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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. F N Robertson


Frederick Neal Robertson of Lockerly, Hampshire was born on 25th July 1918 in Romsey, Hampshire, the son of Frederick Neal Robertson (1889-1918) and Beatrice Clara Robertson (nee Coombs 1890-1968).

His father, from South Walls in Orkney, enlisted as a 2/Lt. in the Gordon Highlanders, part of 51st (Highland) Division. He served at Beaumont Hamel, the Battle of Arras, the Battle of Passchendaele and Cambrai.

In the German offensive of 1918 he went missing leading his platoon and was declared dead on 11th April 1918 aged 29. He is commemorated on Panel 115 of the Loos Memorial, in Dud Corner Cemetery in France and also on the Walls Memorial in Orkney.


FN Robertson Jnr. qualified as a marine engineer.

Robertson joined the RAFVR about September 1937 as an Airman u/t Pilot.

Called to full-time service on 2nd September 1939, he was then posted on loan to 769 (FAA) Squadron at Donibristle, where he flew Gladiators and Swordfishes and practiced carrier landings on HMS Furious.



In October 1939 Robertson was posted to 66 Squadron at Duxford. Over Dunkirk on 2nd June 1940 he destroyed a Ju88. Immediately afterwards his Spitfire was hit by flak, making it uncontrollable. Robertson baled out and landed on a beach five miles west of Dunkirk. He managed to get on one of the last boats to leave.

Robertson shared in destroying a Do17 on 10th July. He was posted away on 18th July to join a group of pilots at Uxbridge. They were flown to Hullavington, picked up Hurricanes, flew them to Abbotsinch and there embarked in the carrier HMS Argus, where they were joined by four more officers. They were told their destination was Malta and they were now 418 Flight.

The Argus sailed on 23rd July, arrived at Gibraltar and sailed for Malta on 31st July. At dawn on 2nd August they flew off to Luqa. On the 16th 418 Flight combined with the Malta Fighter Flight becoming 261 Squadron.

Robertson damaged a CR42 on the 20th, probably destroyed a Me200 on 25th September, damaged a Me200 on 4th October, damaged a CR42 on 23rd November, destroyed a SM79 on the 28th, destroyed a SM79 at night on 18th December, destroyed a Ju87, a CR42 and probably two others on 19th January 1941, destroyed a CR42 and damaged a SM79 on 1st February and destroyed a Ju88 on the 4th.

During the night of 8th/9th February 1941 Robertson damaged a Ju88, on the 25th damaged a Do17, on 5th March destroyed a Ju88 and a Me109. On the 16th he damaged a Me110 and on the 23rd he destroyed two Ju87s.

In this engagement he was hit by return fire and his Hurricane, V7495, was set alight. Robertson baled out and landed in a field near Luqa.

He was awarded the DFM (gazetted 18th March 1941).

Robertson was rested at the end of April 1941 and returned to the UK via Cairo. He instructed at 60 OTU and 54 OTU. Commissioned in March 1942, he was posted to 219 Squadron at Tangmere. Robertson later served with 153 Squadron at Portreath. In April 1943 he joined 96 Squadron at Honiley.

He was killed on 31st August 1943 as a Flying Officer with 96 Squadron.

His Beaufighter VI V8715 collided with a B-17 of the USAAF and crashed near Church Farm, Foulsham. His observer, Sgt.BE Dye, also a Battle veteran, was killed too.

The B-17F, 42-5376 JJ-X 'Eager Eagle' was from the 422nd Bomb Squadron, 305th Bomb Group at Chelveston. All but two of the crew were killed:

1/Lt. FH Truesdell Pilot,
2/Lt. AN McDaniel Co-Pilot
2/Lt. WM Cullity Jr, Navigator
1/Lt. RW Barrall, Bombardier
T/Sgt. JN Yongue, Gunner/Engineer
T/Sgt. JF van Esley Radio Operator
S/Sgt. CF Awrajcewicz, Ball Turret Gunner
S/Sgt. GD Simon, Tail Gunner
S/Ldr. EM Appleton, Observer (RAF)

The two waist gunners were able to bale out:

Sgt. CG Ruehl and S/Sgt. JE Breen.


Robertson was 25 and is buried in Cambridge City Cemetery.






A memorial is close to the crash site (below).



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