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The Airmen's Stories - W/Cdr. D N Roberts


David Neal Roberts was born on 4th June 1906 in Hurstpierpoint, Sussex. He was educated at the United Services College and HMS Conway.

He entered the RAF College Cranwell in September 1924 as a Flight Cadet.

After graduating on 29th July 1926 with a permanent commission he joined 39 Squadron at Grantham on 30th July to fly DH9s and Westland Wapitis. Roberts was sent to CFS Wittering in September 1928 for an instructors course and he then joined the instructing staff at 2 FTS Digby on 19th December.

He was posted to 504 Squadron Auxiliary Air Force at Hucknall on 18th August 1930 as a flying instructor. On 5th October 1931 Roberts went to Kings College, London University for a Russian language course, followed by a special language leave for one year in Estonia, after which he passed out as a Russian interpreter.




After a refresher course at CFS Wittering in early 1933 Roberts joined 41 Squadron at Northolt on 17th March as 'A' Flight Commander.

In early 1935 he was posted to RAF Amman, Jordan as Station Adjutant and on 24th July he went to 4 FTS Abu Sueir as Flying Instructor and Flight Commander. He was awarded the AFC (gazetted 9th June 1938).

Whilst on leave from Egypt in 1938 Roberts was posted to the Air Staff at HQ Fighter Command, arriving on 8th October.

On 11th June 1940 he was given the job of forming and then commanding the Fighter Station and Sector at Middle Wallop. During the period of the Battle of Britain he flew one sortie with 609 Squadron, thus qualifying for the Battle of Britain clasp.

Made an OBE (gazetted 24th September 1941), Roberts was posted overseas in November 1941 to command a fighter wing for special operations in North Africa.

When the war with Japan started he was diverted to the Dutch East Indies. Roberts was evacuated to India in early 1942, where he commanded the fighter defences for Calcutta and Eastern India. He later commanded RAF Assam.

In 1943 Roberts was posted to Moscow as Air Attache and Head of the UK Air Mission. He returned to the UK in 1945 and was appointed Assistant SASO at HQ Transport Command. Later in the year he went to 45 Group at Dorval, Canada.

Roberts was made CBE (gazetted 1st January 1954) and retired from the RAF on 29th May 1958 as an Air Commodore.

He died in October 2000.



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