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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. A H Milnes


Ambrose Henry Milnes was born on 24th May 1912 at Whitwell near Worksop and trained as a Sergeant-Pilot with the RAF Reserve from 1935 to 1937.

He transferred to the RAFVR in December 1937, then acted as a flying instructor until the outbreak of war, when he was called up and posted to the Instructor Pool at Brough, Yorkshire.

In November 1939 Milnes was sent to CFS Upavon for an instructors course, after which he went on instructional duties to 8 FTS Montrose.

In May 1940 he was posted to 12 OTU Benson, to convert to Fairey Battles. Milnes joined 12 Squadron at Finningley in June. He flew his first operational sortie on the night of 25th/26th July 1940 to Evere in Belgium but returned because of bad weather.




Milnes volunteered to serve in Fighter Command in August. On the 18th he flew his second, and final, sortie with 12 Squadron, an attack on shipping in Boulogne Harbour at nightfall. On 4th September he was posted to 213 Squadron at Exeter.

With no Hurricane experience, Milnes was attached to 6 OTU Sutton Bridge from 9th September 1940.
After converting to Hurricanes he was posted to 32 Squadron at Acklington on the 28th and he joined the squadron on 2nd October.

He moved to 615 Squadron at Northolt on 11th November.

Milnes was commissioned in July 1941. On 18th September, escorting Blenheims to attack a motor vessel at Blankenburghe, Milnes was shot down in Hurricane IIb BD787. He baled out and was rescued from the sea by a high speed launch. Later in the month he was posted to 258 Squadron at Martlesham Heath.

The squadron flew to Debden on 3rd October to prepare for overseas service. Leaving their Hurricanes behind, the twenty-two pilots went to Abbotsinch on the 30th and two days later sailed in HMS Athene for Gibraltar, with wing-detached Hurricanes on board. After arriving on the 21st, the aircraft were to be unloaded, to be taken by Ark Royal to Malta later. However, the carrier was sunk returning to Gibraltar so other plans were made.

The 258 pilots sailed on Christmas Eve 1941 on the Athene. They berthed at Takoradi on 1st January 1942, disembarked and the Athene left, taking their Hurricanes with her.

On the 3rd they flew on the ferry route to the Middle East in a DC3, arrived at Port Sudan, from where they sailed south in the carrier HMS Indomitable on the 9th, with Hurricanes aboard. They flew off on the 28th and later in the morning arrived at Airfield P2 at Palembang, Sumatra. In the afternoon they flew to Seletar airfield, Singapore and flew their first sortie on 31st January.

On 10th February 1942 the three surviving Hurricanes of 258 were withdrawn from Palembang. Of the fifteen surviving pilots, six were required to remain behind there, to fly with a reformed 605 Squadron. One was nominated, two volunteered and the other three were selected by cutting cards.

Milnes was one of the nine who were evacuated from Java to Ceylon in the SS Kota Gede. 258 Squadron was reformed at Ratmalana on 1st March 1942. Milnes rejoined it on the 7th.

In September 1942 he was posted to 73 Squadron at China Bay, Ceylon. He stayed with it until September 1943, when he was posted to flying instructor duties at Bangalore, India.

In December Milnes joined the staff at 224 Group Chittagong, in the Accidents Branch. He returned to instructor duties in February 1944, this time at Peshawar.

Milnes joined 84 Squadron at Quetta in September, operating in Vultee Vengeances. He returned briefly to instructor duties in August 1945 and was repatriated to the UK in October.

He married Elizabeth Waddell Martin on 10th November 1945 at St. Johns, Montrose.

He retired from the RAF on 24th April 1958 as a Squadron Leader and died on 25th December 1999.

His brother Howard Hartley Milnes also served as a fighter pilot with the RAF.




Above: Milnes (far left) and other airmen meet Mr. & Mrs. Churchill, unfortunately the venue and date are unknown.



Above image and additional research courtesy of Ashley Schofield (nephew).


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