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The Airmen's Stories - F/Lt. P M Gardner


Peter Melvill Gardner was born in Grimsby on 1st July 1918. He was educated at the Imperial Service College in Windsor and then Eton House at Tonbridge School.

He was awarded Aero Certificate 14232 in August 1936 at the Norfolk & Norwich Aero Club (ID photo below).



He joined the RAF on a short service commission in November 1937. He was posted to 5 FTS Sealand on 5th March 1938 and joined 32 Squadron at Biggin Hill on 17th September 1938. In May 1940 Gardner was attached to 3 Squadron in France.



On the 15th he claimed a Do17 destroyed, on the 18th a Do17 damaged, on the 19th a He111 and on the 20th another Do17.

Back with 32 Squadron, he claimed a share in a Do17 on 3rd July, damaged a Me109 on 11th August, destroyed a Me109 and a Do17 on the 12th, destroyed a Ju88 on the 15th and another Me109 on the 16th.

Gardner was awarded the DFC (gazetted 30th August 1940).

In June 1941 he was posted to 54 Squadron at Hornchurch as a Flight Commander. He destroyed a Me109 on 17th June. During a sweep on 11th July 1941 Gardner was shot down in Spitfire Vb P8754 and captured. He later went to Stalag Luft III.

After being liberated at the end of the war he returned to the RAF, retiring on 31st July 1948 as a Squadron Leader.

Gardner moved to Nassau in the Bahamas and in 1956 opened a restaurant named 'Sun and......' in Shirley Street on the main island. He was described in the press as 'a powerboat and sports car racer'.

The restaurant soon gained a very good reputation and attracted celebrity guests such as Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Junior and the Beatles, who crossed from the exclusive resort of Paradise Island.

Gardner sold the retaurant in 1981 when his health began to deteriorate.

He died on 23rd May 1984.


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