Brian Carbury

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Brian John George Carbury
Born(1918-02-27)27 February 1918
Wellington, New Zealand
Died31 July 1961(1961-07-31) (aged 43)
Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, England
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchRoyal Air Force
Years of service1937–1941
RankFlight Lieutenant
UnitNo. 41 Squadron RAF
Battles/warsSecond World War
AwardsDistinguished Flying Cross & Bar

Brian John George Carbury, DFC & Bar (27 February 1918 – 31 July 1961) was a New Zealand fighter ace of the Royal Air Force during the Second World War.[1] He was credited with being one of four "aces in a day" in the Battle of Britain as he shot down five aircraft on 31 August 1940. The others were Archie McKellar, Ronald Hamlyn, both British pilots,[2] and Antoni Głowacki of Poland.

Early life[edit]

The 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) son of a Wellington, New Zealand veterinarian, Brian John George Carbury was raised in Auckland, where he attended King's College from 1932 to 1934. He joined Farmers' Trading Co. on leaving school, but sick of the job as a shoe salesman,[3] he headed to the United Kingdom in 1937 to join the Royal Navy. Being told he was too old, he joined the Royal Air Force on a short service commission as an acting pilot officer.[4]

Royal Air Force[edit]

June 1938 – July 1940[edit]

Carbury joined No. 41 Squadron RAF in June 1938, his rank was confirmed on 27 September 1938,[5] flying the Hawker Fury. In August 1939 he was posted to RAF Turnhouse near Edinburgh, Scotland with No. 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron of the Auxiliary Air Force as training officer, flying Spitfires. As an Auxiliary Air Force squadron, No. 603 were weekend 'part-time' airmen doing other jobs during the week. But as war approached the squadron was put onto a full-time footing and Carbury was permanently attached from the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939. During the Phoney War, No. 603 gained pilots Richard Hillary—later the author of The Last Enemy; and Gerald Stapleton, who may have shot down Franz von Werra, the only German prisoner of war to escape and return to the Third Reich.

Scotland was far away from the more accessible targets in the south of England, but was in range for the Luftwaffe's long-range bombers and reconnaissance aircraft shadowing the Royal Navy's Home Fleet in Northern Scotland and the North Sea. On 16 October a section of 603 was scrambled and shot down a Junkers Ju 88 bomber into the North Sea east of Dalkeith, the first German aircraft to be shot down over British territory since 1918. Carbury probably destroyed a Heinkel He 111 on 7 December, and claimed a third share in the destruction of another He 111 during January 1940. Carbury was promoted to flying officer on 27 April 1940.[6]

August 1940 – October 1940[edit]

In light of RAF Fighter Command's dire need for pilots in the battles over southern England during August 1940, No. 603 redeployed to RAF Hornchurch, becoming active in the Battle of Britain from 27 August 1940.

Carbury claimed his first victory on 29 August, a Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter. He claimed another on the 30th, and three more on the 31st, together with two He 111s[7] – taking his total to 8 and 1/3, and making him a fighter ace. Hillary was shot down on 3 September in combat with Bf 109's of Jagdgeschwader 26 off Margate at 10:04hrs – rescued by the Margate lifeboat, he was severely burned and spent the next three years in hospital.[8] In September Carbury claimed three more Bf 109's, and after sustaining wounds to his feet during actions in September, his efforts were recognised by the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC). The award was gazetted on 24 September 1940:[9]

Carbury continued his toll of victories in October, as the German's intensified their high-level fighter-bomber attacks on London. His first two victories for the month were a Bf 109 over the Thames Estuary on the 2nd, and another in southeast London on 7 October. Based at RAF Manston on the 10th, Carbury noticed three Bf 109's returning to northern France—leading three Spitfires into attack, he shot the first in to the English Channel, and a second on to the beach at Dunkirk. On 14 October, he damaged a Junkers Ju 88.

The official end of the Battle of Britain came at the end of October, when Carbury was awarded a Bar to the DFC—one of fewer than five pilots given the double award for victories claimed during the period of the Battle of Britain. With destruction of 15 enemy aircraft destroyed (and 2 victories shared destroyed), 2 probables and 5 damaged,[10] Carbury was among the five top-scoring pilots in RAF Fighter Command and the top scorer against Bf 109s [11] during the Battle of Britain along with Eric Lock. The award of the bar to his DFC was gazetted on 25 October 1940:[12]

December 1940 onwards[edit]

No. 603 Squadron and Carbury returned to Scotland on scheduled rotation in December 1940. On Christmas Day Carbury was scrambled to intercept a Junker Ju 88 reported off St Abb's Head, inflicting damage before the German aircraft turned for home.

