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The Airmen's Stories - F/Lt. E Holden


Eustace Holden was born in Doncaster on 28th December 1912 and learned to fly at Doncaster Flying Club. He joined the RAF on a short service commission and began his initial training on 8th June 1936.

Holden was posted to 3 FTS Grantham on 22nd August and after completing his training joined 56 Squadron at North Weald on 24th April 1937.


Holden was posted to 501 Squadron at Filton on 5th May 1940 and went with it to France on the 10th. He claimed a Ju88 and a Do17 destroyed on the 12th and a He111 on the 27th.

The squadron withdrew on 18th June and re-assembled at Croydon on the 21st. Holden was 'B' Flight commander by 30th June 1940 as an Acting Flight Lieutenant. He damaged a Do17 on 12th July.

He was taken ill on the 22nd and next day posted to RAF Biggin Hill as non-effective sick. He was admitted to the Royal Masonic Hospital at Hammersmith, after recovering he rejoined 501 Squadron on 25th September 1940.

Holden, who had been awarded the DFC (gazetted 16th August 1940), returned to operational flying and on the 30th he probably destroyed a Me109.

He re-assumed command of 'B' Flight on 2nd October.

He damaged a Ju88 on 4th October, damaged a Me110 on the 5th, destroyed a Me109 on the 7th, damaged a Ju88 on the 8th, destroyed a Me109 on the 12th, destroyed a Me109 on the 25th and damaged another on the 26th.

Holden took command of 501 Squadron on 6th November 1940, leading it until early June 1941, when he was posted overseas. After converting to twin-engined aircraft at CFS Upavon he went to Lagos as OC Dispatch Flight.

In early 1943 Holden returned to the UK and was given a staff job at the Air Ministry, involved with Fighter Training.

He went to the RAF Staff College at Gerrards Cross in September 1944, after which he was posted to the Far East, to HQ ACSEA Kandy.

After returning to the UK in June 1947, Holden held a series of staff jobs before retiring on 28th December 1964 as a Wing Commander.

Holden died in February 2001 and he is buried in Rosehill Cemetery, Doncaster.

He was the younger brother of K Holden of 616 Squadron.

His portrait was made by Cuthbert Orde (below).



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