The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. D K Ashton
Dennis Kenneth Ashton does not appear in the usual birth records, he is first noted as arriving in London on 25th February 1922 aboard the 'Yoshino Maru', accompanied by his mother Margaret Helen. His age was given as six.
They had started their journey in Shanghai, China so its possible that he was born there and was returning to the UK to start school while his father Leonard remained.
The family were from Nottinghamshire. Ashton joined the RAFVR in January 1938 as an Airman u/t Pilot. In September 1939 the FAA was short of pilots and after Ashton was called up he was posted to Donibristle and joined the Torpedo/Spotter/Reconnaissance Flight.
In October 1939 he married Ethel Blackwell at Basford, Nottinghamshire.
He was later posted to 770 Squadron for deck-landing training on HMS Argus in the Western Mediterranean. He was offered a transfer to the FAA but declined and was posted to 3 BGS Aldergrove as a staff pilot.
On 4th May 1940 Ashton was recalled to the FAA and joined 759 (T) Squadron at Eastleigh for a refresher deck-landing course.
He later joined 804 Squadron at Hatston, flying Sea Gladiators. By mid-June the RAF was short of pilots and Ashton was recalled and sent to 7 OTU Hawarden. After converting to Hurricanes he was posted to 32 Squadron at Biggin Hill in early July.
Within two weeks Ashton was told to report to Uxbridge and became one of a group of nine sergeants and one officer. They were flown to Hullavington, picked up Hurricanes, flew them to Abbotsinch and were embarked on the carrier HMS Argus, where they were joined by four more officers. They were told their destination was Malta and they were now 418 Flight.
The Argus sailed on 23rd July, arrived at Gibraltar and sailed for Malta on the 31st. At dawn on 2nd August the squadron flew its Hurricanes off to Luqa. 418 Flight and the Malta Fighter Flight were amalgamated into 261 Squadron on 16th August 1940.
Ashton was flying N2701, one of two Hurricanes which intercepted three Fiat CR42s on 26th November 1940. He shot one down and was then shot down himself into the sea by one of the others and killed.
He was 25 years old and is buried in Capuccini Naval Cemetery, Malta.