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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. W R K Hughes


William Robert Kent Hughes was born in Tunbridge Wells on 14th February 1921 but at the age of five was adopted by his father's parents and moved to Northampton. He was educated there, at St. Matthews School and Bective Secondary Modern School.

While working for HJ Mulliner, a company that built luxury coaches, he joined the RAFVR in early Spring 1939 as an Airman u/t WOp/AG and was called up on 27th August 1939.



He went to Hamble on a wireless course on 4th March 1940 and to Jurby on a gunnery course. Hughes was posted to 5 OTU Aston Down on 20th July to convert to Blenheims.

On 17th August 1940 he joined 23 Squadron at Wittering. Hughes was posted away to 9 Squadron on 16th November but went instead 149 Squadron at Mildenhall on the 21st to fly in Wellingtons.

He flew three operations with them, including the attack on the Tirpitz.

On 11th March 1941 Hughes went to Malta to join 148 Squadron at Luqa but was posted on to Egypt and joined 70 Squadron at Kabrit on 2nd April. They flew sorties against German targets at Benghazi and Hughes took part in 40.

When his tour was completed he returned to the UK in early 1942, went to 23 OTU Pershore in April and joined 12 Squadron at Binbrook on 27th July. Commissioned from Warrant Officer in November 1942, Hughes completed his second tour and was awarded the DFC (gazetted 12th March 1943).

The citation read 'He has at all times shown exceptional qualities of courage, skill and initiative . . . and was someone who showed stamina, devotion to duty and what was termed a ‘cheerful willingness’.

In early March 1943 he went to 28 OTU Wymeswold as an instructor. He was posted to CGS Sutton Bridge for a Gunnery Leaders course on 15th June after which he moved to 7 AGS Bishopscourt, Northern Ireland as Gunnery Leader. On 18th January 1944 Hughes went to 50 Squadron at Skellingthorpe on liason duties.

He was released from the RAF in March 1946 as a Flight Lieutenant.

After returning to HJ Mulliner he joined British Timken, the bearing manufacturer, in 1948 where he worked for the next 33 years. His roles there included night superintendent and factory foreman.

Hughes died on 3rd December 2018 aged 97.




There is a related print (below) 'Blenheim' by the noted aviation artist Geoff Nutkins, details here

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