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The Airmen's Stories - P/O R E Tongue


Reginald Ellis Tongue was born in Urmston, Lancashire on 17th July 1912 and educated at Sedbergh School. He made his first flight in 1931 in a Tiger Moth from Barton Airport, Manchester.

Tongue went to Exeter College, Oxford where he read Medicine and learned to fly with the University Air Squadron.



In July 1935 Tongue left the squadron, did a little more flying in 1936 and then bought his own Leopard Moth in 1937. He was a well-known motor-racing driver, winning places in important events in Britain and on the Continent from 1934 to 1939.

Richard John Beattie Seaman, one of the greatest pre-war Grand Prix drivers from Britain, drove for the Mercedes-Benz team from 1937–1939 in the Mercedes-Benz W154 car, winning the 1938 German Grand Prix. He died of his injuries after his car overturned at the 1939 Belgian Grand Prix.

There was controversy at his funeral in London when a large wreath bearing a large swastika and 'Adolf Hitler' in large gold letters was sent by his team mates.

His widow Erica, nee Popp, was the daughter of the head of BMW. Her engagement to Tongue was announced on 30th March 1940 but the marriage did not take place.

Tongue joined the RAFVR in April 1940 with a direct-entry commission. He went to 9 FTS Hullavington on 10th April and was posted to 3 Squadron at Wick on 27th July. He was attached to 5 OTU Aston Down on 5th August. Next day he crashed in Master N7782, unhurt.

After converting to Hurricanes he returned to Wick on 2nd September and moved to 504 Squadron on the 28th. He made a forced-landing near Whitchurch on 16th October, running into a pond, in Hurricane R4178.

On 10th November 1940 Tongue went to 249 Squadron at North Weald, moving to 46 Squadron there on the 16th.

Apart from five weeks attachment to 71 Squadron in March/April 1941, Tongue remained with 46 until 1st May. He then went overseas, spent two months at Takoradi and was back in the UK at the end of August.

On 8th October 1941 Tongue was posted to 55 OTU Usworth as an instructor. He went to Rolls Royce Ltd. on 7th March 1942 as Fighter Command liaison officer.

He was put on the Special Duties List on 11th November 1942 and became a test pilot at Rolls Royce.

He married Ivy May Walker in April 1944 in Southwell, Nottinghamshire.

Tongue continued this until 19th October 1945. He was released from the RAF on 14th December 1945 as a Flight Lieutenant.

After the war his sports interests turned to sailing, shooting and, riding. He also went back to motor racing and was one of the founders of the Oulton Park circuit. Tongue raced a Jaguar in the 1951 Monte Carlo Rally.

He died on 1st June 1992 in Lancaster.


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