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The Airmen's Stories - P/O S G Nunn

Stanley George Nunn was born on 25th July 1920 in the parish of Bitterne, Southampton and educated at Tauntons School, Southampton.

After leaving he was taken on as an apprentice draughtsman in the waterworks department of the Civic Centre.

He joined the RAFVR on 22nd June 1939 as an Airman u/t Pilot. He made his first flight at 3 E&RFTS Hamble (Air Service Training Ltd.) in an Avro Cadet on the 25th and soloed on 5th July. The course ended on 4th September by which time he had flown 16.05 hours dual and 13.15 hours solo.



Called up on 1st September 1939, he was posted to 4 EFTS Brough near Hull where he passed out Above Average after 31.15 hours dual and 31.40 hours solo on the Blackburn B2.

The course ended on 5th March 1940 and he moved on to 14 SFTS Kinloss, making his first flight 3 days later in a Harvard. He flew 81.20 hours dual and 115.25 solo including 3.45 hours at night. He was awarded his wings and commissioned as a Pilot Officer on 13th July 1940, 2 weeks before his 20th birthday.

The same day he reported to 5 OTU Aston Down to convert to the Bristol Blenheim and was airborne the following day. Passing out on 2nd August 1940, he was posted the next day to 236 Squadron at Thorney Island. The squadron was recovering from the loss of two aircraft and crews on the 1st, one of the casualties was the CO, S/Ldr. PE Drew.

His stay there was short as the squadron moved on 8th August to St. Eval. Nunn, having converted to the Mk.IV Blenheim, flew his first operational sortie on 21st August. Detailed to RV with a flying boat over Calshot, Nunn and two other Blenheims had just taken off when three Ju88s started to bomb St. Eval. The Blenheims engaged them, using up all their ammunition, but the raiders escaped in cloud.


Above: P/O SG Nunn seated on the wing of a 236 Squadron Blenheim. Sgt.S Sheridan standing at left and Sgt. CFJ Cole on right.


Nunn flew intensively in the following months, providing escort for convoys and transport aircraft plus frequent patrols from the Irish Sea to the Scillies to Brest.

He served on detachments to Aldergrove in Northern Ireland for 3 weeks in January 1941 and again for a few days in March. This was an attempt to intercept Fw200 Condors who were shadowing convoys.

On 20th March 1941 236 Squadron redeployed to Carew Cheriton in Pembrokeshire. On 19th April 1941 he made a forced landing after his port engine failed, the subsequent accident report stating:

' 1552 hours he was on convoy patrol when one of the engines of his Blenheim Mk.IV Z6083 lost power. In extremely bad weather he managed to fly the aircraft back to the coast of SW Wales where he made a forced landing in a field with the undercarriage and flaps down. The brakes were ineffective on the wet grass and the aircraft slid into a bank. This was an excellent attempt to save the aircraft in extremely bad weather conditions. It appeared less damaged than if a landing with undercarriage retracted had been made'.

The accident report gives the location as Warren, a village 5 miles SE of Angle. It records that P/O Nunn had 436 hours flying time of which 330 were on the Blenheim. The aircraft must have been salvaged because it flew again until it was eventually written off in May 1944.

On 28th May he escorted the battleships HMS King George V and HMS Rodney. On 13th July 1941 he was promoted to Flying Officer (wartime) and appointed as OC 'A' Flight. His tour on 236 squadron ended on 3rd November 1941 after 15 months in which time the Squadron had lost 18 Blenheims, 3 missing on operations, 2 destroyed on the ground in an air raid and the remainder crashes, mostly due to engine failures or very bad weather. He had flown 135 operational sorties with 425 hours flying time.

After a 3-week stint at 3 School of General Reconnaisance (3 SGR) at Squires Gate, flying the Blackburn Botha, he went on to 2 (Coastal) OTU at Catfoss on 24th November 1941.

2 OTU trained crews for Coastal Command's Blenheims and Beaufighters. In January and February 1942 he was detached to CFS Upavon to qualify as an instructor. Back at Catfoss he instructed for 70-80 hours per month and was promoted on 13th July 1942 to Flight Lieutenant. The unit's Blenheims were replaced by Beaufighters by November 1942.

On 1st January 1943 he was 'Mentioned in Despatches' in the New Year's Honours List, the citation is undocumented but the award was probably for his outstanding work at 2 OTU.

In February 1943 he was appointed as OC 'A' Flight.

