The Airmen's Stories - F/Lt. I R Gleed
A doctor's son, Ian Richard Gleed was born in Finchley, London on 3rd July 1916. Educated at Tenterden Preparatory School and Epsom College, he learned to fly privately and flew his first solo at the London Aeroplane Club, Hatfield on 16th November 1935. Gleed joined the RAF on a short service commission in March 1936 and carried out his ab-initio training at 2 E&RFTS, Filton.
On 16th May he went to 8 FTS, Montrose and then joined 46 Squadron at Digby on 25th December 1936. Gleed went to 266 Squadron as 'B' Flight Commander on 9th September 1939, when it was being reformed at Sutton Bridge. He was testing a Spitfire on 18th February 1940 when it broke up in the air. He was thrown out and lost consciousness. He came to, pulled his ripcord and the parachute opened. He came off flying and did not return to 266 until late April and was only allowed to fly dual.
He regained his full flying category on 14th May 1940 and was posted on the same day to 87 Squadron in France as 'A' Flight Commander. On 18th May Gleed claimed two Me110’s destroyed, on the 19th a Me109, two Do17’s, a He111 shared and a probable Me109 then on the 20th he shared a Ju88. The squadron was withdrawn to Debden on the 22nd.
Operational again on 21st June, 87 Squadron moved to Exeter in early July. On 15th August Gleed claimed two Me110’s destroyed and a probable Me109, then on the 25th two Me110’s destroyed and a Me109 damaged. He was awarded the DFC, this being gazetted on 13th September 1940. On 30th September he got a probable Ju88. Gleed took command of 87 Squadron on 24th December 1940. In an attack on Caen airfield during the night of March 14th/15th 1941 he shared in destroying a Do17 on the ground and damaged another Do 17 and a Ju88. He claimed a Do17 destroyed on 7th May, shared a Do18 on the 24th, shared a probable Ju88 on the 28th and damaged two Me109’s on the ground on 6th August.
He was appointed Wing Leader at Middle Wallop on 18th November. Gleed claimed a Ju88 probably destroyed on 13th March 1942, a Ju88 on the 23rd, a Me109 and another probable on 17th April and a probable Fw190 on 5th May. He was awarded the DSO (gazetted 22nd May 1942) and posted to HQ Fighter Command on 16th July as Wing Commander Tactics, becoming Wing Commander Operations on 7th December 1942.
(Above: Gleed decorated his Hurricane with
a painting of Figaro, the cat from the Pinocchio story)
Posted to the Middle East on 1st January 1943, Gleed was attached to 145 Squadron in North Africa from the 13th to gain experience of desert operations before becoming Wing Leader of 244 Wing, which he did on 31st January. He claimed a Me109 destroyed on 17th March.
On an afternoon patrol over the Cap Bon area on 16th April 1943 Gleed was shot down, probably by Leutnant Reinert of JG77. After being hit, Gleed headed for the Tunisian coast. His Spitfire, AB502, was found on sand dunes near the sea on the western coastline of Cap Bon. His body was not found there but it is known that he was buried at Tazoghrane. He was reburied in the Military Cemetery at Enfidaville on 25th April 1944.
In addition to his British awards, Gleed was awarded the Croix de Guerre (Belgian) (gazetted 9th april 1943) and the Croix de Guerre (French) (gazetted 5th June 1946).
His father was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium, London and Gleed is also remembered on his father's plaque.
Above cemetery images courtesy of The War Graves Photographic Project