The Airmen's Stories - P/O D J Spence
Douglas James Spence was born in Christchurch, New Zealand on 26th August 1920. He was educated at Somerfield School and Christchurch Boys High School, after leaving he worked for an insurance company.
In early 1939 he applied for a short service commission in the RAF and after provisional acceptance he sailed for the UK in the RMS Rangitane on 6th May 1939. Spence began his training at 10 E&RFTS Yatesbury on 12th June 1939 going on to 2 FTS Brize Norton on 19th August. His first posting was to a delivery unit in February 1940 which ferried aircraft to France.
On 6th April Spence was posted to 245 Squadron at Leconfield. The squadron became operational with Hurricanes in May and moved soon afterwards to Drem. Later in the month 245 was detached to Hawkinge and began patrols over France and the Channel. After Dunkirk it went north to Turnhouse for a rest. Later in June the squadron returned to Hawkinge and on the 20th Spence took part in a low-level attack on Rouen-Boos aerodrome, which left many enemy aircraft destroyed or damaged on the ground.
In July 245 moved to Aldergrove, for the defence of Belfast, and remained there throughout the Battle of Britain.
In December 1940 Spence was posted to the Middle East and joined 274 Squadron in the Western Desert. On 11th April he shared in shooting down a Cant Z1007 into the sea, on the 19th he destroyed a Ju88 and a Me109 and on the 21st another Me109. In this combat Spence got so close that he collided with the enemy fighter. He managed to glide his damaged Hurricane back to the British lines and then returned to his squadron in a Blenheim. It is believed that the two Me109's shot down by Spence were flown by the same pilot, Lt. Schroer.
On 30th April 1941 274 Squadron carried out ground strafing operations and during one of these Spence was shot down in Hurricane I V7555 and killed, possibly by Oblt. Redlich of 1/JG27, while he was making a low-level attack on enemy columns between Gazala and Sollum.
Spence is buried in Tobruk War Cemetery.
Above cemetery images courtesy of The War Graves Photographic Project