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The Airmen's Stories - F/Lt. P C F Lawton


Philip Charles Fenner Lawton was born in Highgate, North London on 18th September 1912 and attended Westminster School. He gained an LL.B Honours degree in 1933 and worked from 1934 as a solicitor.

He joined 604 Squadron Auxiliary Air Force in 1936. He went on to the reserve on 19th November 1938 but was called to full-time service on 24th August 1939. Lawton was detached to 11 Group Pool on 4th September.


Above: he married Letitia Stephenson in November 1941.



He was sent to 12 Group Pool for training on 15th September and then rejoined 604 at North Weald on 23rd November 1939.

Lawton was immediately detached to the Blenheim Conversion Flight at Hendon for night-flying training. He rejoined 604 on 17th January 1940 and served with it throughout the Battle of Britain.

Lawton was again detached from 604 on 8th December 1940, this time to No. 1 Blind Approach School at Watchfield for No. 7 Course, which ended on the 20th. He rejoined 604 two days later.

He received a Mention in Despatches in March 1941. On 4th April the weather clamped down whilst he was on a night patrol. After damaging a Ju88, he lost his bearings in fog. He and his radar operator baled out of Beaufighter R2259 over Hungerford and landed safely.

During the nights of 10th/11th April and 13th/14th April Lawton destroyed two Ju88's. On 25th September 1941 he was posted away from 604 to HQ 10 Group.

He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 11th November 1941).

In 1942 Lawton was a staff officer at HQ Fighter Command. He served again briefly with 604 Squadron in July 1942 before going on to command airfields at Predannack, Portreath and Cranfield.

After being on Special Duties for the Inspector General of the RAF, Lawton was released from the RAF in 1945 as a Group Captain.

He became an executive with British European Airways in 1946, rising to Chairman in 1972-73. He was created a CBE in 1967.

Lawton died on 8th December 1993.


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