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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. J M B Beard


John Maurice Bentley Beard was born on 20th December 1918 in Shoreham, Sussex and attended Leamington College. He was working for the Midland Bank when he joined the RAFVR in June 1937.

He began his flying at 9 E&RFTS Ansty on 10th July and trained on Avro Cadets and Hawker Harts.

Called up on 2nd September 1939, he went to 2 FTS Brize Norton on 7th October. With the course completed he joined 609 Squadron at Drem on 15th December. From 9th April to 14th April 1940 he was detached to Farnborough for an oxygen course.


Above: Beard (seated) is congratulated on his commission by P/O TF Neil


Beard was posted to 249 Squadron on 14th May 1940 when it was reforming at Church Fenton. On 2nd September Beard damaged a Do17, on the 6th destroyed a Me109, on the 18th a Me110, on the 27th two Me109's, a Me110 and another probable and a Do17 damaged, on the 28th a Me109 destroyed and on 12th October a Me109 damaged.

He was awarded the DFM (gazetted 22nd October 1940).

Beard was shot down by Me109's over North Kent on 25th October. He baled out, wounded, and was admitted to Pembury Hospital. His Hurricane, P3615, is believed to have crashed on Rankins Farm, Linton. He was posted from 249 to SHQ North Weald on 6th November as non-effective sick but later rejoined 249.

Commissioned in December 1940, Beard was sent to RAF White Waltham for ferrying duties on 6th February 1941 as 249 prepared to re-equip with the Hurricane II. The next day he crashed whilst flying a Spitfire and went to hospital. On recovering he went directly to 52 OTU at Debden on 30th April 1941 as an instructor.

He moved to CGS Sutton Bridge on 18th March 1942 as a founder-member of the Pilot Gunnery Wing there and took charge of the Live Firing Flight. The PGW later moved to Catfoss to become part of the Central Gunnery School.

Beard was a member of the Fighter Command Test Board and made visits to the Gunnery Research Unit at Exeter in order to carry out tests on new pieces of armament equipment.

He was awarded the AFC (gazetted 1st January 1945).

In May 1945 Beard went to Millfield to take charge of a Tempest rocket-training unit. In July he moved to RAF Charter Hall to be Station Admin Officer.

He was sent to HQ 229 Group, New Delhi in October 1945 as Air Training Deputy. His last job was to arrange the return of 120 Lease-Lend Expeditors to the Americans at Munich in early 1946. He flew the last one back himself.

Beard was released from the RAF back in the UK as a Squadron Leader.

He was involved in the furniture business in Leamington Spa before setting up his own electrical engineering company, making test equipment for motor manufacturers.

Beard died on 21st November 2000.


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