On 27th November 1943 he returned to operational flying when he joined 248 Squadron at Predannack on the bleak Lizard peninsula, the most southerly point of Cornwall. The Squadron was equipped with the Beaufighter Mk. X and its role was to provide fighter patrols in support of Coastal Command's anti-submarine operations in the Bay of Biscay and to escort strike aircraft attacking shipping off the French coast. One month after he arrived the squadron began to convert to the Mosquito VI and XVIII. Sorties typically lasted for between 4 and 5 hours.

A particularly eventful day was 11th April 1944, records show that one of the Squadron's Mosquitos hit a hill in cloud shortly after take-off for a night patrol and two others were posted missing after an attack on flak ships off St. Nazaire.

Nunn attacked 'M' Class minesweepers which were escorted by twelve Ju88s and, on his return to Predannack, had to carry out a crash landing.

Mosquito FB Mk. VI LR363 was repairable and Nunn and F/O JM Carlin DFC were unhurt.


Above: Nunn (left) and Carlin.


On D-Day he first flew a patrol in the area of Ushant, the north-westerly tip of France near Brest; the sortie lasted for 4 hours and 40 minutes. He then flew again, this time escorting 31 Beaufighters which were attacking enemy shipping at Belle lle-en-Mer, south of Brest, this sortie lasted for 3 hours and 25 minutes.

On 10th June his logbook records 'U-boat crippled by cannon and machine-gun fire, crew abandoned ship, sunk.' On 21st June 'Depth charges dropped on destroyer at Ile de Batz' north of Brest. These operations were to block any interference with the operations in Normandy.

On 10th July his logbook reads 'Shipping strike off Le Croisic Point', port engine set on fire. Belly landing base'.

For his record to date, and for this sortie in particular, he was recommended for the award of the DFC. The citation read:

This officer had completed 425 operational hours before coming to this Squadron during which time he flew Blenheim fighter aircraft. His sorties included many escorts and five reconnaisances of Brest. Since December 1943 he has flown 37 sorties with the Squadron involving 148 hours operational flying. In particular he was one of a formation of twelve aircraft which attacked an enemy convoy consisting of a U/Boat, 2 armed trawlers and a Sperrbrecher escorted by 8 JU.88s. His aircraft was damaged and he returned to base on one engine where he made a crash landing.

Again on 10th June he was leader of a formation of 8 aircraft which attacked a surfaced U/Boat, set it on fire and so badly damaged it that it began to sink by the stern.

On 10th July 1944, F/Lt. Nunn was one of a formation of 14 aircraft which attacked four enemy armed trawlers lying near Croisic Point. Although his cannons would not fire, F/Lt. Nunn pressed home his attack to point blank range firing machine guns only. His aircraft was hit by flak in the fin, in the elevators, the starboard wing, and the port engine which burst into flames. In spite of all this damage, F/Lt. Nunn regained control of the aircraft, got the fire under control, feathered the airscrew and flew the aircraft safely back to base on one engine, a distance of 275 nautical miles. On gaining the circuit, F/Lt. Nunn flew calmly around until all the other aircraft had landed and then executed a perfect "belly" landing.

F/Lt. Nunn has always shown the greatest determination to engage the enemy and on this occasion he displayed great gallantry, skill and coolness undermost trying circumstances. I most strongly recommend him for the immediate award of the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Station Commander's Remarks. This officer has put up a splendid all round performance, and I endorse this recommendation.

Air Officer Commanding's Remarks. F/Lt. Nunn is a very gallant leader. He is an inspiration to the other members of his Squadron. Strongly recommended for the immediate award of the DFC.

On 21st July, probably in the same area, he attacked a Dornier 217 then attacked a Heinkel 177 setting its port engine on fire. He was hit himself but managed to fly the aircraft for the 1 hour leg back to Predannack from where he was taken to Truro Hospital. A few days later, a telegram arrived from his colleagues which read:






A report of this sortie was added to the recommendation for the DFC. The further citation reads:

Again on the afternoon of 21st July, 1944, F/Lt. Nunn was leading a section of aircraft providing cover for one of our Naval forces. Almost immediately on reaching the patrol area F/Lt. Nunn sighted and engaged a DO.217. This aircraft however escaped into cloud before the damage could be ascertained. Ten minutes later a second aircraft, a HE 177, was attacked by F/Lt. Nunn and strikes were obtained on the port engine nacelles whish burst into flames. During the attack heavy return fire was experienced and both F/Lt. Nunn and his observer were wounded. The aircraft was hit on port side of fuselage, starboard wing and spinner, cockpit and wind screen. In spite of his wounds and the damaged condition of his aircraft F/Lt. Nunn flew safely back to base and made a perfect landing after which he was taken to hospital.
As a result of the whole action 3 enemy aircraft were destroyed, 1 probably destroyed and 2 damaged.

