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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. R McGugan


Robert McGugan was born on 17th May 1920 and joined the RAFVR in March 1939 as an Airman u/t WOp/AG. He was called up at the outbreak of war and posted to 3 BGS Aldergrove on 18th November 1939 for a gunnery course.

McGugan joined 141 Squadron at Grangemouth on 18th December. The newly-formed squadron was working up on a variety of aircraft but in April 1940 it began to receive Defiants and became operational on 3rd June.

The squadron moved south to West Malling on 12th July. Shortly after 0900 on the 19th twelve Defiants moved to the forward airfield at Hawkinge. At 1223 hrs they were ordered to carry out an offensive patrol twenty miles south of Folkstone. Three were left behind with engine trouble.

During the patrol the nine Defiants were surprised by a force of Me109's of III/JG51 off Dover and six of them were shot down. The remnants of 141 returned to Grangemouth on 21st July and in September it began training for night-fighter operations.

On 6th August 1941 McGugan joined 410 (RCAF) Squadron at Acklington, recently-formed with Defiants.


Above: Sgt. TWR Healey (left) and McGugan with their Defiant (N3503 'RA-F') of 410 (F) Squadron RCAF following being commissioned.

Above image courtesy of the S/Ldr. Robert McGugan Archive via Joel Diggle.


Commissioned in January 1942, he was posted away when the squadron was re-equipped with Beaufighters in early April.

He joined 151 Squadron at Wittering on the 5th. The stay was short and on 1st June 1942 he went to No. 1 EANS Eastbourne for a navigation course, moved to 6 AOS Moreton Valence on 18th July, went to 62 OTU Usworth on 15th September and completed his Beaufighter conversion at 54 OTU Charter Hall and Winfield from 1st January to 23rd March 1943.

McGugan then went to 301 FTU Lyneham and on 15th May he flew out to North Africa, arriving at Setif two days later. He joined 255 Squadron at La Sebala ll, Tunisia on the 28th as a Navigator Radio.

He moved with it to Sicily on 17th August and on to Italy on 13th November. With his second operational tour completed, McGugan returned to the UK on 22nd April 1944.

He was posted to 62 OTU Ouston on 9th May as Senior Air Instructor, remaining there until 6th June 1945.

He stayed on in the RAF, alternating between flying duties and Signals staff appointments, including Signals 1 at HQ Fighter Command from April 1955 to October 1957.

McGugan retired on 17th May 1969 as a Squadron Leader.

He died on 3rd April 1996.

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