The Airmen's Stories - F/O R S Woodward
Robert Sinckler Woodward, of Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire was born on 31st March 1919 in Simla, India, the son of Charles Palgrave Woodward and Dorothy Margaret Woodward (nee Porter).
His father was a Captain in the 41st Dogras infantry regiment of the Indian Army.
RS Woodward was educated at Lancing College and Corpus Christi College, Oxford where he read History.
He learned to fly with the University Air Squadron and joined the RAFVR in June 1939 as an Airman u/t Pilot. Called to full-time service after the outbreak of war, Woodward was commissioned in early October 1939.
He completed his training and joined 600 Squadron at Catterick on 25th September 1940, serving for the remainder of the Battle.
In early 1941 Woodward teamed up with Sgt. AJ Lipscombe as his radar operator. In the late evening of 3rd May 1941 they destroyed a Ju88 near Shepton Mallet which crashed at Moons Hill Farm, Stoke St. Michael, Somerset.
This was a Ju88A-5, 8161 M7+AH of 1./806. Lt. G Gerlach, Oberfw. F Schafer, Fw. W Kramer and Fw. H Soland all baled out and were made PoW.
Woodward gave credit for the kill to Lipscombe (below).
On the night of May 9th/10th their Beaufighter was attacked by another night fighter, probably from 604 Squadron, when far out at sea. Woodward flew the burning aircraft back to Britain before he and Lipscombe baled out.
On 9th July Woodward shot down a He111 near Abergavenny, again assisted by Lipscombe. He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 29th August 1941).
They were flying on 20th September 1941 when their Beaufighter went into a spin near Corsham in Wiltshire, seemingly due to instrument failure (see report below).
Woodward ordered Lipscombe to bale out and then followed him. Lipscombe was killed but Woodward survived with a broken leg.
In March 1942 Woodward was given command of 263 Squadron, operating in Whirlwinds from Fairwood Common.
He married Virginia Cade Stair in Westminster in the folllowing April (below).
Woodward led the squadron until reported 'Missing' on 7th December 1942.
His Whirlwind, P7105, was seen to go into the sea off Jersey while attacking enemy shipping.
Woodward was 23. His is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, Panel 65.
Above images and additional research courtesy of Roberta Tweedy.
There is an immensely detailed account of Woodward's service and final sortie at:
Above image courtesy of Dean Sumner.
Above: a commemorative plaque overlooks the spot.