The Airmen's Stories - W/Cdr. R A Chignell
Robert Alexander Chignell was born in October 1905 in Leighton Buzzard and joined the RAF on a short service commission in December 1927.
He went to 2 FTS Digby on 14th January 1928 and after completing his training he joined 12 Squadron at Andover on 15th December.
He was posted to 444 (Fleet Spotter-Reconnaissance) Squadron at Lee-on-Solent on 29th January 1930, moving to the School of Naval Co-operation in March 1932.At the end of the year Chignell went to SHQ RAF Calshot. He was then posted to RAF Seletar, in the Straits Settlements, on 25th March 1937 and was put in charge of a detachment at Trincomalee.
Chignell returned to Britain and went to SHQ Biggin Hill on 10th July 1938. He commanded 32 Squadron there from October 1939 to May 1940. Although he did not belong to 145 Squadron, Chignell must have flown at least one operational sortie with it during the period of the Battle of Britain, thus qualifying him for the clasp.
Posted to the Far East, Chignell was killed at Kallang on 14th February 1942, as a Wing Commander, aged 36. He was aboard High Speed Launch 105 which was escaping from Singapore, it was attacked constantly by Japanese aircraft and he was killed by a shell splinter. His body had to be buried at sea and he is commemorated on the Singapore Memorial in Kranji War Cemetery (picture below).
In recognition of gallant conduct in operations against the Japanese in early 1942, Chignell received a Mention in Despatches on 1st October 1946.
(Photograph above courtesy of Jonathan Morford and Captain Robert L Koprowski, US Army (Veteran))
He is also commemorated by a plaque in St.Michaels Church, Askerswell, Dorset (below).
Image courtesy of Dorinda Miles