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The Airmen's Stories - F/Lt. R W Oxspring


Robert Wardlow Oxspring was born in Sheffield on 22nd May 1919.

His father Robert was awarded a MC serving with the Kings Yorkshire Light Infantry, he transferred to the RFC in 1916 and served with 54 Squadron and 66 Squadron, both operating Sopwith Pups. He was later awarded a Bar to his MC.


RW Oxspring joined the RAF on a short service commission in March 1938. After completing his initial training at 4 E&RFTS Brough he went on to 2 FTS Brize Norton on 21st May and then joined 66 Squadron at Duxford on 17th December.

He was still serving with 66 Squadron in early July 1940. On the 29th Oxspring shared in destroying a He111, on 11th September claimed a He111 destroyed, on the 15th a Do17 destroyed and two He111s damaged, on the 18th a Me109 destroyed and another damaged, on the 24th a He111 destroyed, on the 27th a Me110 destroyed and a Do17 damaged, on the 30th a Me109 destroyed and two more on 5th October and 13th October.

Oxspring was shot down by Me109s over Tunbridge Wells on the 25th and baled out, slightly injured. His Spitfire, X4170, crashed into an orchard near Capel.

He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 8th November 1940).



Oxspring, who had been a Flight Commander since September, was posted to 59 OTU, Crosby-on-Eden in April 1941 as instructor and Flight Commander.

He returned to operations in September, joining 616 Squadron at Westhampnett but after only a week he moved to 41 Squadron at Merston, as a Flight Commander.

In January 1942 Oxspring took command of 91 Squadron at Hawkinge. He was given command of 72 Squadron at Biggin Hill in July 1942 and on the 26th he probably destroyed a Fw190.

He was detached temporarily to command 222 Squadron at Winfield in August and took part in operations over Dieppe. Awarded a Bar to the DFC (gazetted 18th September 1942), Oxspring led 72 Squadron to Gibraltar in November and on the 16th it flew to Algiers, beginning patrols the next day.

On the 22nd Oxspring was shot down and made a forced-landing eight miles east of Beja. He probably destroyed a Me109 and damaged another on 25th November, damaged a Ju88 on the 26th, damaged a Mc202 on the 29th, damaged a SM79 on the 30th, damaged a Mc202 on 1st December, damaged a Me109 on the 3rd, destroyed another on the 5th and shot down a Fw190 on the 22nd.

Oxspring destroyed a Me109 and damaged another on 2nd January 1943 and was awarded a second Bar to the DFC (gazetted 16th February 1943). He damaged a Fw190 on 28th February, destroyed a Me109 on 1st March and destroyed one and damaged another on 11th April. Later in the month Oxspring was posted to HQ 242 Group, situated in caravans and tents at Medjez, co-ordinating Army requests for air support.

Later in 1943 Oxspring returned to the UK and went to HQ Fighter Command in the Tactics and Training Branch. He was promoted in March 1944 and appointed Wing Leader 24 Wing.

Between 23rd June and 16th July Oxspring destroyed 4 V1's over London and Kent. In September 1944 he went to lead 141 Wing at Deanland and when it was disbanded he was made leader of the Detling Wing.

In May 1945 Oxspring was posted to CFE Tangmere and later in the year he was sent for a course to the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, USA.

Oxspring was awarded the AFC (gazetted 1st January 1949) and retired from the RAF on 29th February 1968 as a Group Captain.

His portrait was made by Cuthbert Orde (below).


He died on 8th August 1989.

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