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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. R L Stillwell


Ronald Leslie Stillwell was born in Holborn, London on 31st January 1920 and joined the RAFVR on 8th February 1939 as an Airman u/t Pilot. He carried out his weekend flying at 13 E&RFTS White Waltham. He was called up on 1st September 1939 and on 2nd October posted to No. 1 ITW Cambridge.

From 7th November 1939 to 7th April 1940 Stillwell was at 7 EFTS Desford. He moved to 10 FTS Tern Hill and finished the course there on 23rd July when he was posted to 5 OTU Aston Down, on 5th August, to convert to Spitfires.

He joined 65 Squadron at Hornchurch on 19th August 1940.



Stillwell was promoted to Warrant Officer on 1st May 1942, commissioned in June and awarded the DFM (gazetted 16th June 1942). The citation stated that in August 1941 he sighted a bomber crew in the sea fifteen miles off the Dutch coast and his information enabled them to be rescued.

In April 1942, returning from a sweep, he sighted a pilot in the sea without a dinghy and although short of fuel, he managed to drop his own dinghy 25 yards from the spot. The pilot was later found to be dead.

On 15th October 1942 Stillwell was posted away from 65 and spent a month with the 97th Squadron (USAAF) at Maydown, on P-38 Lightnings. He went to 57 OTU Eshott on 16th November as an instructor on Spitfires. On 7th June 1943 Stillwell rejoined 65 Squadron, then at Selsey. In October he was appointed 'B' Flight Commander.

On 9th July 1944 he was given command of 122 Squadron at Martragny in France. A signal posting Stillwell as CO of 65 was cancelled by the AOC, who considered promotion within the unit as bad for discipline and he went to 122 instead.

Stillwell was posted to 3 TEU Aston Down on 20th October 1944 as CGI.

He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 17th November 1944) being then credited with three enemy aircraft destroyed and others damaged.

He went to Hutton Cranswick on 5th June as Senior Admin Officer. Stillwell was selected for a Permanent Commission in November 1945 but a medical showed tuberculosis in both lungs. He was eventually invalided out of the RAF on 15th September 1947 as a Squadron Leader.

He died in February 1993.

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