The Airmen's Stories - F/Lt. R D Pexton
Richard Dunning Pexton was born in Watton Abbey, Yorkshire on 26th October 1913. He attended St. Peter's School in York and was in the OTC there. On leaving school he helped to run the family farm in East Yorkshire.
He played for Driffield Rugby Club.
He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 5th Battalion, Green Howards (TA) on 5th November 1932. He resigned his commission on 1st October 1935, having been influenced by watching RAF flying displays.
In December 1937 Pexton joined the RAFVR, as an Airman u/t Pilot and was commissioned in January 1938. He spent time with 41 Squadron at Catterick between January and April 1939, but then returned to the family farm to help with the harvest.
Called up at the outbreak of war, he joined 615 Squadron at Croydon on 6th September 1939. He flew with the squadron to Merville, France on 15th November in a Gladiator.
He was shot down in Hurricane N2331 on 19th May 1940 and suffered a leg wound when he crash-landed near the Arras-Cambrai road. He spent four days reaching Dunkirk, having been reported missing.
On 23rd May he was taken on board the hospital ship Worthing and landed at Newhaven the next day. He was admitted to hospital at Barnet, Hertfordshire.
He was then posted to No. 1 RAF Depot Uxbridge, as non-effective sick. He rejoined 615 Squadron at Kenley on 10th July, fit for flying duties.
Pexton shared in the destruction of a He59 off North Foreland on the 27th. He was posted away on 13th August 1940 to 5 FTS Sealand on instructional duties. He also instructed at Cranwell and Cranfield before being posted to Canada as one of the instructors forming 34 SFTS at Medicine Hat.
He later took command of the unit. Pexton was awarded the AFC (gazetted 26th October 1943).
Pexton requested a return to operations and went to Bomber Command, undertaking training at 16 OTU, 1661 HCU and No. 5 Lancaster Finishing School. He was posted to 61 Squadron at Skellingthorpe as a Flight Commander, later commanding the Squadron until he was posted away in April 1945.
He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 16th February 1945).
He was released from the RAF in 1945 as a Wing Commander and took charge of the family farm.
Pexton died on 16th January 1993.
His brother, F/Lt. Harold Cass Pexton DFC, was killed on operations with 35 Squadron on 30th July 1943 and is remembered on the Runnymede Memorial.
Halifax II HR851 TL-T was shot down by flak and night fighters in the target area during a raid on Hamburg.
Also lost were:
S/Ldr. CF Andrew
F/Sgt. CD Hughes
Sgt. WDR Walters
Sgt. EFJ Willis