The Airmen's Stories - F/O J R D Braham
John Randall Daniel Braham was born in Bath on 6th April 1920, the son of a vicar from Holcombe, Somerset. He was educated at Taunton Grammar School, left there in late 1936 and went to work as a clerk for the Lancashire County Police at Wigan.
He applied for an RAF short service commission in December 1937 and was accepted. In late February 1938 Braham began his elementary flying at 7 E&RFTS Desford, moving on to 11 FTS Shawbury on 7th May. At the end of the course he joined 29 Squadron at Debden on 17th December 1938.
Braham's first victory came on 24th August 1940, flying with
Sgt. AA Wilsdon they shot down a Do17 at night in the Humber area.
On 6th September Braham and two others were injured in a car accident and hospitalised. He did not return from sick leave until October and probably took no further part in the Battle of Britain.
He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 17th January 1941) and decorated by the King in a ceremony at RAF Waddington.
On 13th March 1941 Braham destroyed a Do17 and on 8th May a He111. In June 1941 he teamed up with Sgt. WJ Gregory, this marked the start of a long and successful partnership. During the night of 23rd June they probably destroyed a He111, on 6th July they shot down a Ju88, on 12th September a He111, on the 28th they damaged a He111, on 19th October destroyed a Do17 and on the 24th another He111.
Braham was awarded a Bar to the DFC (gazetted 25th October 1941) and rested from operations, going to 51 OTU Cranfield as an instructor in January 1942.
During the night of 6th June 1942, flying in a Beaufighter of 29 Squadron, Braham shot down a Do217 into the sea off Sandwich. Later in the month he rejoined 29 at West Malling as a Flight Commander. Braham, again flying with Gregory, shot down a Do217 during the night of 9th August. Braham got a probable Ju88 on the 24th and destroyed a Ju88 and damaged another on the 28th, these three flying with F/Lt. H Jacobs.
Braham, flying again with Gregory, damaged a Do217 in daylight on 19th October and destroyed a Do217 during the night of 31st October. He shot down a Ju88 in daylight on 26th October, flying with Sgt. Heywood.
Awarded the DSO (gazetted 9th October 1942), Braham was promoted to Acting Wing Commander in January 1943 and took command of 141 Squadron at Ford, taking Gregory with him.
During the night of the 20th they destroyed a Do217, on 14th June a Me110, on the 16th they damaged a Ju88 and on the 24th they shot down a Me110. Gregory left the squadron soon after this.
On 9th August Braham, again flying with Jacobs, shot down a Me110, on the 17th two more Me110's, on 27th September a Do217 and on the 29th he destroyed a Me110 and damaged a Ju88.
Braham was awarded a second Bar to the DFC (gazetted 15th June 1943) and a Bar to the DSO (gazetted 24th September 1943).
He led 141 Squadron until October 1943 when he was sent for a course at the Army Staff College at Camberley. In February 1944 Braham was posted to a staff job at 2 (Light Bomber) Group, to assist in the work of night interdiction. He was joined by Gregory and Jacobs. Braham had been given the AOC's permission to fly occasional sorties.
On 5th March 1944 he shot down a He177, on the 24th a Ju52 and a Ju W-34 and on 4th April a Bv131. On each sortie he flew in a Mosquito of 613 Squadron. On 13th April Braham shot down a He111 and a Fw58 and on the 29th a Fw190. Both sorties were in a Mosquito of 305 Squadron.
Using one from 21 Squadron, Braham destroyed a Ju88 north of Copenhagen on 7th May 1944 and on the 12th, in a 107 Squadron Mosquito, he destroyed a Fw190 near Aalborg. With his aircraft damaged and out of fuel he crash-landed on the sea and was picked up by a Royal Navy trawler. It was Braham's twenty-ninth and final victory.
Braham's 1944 victories on 5th March, 4th, 13th and 29th April, 13th and 12th May were all partnered by Gregory. Braham was awarded a second Bar to the DSO (gazetted 13th June 1944).
On 25th June 1944 he was shot down by Leutnant Robert Spreckels in a Fw190. He crashed at Ringkobing Fiord and he and his Australian navigator were captured. Braham was sent to Stalag Luft III at Sagan, was later moved to Marlag Milag Nord near Bremen and after a forced march to Luibeck was released there on 2nd May 1945.
As well as his other awards Braham had the Croix de Guerre (Belgium).
Granted a permanent commission after the war, he was awarded the AFC (gazetted 1st January 1951) and resigned in May 1952 to take up an appointment in the RCAF. In 1954 he commanded 432 Squadron, an all-weather jet fighter unit at North Bay, north of Toronto.
In 1960 he was posted to SHAPE HQ, Paris. Braham retired from the RCAF in 1970 as a Group Captain.
He settled in Nova Scotia but died on 7th February 1974 in Halifax from a brain tumour.