The Airmen's Stories - F/O J E Storrar
James Eric Storrar was born on 24th July 1921 at Ormskirk. His family had run a veterinary practice at Chester since the early 18th century and he was educated at Chester City and County School.
He increased his age by one year and joined the RAF on a short service commission. He began his initial flying course at No. 1 E&RFTS Hatfield on 23rd January 1939.
He went on to 11 FTS Shawbury for No. 12 Course, which ran from 15th April to 23rd October 1939.
During the course, in August 1939, he moved to the Blenheim Conversion Flight and then joined 145 Squadron at Croydon on 23rd October soon after it was reformed.
The squadron exchanged its Blenheims for Hurricanes in March 1940. On 23rd May Storrar claimed a Me110 destroyed, on the 24th a Do17 and on the 27th two Me110's near Dunkirk.
On 11th July he claimed a He111 destroyed, on the 15th a probable Do17, on the 18th a shared He111, on the 27th a Me109 destroyed, on the 29th a shared Ju88, on 8th August a Ju87 destroyed and another damaged, on the 12th a probable Me110 and on 8th September a shared, probable Do17.
He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 20th August 1940).
On 28th September Storrar was posted to 73 Squadron at Castle Camps. He was detached from 73 to 421 Flight on 20th October. He flew one sortie with the Flight, on the 24th, and he rejoined 73 on the 25th.
The squadron left Debden on 9th November for Birkenhead, en route for the Middle East. It embarked in HMS Furious at Glasgow on the 13th, with its aircraft, and flew off to Takoradi on the 29th.
The squadron then flew in easy stages to Heliopolis via Lagos, Accra, Kano, Maidugari, Khartoum, Wadi Haifa and Abu Sueir. During December the pilots were attached to 274 Squadron in the Western Desert.
In early January 1941 73 Squadron began operating on its own account. On the 3rd Storrar joined S/Ldr. AD Murray and Sgt. AF Marshall in destroying eight enemy aircraft on a landing ground, on the 6th he shot down a CR42 in the Tobruk area, on 1st February he destroyed a Caproni Ghibli on Apollonia airfield and on the 5th, again with Murray and Marshall, he strafed Benina airfield destroying some eight enemy aircraft on the ground between them.
On the 19th Storrar damaged a Me110.
On 4th April 1941 Storrar shot down a Ju87 near Derna. He later saw a I,ockheed Lodestar which had made a forced-landing in the desert. He landed and found it to be General Wavell's personal aircraft.
The pilot managed to take off again but Storrar could not restart his own engine and had to return to Tobruk on foot.
In Takoradi for a rest, Storrar and four other pilots were ordered to fly a Blenheim and two Hurricanes to Freetown on 21st June 1941. Forced by bad weather to make a forced-landing in the jungle, the pilots had no way of taking off again and they walked 72 miles in two days and three nights, arriving at the Firestone Rubber Plantation, 35 miles from Monrovia in Liberia.
Storrar returned to the UK in November 1941 and was posted to 55 OTU Annan as OC Gunnery Training Squadron. In January 1943 he took command of 65 Squadron at Drem.
On 29th June he probably destroyed a Fw190, on 18th August shot down a Me109, on the 31st damaged a Fw190, his final victory.
He was awarded a Bar to the DFC (gazetted 29th October 1943) and posted away to 53 OTU on 15th November 1943 as an air-firing instructor. In December Storrar was appointed CFI.
From April to October 1944 Storrar was in 1697 ADLS Flight, engaged on communications duties to and from the Continent. He commanded 64 Squadron in October/November, 165 Squadron from November 1944 to January 1945 and 234 Squadron from January to March 1945.
On 21st March Storrar led 234 during Operation Carthage, the attack on the Shellhus in Copenhagen, used by the Gestapo as an HQ. The squadron’s task was to prevent Luftwaffe aircraft taking off from the military airfield at Vaerlose and to cover the withdrawal of the attacking force.
Storrar was Wing Commander Flying successively at Hunsdon, Digby and Molesworth, from March to August 1945.
He flew top cover for Operation Nestegg, the liberation of Jersey on 9th May 1945. A painting by the Canadian artist Rich Thistle, in the collection of Jersey Heritage, depicts Storrar leading the Wing over La Corbière lighthouse at the south west tip of Jersey on 9th May, the day on which British troops came ashore and the German commander surrendered.
He then went to a staff job at HQ 12 Group until January 1946, when he went to 239 Wing, Desert Air Force in Italy, leading it until April 1947 when he was released from the RAF as a Wing Commander.
He studied veterinary science at Edinburgh University and later joined the family practice as a veterinary surgeon, practising in Chester for many years.
In June 1949 Storrar joined 603 Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force and served with it until March 1952. He then went to 610 Squadron, which he commanded from 1954 until its disbandment on 10th March 1957.
In September 1993 Storrar represented the BBFA in a ceremony at Woolwich, south east London, to unveil a memorial plaque for his former comrade in 145 Squadron, Wing Commander Yule, killed in a flying accident in 1953.
During the evening before the event, Storrar was asked if he agreed with historians who argued that on 7th September 1940 (the point at which the Germans made London a major target) Fighter Command was within a few days of breaking. Storrar pondered and replied, "Not a few days, a fortnight".
Storrar died on 29th March 1995.