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The Airmen's Stories - S/Ldr. R R S Tuck

 

Robert Roland Stanford Tuck was born at Catford, London on 1st July 1916 and educated at St. Dunstans Preparatory School and College.

After leaving in 1932, he went to sea as a cadet with Lamport and Holt.

He joined the RAF on a short service commission in September 1935. Tuck was posted to 3 FTS Grantham on 28th September and with his training completed joined 65 Squadron at Hornchurch on 5th August 1936.

 

In April 1938 Tuck collided with F/O LC Bicknell whilst they were doing aerobatics. Bicknell baled out safely. In late 1938 Tuck was chosen to represent 65 Squadron at the service initiation of the Spitfire.

On 1st May 1940 he was posted to 92 Squadron at Croydon and he joined on the 4th, as ‘B’ Flight Commander, with the rank of Acting Flight Lieutenant.

Over Dunkirk on 23rd May he claimed a Me109 and a Me110 destroyed and probably another Me109, on the 24th two Do17s destroyed, on the 25th a Do17 shared and on 2nd June a Me109 and a He111 destroyed and two Me109s damaged.

He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 11th June 1940) which he received from the King at a ceremony at Hornchurch on 28th June. Tuck shared in the destruction of a Do17 on 8th July, damaged a Ju88 on the 25th, shared a Ju88 on 13th August, destroyed two more on the 14th and on the 18th destroyed a Ju88 and probably another.

On this day Tuck was shot down by return fire from a Ju88. He baled out over Horsmonden and was slightly injured in a heavy landing. His Spitfire, N3040, crashed at Tuck’s Cottages, Park Farm.

On 25th August Tuck destroyed a Do17. His Spitfire, N3268, was severely damaged in the engagement off St. Gowan’s Head. He glided 15 miles to the coast on a dead engine and made a forced-landing, writing off the aircraft.

On 11th September Tuck joined 257 Squadron at Martlesham Heath. He took command of the squadron on the 12th and was promoted to Acting Squadron Leader on the 13th. On the 15th he claimed a Me110 destroyed and a probable Me109, on the 23rd he destroyed another Me109, on 4th October a Ju88, on the 12th a Me109, on the 25th another Me109 destroyed and two others damaged and on the 28th two more Me109s probably destroyed.

Tuck was awarded a Bar to the DFC (gazetted 25th October 1940).

On 9th December he destroyed a Do17 and on the 12th he destroyed a Me109. Tuck was officially on leave when he shot down this aircraft and he was flying an operational sortie with 92 Squadron from Biggin Hill. He was back with 257 on the 29th, when he destroyed a Do17.

He was awarded the DSO (gazetted 7th January 1941). On 2nd and 19th March 1941 Tuck claimed Do17s destroyed, during the night of 9th/10th April he shot down a Ju88, on 27th April he damaged a Ju88 and during the night of 11th/12th May he destroyed a Ju88 and probably another.

He was awarded a second Bar to the DFC (gazetted 11th April 1941). After shooting down two Me109s and damaging another on 21st June Tuck was himself shot down into the Channel. He was picked up after two hours in his dinghy, by a coal barge from Gravesend. In early July 1941 he was appointed Wing Leader at Duxford. On the 8th he claimed a Me109 destroyed and on 7th August he destroyed another and probably a second.

 

 

Tuck was sent to the USA on a liaison trip in October, with five other pilots, including Malan and Broadhurst. Back in the UK, he became Wing Leader at Biggin Hill. On 28th January 1942 he was shot down by flak, whilst on a low-level strafe just outside Boulogne. He was captured.

 

 

 

Tuck was in various PoW camps. After several attempts, he finally escaped on 1st February 1945, with F/Lt. Z Kustrzynski. They were found by the Russians in mid-February and spent two weeks fighting alongside them. The two men made their way to Poland and later into Russia, eventually reaching the British Embassy in Moscow. They were put on a ship at Odessa, for Southampton.

Tuck was awarded the DFC (US)(gazetted 14th June 1946). He retired from the RAF on 13th May 1949 as a Wing Commander.

Tuck died on 5th May 1987.

 

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In 1956 a biography of Stanford-Tuck was published - 'Fly for your Life' by Larry Forrester and this is still widely available (ISBN numbers vary).

In May 2008 a plaque was unveiled in the church of St Clement, Sandwich, Kent (where his ashes are interred), for more details click here

 

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