The Airmen's Stories - F/O G H Nelson-Edwards
George Hassall Nelson-Edwards was born in Stafford on 8th March 1918 and educated at Shrewsbury School and Brasenose College, Oxford where he read History. He learned to fly with the University Air Squadron at Abingdon and was called to full-time service in September 1939.
Nelson-Edwards was posted to No. 1 ITW Cambridge, later moved to 3 ITW Hastings and on 6th March 1940 he went to RAF College FTS Cranwell on No. 2 War Course.
Above: at Biggin Hill 1941 (L to R): F/O LT Bryant-Fenn, F/Lt. W Denison, F/O HF O'Neill, F/O GH Nelson-Edwards
With his training completed, Nelson-Edwards was posted to 6 OTU Sutton Bridge on 22nd June 1940 and, after converting to Hurricanes, he joined 79 Squadron at Acklington on 20th July.
He shared in the destruction of a He111 on 9th August, which went into the sea off Sunderland. On the 15th, over the North Sea, Nelson-Edwards saw a Me110 coming head-on at 2,000 yards. Before he could press his gun button, it blew up and was apparently never claimed by any pilot.
On the 28th Nelson-Edwards shared in the probable destruction of a He59, with P/O BR Noble and others. He also probably destroyed a Me109 and a He111, on the 31st he damaged a Me109, on 6th September he probably destroyed a Ju88 and on the 27th he shot down another He111 into the sea, following it down until it struck the water. Two of the crew baled out. Seconds before it hit the water another Hurricane made a pass at the stricken Heinkel resulting in Nelson-Edwards only being credited with a share. On the same sortie he also shared in the probable destruction of a second He111.
On 29th September 79 intercepted a formation of He111s near the Irish coast off Cork. Nelson-Edwards attacked one, setting both engines on fire, causing the bomb load to be jettisoned and one of the crew to bale out. He was then shot down himself by return fire, baled out and was picked up by the SS Dartford and landed at Milford Haven, unhurt. Before he rejoined the squadron, all claims had already been submitted to HQ 10 Group.
Nelson-Edwards was posted to 504 Squadron at Fairwood Common on 27th July 1941 as a Flight Commander. Tour-expired, he went to 52 OTU Aston Down as a Flight Commander Instructor. A return to operations came on 3rd June 1942 when Nelson-Edwards was given command of 93 Squadron, then forming at Andreas.
In March 1941 he married Barbara Davidson, daughter of the notorious Rector of Stiffkey.
On 20th October it went overseas to take part in the Anglo-American invasion of North Africa. Nelson-Edwards landed at Algiers on 13th November 1942 and damaged two Fw190s on the 25th, shared a Ju88 on the 26th, damaged a Me109 on 2nd December, destroyed a Ju88 on the 4th and damaged Me109s on the 5th, 20th and 5th January 1943.
He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 26th February 1943).
He was posted away to Combined Operations HQ on 12th March 1943 as an Air Planner. On 2nd June Nelson-Edwards was sent on a course at the Army Staff College at Camberley. Afterwards he did a Mustang conversion course at 41 OTU Hawarden and on 20th December 1943 he took command of 231 Squadron at Redhill. The unit was disbanded on 2nd February 1944.
Nelson-Edwards was promoted to Acting Wing Commander and appointed RAF Fighter Operations Liaison Officer at HQ 9th USAF North-West Europe and remained there until the end of the war.
About this time he bought a public house, the Trewen Arms in South Wales, and after his release in January 1946 he ran it with his wife as a pub/restaurant and also a hotel. In November 1946 Nelson-Edwards rejoined the RAF on an extended service commission.
After a course at No. 1 Flying Refresher School, he went to CFS Little Rissington for an instructors course. He was retained at CFS as CGI. He was later posted to the Organisation Directorate at the Air Ministry, remaining there until August 1951, soon after which he went to HQ 2nd TAF as Wing Commander Organisation.
In April 1952, after a Vampire Refresher Course at Chivenor, he was appointed Wing Commander Flying at Oldenburg, Germany, leading 124 Fighter/Ground Attack Wing.
In 1953 Nelson-Edwards was at West Raynham, on a Day Fighter Leaders Course. He led a Wing from there in June on the Coronation Review Flypast.
He held a series of appointments in the years before retiring from the RAF on 30th September 1960 as a Wing Commander. He bought a second public house, the Swan Inn and ran both until his retirement in 1983.
He later moved to Cyprus and he died there on 21st September 1994.