Brian Kingcome

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Charles Brian Fabris Kingcome
Wing Commander Charles Kingcome, CO of No. 92 Squadron RAF at Biggin Hill, Kent, 14 June 1942. CH3553.jpg
Acting Wing Commander C B F Kingcome, Commanding Officer of No. 92 Squadron RAF, at Biggin Hill, Kent
Born (1917-05-31)31 May 1917
Calcutta, West Bengal
Died 14 February 1994(1994-02-14) (aged 76)
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  Royal Air Force
Years of service 1936–1954
Rank Group Captain
Commands held No. 324 Wing RAF
No. 244 Wing RAF
No. 72 Squadron RAF
No. 92 Squadron RAF
Battles/wars

Second World War

Awards Distinguished Service Order
Distinguished Flying Cross & Bar
Mentioned in Despatches

Group Captain Charles Brian Fabris Kingcome DSO, DFC & Bar (31 May 1917 – 1994) was a British flying ace of the Second World War, most notable for serving with No. 92 Squadron in 1940 during the Battle of Britain.[1] He frequently led the squadron on a temporary basis before receiving full command early in 1941.

He later served in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and over Yugoslavia with RAF, Royal Canadian Air Force and South African Air Force Supermarine Spitfire and heavy bomber units. His total personal score stood at eight enemy aircraft destroyed, three shared, five probable and 13 damaged.[2]

Kingcome was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) in 1940, a bar to the DFC in 1941, and the Distinguished Service Order in 1942.

He was born in Calcutta, India and was educated at Bedford School.

RAF career[edit]

Kingcome entered the RAF Royal Air Force College Cranwell, Cranwell in 1936.[1] At the outbreak of the Second World War, Kingcome was based at Hornchurch Airfield serving with No. 65 Squadron RAF. He took part in the battle of France and the battle of Dunkirk; scoring no victories.[3] He was then posted to No. 92 Squadron, RAF Tangmere in May 1940, where he assumed temporary command over No. 92 Squadron after the loss of their Squadron leader Roger Bushell over the skies of Calais on 23 May 1940.[4]

During his time at No. 92 Squadron, Kingcome became acquainted with Geoffrey Wellum. Wellum, who flew as wingman to Flight Lieutenant Brian Kingcome, 92 Squadron’s acting CO (the Squadron lost 2 new COs within days of their arrival and Brian Kingcome led the Squadron temporarily in the absence of a squadron commander) later recorded his experiences in the book First Light.[5]

Kingcome was acting CO of No. 92 Squadron until Sqn Ldr Johnny Kent a Canadian, arrived. In early 1941, after Kent was transferred, Kingcome received full command . During this time he and his pilots achieved the highest success rate of any squadron in the entire Battle of Britain.[3]

After serving with 92 Squadron, Kingcome was briefly posted as flight commander at No 61 Operational Training Unit in late 1941. In February 1942, he returned to operations as CO of No. 72 Squadron RAF.[3] Almost immediately he was ordered to provide escort cover for the ill-fated Fleet Air Arm Swordfish attack on the German capital ship Gneisenau, the cruiser ship Prinz Eugen and the capital ship Scharnhorst as they sailed through the Channel in an attempt to reach Kiel, Germany during operation Channel Dash.

He then became Wing Leader at Kenley in June 1942, and late in the year posted to the Fighter Leader's School at RAF Charmy Down. In May 1943 he was posted to North Africa to command No. 244 Wing RAF and in September he was promoted to Group Captain at the age of 25. With 244 Wing, Kingcome found himself leading five Spitfire squadrons: No. 92 Squadron RAF, No. 145 Squadron RAF, No. 601 Squadron RAF, No. 417 Squadron RCAF and No. 1 Squadron SAAF during the Italian Campaign.

In October, he attended the RAF Staff College at Haifa. On completion, Kingcome was appointed Senior Air Staff Officer in No. 205 Group, which comprised all of the RAF heavy bomber squadrons in the theatre. In spite of his staff position, Kingcome flew several missions as a waist-gunner in a B-24 Liberator over northern Yugoslavia.[1] He remained in Italy after the war as CO of No. 324 Wing, again on fighters. In mid 1946 he returned to the UK and the Staff College for two years.

Flight Lieutenant Brian Kingcome (left), commanding officer of No. 92 Squadron Royal Air Force and his wingman, Flying Officer Geoffrey Wellum, next to a Supermarine Spitfire at RAF Biggin Hill, Kent, 1941.

Victories[edit]

Kingcome flew Spitfires in combat continually until the end of 1944, his tally finishing at 8 and 3 shared destroyed, plus a score of probables and damaged. One of the prewar Cranwell elite, Kingcome was to become one of the Second World War's great fighter leaders, alongside Douglas Bader, Robert Stanford Tuck and Johnnie Johnson.

