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The Airmen's Stories - P/O P D Thompson


Peter Douglas Thompson was born on 7th September 1920. He joined the RAFVR in January 1939 and began elementary flying training at 20 E&RFTS Gravesend. Called to full-time service at the outbreak of war, Thompson was posted to 5 EFTS Hanworth.

In January 1940 he went to 3 FTS South Cerney and after completing the course in June he was sent to 6 OTU Sutton Bridge on 4th September to convert to Hurricanes.




Thompson joined 32 Squadron at Croydon on 21st September but was then posted to 605 Squadron on 11th October. He damaged Me109’s on 20th October, 1st November and 13th November. He shared a damaged Do17 on 26th March 1941.

On 27th April 1941 Thompson was one of twenty-four pilots who flew Hurricanes off HMS Ark Royal to Hal Far, Malta. He joined 261 Squadron and was wounded on 6th May but landed safely.

When 261 was disbanded in May he went to the newly-reformed 185 Squadron on the 12th. Thompson shared in destroying a Cant Z1007 on 25th July, destroyed a Mc200 on 26th, shared a SM79 on the 27th, claimed a probable Me109 on 29th December and a probable Ju88 on 25th January 1942.

He returned to the UK in January 1942 and was awarded the DFC (gazetted 30th January 1942). In early 1943 Thompson joined 601 Squadron in the Western Desert, as a Flight Commander, moving with it later to Sicily and Italy. He destroyed two SM79’s in an attack on Ancona airfield on 3rd November 1943.

He returned to the UK in early 1944 and in July took command of 129 Squadron, operating from Ford with Mustangs. He destroyed three V1 flying bombs and damaged two others. Thompson led the squadron until April 1945.

He stayed on in the RAF, retiring on 7th September 1975 as a Wing Commander, retaining the rank of Group Captain.




Thompson is pictured above (left) with his close friend F/O Derek Forde when they both were serving with 605 Squadron. Forde is holding a Hurricane landing light cover pierced by a bullet from a Dornier 17. This is most likely an aircraft from 2/KG2 which they had combined to attack over the Channel on 26th March 1941.

The photo is courtesy of Mrs Mimi Thompson who says that the Thompsons' first child, a daughter, was named Dereka after their friend.

The photo appeared in an issue of the ‘London Illustrated’ with a caption suggesting that Forde has told Thompson to “jolly well pull his finger out !!”




Below: his portrait was made by Cuthbert Orde.



Thompson died on 2nd March 2003.

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