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The Airmen's Stories - Sub/Lt. (FAA) D A Hutchison


Sub-Lieutenant David Alexander Hutchison was born on 12th January 1919 in Shanghai, China, the son of David Chalmers Hutchison and Marjorie Roulston Hutchison.

He was brought up in the UK and attended Stowe School.

Hutchison was awarded Aero Certificate 15946 at the Cinque Ports Flying Club on 19th June 1938. His occupation was recorded as 'Agriculture'.



He joined the Royal Navy as a Midshipman (Air) on 11th September 1939, was promoted to Sub Lieutenant on 14th March 1940, trained to fly at Belfast and Netheravon and was awarded his wings on 22nd June 1940.

He was one of the FAA pilots attached to the RAF in June 1940 and arrived at 5 OTU Aston Down on the 25th. He converted to Spitfires and joined 74 Squadron at Hornchurch on 6th July.

He was then posted to 804 Squadron at Hatston on 30th August flying Gladiators on dockyard defence.

These were replaced in October by Grumman Martlets.

On 21st November1940 Hutchison was among the pilots drawn from 804 to reconstitute 802 Squadron, which had lost all its personnel when HMS Glorious was sunk by the German battle-cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau on 8th June 1940.

802 Squadron started training with Martlets in Scotland in early 1941 and suffered casualties as the pilots practised carrier landings.

On 28th October 1941 802 was aboard the escort carrier HMS Audacity when it sailed with convoy HG76 to Gibraltar. In poor weather on 8th November 1941 he was scrambled with the 802 Squadron CO, Lt./Cdr. JM Wintour to intercept a Fw200 Condor.

Wintour was shot down and killed by cannon fire but Hutchison continued the attack and destroyed the Condor.

Three more Condors were shot down by 802 Squadron's pilots on the outward voyage.



Hutchison was awarded the DSC (gazetted 10th March 1942) for his service on convoy HG76.

During the convoy's return voyage to the UK it came under attack from 12 U-Boats. Martlets from Audacity shot down two more Condors and damaged the U-131; unable to dive after the attack, the U-Boat was scuttled by her crew, who were taken prisoner.

Later on the return leg Audacity was torpedoed, on the night of 21st December. One of the merchantmen had fired a 'snowflake' flare which revealed her in silhouette to the German U-Boats. The submarines had been given specific orders to sink her as she had caused a lot of trouble for the Germans both at sea and in the air. The first torpedo fired by U-751 under Kapitänleutnant Gerhard Bigalk hit her in the engine room and she began to settle by the stern. The next two torpedoes caused an explosion of aviation fuel which blew off her bow. Audacity sank in 70 minutes with a loss of 73 of her crew. Her survivors - Hutchison among them - were picked up by the corvettes Convolvulus, Marigold and Penstemon.

In February 1942 802 Squadron was reformed at Yeovilton once more, this time equipped with Sea Hurricanes. On 13th July 1942 Hutchison joined the Escort Carrier HMS Avenger.

Convoy PQ18 sailed on 2nd September 1942 and made a stop at Iceland in very bad weather. Armoured Bv138 seaplanes attacked the convoy and 802’s CO, Lt. EW Taylour, was killed in combat with them. The convoy made it to Murmansk and Avenger returned with a UK-bound return convoy.

Avenger’s next task was to participate in Operation Torch, the landings in North Africa, and sailed from the Clyde on 22nd October. By 10th November the landings had succeded and Avenger moored in Algiers port for engine repairs.

On the return to the UK she reached Gibraltar on the morning of 14th November 1942 and sailed for the UK later that day. Just after 3am the next day Avenger was struck by a torpedo that struck close to the munitions store and triggered a massive explosion.

Within a few minutes nothing but wreckage remained. Only 12 men from a complement of 550 survived. Hutchison was one of those lost.

He was 23 and is commemorated on the Fleet Air Arm Memorial, Lee-on-Solent.






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