Early in 1941 Carbury was posted to be an instructor at the Central Flying School and then 58 OTU at Grangemouth, and did not fly operationally in combat again. Later that year he was charged with fraud after being accused of passing between nine and 17 false cheques, an offence that could attract a prison sentence. At his RAF court martial, he was found guilty and on 21 October 1941 the London Gazette announced: "Flg. Off. B. J. G. CARBURY, DFC (40288), to be dismissed the Service by sentence of General Court-Martial. 1 Oct 1941." [13]

Hillary on Carbury[edit]

In his book The Last Enemy, Richard Hillary said of Carbury:[3]

Combat Record[edit]

Date Service Flying Kills Probables Notes
7 December 1939 Royal Air Force Spitfire Damaged 1 *Heinkel He 111 Flying from RAF Turnhouse
7 March 1940 Royal Air Force Spitfire 1/2 * Heinkel He 111
3 July 1940 Royal Air Force Spitfire 1/3 * Junkers Ju 88
29 August 1940 Royal Air Force Spitfire 1 *Messerschmitt Bf 109 Flying from RAF Manston
30 August 1940 Royal Air Force Spitfire 1 * Messerschmitt Bf 109 Fw. Ernst Arnold of 3/JG27[14]
31 August 1940 Royal Air Force Spitfire 2 * Heinkel He 113
3 * Messerschmitt Bf 109
Included 4 solo kills and 2 shared kills. Additionally, though officially credited with two He 113 kills, this was a mistake as Heinkel He 113s were fictitious aircraft invented by German wartime propaganda. In reality, these had to be a different model of aircraft.
September, 1940 Awarded DFC
2 September 1940 Royal Air Force Spitfire 1 * Messerschmitt Bf 109
7 September 1940 Royal Air Force Spitfire 2 * Messerschmitt Bf 109
14 September 1940 Royal Air Force Spitfire 1 * Messerschmitt Bf 109
2 October 1940 Royal Air Force Spitfire 1 * Messerschmitt Bf 109
7 October 1940 Royal Air Force Spitfire 1 * Messerschmitt Bf 109
10 October 1940 Royal Air Force Spitfire 2 * Messerschmitt Bf 109
14 October 1940 Royal Air Force Spitfire Damaged Junkers Ju 88
October, 1940 Royal Air Force Spitfire Awarded DFC Bar
25 December 1940 Royal Air Force Spitfire Damaged Junkers Ju 88 Flying from RAF Turnhouse
TOTALS 15½ kills 0 probable

Post war[edit]

After leaving the RAF, he lived in England until his death in July 1962.[15] In 1949, he along with three others, in a trial at Princes Risborough Magistrates' Court, was found guilty of two offences relating to the illegal export of Bristol Beaufighters to Palestine.[16] Each man was fined a total of £100.[16] The defence solicitor described the four as "stooges" of a fifth man who had remained in Palestine.[16]


In 1961, Carbury was diagnosed with terminal acute leukaemia and died soon after in High Wycombe Hospital (then the War Memorial Hospital). He was later cremated at Breakspear Crematorium near Ruislip. A memorial to his memory was erected in his home town of Wellington, New Zealand.


  1. ^ Aces of New Zealand Archived 12 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine Aces of WW2
  2. ^ Aces High,Shores and Williams
  3. ^ a b Richard Hillary (December 2005). "The Last Enemy – A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook". Retrieved 8 January 2008.
  4. ^ "No. 34463". The London Gazette. 14 December 1937. p. 7856.
  5. ^ "No. 34558". The London Gazette. 4 October 1938. p. 6201.
  6. ^ "No. 34849". The London Gazette. 14 May 1940. pp. 2895–2896.
  7. ^ "Birain Carbury – Combat Report". Retrieved 7 January 2008.
  8. ^ Bio of Richard Hillary
  9. ^ "No. 34951". The London Gazette. 24 September 1940. p. 5654.
  10. ^ Aces High, Shores & Williams , page 165
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 25 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-23.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link), Spitfire vs Bf 109 by Tony Holmes, Osprey Publishing.
  12. ^ "No. 34978". The London Gazette. 25 October 1940. pp. 6192–6193.
  13. ^ "No. 35319". The London Gazette. 21 October 1941. p. 6112.
  14. ^ – The Aviation Art of Mark Postlethwaite GAvA Archived 18 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ Brian Carbury Bio Archived 14 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine at the New Zealand Fighter Pilots Museum. Retrieved 8 March 2009.
  16. ^ a b c "Aeroplanes flown to Palestine — Four pilots fined — Refuelled in Yugoslavia" (pdf, subscription required). The Times digital archive. Infotrac, Gale Group. 26 April 1949. p. Issue 51365, Page 2, Column B. Retrieved 8 January 2008.

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