The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. B E P Whall
Basil Stewart Patrick Whall was born in December 1918 in Brighton but lived later at Amersham Common, Buckinghamshire. A turner by trade, he joined the RAFVR about July 1937 as an Airman u/t Pilot.
Called to full-time service at the outbreak of war, Whall arrived at 11 Group Pool, St. Athan soon afterwards. He converted to Gladiators and was posted to 605 Squadron at Tangmere on 20th September 1939.
He was posted to the recently-formed 263 Squadron at Filton on 13th October 1939. On 21st April 1940 the squadron embarked on HMS Furious, landing on the frozen Lake Lesjaskog in Norway three days later, using a runway prepared by local labour.
By night-fall on the 26th, all of 263’s Gladiators were either unserviceable or destroyed. The squadron re-embarked and returned to the UK.
In May a second expedition to Norway was made and on the 21st the squadron began patrolling from Bardufoss. Whall destroyed a Do17 on the 23rd and before the squadron was withdrawn on 6th June, he had destroyed another two enemy aircraft. He came back to Britain in a merchant ship, thus avoiding the sinking of the carrier HMS Glorious. For his services in Norway he was awarded the DFM (gazetted 24th June 1940).
The squadron was re-established at Drem on 10th June. During that month Whall met his brother in Edinburgh and talked of flying off the frozen lake, luring Me109s into mountain sides and being bombed 'incessantly'.
Whall was posted to 602 Squadron at Drem on 5th July. The Squadron moved to Westhampnett on 13th August. He shared a Do17 on 16th August and destroyed two Ju87s on the 18th. In this engagement, his Spitfire, L1019, was hit by return fire and he ditched at Elmer Sands, Middleton on Sea, writing the aircraft off.
On 26th August Whall claimed two He111s destroyed, on 7th September a Me109, on the 9th a Do17, on the 30th he shared a Ju88 and probably destroyed another and on 7th October he shared a probable Do17.
On this day his Spitfire, X4160, was damaged by a Ju88 off Beachy Head. Whall spun in near Court Farm, Lullington near Alfriston whilst attempting a forced-landing. He was taken to Princess Alice Hospital at Eastbourne, severely injured, and died on admission.