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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. R H Gretton


Reginald Henry Gretton was born on 30th June 1918 in Erdington, Birmingham. He was educated at Handsworth Grammar School and Lawrence College there.

He joined the RAFVR about July 1939 as an Airman u/t Pilot. Called up on 1st September 1939, he went for an initial training course at 10 E&RFTS Yatesbury followed by intermediate and advanced training at 3 FTS South Cerney.

He arrived at 5 OTU Aston Down on 2nd May 1940, converted to Hurricanes and then joined 266 Squadron at Wittering on 9th June. He moved to 222 Squadron at Hornchurch on 12th September.

During a patrol over Maidstone on 27th September, Gretton was jumped by Me109s and shot down. He crashed near Winnington, Rainham, Essex in Spitfire R6720, seriously wounded in the back. He was admitted to Oldchurch Hospital and spent the next five months recovering from a fractured pelvis and spine.

In June 1941 Gretton was posted to the ADF at Hendon and in September went to 58 OTU as an instructor. He returned to operations in November, joining 91 Squadron at Hawkinge. He was posted in February 1942 for further treatment and rehabilitation.

In April 1942 Gretton rejoined the ADF, then at Croydon, and stayed with it until June 1945.

He spent his final six months at the air-to-ground firing ranges at Bulmer and Kirton Marsh and was released from the RAF in Birmingham in January 1946 as a Warrant Officer.

Gretton died in March 2001 in Worthing.



Above and below: ACM Sir Hugh Dowding with some of the Battle of Britain pilots on the second anniversary of the Battle on 14th September 1942.

L to R : S/Ldr. A Bartley, W/Cdr. D Sheen, W/Cdr. I Gleed, W/Cdr. M Aitken,W/Cdr. A Malan, S/Ldr. A Deere, Dowding, F/O E Henderson, F/O R Hillary (behind), W/Cdr. J Kent, W/Cdr. B Kingcome, S/Ldr. D Watkins, WO R Gretton.






Battle of Britain Monument