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The Airmen's Stories - S/Ldr. H R L Hood


Hilary Richard Lionel Hood was born on 13th May 1908, the son of John Lionel Charles Bridport Hood (1884-1916) and Helene Margaret Hood (née Lessels 1886-unknown).

His father, a retired Royal Navy lieutenant, became a theatre manager. While HRL Hood attended Oxted Preparatory School his father took his own life. His mother remarried as van Tilburg and moved to South Africa.

Hood had a guardian, Henry Sykes JP, appointed for him and he went on to Tonbridge School, studying there from 1923 to 1927. He entered the RAF College, Cranwell in September 1927 as a Flight Cadet.

Hood represented the college at rowing and hockey, a fellow athlete was Douglas Bader. He graduated from Cranwell on 28th July 1929 and joined 23 Squadron at Kenley.

In May 1931 he was posted to RAF Leuchars for a course in naval aviation, more training was carried out with HMS Courageous at Gosport.

On 9th October 1931 Hood was posted to 403 (Fleet Fighter) Flight on HMS Hermes in the Far East. This deployment took in China, Shanghai and the Philippines until 1933 when he returned to the UK, arriving at CFS Wittering for an instructors course on 22nd August 1933.

He then joined the staff at RAF Leuchars to train FAA pilots. Hood was posted to the staff of 11 FTS Wittering on 1st October 1935, returned to 23 Squadron at Biggin Hill on 26th October 1936, went to the staff at 5 FTS Sealand on 15th March 1937 and was given command of the Station Flight at Northolt on 27th June 1938.

Further postings to 5 FTS Sealand and 10 Squadron at Ternhill followed until Hood took command of 41 Squadron at Catterick in April 1940.



During the Dunkirk evacuation, he came upon a German bomber at sea level but had no ammunition and very little fuel. He made a feint attack and the enemy aircraft dived into the sea.

On 29th July Hood claimed a Me109 and a Ju87 destroyed.



He was killed on 5th September during an engagement Do17s and Me109s over the Thames Estuary.

Several aircraft came down around Wickford, Essex within a short space of time and it has not been possible to ascertain what happened. One account records that he bailed out but his parachute became entangled with his Spitfire, P9428 EB-R, which may be the aircraft seen to disintegrate over Wickford.

In any case his remains were not found or perhaps not correctly identified and he was declared Missing.

Hood was 32 years old and is remembered on the Runnymede Memorial, panel 4.

He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 27th May 1941 with effect from 11th August 1940).


Above image courtesy of Dean Sumner


He is commemorated by a plaque at Tonbridge School (below).



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