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The Airmen's Stories - P/O J L W Ellacombe


John Lawrence Wemyss Ellacombe was born in Livingstone, Northern Rhodesia on 28th February 1920. He was educated at Diocesan College, Cape Town, South Africa and joined the RAF in 1939 with a short service commission.



After completing his flying training at 2 FTS Brize Norton, Ellacombe was posted directly to 151 Squadron at Martlesham Heath on 13th July 1940. Never having flown a Hurricane, he was trained on the squadron by P/O FB Sutton of 56 Squadron, who was slightly wounded and non-operational.

On 24th August Ellacombe shot down a He111 over Hornchurch. On the 30th he forced-landed his damaged Hurricane near Hundsdon just before the He111 he had shot down crashed in the adjoining field. The next day Ellacombe's aircraft was hit by return fire from a Ju88 and he baled out as the gravity tank exploded. He was admitted to Southend General Hospital with burns. His Hurricane, P3312, crashed at Eastwood, Southend.

Ellacombe rejoined the squadron in late December 1940, stayed with 151 throughout 1941 and in February 1942 he was promoted to Acting Flight Lieutenant and posted to 253 Squadron at Hibaldstow as a Flight Commander.

He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 7th April 1942).

Ellacombe probably destroyed a Do217 on 28th July, co-operating with a Turbinlite Havoc of 1459 Flight.

During the Dieppe Raid on 19th August 1942 Ellacombe's aircraft was hit by flak on a ground attack sortie, he parachuted into the sea and was picked up.

In July 1943 Ellacombe rejoined 151 Squadron, then at Colerne. He completed his third operational tour with 487 (RNZAF) Squadron, in 2 Group, and was awarded a Bar to the DFC (gazetted 29th December 1944).

Ellacombe went on to a long distinguished career in the post-war RAF. He was made a CB (1970) and retired on 16th April 1973 as an Air Commodore. He became Director of Scientific Services at St. Thomas Hospital in 1973 and was appointed Administrator to the Special Trustees there in 1980.

He died on 11th May 2014.

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