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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. G W Garton


Geoffrey William Garton was born in Grantham, Lincolnshire on 3rd October 1915. The family later moved to Wigston, Leicestershire and he was educated at Wiggleston Grammar School.

He joined the RAFVR on 22nd May 1937 as an Airman u/t Pilot and began his flying training at 7 E&RFTS Desford. On 31st January 1938 he moved to 8 E&RFTS Woodley.

Called up on 1st September 1939, he was posted to 6 FTS Little Rissington on 9th October. After further training Garton went to the 11 Group Fighting School at St. Athan on 27th December, converted to Hurricanes and then joined 43 Squadron at Acklington on 25th January 1940.

Garton moved to 73 Squadron in France on 21st May and three days later he destroyed a Me110 over Cambrai. The squadron was withdrawn to Church Fenton on 17th June.



Above: 43 Squadron in Scotland

L to R: Sgt. JA Buck, P/O A Woods-Scawen, F/Lt. CB Hull, F/O Wilkinson, Sgt. GA Garton

On 8th July Garton shared in the destruction of a Me109, on 7th September he probably destroyed a He111, on the 15th he damaged a Do17 and on the 27th he destroyed a Me110 over Maidstone.

The squadron embarked on HMS Furious on 10th November 1940, bound for the Middle East. The pilots flew their Hurricanes off at Takoradi on 1st December to fly the ferry route north to Heliopolis, via Lagos, Accra, Kano, Maidugari, Khartoum, Wadi Haifa and Abu Sueir.

During December the pilots of 73 were attached to 274 Squadron in the Western Desert. The squadron became operational again as a unit in early January 1941.

Garton destroyed a Ju87 on 5th April, shared in the destruction of a Hs126 on the 9th and destroyed another Ju87 on the 21st.

With his tour completed, Garton was commissioned and on 23rd April 1941 he was posted to the Ferry Pool at Abu Sueir. On 14th August he moved to 102 MU as a test pilot. A return to operations came on 27th April 1942 when he joined 250 Squadron at Gambut. He destroyed a Me109 on 17th June and four days later joined 112 Squadron at El Daba.

Garton's aircraft was hit by flak on 22nd July and he made a belly-landing, unhurt.

He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 28th July 1942).

On 16th September he destroyed a Mc202 and on 2nd October destroyed a Ju87 and probably a second. Five days later Garton flew his 250th operational sortie. He destroyed another Ju87 on 1st November and a Ju52 on the 11th.

He was posted to HQ 239 Wing on 17th November 1942 as Squadron Leader Flying, remaining with it only until 15th January 1943 when he took command of 112 Squadron, then at Hammraiet, Libya. Garton left the squadron on 14th May to become CFI at 73 OTU at Abu Sueir.

From 1st January to 30th March 1944 he commanded 232 Squadron in Tunisia and took it to Italy in April. Garton was soon afterwards injured in a car crash and hospitalised for some months.

From 16th August 1944 to 4th April 1945 he commanded 87 Squadron in Italy. On 5th April Garton was made Wing Commander Flying of 8 (SAAF) Wing.

He was awarded the DSO (gazetted 21st August 1945).

He stayed in the RAF postwar and retired on 13th February 1962 as a Squadron Leader, retaining the rank of Wing Commander.

Garton died in November 1976.

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