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The Airmen's Stories - F/O B J Wicks

 

Bryan John Wicks was born in Felixstowe, Suffolk on 16th April 1920 and educated at Seaford College, Sussex. He joined the RAF on a short service commission in March 1938. He was posted to 6 FTS Netheravon on 21st May and joined 56 Squadron at North Weald on 17th December.

During the fighting in France in May 1940 'B' Flight of 56 Squadron was sent to Vitry-en-Artois on the 16th to support the hard-pressed RAF squadrons.

Wicks engaged a Hs126 on the 22nd but was hit by ground fire and had to force-land his Hurricane N2431 behind enemy lines near the Belgian border. He managed to evade capture for ten days, making his way to Dunkirk. There he was arrested by the French on suspicion of being a German spy. Wicks was eventually passed to the British authorities and taken to England in a MTB.

 

Above: Wicks disguised as a Belgian civilian while on the run.

 

He was questioned by the Admiralty and Air Ministry, his identity was established and he was allowed to rejoin his squadron.

On 14th August 1940 he made a forced landing at North Weald in Hurricane N2429 but ran into Blenheim L1418 of 25 Squadron at the dispersal point. The fuselage was damaged forward of the gun turret, the centre section was destroyed, the starboard engine was destroyed, the starboard wing damaged as was the cockpit. Wicks was unable to see properly due to a glycol leak filling his cockpit with fumes and no blame was attributed to him.

On 16th August 1940 Wicks claimed a Do17 destroyed and on the 24th a Me109. He was shot down two days later by a Me109 over Canterbury and baled out, unhurt. His Hurricane, V7340, crashed in the River Stour near Grove Ferry, Upstreet. He destroyed a Me110 on the 30th.

Wicks was awarded the DFC (gazetted 6th June 1941).

He was posted away from 56 Squadron in November 1941 to take command of 610 Squadron at Leconfield, he then moved to lead 64 Squadron at Hornchurch in December, doing so until March 1942.

 

 

In August Wicks went to Malta to command 126 Squadron at Luqa. He was killed in Spitfire V BR377 on 12th October 1942 when the squadron engaged Ju88s attacking Hal Far. He was seen to bale out, though obviously injured, his parachute deployed but no trace of him was found.

Wicks was 22 and is commemorated on the Malta Memorial.

 

 

 

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