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The Airmen's Stories - P/O J G Benson


James Gillies Benson was born on 17th July 1914 in London. He was educated at Westminster School and worked for Esso Petroleum in the years before the war.

In early June 1939 Benson joined the RAFVR and did his weekend flying at 15 E&RFTS Redhill.

Called up on 1st September 1939, he went to No. 1 ITW Cambridge on the 18th, moving on to 6 EFTS Sywell on 21st October and then to 8 FTS Montrose on 7th March 1940.



After completing his training Benson was commissioned and posted to 5 OTU Aston Down on 7th July 1940. He converted to Defiants and joined 141 Squadron at Prestwick on the 24th.

The squadron was still recovering from its heavy daylight losses off Folkestone five days earlier. Now in a night-fighting role and operating from Gravesend, 141 was more successful and on 23rd December 1940 Benson destroyed a He111 at 06.05 hrs, it crashed at Underwoods House, Etchingham.

After being posted away from 141 early in 1941, Benson went to an Operational Conversion Unit in Scotland before joining 62 OTU as an instructor.

In October 1941 he rejoined 141 Squadron and teamed up with F/Lt. L Brandon to form a highly successful partnership. Except for a five month break in 1943, they flew together until they came off operations in January 1945.

Their first victory was a Do217 on 15th February 1942 and on 4th June they probably destroyed a Do217 and damaged another. On 17th July 1942 both men were sent to 62 OTU Usworth as instructors. They were each awarded the DFC (gazetted 2nd October 1942). They moved to 54 OTU Charter Hall on 27th October.

A return to operations for them came on 16th February 1943 with a posting to 157 Squadron at Castle Camps. On 15th April Benson and Brandon destroyed a Do217 at night and on an intruder patrol on 3rd July over St. Trond airfield they shot down another Do217. In early August 1943 Brandon was posted away but he rejoined 157, then at Predannack, in January 1944.


Above: he married in June 1943.


Reunited, Benson and Brandon destroyed a Ju188 on 12th June and in the next five weeks they shot down six V1s at night. In July Benson was promoted to Acting Squadron Leader and appointed a Flight Commander.

The final months of 1944 were very successful, with two Ju188s shot down on 11th/12th September, a Ju88 damaged on the 13th/14th, a Ju88 destroyed on 10th/11th November, a Ju88 damaged on 17th/18th December, another damaged on the 23rd/24th and a Me110 destroyed on the 24th/25th.

Both men were awarded Bars to the DFC (gazetted 20th October 1944).

Their final victory was a He219 on 5th/6th January 1945. Benson was posted to Great Massingham on 21st January 1945 as a Wing Commander to form and command 1692 Bomber Support Training Unit. Brandon went with him as CGI with the rank of Squadron Leader.

Benson was awarded the DSO (gazetted 13th March 1945) and released from the RAF in October.

He returned to Esso as an Aviation Manager. He served with 613 Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force and continued to fly with it and Esso in the 1950s.

Benson died on 12th July 1987.


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