The Airmen's Stories - F/Lt. P C Webb
Paul Clifford Webb was born on 10th March 1918 at Greenock and educated at Kelvinside Academy in Glasgow before joining the National Bank of Scotland. In late 1937 he joined the local 602 (City of Glasgow) Auxiliary Air Force Squadron flying Hind biplanes from Abbotsinch at weekends.
He was called to full-time service on 24th August 1939.
Webb was scrambled just after 2pm on 16th October 1939 from Drem as a force of nine Ju88’s approached the Firth of Forth. Spitfires of 602 Squadron intercepted the enemy aircraft as they attacked the cruisers Southampton and Edinburgh in Rosyth dockyard. Three fighter pilots chased one of the bombers as it pulled out of its attack and headed out to sea at low level. The bomber caught fire and crashed into the sea.
Helmut Pohle, the sole survivor, was rescued and later visited in hospital by the pilots, who gave him sweets and cigarettes. Webb was credited with damaging the enemy aircraft.
On 28th October 1939 Webb shared in the destruction of a He111 over the Firth of Forth, the first German aircraft of the war shot down on British soil.
On 1st July 1940 he damaged a Ju88, which jettisoned its bombs in the sea off Dunbar. It crashed later at Melun-Villaroche, France.
602 moved south on 13th August to Westhampnett.
On 16th August Webb destroyed a Me110, on the 25th destroyed two Me110’s, on the 26th destroyed a He59, on 4th September damaged a Me110, on the 7th destroyed a Me110 and on the 9th destroyed a Ju88 and damaged another.
On this day Webb's Spitfire, K9910, was damaged in combat with Me109’s over Mayfield and he made a crash-landing in a wood at Crocker Hill, Boxgrove with slight injuries and a broken wrist. He was still non-effective sick on 1st November.
In early 1941 Webb was posted to 58 OTU Grangemouth as a gunnery instructor. He later went to 123 Squadron at Drem as a Flight Commander.
On 22nd November 1941 Webb took command of 416 (RCAF) Squadron, then forming at Peterhead. He led the squadron until March 1942, when he was posted to the Middle East. He operated in the Western Desert and was later in Malta, responsible for fighter training.
Webb commanded 253 Squadron in Italy from May 1944. In July the squadron was transferred to the Balkan Air Force and operated almost entirely over Yugoslavia in support of Tito's partisans.
Webb led many of the attacks against German road and rail transports. He also flew escort sorties for the Dakotas resupplying the partisans and maintained cover over landing strips as some of the transport aircraft landed to deliver supplies and evacuate wounded partisans.
In September 1944 Webb was promoted and posted away to command 281 Wing, again supporting partisan activities in Yugoslavia. He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 17th October 1944).
After the war Webb was given a permanent commission and he commanded 612 Squadron.
He was the assistant air adviser in Ottawa at the time of the acquisition of Canadian-built Sabre fighters for the RAF, which were ferried across the Atlantic during Operation Bechers Brook, which commenced on 9th December 1952 and ended exactly a year later with the delivery of the 400th aircraft.
He spent four years as Air Attache in Turkey, was made a CBE (gazetted 1st January 1963) and retired from the RAF on 18th March 1973 as a Group Captain, retaining the rank of Air Commodore.
Webb settled on the Welsh border at Knighton where his love of country sports occupied most of his time
He died on 10th July 2007.