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The Airmen's Stories - F/O R Roberts


Ralph Roberts was born on 25th September 1919 in Sheffield. He joined 616 Squadron, Auxiliary Air Force at Doncaster in March 1939. He was accepted for pilot training and commissioned in May.

Roberts was called to full-time service on 24th August 1939 and was awarded his wings in September. He was posted to the Fighter Pool at St. Athan on 26th November where he converted to Hurricanes. He then joined 2 Ferry Pilots Pool at Filton on 21st December, pending a squadron posting. In the meantime he ferried Hurricanes to front-line squadrons in France.



In late December Roberts was posted to 615 Squadron in France and arrived at Vitry on 1st January 1940. He informed the CO that he had expected to go to 616 Squadron and was told that it would be arranged but that it would take time.

Roberts flew Gladiators in France until operations ceased there and then he flew one back to Lympne. He did patrols over Dunkirk in Gladiators, operating from Manston. The squadron, which had lost its new Hurricanes in France, was re-equipped with replacements at Kenley in June and Roberts continued to fly with 615 until the end of July.

He was then informed that his posting to 616 had finally come through but pending ratification from Group, he was asked to fly with 64 Squadron, also at Kenley, which was short of pilots.

On 13th August Roberts claimed a Do17 destroyed.

Two days later he was shot down over Calais-Marck in Spitfire K9964 SH*W and captured. He was later sent to Stalag Luft III.


Above: his Spitfire was recovered by the Germans and test flown.


Auxiliary Squadron pilots at Oflag XXI B at Schubin in 1942.

Back row from left: F/Lt. AM Crawley (601), F/Lt. PG Leeson (605), S/Ldr. JR Kayll (615), F/Lt. LH Casson (616), F/Lt. CH MacFie (616).

Front row from left: F/Lt. GD Craig (607), F/O REW Pumphrey (607), F/O R Roberts (616).



Freed in May 1945, Roberts was released from the RAF on 9th March 1946 as a Flight Lieutenant.

He died on 28th October 1994 in Bakewell, Derbyshire.

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