The Airmen's Stories - F/O I B Westmacott
Innes Bentall Westmacott was born in Heybridge, Essex on 20th September 1913, the son of a naval officer. His father was the first regular naval officer killed in action in the war, on HMS Arethusa on 28th August 1914.
Westmacott was educated at Repton and then at Jesus College, Cambridge. In 1936 he began a course in aeronautical engineering at the De Havilland Aeronautical Technical School. While studying there he learned to fly at the London Aeroplane Club.
In November 1937 Westmacott joined the RAF on a short service commission. After completing his initial training at 4 E&RFTS Brough he was posted to 4 FTS Abu Sueir on 19th February 1938. In September Westmacott joined 80 Squadron in Ismailia. He returned to the UK in December and on 23rd January 1939 he went to CFS Upavon for an instructors course. In March he was posted to 610 Squadron Auxiliary Air Force as Assistant Adjutant and Flying Instructor.
Westmacott was posted to 6 FTS on 8th September 1939 and moved to 2 FTS Brize Norton on 4th October where he instructed on Oxfords. He made several applications to return to fighters and finally on 6th July 1940 he was posted to 6 OTU Sutton Bridge from 6 AACU for a refresher course.
After converting to Hurricanes Westmacott joined 56 Squadron at North Weald on 3rd August. He shared a Me110 and damaged another on the 18th, destroyed a Me110 on the 26th, shared a Do17 on the 27th and destroyed a Me110 on the 30th.
Westmacott was shot down by Me110s whilst attacking Do17s over the Blackwater Estuary on the 31st. He baled out, badly burned by his reserve tank blowing up. After landing in a clearing in a wood at Little Baddow, Westmacott was taken to Chelmsford Hospital. He returned to 56 Squadron later in the year.
In early April 1941 Westmacott was on HMS Ark Royal, heading for Malta. He led the second flight of six Hurricanes off on the 3rd and joined 261 Squadron. He claimed a Me109 destroyed on 28th April and a He111 probably destroyed on 6th May.
'C' Flight of 261 provided the nucleus for 185 Squadron, reformed at Hal Far on 12th May 1941 and Westmacott was appointed 'B' Flight Commander.
On 13th May Westmacott was shot down and baled out, wounded in the elbow. He returned to duty on 30th July but was made Fighter Controller and then Senior Intelligence Officer at Luqa. He protested in November 1941 and asked to go back to flying duties.
When the Malta Night Fighter Unit was re-named 1435 (Night Fighter) Flight on 2nd December Westmacott was given command. During the night of 8th March 1942 he probably destroyed a Ju88 and on 21st April he damaged a Me109, firing from a ground machine-gun post at Ta Kali.
In April 1942 he was posted to Egypt for a rest. He became Controller of the Defence Wing Alexandria and went to sea to acquaint the Navy with fighter direction. Later he went on to the Air Staff at Air HQ Cairo. On 28th November 1942 Westmacott returned to Ta Kali to be Wing Commander Flying and Deputy Station Commander.
On 20th March 1943 he was given the job of building the airfield at Safi and commanded it until its closure on 8th November. Westmacott then went to Air HQ Malta as Group Training Instructor.
Above: he married Babette Grayson in April 1944.
He returned to the UK on 15th March 1944 and joined Leigh-Mallory's staff at the Allied Expeditionary Air Forces HQ Stanmore. Westmacott was sent to the RAF Staff College on 25th September 1944 and at the end of the one year course he was posted to the Air Ministry, serving in the Personnel Department.
Westmacott stayed in the RAF postwar and retired on 1st May 1958 as a Wing Commander.
He died on 21st November 1991.