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The Airmen's Stories - W/Cdr. H D McGregor


Hector Douglas McGregor was born at Wairoa, New Zealand on 15th February 1910 and educated at Napier Boys High School. He went to the UK early in 1928 and joined the RAF on a short service commission.

McGregor was posted to 3 FTS Grantham on 28th April and after training joined 111 Squadron at Hornchurch on 2nd April 1929. He went to 407 (Fleet Fighter) Flight on HMS Courageous on 20th January 1931 but moved to the Home Aircraft Depot at Henlow on 5th August 1931 for a specialist engineering course.



McGregor was posted to the School of Naval Co-operation, Lee-on-Solent on 24th July 1933 and then to HQ Coastal Command, Engineering Section on 22nd August 1934.

He was at the Air Ministry, in the Directorate of Repair and Maintenance, from 30th April 1936 until posted to Egypt in September 1938 to take command of 33 Squadron at Heliopolis. In March 1939 the squadron began policing duties at Lydda, with small detachments at strategic points. They assisted ground forces to round up armed tribesmen, who were terrorising certain areas. The tactics were successful and order was restored by June. For his leadership in the operations, McGregor was awarded the DSO.

In early 1940 McGregor returned to the UK and on 23rd May he went to 5 OTU Aston Down for a refresher course. After converting to Hurricanes he went to 213 Squadron at Biggin Hill on the 28th as CO designate.

On the 31st he went on a patrol over Dunkirk and was shot down. He baled out but came down in a minefield. He was able to find his way out and eventually returned by ship to Dover. He took command of 213 in early June.

McGregor claimed a Ju88 destroyed and another damaged on 11th August 1940, a Me110 destroyed on the 12th and a Ju88 damaged on the 20th. He was posted away from 213 in September 1940.

In 1941 McGregor commanded RAF Ballyhalbert. He received a Mention in Despatches (gazetted 1st January 1942). From 1942 to mid-1943 RAF he commanded Tangmere and in June 1943 he was appointed Group Captain Ops at Mediterranean Air Command, on the staff of Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder.

In April 1944 McGregor became Allied Deputy Director of Operations, Intelligence Plans, North Africa and Italy. He took an important part in negotiations at the time of the Italian Armistice, concerning the handing over of the Italian Air Force. He was awarded the US Legion of Merit in April 1944 and was made a CBE in June 1945.

McGregor went on to a most distinguished post-war career in the RAF. He retired on 27th September 1964 as an Air Marshal KCB.

He died on 11th April 1973.


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