In May 1940, he was posted to No. 92 Squadron as flight commander. On 25 May, Kingcome shared a Do 17 and on 2 June destroyed two He 111s and damaged a third. He shared a Ju 88 of 3./LG 1 with two others on 10 July, and again on the 24th. On 9 September he probably destroyed a Bf 110 and two days later shot down a He 111. On the 14th he damaged another. Kingcome shot down a Bf 109 on the 23rd and next day probably destroyed another (of 8./JG 26) and damaged a Ju 88. Three days later he shared a Ju 88 again, damaged two others, probably destroyed a Do 17, and damaged one of these also. Around this time Kingcome was awarded a DFC for six victories, and on 11 October got a Bf 109 he claimed another next day, and also damaged one. On the 13th he shot down a BF 109 of JG 3.

On 16 June 1941 Kingcome probably destroyed a Bf 109, and on 24 July shot one down. He received a Bar to his DFC, having brought his score to 10 confirmed kills. He was promoted to lead the Kenley wing, and on 15 April 1942 damaged a Fw 190. He probably destroyed a Bf 109 on 28 May, and during the year was awarded a DSO, having added another victory to his score.

In 1943 Kingcome was posted to North Africa to lead 244 Wing, and lead this for 18 months, becoming a Gp. Capt. after the invasion of Italy.[3] By the end of his stay with the wing, he had brought his total personal tally to 8 destroyed, three shared, five probable and 13 damaged enemy aircraft.[6]

Later life[edit]

The Second World War had taken a toll on his health and, after being treated for tuberculosis, he was invalided from the service in 1954.

In civilian life, he engaged successfully in a London garage and car hire business with his Battle of Britain comrade Paddy Barthropp (who later became very successful with his Rolls-Royce chauffeur business).[7] In 1969, with his wife Lesley (whom he had married in 1957) he set up ‘Kingcome Sofas’ an enterprise which involved the employment of Devon boat builders to craft sofas to each customer's measurements.

Published works[edit]

Kingcome wrote an autobiography called "A Willingness to Die" about his experiences during the Second World War. His Memoirs were written shortly before his death in 1994.[8]

Personal quotations[edit]

"'I always regarded 92 Squadron as my personal property. I led it through, what was to me, the most exhilarating and treacherous part of the war, the Battle of Britain at Biggin Hill. I gained and lost many good friends, and in front line operations I was with 92 longer than any other squadron'"[9]

“Why can’t they just talk about Battle of Britain pilots? Why does it always have to be heroes? I think it devalues the word and denigrates all those others who were called on to face just as great odds."[10][11]

Television[edit]

To mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, the BBC commissioned a one-off drama for TV called First Light, based on Geoffrey Wellum's book of the same name, in which Brian Kingcome was portrayed by the actor Ben Aldridge. The film was first shown by the BBC on 14 September 2010.[12][13][14]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "F/Lt. C B F Kingcome". Battle of Britain Monument in London. Archived from the original on 5 October 2010. Retrieved 19 September 2010. 
  2. ^ Price, Alfred (1997). Spitfire Mark V Aces 1941–45. London: Osprey. p. 9. ISBN 978-1-85532-635-4. 
  3. ^ a b c d "No.92 Sqn RAF". Military Print Company. Retrieved 19 September 2010. 
  4. ^ "Günther Specht". Aces of the Luftwaffe. Retrieved 19 September 2010. 
  5. ^ "Battle of Britain Memorial Flight: 92 Squadron – Geoffrey Wellum". Royal Air Force; Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom). Archived from the original on 2 March 2009. Retrieved 19 September 2010. 
  6. ^ "Squadron 92". Ciel de gloire. Retrieved 19 September 2010. 
  7. ^ "Wing Commander Paddy Barthropp". The Daily Telegraph. 2008-04-23. Retrieved 19 September 2010. 
  8. ^ Kingcome, Brian; Ford, Peter (1999). A Willingness to Die. London: Tempus. ISBN 978-0-7524-1693-9. 
  9. ^ Kingcome, Brian; Ford, Peter (1999). A Willingness to Die. London: Tempus. ISBN 978-0-7524-1693-9. 'I always regarded 92 Squadron as my personal property. I led it through ... 
  10. ^ Kingcome, Brian; Ford, Peter (1999). A Willingness to Die. London: Tempus. ISBN 978-0-7524-1693-9. 'Why can’t they just talk about Battle of Britain pilots? Why does it ... 
  11. ^ Bishop, Patric (2004). Fighter Boys: Saving Britain 1940. London: Harper Perennial. ISBN 978-0-00-653204-0. 'Why can’t they just talk about Battle of Britain pilots? Why does it ... 
  12. ^ "First Light (TV 2010)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 19 September 2010. 
  13. ^ BBC2 Programmes
  14. ^ BBC – Coming Up – First Light
Bibliography
  • Price, Alfred. Spitfire Mark V Aces 1941–45. Osprey, London. 1997. ISBN 978-1-85532-635-4
  • A Cobra in the Sky. Simon Morris. The history of 92 squadron. [1]