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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. W J Etherington


Wilfred John Etherington was born in Bromley, Kent on 26th June 1911. After losing his job when the company he worked for failed in the depression, he joined the RAF on 15th December 1931 as an Aircrafthand. He took part in the Royal Tournament in 1932 as a member of the display team. He was later posted to 111 Squadron at Hornchurch on general ground duties.



Determined to progress, he went on to an equipment course at Cranwell, after which he was posted as an ACI Storekeeper to 32 Squadron at Biggin Hill. He later went to 47 Squadron, Khartoum. Whilst there, he applied for pilot training, was accepted and went to 4 FTS Abu Sueir for training.

Back in the UK, Etherington joined 17 Squadron at Kenley in April 1936. He served with the squadron through the France and Dunkirk periods and for most of the Battle of Britain.


Above: 17 Squadron (L to R) F/O HAC Bird-Wilson, Sgt. G Griffiths, Etherington, unknown.


On 6th October 1940 he was posted to 10 FTS Tern Hill as an instructor on Ansons.

In December he went with the unit to Moose Jaw in Canada.

Commissioned from Warrant Officer in February 1942, Etherington was posted to Lethbridge, Alberta to join 133 (RCAF) Squadron, then being formed there. He later went to Bagotville to help form No. 1 OTU.

In March 1943 Etherington returned to the UK and was posted to 59 OTU Milfield. In late January 1944 he was sent to RAF Woodvale as a trainee Ops Officer, a non-flying job.

In late 1944 Etherington moved to Tern Hill, where he spent a period as unit test pilot with 5(P) AFU. He went to 2 FIS Montrose in March 1945 for a course, after which he was posted to Cranwell as an instructor.

Etherington was released from the RAF in August 1945 as a Squadron Leader.

He died in December 1994 in Cirencester.


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