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The Airmen's Stories - F/Sgt. G C Unwin


George Cecil Unwin was born at Bolton-on-Dearne, Yorkshire on 18th January 1913, the son of a miner. He joined the RAF in April 1929 as an Apprentice Clerk at RAF Records Ruislip. On 28th April 1931 he was posted to HQ Fighting Area Uxbridge, as an LAC Clerk GD.

He applied for pilot training, was selected and on 25th November 1935 he began his initial flying course at 8 E&RFTS Woodley. He moved on to 11 FTS Wittering on 17th February 1936 and after completing his training was posted to 19 Squadron at Duxford.


Above: Unwin (left) with P/O WJ Lawson of 19 Squadron.


On 3rd March 1939 Unwin was preparing to make a forced-landing, following engine failure. As he came down he saw children playing in the field in which he had chosen to land. He deliberately crashed in Spitfire K9797.

On 19 Squadron's first operational sortie Unwin was not rostered to fly, he complained loudly and was given the nickname 'Grumpy', this stuck throughout his service.

Over Dunkirk on 27th May 1940 he destroyed a Hs126, on the 28th a Me109 and on 1st June a Me110 and probably another. On a later patrol that day he shared in the probable destruction of a He111.

On 16th August Unwin claimed a Me110 destroyed and probably another, on 3rd September a Me110 destroyed, on the 7th two Me109s, on the 11th a probable He111 and a Do17 damaged, on the 15th three Me109s destroyed, on the 18th a Me110 destroyed and a Ju88 shared and on the 27th another Me109 destroyed.

He was awarded the DFM (gazetted 1st October 1940).

On 5th November Unwin claimed a Me109 destroyed, on the 15th he shared a Me110 and on the 28th shared a Me109. He was awarded a Bar to the DFM (gazetted 6th December 1940) and on 29th December went to 2 CFS Cranwell for an instructors course.

He was promoted to Warrant Officer on 26th December. Posted to 16 EFTS Derby on 23rd February 1941, Unwin was commissioned in July 1941 and moved to 2 FIS Montrose on 3rd March 1942. He instructed there until 19th October 1943, when he was posted to 12 (P) AFU Grantham to convert to Mosquitos.

After a spell at 60 OTU High Ercall, Unwin joined 613 Squadron at Lasham on 5th April 1944. He flew more than fifty night intruder sorties in preparation for D-Day.

With his tour completed, he went to CGS Catfoss on 30th October 1944 and moved to CGS Leconfield on 18th November 1945.

Unwin was posted to 608 Squadron Auxiliary Air Force at Thornaby on 12th June 1946 as Chief Instructor. He had a staff job at HQ 23 Group from 27th September 1947 until 11th January 1949 and another at HQ 12 Group until 18th August 1949. Unwin was then posted overseas and on 9th September he took command of 84 Squadron at Habbaniya.

The squadron moved to Tengah on 8th April 1950 and began operations in support of the Army against terrorists in Malaya. Its Brigand aircraft were unreliable but Unwin went on to lead the squadron on more than 180 rocket and dive-bombing attacks against terrorist positions.

Unwin led the squadron until 24th August 1951, when he broke a leg playing football and returned to the UK.

For distinguished service in Malaya, he was awarded the DSO (gazetted 21st March 1952).

He was later in charge of administration at RAF Tengah, Singapore. In 1958, back in the UK, he was appointed Permanent President of Courts Martial.

Unwin retired from the RAF on 18th January 1961 as a Wing Commander. He was a senior figure in charity appeals and an accomplished golfer.

He died on 28th June 2006.


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