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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. L A Thorogood


Laurence Arthur Thorogood was born on 13th May 1919 in Letchworth. His father appears in the 1901 census as a builder's clerk, in 1911 as a town agent and bailiff and in the 1939 register as “company's secretary (houses)”. His address then was 9 Meadow Way Green, Letchworth, Hertfordshire. He had joined the RFC in 1916.

LA Thorogood was serving an engineering apprenticeship when he joined the RAFVR at Luton in December 1938 as an Airman u/t Pilot. After a few hours dual on Magisters at 29 E&RFTS he was sent on a two months course at 9 E&RFTS Ansty after which he returned to Luton, flying on Hawker Harts.

Called to full-time service at the outbreak of war, Thorogood went to No. 1 ITW Cambridge, based at Pembroke College. He was posted to 2 FTS Brize Norton on 1st March 1940, was awarded his flying badge on 25th April and joined 87 Squadron at Church Fenton on 18th June.



He damaged a Ju87 on 19th July and destroyed a Ju88 on 25th August. At about 0700 on 1st November Thorogood baled out of a Hurricane which hit and damaged beyond repair two houses at Knaphill, Woking, Surrey, although only two of the residents suffered minor injuries. Thorogood had tried to direct the aircraft towards open land. He was found by a cowman, trapped in a gorse bush on Horsell Common. The cowman announced that he was arresting the pilot, who he believed to be German, and received the reply 'No I'm not, I'm one of you'.

Still serving with 87 Squadron he shared a Do18 with Ian Gleed on 24th May 1941. He was commissioned in August and posted away from the squadron in April 1942.


Above L to R: F/O R Watson, Sgt. LA Thorogood, P/O RFF Malengrau (BEL), F/lt. IR Gleed, F/O KW Tait (NZ), F/O RMS Rayner.



Above: Thorogood in Gleed's Hurricane.




Above images courtesy of the collection of F/O R Watson.


During his rest period, Thorogood served firstly as a Judge's Marshal and then went on a Specialist Armament Officer's Course. He was posted to India in July 1943, to be OC of the gunnery flight at Poona. Thorogood was sent in March 1944 for a course at the Air Fighting Training Unit at Amarda Road.

In July he joined 9 (Indian Air Force) Squadron at Comilla as a Flight Commander. He had carried out 56 operational sorties when his tour ended in January 1945. After a spell with 607 Squadron to gain Spitfire experience, Thorogood took command of 273 Squadron on Ramree Island in April 1945, moving on 9th May to Mingaladon.

He went to Tangmere in July for a Fighter Leaders' Course and rejoined 273 in Saigon. With the disbandment of the squadron imminent, Thorogood was posted to 155 Squadron at Tengah in September 1945.

He led the squadron to Indonesia in February 1946, to support the Indian Army in operations against the Indonesians and to cover the withdrawal of the Dutch.

Thorogood was awarded the DFC (gazetted 4th June 1946), disbanded his squadron in September and returned to the UK.

Perhaps intending to go to civil aviation he was awarded Aero Certificate 22187 on 6th December 1946, his ID photo on the licence is shown below.



In the event he remained in the RAF, retiring on 1st June 1964 as a Flight Lieutenant, retaining the rank of Squadron Leader.

At a later date Thorogood was mistakenly listed as having died by the RAF Club. His friend F/Lt. William Walker phoned to offer condolences and was taken aback when Thorogood answered the phone. Walker wrote a poem, later included in his published collection, to mark the occasion:

When I saw the Roll of Honour
I sadly thought you were a goner.
At great expense I bought a beer,
And drank to days when you were here.
As it seems you are still here,
Please remit the price of beer!

Thorogood died in December 2005 in Uttlesford, Essex.



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