an Aircraft Apprentice, passing out in December 1934 as a Metal Rigger.
Spears was posted to 3 Squadron at Kenley. In October 1935 Spears went with the squadron to Khartoum, returning to Kenley in August 1936. He was promoted to LAC after passing a trade test in early 1937.
He later applied for pilot training, was selected and in June 1939 was posted to 13 E&RFTS White Waltham for his initial flying training. In August Spears went to RAF Uxbridge to await a posting and on 2nd September he was sent to 12 FTS Grantham where he flew Harts and later Ansons. In February 1940 he was posted to Jurby for a bombing course, after which he returned to Grantham.
On 24th February 1940 Spears went to the 12 Group Pool at Aston Down, the forerunner of 5 OTU. He converted to Blenheims and then joined 222 Squadron at Duxford on 31st March. Soon afterwards the squadron was re-equipped with Spitfires. Spears flew one for the first time after a short reading of the Pilots Notes.
On 30th August 1940 he was shot down in combat with Me109's. He baled out and was taken by the Army to RAF Eastchurch. His Spitfire, P9323, crashed at South Lees Farm, Minster, Sheppey. Spears was bombed at Eastchurch the next morning. He made his way back to Hornchurch by Underground, via Charing Cross.
On 4th October Spears was posted to 421 Flight at Hawkinge and remained with it when it was renumbered 91 Squadron on 11th January 1941. Spears was shot down by Adolf Galland over Kent on 4th April 1941, the German pilot's 58th victory. He was admitted to hospital in Deal with shell splinters in the right arm and bullets in the leg. Spears lost his flying category and was attached to Redhill in September 1941 as a Duty Pilot on flying control. After a week he was posted to Croydon, serving in the Control Tower there.
Spears later regained his flying category and was attached to the ADF at Croydon. He was commissioned from Warrant Officer in October 1942.
A year later he went to Heston to command the Station Flight. In July 1944 Spears was posted to the Communications Squadron, Allied Expeditionary Forces. He flew VIPs around and later became personal pilot to Air Vice-Marshal Wiggleswoth.
After the war Spears transferred to the Engineer Branch. He retired on 13th December 1970 as a Squadron Leader.
He died on 30th September 1998.