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The Airmen's Stories - P/O M E Staples


Michael Edmund Staples, of Rolvenden in Kent, was born on 7th June 1917 in India.

In the 1939 register his father, Edmund Cyril Staples, appears as 'Indian Army retired' and living at Lower Chessenden, Rolvenden, Kent. He died at the same address in 1980. He had been commissioned in 1908 and the Indian Army Quarterly List for 1st January 1912 shows him as a Lieutenant in the 11th Rajputs.

A supplement to the the London Gazette on 15th March 1916 announced the award of the MC to Lieutenant Staples, 'For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He was in command of Brigade machine guns, and, although wounded himself and with only one wounded man to help him, he continued to work one of the guns at close range and under heavy fire for about an hour until the action closed. At the end he was working the gun alone as the man helping him was a second time wounded'.

This action appears to have taken place in Mesopotamia. In 1929 Captain Staples was still serving with the regiment and applied for a replacement for his MC. He retired in the rank of Major.

The family returned to the UK, landing at Liverpool aboard the 'City of Exeter' on 3rd April 1925 from Karachi.

ME Staples was educated at Ampleforth College and played for Bedford Rugby Club.

Staples joined the RAFVR about November 1938 as an Airman u/t Pilot.

The 1939 Census recorded him living in Baldock, Hertfordshire and his profession as 'Technical Specialist Accounting and Tabulating machines'.

Called up on 1st September 1939, he completed his training, was commissioned and arrived at 5 OTU Aston Down on 23rd June 1940.

After converting to Spitfires he joined 609 Squadron at Middle Wallop on 8th July.

On 12th August Staples claimed a Me110 destroyed, on the 13th destroyed a Ju87 and damaged another, on 7th September he got a probable Me110 and damaged two others, on the 15th shared a Do17, on the 24th destroyed a Do17, probably destroyed Me110s on the 27th and 29th and got a probable Me109 on the 30th.



On 7th October Staples was shot down in flames in a surprise attack by enemy fighters over Yeovil. He baled out, wounded, and was admitted to Blandford Hospital. His Spitfire N3231 crashed at Shotcombe Farm, Wynford Eagle. He did not return to 609 Squadron.



He married Doreen Katherine Mary Montgomery in October 1941 in Greenwich.

Staples was killed on 9th November 1941 as a Flying Officer with 604 Squadron. He crashed coming in to land in Beaufighter If T4638 NG-F at night at Middle Wallop. The aircraft struck high ground at Quarley Hill. Sergeant FG French was injured in the same crash.

Staples was 24 and is buried in Brookwood Military Cemetery.

His brother L/Cpl. PRS Staples of the Reconnaissance Corps, Royal Armoured Corps, 49th (West Riding) Regiment was killed on 6th October 1944 aged 23 and lies in Heverlee War Cemetery, Belgium.




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