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The Airmen's Stories - P/O P H Beake


Percival Harold Beake was born in Quebec, Canada in 1917, his family had emigrated there from Bristol.

He returned to the UK and was educated at Victoria Park School and Bristol Grammar School. He joined the RAFVR in April 1939 as an Airman u/t Pilot. When he was called to full-time service on 1st September 1939 he had flown almost fifty hours in Tiger Moths at 33 E&RFTS Whitchurch, near Bristol.



Beake was posted to 3 ITW Hastings and went on to 15 EFTS Redhill on 26th March 1940. Two months later Beake went to 15 FTS Middle Wallop, finishing the course at its Advanced Training Squadron at Chipping Norton.

On 31st August Beake was commissioned and posted to 7 OTU Hawarden to convert to Spitfires. He joined 64 Squadron at Leconfield on 22nd September.

Beake was posted 92 Squadron at Biggin Hill on 27th June 1941.

On 8th July 1941 he was shot down off the French coast in Spitfire IIa W3265. He parachuted into the sea and was picked up by RAF rescue launch HSL 146 and landed at Dover (photo below courtesy of Gerry Burke).



He damaged a Me109 on 27th September. Beake left 92 and went to 601 Squadron at Duxford on 29th December 1941. He came off operations in late March 1942 and went to 58 OTU Grangemouth as an instructor. He did an instructors course at 7 FIS Upavon in April 1942, after which he returned to Grangemouth, later moving to Balado Bridge.

Returning to operations, Beake joined 193 Squadron, then forming at Harrowbeer, on 22nd December 1942 as a Flight Commander. He went to RAF Charmy Down on 10th June 1943 for a short course at the Fighter Command School of Tactics, afterwards returning to his squadron.

On 8th February 1944 he destroyed a Fw190. Another short course at the Fighter Leaders School Milfield came in March 1944 and after a short spell at 84 Ground Support Unit at Aston Down, Beake took command of 164 Squadron at Thorney Island on 30th May 1944.

Beake destroyed a Fw190 on D-Day, 6th June. The squadron moved to France in mid-July. He was posted back to the Fighter Leaders School on 10th September 1944, this time as an instructor. He received a Mention in Despatches (gazetted 8th June 1944).

Beake was awarded the DFC (gazetted 5th September 1944), the citation stating that he was credited with two enemy aircraft destroyed.

He was released from the RAF on 21st January 1946 as a Squadron Leader and went to work for an animal feed company.

Beake died on 25th June 2016 aged 99.


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