The Airmen's Stories - F/O H J S Beazley
Hugh John Sherard Beazley was born on 18th July 1916, the son of Sir Hugh Beazley, a senior judge.
His father had been an officer in The Kings Regiment (Liverpool) in the First World War, was Common Serjeant of London (a senior judge of the Central Criminal Court) between 1942 and 1953, when he was knighted.
HJS Beazley was educated at Cheltenham College and Pembroke College, Oxford where he read History. He played rugby for Richmond.
A member of the University Air Squadron, Beazley transferred to the RAFVR in December 1937 and was called up on 1st September 1939. He went to RAF College FTS Cranwell on 6th November for No. 6 Course.
He made a forced-landing, en route from Cranwell to 10 B&GS, Warmwell on 26th April 1940, where he was going for armament training, the last phase of his course.
With his training completed on 9th May 1940, Beazley joined 249 Squadron, when it reformed at Church Fenton on 16th May.
On 8th July Beazley shared in shooting down Ju88 5J + AT of 9/KG4 which came down at Hornsea, Yorkshire. The squadron moved south in early August and Beazley claimed a Me109 destroyed on 8th August. He was shot down in flames in combat over Rochester on 2nd September by a Me110 of 5/ZG26. He baled out over Gillingham and
landed in Boxleywood. His Hurricane, P2988, crashed near Rainham on
Eccles Recreation Ground.
On 5th September Beazley probably destroyed a Me109, on the 6th he got a probable Ju88, on the 7th he shared a Do17 and on the 15th he destroyed another.
He was appointed ‘A’ Flight Commander on 18th September as an Acting Flight Lieutenant. On that day he witnessed the death of his friend, F/Lt. DG Parnall who had previously led the Flight. On the 19th Beazley shared a Do17 and damaged another on the 26th.
Beazley shared a Me110 on the 27th and received a bullet wound in the foot. On 15th October 1940 he was posted from 249 to SHQ North Weald, as non-effective sick and did not fly for some time.
While he was being treated in hospital his ward was visited by Air Chief Marshal Dowding who expressed displeasure that Beazley had allowed himself to be bested twice by Me110s.
In 2002 Beazley wrote 'By way of mitigation, I said that there had been a lot of them around at the time. He allowed that that could have been a factor and wished me a full recovery and I felt that I had been at least partly forgiven. Stuffy was of course quite right; the 110 was inferior in all respects to the Hurricane and Spitfire, except possibly for its armament'.
He had returned to 249 when in May 1941 it sailed for Malta, arriving there on the 21st, having flown off HMS Ark Royal. On 8th June Beazley shared a probable BR20, on 21st December he damaged a Me109 and on 26th December he assumed command of 249 when the CO was wounded. On 19th January 1942 Beazley's Hurricane, BV174, was hit by ground fire during a strike on Comiso airfield and he made a crash-landing back at Luqa. He was posted away from the squadron on 16th February 1942, having been in continuous action for 10 months, flying 215 operational sorties from Malta.
After serving on Air Marshal Tedder's staff Beazley returned to operations in December 1942, flying Beaufighters. He was posted to 89 Squadron in North Africa and went with it to SE Asia in October 1943. He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 7th March 1944) and appointed to command the operational airfield at Minneriya in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). In order to continue flying he refused further promotion and moved to Transport Command, flying Dakotas in Europe, the Middle and Far East. Beazley was released from the RAF in 1946 as a Wing Commander.
He joined the Colonial Office and was posted to Nigeria where he served for 10 years, rising to become Senior Resident. He then took articles as a chartered accountant, qualifying in 1960 and holding the position of finance director with the BET group until his retirement in 1981. Beazley was a trustee and treasurer of the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust and played a major role in establishing the memorial at Capel-Le-Ferne.
Beazley married Mary, daughter of Cornishman Admiral Sir Bernard Rawlings (1889-1962) whose service in the First World War included command of a torpedo boat in the Nore flotilla and as torpedo officer on a number of ships including the light cruiser HMS Coventry.
In the Second World War his appointments included command of the battleship HMS Valiant and as Flag Officer, second-in-command, British Pacific Fleet. Passion for Cornwall became a major part of John Beazley's life. He also enjoyed sailing, walking, fishing and golf. He was active in local politics in Hertfordshire.
Beazley died on 13th June 2011, survived by his wife Mary, two sons and a daughter.
Beazley’s brother, Lieutenant RAC Beazley, The Kings Regiment (Liverpool), attached Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) died on active service on 17th April 1944 and is remembered on the Rangoon Memorial. The first battalion of the Cameronians, to which he was posted, was part of the Chindit force at the time of his death. He had also studied at Pembroke College, Oxford.