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The Airmen's Stories - F/O L T Bryant-Fenn


Leofric Trevor Bryant-Fenn was born on 9th April 1917 and attended Cranleigh School from 1930 to 1934. He became a student apprentice at the General Aircraft Company at Feltham in 1936 and remained there until June 1938, when he joined the RAF on a short service commission.

He began his initial training on 27th June 1938. In early September he went to 11 FTS Shawbury. With his flying training completed, Bryant-Fenn was posted to 9 Air Observer School Penrhos on 27th September 1939 as a staff pilot. The unit was redesignated 9 B&GS on 1st December 1939.



Above: an unidentified crashed Fairey Battle, possibly one of those based at Penrhos.


Bryant-Fenn joined 79 Squadron at Biggin Hill from there on 29th June 1940. On 28th August 1940 he shared in the destruction of a He59 floatplane, on the 30th he damaged a Me109 and on the 31st he probably destroyed another.

In combat over Biggin Hill on 1st September his Hurricane W6670 was severely damaged by Me109s. Bryant-Fenn baled out, wounded in one leg, landed at Dunton Green and was admitted to Sevenoaks Hospital. The Hurricane came down on Westerham Hill.

He later went to the RAF Hospital Torquay to convalesce.



Above: his logbook entry for 1st September 1940.



Above : at the RAF Hospital Torquay

L to R: unknown, P/O BR Noble, F/O CD Whittingham, Bryant-Fenn


He did not return to 79 Squadron until 1941. He married Betty Noble in July 1941 (below).






Above: with his Hurricane, the port wing underside painted black as an aid to recognition, this was introduced in November 1940 but dropped around May 1941 as ineffective.



Above: at Biggin Hill 1941 (L to R): Bryant-Fenn, F/Lt. W Denison, F/O HF O'Neill, F/O GH Nelson-Edwards




Above: Biggin Hill ready room, the blackboard date 10th September 1941.



Above: 79 Squadron at Biggin Hill.


In late 1942 he was a Flight Commander with 264 Squadron at Colerne. On 20th June 1943 he took part in the first 'Instep' patrol, a campaign to aggressively patrol the Western Approaches. Four Mosquitos attacked the flying-boat base at Biscarosse, SW of Bordeaux.

They shot down a Blohm und Voss Bv138, sunk another on the lake and destroyed two six-engined BV 222s moored there. Bryant-Fenn's return leg on one engine was recorded on an official poster (below).



When his operational tour finished, he was awarded the DFC (gazetted 3rd September 1943).


All images courtesy of Tony Bryant-Fenn

In 1944 Bryant-Fenn was on staff duties at the Air Ministry and was sent on a course at RAF Staff College in 1945. He was then posted overseas and served in Burma, Siam and India until 1948, when he returned to the UK.

He joined the Forecasting and Planning Staff at Air Ministry and was later Air Attache in Prague and Rome.

Bryant-Fenn retired from the RAF on 19th October 1968 as a Group Captain.

He died on 28th February 1989 in Bournemouth.


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