Three weeks after he was injured he was fit to fly again and took his Mosquito to Banff, 248 Squadron's new base.

In August 1944 he was appointed as OC 'B' Flight and on 25th September 1944 he was promoted to Acting Squadron Leader. At Banff 248 Squadron, commanded by W/Cdr. W Size, was part of a Wing of 3 Mosquito squadrons. The other 2 were 143 Squadron and 235 squadron, the wing was commanded by G/Capt. Max Aitken DSO DFC.

Their role was to conduct armed reconnaissance of the Norwegian coast and attack any enemy shipping including U-boats. The Wing included a small detachment of Norwegian crews from 333 Squadron of the RNoAF whose knowledge of the Norwegian coastline was invaluable. S/Ldr. Nunn, normally flying with F/O JM Carlin, flew many such sorties and frequently attacked vessels and coastal installations.

His tour ended on 27th December 1944, his future Air Ministry posting was preceded by being sent to the USA for a staff course at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Nunn's course ran from 8th January to 16th March 1945. He returned to take up a post in the Air Ministry at the Directorate for the Prevention of Accidents (DPA) on 1st May 1945. This had been formed to counter the 12 per day aircraft accident rate that persisted throughout the war.

At the end of the war Nunn and his brother Lt. Cdr. JD Nunn FAA were still serving but another brother, F/Sgt. Barrie Nunn, had been killed on 13th June 1943 when his Beaufighter T3270 of 2(C) OTU failed to return from a navigation exercise over the North Sea, he is commemorated on the Runnymede memorial.

In December 1945 he was attached to 1335 Conversion Unit at RAF Molesworth for 2 weeks to convert to the Meteor III, no 2-seat trainer was then in service.

His Air Ministry posting ended on 15th September 1946 and the following day he boarded an Avro York and flew via Castel Benito, Almaza, Basra and Karachi to Palam near Delhi for his new appointment in the Air Headquarters, India as Accident Prevention Advisor. He travelled within the country in a DH Hornet F1. His staff tour lasted until 12th October 1947 when he moved to RAF Palam, two months later he was appointed OC RAF Palam, remaining in that post until 19th June 1948.

While here an award of the Air Efficiency Award was made. By now the postwar RAF requirements had been drawn up and Nunn was awarded, on 15th June 1948, a permanent commission as a Flight Lieutenant, retaining his acting rank as Squadron Leader.

This was followed by a posting to RAF Tengah in Singapore as OC 84 Squadron on 28th June 1948. Their Beaufighter Xs were being replaced by the new Bristol Brigand, a light bomber, and the Squadron was to move to Iraq.

Soon after he arrived the first crews returned to the UK for conversion to the new type. On 9th August the squadron was ordered to send two fully armed Beaufighters to Kuala Lumpur in Malaya, Nunn and F/O Budworth being sent on arrival to Kota Bharu where they were met by the British Adviser to Kelantan Province. They were briefed to attack an old gold mine which was believed to be inhabited by insurgents.

The next day, 12th August, they took off each carrying 2 x 500lb. bombs and 8 x 60lb. rockets. Despite the difficulty of the terrain, which necessitated attacking over a ridge and down the steep side of a valley, direct hits were made on a large bungalow and several outbuildings, it was later learned that 30 insurgents had been killed.

Another strike followed on 13th August when a rocket attack was mounted against a communist training camp.

A further strike was made on 16th when 84 Squadron strafed an area south of Tapah, Nunn's Beaufighter was damaged when his rockets hit an ammuntion dump. It was discovered that the site was a major insurgent HQ.

For these actions he was awarded a Mention in Despatches (gazetted 22nd April 1949).

Nunn returned to the UK on 4th September for a Brigand conversion course at 228 OCU Leeming followed by 3 weeks leave.

On 26th October he embarked on the troopship Empress Australia, swapping this in Egypt for a Dakota that took him to Habbaniya in Iraq, arriving on 16th November. 84 Squadron were already there but without aircraft.

The supply of aircraft and equipment was erratic and the squadron could not put up a flight of six aircraft until 1st June 1949.

On 27th June 1949 he flew a Percival Proctor to collect WRAF Flight Officer Chadwick, they were married the next day and on the 29th flew in a Brigand to Nicosia in Cyprus for their honeymoon.

Back in Habbaniya on 29th August Nunn lined up to take off for a short flight test in Brigand RH812. Just before getting airborne, the starboard tyre burst and the aircraft swung violently. The flailing rubber from the tyre caused the fire extinguisher to operate and the injection of carbon dioxide into the intakes caused both engines to cut. He ended up 300 yards off the runway.

