The Airmen's Stories - P/O J B Latta
John Blandford Latta of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada was born on 6th August 1914, the son of Lt.Col. William Smith Latta DSO (1879-1966) and Bertha Annie Latta (née Sayer 1884-1968).
His father was born in Ayr, Scotland before settling in Vancouver. He enlisted in the 6th Duke of Connaught's Regiment and was later commissioned into the 29th (Vancouver) Battalion. He succeeded Lt.Col. JM Ross in command on 23rd July 1917. Multiple times decorated for bravery, he received the Distinguished Service Order and two Bars.
The citation for his second Bar read:
He led his battalion in an attack against a village, outstripping the troops on his left, as well as the guns and tanks. In this difficult situation he handled his battalion with such skill that he reached his final objective with comparatively small loss. He has at all times displayed fine leadership in action until severely wounded.
JB Latta was educated at Oak Bay High School in Victoria and Victoria College. He worked as a salmon fisherman and at some time was in the 16th Canadian Scottish Territorial Regiment.
Latta joined the RAF on a short service commission in February 1939.
After completing his training he was posted to the newly-reformed 242 Squadron at Church Fenton on 6th November 1939. On patrol between Dunkirk and Nieuport on 29th May 1940 Latta destroyed a Me109 and on the 31st claimed the destruction of another.
He flew with 242 Squadron to France, when the squadron was there between 8th and 18th June covering the Army's rearguard actions towards the Atlantic ports.
On 10th July he claimed a probable He111, on 21st August shared a Do17, on 9th September and 15th September he destroyed Me109s and on the 27th shot down two more.
He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 8th November 1940).
Latta was reported 'Missing' after a patrol over the Dutch coast on 12th January 1941 in Hurricane I V7203.
He was 27 and is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, Panel 33.
Above image courtesy of Dean Sumner.