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The Airmen's Stories - F/Lt. R O Hellyer


Richard Owen Hellyer was born in North Ferriby near Hull on 16th May 1916 and attended Aysgarth School in Wensleydale, Yorkshire. He joined 503 Squadron Auxiliary Air Force in November 1936 and was awarded his flying badge on 3rd July 1938.

In late 1938 it was decided to disband 503 and form 616 as a new bomber squadron at Doncaster. Squadron Leader the Earl of Lincoln began forming 616 on 1st November 1938 and Hellyer joined as a founder-member. On 15th November the squadron became part of Fighter Command.



Called to full-time service at the outbreak of war, Hellyer was shot down and wounded on 28th May 1940, operating from Rochford. His Spitfire K9804 came down by Dunkirk beach. He was unhurt and was able to get back to England.

He flew with the squadron until 8th September 1940 when he was posted to 56 OTU Sutton Bridge. In April 1941 he was appointed 'A' Flight Commander.

Hellyer joined the MSFU at Speke on 25th June 1941, staying until 28th December when he was posted to 6 FIS for an instructors course, after which he went to 28 EFTS at Wolverhampton on 2nd May 1942 to instruct.

On 25th April 1944 Hellyer moved to 5 (P) AFU at Hutton Cranswick.

He was released from the RAF on 24th October 1945 as a Flight Lieutenant.

He later settled in South Africa and died there on 28th October 1995.

He is buried in Tangmere churchyard.

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