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The Airmen's Stories - F/O B R Macnamara


Brian Radley Macnamara was born on 2nd June 1915 and attended Repton School. He entered the Royal Military College Sandhurst as a Gentleman Cadet. When he graduated on 31st January 1935 he was commissioned in the Royal Tank Regiment.

He was seconded to the RAF from the Army on 8th November 1938. After completing his flying training in September 1939 he was posted to No. 1 School of Army Co-operation at Old Sarum.


Above image courtesy of Patrick Macnamara (grandson).


On 8th October 1939 he joined 614 Squadron at Odiham, flying Lysanders.

He volunteered to serve in Fighter Command in August 1940 and on the 21st he went to 7 OTU Hawarden. After converting to Spitfires he was posted to 603 Squadron at Hornchurch on 31st August.

He shared in the destruction of a He111 on the 7th, damaged a He111 on the 11th, destroyed a Me109 on the 14th, damaged a Do17 on the 15th and damaged a Me109 on the 27th. On 23rd November he destroyed a CR42 and on the 29th he shared in destroying a Do17.

Macnamara returned to 614 Squadron at Macmerry, east of Edinburgh, on 1st February 1941 and stayed with it until 5th August 1942 when he was posted to 296 Squadron at Hurn, a Whitley squadron for moving troops in Horsa gliders.

On 8th March 1943 he took command of 295 Squadron on similar duties. Macnamara towed the glider carrying General Gale, GOC 6th Airborne Division, to Normandy on D-Day.


Above: his portrait was made by Cuthbert Orde.


In early 1945 Macnamara went to the RAF Staff College, after which he was posted to the Far East. He took command of 31 Squadron at Akyab, Burma on 15th September 1945.

The squadron was part of No. 904 Wing in the Netherlands East Indies, tasked with the repatriation of internees from Java. During these operations the squadron flew 11000 sorties totalling 24000 hours evacuating 129,000 passengers (5000 casualties) and 26,000 tons of freight for the loss of 15 officers and men.

For his leadership of the squadron in these operations Macnamara was awarded the DSO (gazetted 4th June 1946).

During Operation 'Musketeer', the Suez operation in 1956, he commanded the Transport Air Task Force consisting of 18 Valettas and 14 Hastings.

Made a CBE (gazetted 13th June 1957), he retired on 4th June 1965 as an Air Commodore.

Macnamara died on 1st July 1999.



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