The Airmen's Stories - F/O D B Bell-Salter
David Basil Bell-Salter was born on 22nd January 1921 and was granted a short service commission in the RAF. He began his initial flying training at 11 E&RFTS Perth on 6th February 1939.
He went to No. 1 RAF Depot Uxbridge on 15th April for a short induction course and moved on to 2 FTS Brize Norton on 1st May on No. 39 Course.
With his training completed, Bell-Salter joined the newly-formed 253 Squadron at Manston on 6th November 1939.
He became ill on the 27th and was admitted to Princess Marys RAF Hospital at Halton. On 23rd December 1939 Bell-Salter was posted from 253 to No. 1 RAF Depot Uxbridge as non-effective sick, with effect from 27th November.
He rejoined 253 Squadron on 13th January 1940 and was sent to France with 'A' Flight on 18th May to Poix. On this day Bell-Salter shared a Hs126.
Later the same day he was shot down in Hurricane L1655 by the Me110 escort of the He111's he was attacking south of Vitry. He was unhurt and rejoined the Flight on the 22nd. On the 24th the Flight was withdrawn to Kirton-in-Lindsey.
On 2nd September 1940 Bell-Salter was shot down in Hurricane V6640 in combat over the Sussex coast near Rye. He attempted to get out of his cockpit but he was flying without gloves and, with his hood open, his hands were too cold to pull out the harness pin. Down to 1500 feet, he finally managed it and shot out by kicking his feet on the floor. The aircraft, being in a full-throttle dive, made the airflow such as to render him unconscious as he went through it.
Bell-Salter came to at only 100 feet from the ground, hanging upside down by one leg with a single rigging line caught behind his knee. The parachute was torn across and flapping and his harness was completely off and hanging beside him.
On hitting the ground Bell-Salter passed out again. He sustained several badly-crushed vertebrae, both shoulders were dislocated, one knee was broken and his right heel smashed. He was admitted to Rye Hospital.
Bell-Salter was posted from 253 Squadron on 5th October 1940 to RAF Kenley as non-effective sick, with effect from 2nd September. He was in various hospitals for several months.
In June 1941 Bell-Salter was instructing at 53 OTU Heston. He was released from the RAF in 1946 as a Flight Lieutenant.
He died in February 1998.