Peter Vigne Ayerst
Ayerst (bottom left) in France
|Born||4 November 1920|
|Died||15 May 2014(aged 93)|
|Service/||Royal Air Force|
|Unit||No. 73 Squadron RAF|
|Battles/wars||Second World War|
|Awards||Distinguished Flying Cross|
Peter Vigne Ayerst, DFC (4 November 1920 – 15 May 2014) was a Royal Air force officer and flying ace of the Second World War. He was the last surviving No. 73 Squadron pilot and test pilot from Castle Bromwich Aerodrome.
Ayerst was commissioned into the Royal Air Force on 14 December 1938 as an acting pilot officer on probation. In August 1939, he was posted to No. 73 Squadron RAF to fly Hurricanes. He was regraded to pilot officer on probation on 3 September 1939 and his commission was confirmed on 6 October 1939.
He was sent to France with the squadron and scored his first victory in April 1940. After a spell instructing, when he shared in the destruction of a He 111 with two other instructors, he had postings with both 145 and 243 Squadrons.
In July 1942 he went to North Africa with 33 Squadron, before being promoted to flight commander with 238 Squadron, both postings with further combat success. After a period in South Africa, he returned to the UK, joining 124 Squadron flying Spitfire MkVIIs in defence of the invasion ports, where he scored his final victory; then flew Spitfire MkIXs on bomber escorts to Germany. He later became a Spitfire test pilot at Castle Bromwich with the instruction of Alex Henshaw. After the war, he became one of the most highly regarded wartime instructors in the RAF. His final victory tally stood at 5 destroyed, 1 probable, 3 damaged and 2 further destroyed on the ground. In September 1944, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Ayerst was involved in a biography about his military experience tilted Spirit of the Blue: A Fighter Pilot's Story. It was published 2004. He died on 15 May 2014 at the age of 93, and is buried in Canterbury, Kent.
- "UK Commemorates Battle of Britain Commander". sys-con.com. 4 November 2009. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
- "Pilot is reunited with his WWII Spitfire in London". news.bbc.co.uk. 30 April 2010. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
- "Wing Commander Peter Ayerst". The Times. 30 June 2014. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
- "No. 34583". The London Gazette. 27 December 1938. p. 8249.
- "Two generations join in the air". Evening Standard. 16 May 2008. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
- "No. 34705". The London Gazette. 10 October 1939. p. 6796.
- Spirit of the Blue: Peter Ayerst: A Fighter Pilot's Story. books.google.com. 1 October 2005. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
- Berg, Sanchia (21 August 2010). "Battle of Britain survival 'a question of luck'". news.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 8 September 2012.