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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. R J Ommanney


Rupert John Ommanney was born on 4th September 1915, the son of Lt. Col. Francis Frederick Ommanney (1868-1949) and Olive Caroline Ommanney (nee Owen 1874-1959). The family home was in Appledore, Devon.

His father served in the East Surrey Regiment in WW1.

Rupert was the youngest of five children. At some time in the 1930s he joined the Merchant Service as a cadet but did not pursue this career and opted instead in February 1935 to join the RAF on a short service commission.

He completed his training and was posted to a unit in the Middle East. At a raucous Mess party he drew his revolver and shot out the lights, the standards of the time meant he had to resign his commission, which he did on 21st August 1937.

In November the following year he enlisted in the RAFVR as an Airman u/t Pilot.



Called up on 1st September 1939, Ommanney completed his training and arrived at 6 OTU Sutton Bridge on 2nd June 1940.

He had married Edith Fagge in October 1939.

After converting to Hurricanes, he was posted to 229 Squadron at Wittering on 17th June. Ommanney claimed a Me110 destroyed and a Do17 shared on 15th September. He was wounded in the foot on the 30th and did not return to the squadron until 15th October.


Above (L to R): 229 Squadron: Sgt. RJ Ommanney, P/O J Poplawski, F/O HNE Salmon, F/O WG New, P/O S Stegman, Sgt. JW Hyde.

Above image courtesy of the family of F/Lt. JB Holderness.


He was one of a section of three Hurricanes which attacked a He59 floatplane flying low off the coast in the vicinity of Boulogne on 26th October. The enemy aircraft alighted on the sea, with three of its crew of four killed. The Hurricanes were then attacked from behind by Me109s and fired on by guns from the shore. Ommanney was able to return to base by flying at very low level across the Channel. The section leader, F/O GM Simpson, was posted Missing and the third pilot, F/O DBH McHardy, was later reported captured.

Between 11th and 13th February 1942 the German Navy took advantage of very poor weather and the jamming of British coastal radar to force a passage through the English Channel for their battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and the cruiser Prinz Eugen. Apart from their own armament the capital ships were protected by 6 destroyers, 40 flak ships and more than 200 fighter aircraft.

All available RAF and RN forces, including obsolete aircraft, were sent against this force once it had been detected.

607 Squadron lost four Hurricanes to the intense flak, all the pilots, including Ommanney (now a Warrant Officer), being lost. The others were P/O EJ Staerck, F/Sgt. N McClean and F/Sgt. EP Walker.


Ommanney was 26 and is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, Panel 72.


Above image courtesy of Dean Sumner.







Above images and additional research courtesy of Angela Wilson.



His older brother Francis Downes Ommanney (1903-1980) was a noted writer and biologist.

In 1929 he sailed to South Georgia in Antarctica, the first of several visits. In between he worked at the British Museum. He also made trips to the Falkland Islands in the 'Discovery II' expedition ship.

Back in England, in May 1940 he joined the RNVR as a meteorological officer and saw action in the Mediterranean and North Atlantic.

Awarded the Polar Bronze Medal in 1942, Ommanney Bay in the Southern Ocean is named after him.



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