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The Airmen's Stories - S/Ldr. H West


Hamish West was born in Lossiemouth, Scotland on 15th February 1914.

His father was David West and his mother the former Jessie Gordon Schiack Christie. David West (1870-1936) was a watercolour painter who exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy and Royal Academy. In 1908 he was elected a Member of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour and in 1935 he was elected Vice President.


Hamish West joined the RAF on a short service commission in March 1933. He was posted to 3 FTS Grantham on 8th April and after completing his training joined 32 Squadron at Biggin Hill on 11th March 1934.

He moved to 801 (Fleet Fighter) Squadron on 4th September 1935, based at Gosport and at sea on HMS Furious.

West joined 803 (Fleet Fighter) Squadron on 3rd October 1936, based on HMS Furious in the Far East. He was at RAF Gosport from 4th May 1937 and was posted to CFS Upavon on 22nd January 1939 for an instructors course, after which he joined the staff at No. 1 SFTS Leuchars.


Above: with his wife Anne.


On 7th June 1940 West arrived at 5 OTU Aston Down for a refresher course. After converting to Spitfires he joined 41 Squadron at Catterick on 23rd June as a supernumerary Squadron Leader.

He flew one operational sortie with 41 Squadron, a patrol on 21st July.

West was detached from 41 to 219 Squadron at Catterick on 26th July for flying duties. He flew no sorties with the squadron but remained with it until 2nd September 1940, when he was posted to 151 Squadron at Digby.

He took command of 151 Squadron on 8th September and led it until 5th December 1940, when he was posted to 59 OTU at Turnhouse.

West formed and then commanded 122 Squadron at Turnhouse from 22nd May until August 1941. He commanded 80 Squadron briefly in the Western Desert in April 1942.


Above: with Hamish Junior.


He was released from the RAF in 1947 as a Wing Commander but later rejoined, finally retiring in July 1953.

West died on 17th February 1993.

Images courtesy of Hamish West Jnr. (son).

West’s younger brother, Flight Lieutenant Ronald West DFC (and bar), served with 249 Squadron. At the time of his death, on 24th May 1944, he was serving with 610 Squadron as ‘B’ Flight commander. On that date the squadron flew two Ramrods, escorting Typhoons attacking enemy shipping at Lézardrieux, Brittany. There were no incidents until the return from the second when West’s Spitfire crashed on landing at RAF Bolt Head, Devon and burst into flames. He was rescued, badly burned, and died later in the station sick quarters. He lies in Lossiemouth Burial Ground.

On the previous day 610 Squadron had lost its ‘A’ Flight commander when the aircraft of F/Lt. HH Percy was hit by anti-aircraft fire from guns on Bréhon Tower, Guernsey, covering the Little Roussel (channel) between Guernsey and Herm, an area known to the RAF as “Flak Alley”. Percy radioed his intention to bale out but his parachute did not open and his body was never found. His name appears on Panel 203 of the Runnymede Memorial.


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