The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. S J Arnfield
Stanley John Arnfield was born on 3rd October 1913 and was initially educated in India before going to the Royal Masonic School at Bushey, Hertfordshire. He joined the RAF as an aircraft apprentice in January 1930, passing out as a Fitter, Aero Engines in December 1932.
By 1933 he was based at Abingdon with the rank of Leading Aircraftman, he was then posted to Quetta in India in 1935 where he helped with the earthquake tragedy that struck Baluchistan at that time. (It is estimated that between 30-60,000 people died when a force of 7.7 Mw was recorded). During 1936-37 he was involved in assorted supply drops and minor bombing.
LAC Arnfield returned to the UK in the summer of 1937 and applied for pilot training. He was accepted and commenced flight training at the Perth Flying Club, flying in Tiger Moths. By November 1937 Sgt. Arnfield had transferred to 7 FTS at Peterborough.
In June 1938 he began flying Westland Wallace aircraft and carried out a variety of bombing exercises. He had his first flight in a Hurricane on 30th September 1938 and then transferred to 610 Squadron shortly afterwards, flying Spitfires. During 1939 he trained intensively on this aircraft. On the 26th January 1940 he was en route to RAF Driffield in Spitfire L1006 DW-R when the wireless set failed, he became lost and eventually ran low on fuel.
He force landed at Foxholes, Ryedale, 10 miles from RAF Driffield, the aircraft was repairable.
On 31st May, patrolling over Dunkirk, his oxygen supply failed, but managing a long range burst at a Me110 passing his sights believed many bullets went in. Lack of oxygen forced him to leave and the Me110 got away.
On 12th June, Sgt. Arnfield and F/Lt. J Ellis (also of 610) together with F/Sgts. EG Gilbert and AF Laws of 64 Squadron. shared in the destruction of the He111 of Weather Reconnaissance Staffel 51, brought down in the sea off Margate.
Arnfield flew continuously through June and July and was shot up by Me109s in Spitfire P9495 over Dover on 12th August. The aircraft was written off after he brought it back.
On 15th August, flying another Spitfire he recorded: 'Within 250 yds fired at a Me109 which began to smoke badly, lurch over and go into a gentle dive. Then fired at by a 2nd Me109'. Being out of ammunition Arnfield flew for home not knowing what happened to his target. He was credited with 1 Me109 damaged.
On 16th August, Arnfield's radio failed and he became detached from the squadron, he then saw two Me109s attacking a Spitfire which spun down (into the sea), he dived to attack, saw bullets going into the cockpit and mainplanes of a Me109 but had to swerve violently to avoid a collision. Being short of petrol he made for home, again not knowing the fate of his target. He was credited with 1 Me109 damaged.
On 18th August ('The Hardest Day') Arnfield destroyed two Me109s, the first at 13.15 hrs over Edenbridge, after a short chase he gave a short burst at 100yds range to a Me109 which then hung upside down with smoke pouring out and on fire, before going into a steep spiral dive. Then at 13.40 hrs he chased another Me109 and gave him a very short burst from within 50 yds. He too went down immediately, North of Dungeness.
Sgt. Arnfield’s luck ran out six days later on the 24th (his 48th 'recorded' combat patrol) when in combat over Hawkinge in Spitfire X4102, probably coded DW-K. He was shot down by Hptm. Foezoe of 4/JG51 but managed to bale out, his aircraft crashing in flames at Hammil, near Eastry. He broke his ankle on landing and was admitted to Victoria Hospital at Deal.
He was recovering for some time but by December 1940 Arnfield had returned to flying duties, serving as an instructor with the Commonwealth Flying Training Scheme in Canada. He had been commissioned as a Pilot Officer on 26th July 1941 and promoted to Flying Officer exactly a year later.
In September 1943 Arnfield, now a Flight Lieutenant, made the transition to bombers, training on Wellingtons and progressing to operations on Lancasters with 166 Squadron.
His first sortie was Berlin on 16th December 1943, followed by eighteen others including Stettin, Brunswick, Leipzig and Stuttgart. His last sortie was on 22nd April 1944 to Dusseldorf. He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 30th June 1944), the citation stating:
Flight Lieutenant Arnfield, now on his second tour of operational duty, has taken part in a large number of fighting and bombing sorties. His targets include some of the enemy’s most heavily defended objectives. In January 1944 he was detailed to attack Berlin, and although one engine of his aircraft failed while on the outward flight, he pressed on and completed the mission. On another occasion and while en route to Stuttgart, F/Lt. Arnfield encountered severe icing and one engine failed; nevertheless he flew on and attacked the target successfully. An excellent Captain of aircraft, this officer has set a high standard of operational efficiency and consistently displayed courage and devotion to duty.
He married Florence May Michie nee Williams on 21st July 1944.
Arnfield returned to training duties and continued in this role until the end of the war. He retired from the RAF on 12th February 1951 as a Flight Lieutenant in the Secretarial Branch, retaining the rank of Squadron Leader.
He died on 29th September 1954, his headstone in St. Austell cemetery stating '..as a result of war service' .
His medal entitlement consists of:-
DFC (dated on reverse 1944)
India General Service Medal 1908-1935
(Bar - North West Frontier 1935.)
India General Service Medal
(Bar - North West Frontier 1936-37)
1939-45 Star (Bar - Battle of Britain)
Air Crew Europe Star
Simon Muggleton 2010