On 28th September 1949, his tour ended and he returned to the UK, on 21st November taking up a post as OC RAF Hooton Park in Cheshire, the home of 610 (County of Chester) and 611 (West Lancashire) Squadrons, Royal Auxiliary Air Force.

This posting ended in September 1951 and he took up a new one at the RAF Aircrew Selection Centre at RAF Hornchurch.

On 22nd June 1953 he moved to 3 FTS Feltwell as Chief Ground Instructor, while there he was promoted to substantive Squadron Leader on 1st July 1953. In July 1955 when he went to Furstenfeldbruck in Germany for a 2-week course on the Lockheed T-33 advanced jet trainer.

His tour at Feltwell ended in May 1956 and was followed by three years of staff appointments in Malaya and Singapore before a return to full time flying in the UK. He reported to Kinloss on 11th August 1959 for No. 34 Course at the Maritime Operational Training Unit, operating the Shackleton.

He successfully completed the course and reported to 203 Squadron at Ballykelly in Northern Ireland on 26th January 1960 as OC 'A' Flight. After converting to the Shackleton Mk.3 he took part in exercises with the South African Navy, detachments to Norway and Gibraltar plus search and rescue missions.

His tour ended on 30th June 1962 with a posting to HQ Coastal Command Northwood, being promoted on 1st July 1964 to Wing Commander. His service there brought an award of an OBE in the New Years Honours List of 1967 and a move to command 206 Squadron, equipped with the Shackleton at Kinloss.

After converting to the Shackleton T4 at the MOTU, now at St. Mawgan, he took command on 14th August 1966. On 14th February 1967 he left Kinloss and flew via Gander, Bermuda, Offutt (USA), McClellan (USA), Honolulu, Wake Island, Guam and Labuan (Borneo) to Changi in Singapore arriving on 24th after 82 hours flying. He remained there for 14 days flying on exercises and departed on 19th March via Gan, Masirah (Oman), Akrotiri (Cyprus) and Gibraltar arriving at Kinloss on the 23rd after circumnavigating the world.

On 21st December Shackleton XF702 of 206 Squadron, with 11 crew on board, crashed in the hills of Western Scotland, between Fort William and Mallaig with no survivors. Turbulence and icing were advanced as possible causes. Nunn as CO had an extremely difficult job managing the aftermath.

After his time with 206 ended in September he returned to Singapore at HQ Far East Air Force, Changi as Wing Commander Maritime Operations. In the New Years Honours List of 1969 he was awarded the Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service in the Air in recognition of his performance in command of 206 Squadron.

Nunn was promoted to Group Captain on 1st January 1970 and posted back to Northwood to work on the first IT projects. This tour ended after 14 months with a posting as Station Commander RAF Northolt, with effect from 28th May 1971. In preparation he went to RAF Temhill to convert to helicopters.

When he arrived in 1971, Northolt was the home of a number of minor units plus No 32 (The Royal) Squadron. 32 Squadron had formed 2 years earlier by combining The Queen's Flight and the Metropolitan Communications Squadron. Its role was to fly the Royal Family, the Prime Minister and senior Cabinet Ministers plus the most senior officers from the 3 Armed Forces. It operated a selection of aircraft: the HS125 twin-jet executive transport, the Andover medium transport, the Devon and Basset light transports and the Whirlwind and Sycamore helicopters.

As Station Commander, Group Captain Nunn had to ensure that the Station could fulfil its military role and also maintain good relations with the local community, not easy when the airfield is virtually surrounded by urban development.

His daily routine was regularly interrupted by the need to be present, in No. 1 uniform, whenever VVIPs passed through, either traveling with 32 Squadron or, in the case of foreigners, in their own VIP aircraft. Thus he would have met the entire Royal Family, a number of foreign Heads of State and every very senior officer of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, the Army and the Royal Air Force.

Nunn retired on 25th July 1975 as a Group Captain.

On his last day at Northolt he flew each aircraft type, both fixed wing and rotary, before driving away to the family home at Trenewan in Cornwall, near to the Fowey estuary, towing a ski boat. Once there he bought a small cruising yacht and enjoyed his passion for sailing.  He became the Director of the Red Cross for Cornwall, holding the post until May 1982. 

For his services to the county he was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of Cornwall. 




His son Christopher served as a helicopter pilot with the Royal Marines, retiring as Lt. Col. OBE QCVSA.

Another son, Lt. Richard James, was killed on 28th May 1982 when his Scout helicopter was shot down in the Battle for Goose Green in the Falklands. He was awarded a posthumous DFC.

Stanley Nunn died in 1993.


The majority of data and all images courtesy of Christopher Nunn.


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