Walter Churchill

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Walter Myers Churchill
Born (1907-11-24)24 November 1907
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Died 27 August 1942(1942-08-27) (aged 34)
Sicily, Italy
Buried at Syracuse War Cemetery, Sicily
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  Royal Air Force
Years of service 1932–1942
Rank Group Captain
Service number 90241
Commands held RAF Valley
No. 605 Squadron
Battles/wars

Second World War

Awards Distinguished Service Order
Distinguished Flying Cross

Group Captain Walter Myers Churchill DSO, DFC (24 November 1907 – 27 August 1942) was a Royal Air Force pilot during the Second World War.

Churchill was the elder brother of Peter Churchill and Oliver Churchill, both of whom were Special Operations Executive officers during the Second World War.

Gravestone at Syracuse War Cemetery, Sicily

Early life[edit]

His father was William Algernon Churchill (1865–1947), a British Consul who served in Mozambique, Pará in Brazil, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Milan, Palermo, and Algiers. His father was also an art connoisseur, and author of what is still the standard reference work on early European paper and papermaking Watermarks in Paper.[1] His mother was Violet Churchill (née Myers).

Walter was born in Amsterdam in 1907 and named after his uncle Walter Myers, an eminent physician and bacteriologist who died in 1901 aged 28. He was educated at Sedbergh School[2] and in 1926 read Modern Languages at Kings College, Cambridge. He then became an aeronautical engineer with Armstrong-Siddeley Motors, Coventry, after which he started an aviation precision engineering company Churchill Components (Coventry) Ltd in 1937 which supplied machined parts such as exhaust values for radial aero-engines to Armstrong-Siddeley. After being blitzed out of Coventry in 1941, the company re-located to Market Bosworth.[3] The company worked for Sir Frank Whittle, the jet-engine pioneer, and it machined compressor blades for the gas-turbine engines in the early 1940s.[3]

Royal Air Force[edit]

Churchill was commissioned as a pilot officer in the Auxiliary Air Force on 11 January 1932 and appointed to No. 605 (County of Warwick) Squadron. He was promoted to flight lieutenant in June 1937 and transferred from the AAF to the Auxiliary Air Force Reserve of Officers in January 1939. He was recalled to No. 605 Squadron and full-time service in August 1939. Churchill later served with No. 3 Squadron and No. 71 (Eagle) Squadron and took part in the Battle of Britain as a Squadron Leader.[4][5] He was then promoted to wing commander, then group captain.

Churchill was an 'ace' pilot credited with seven 'kills, and was awarded a Distinguished Service Order and a Distinguished Flying Cross.

He also evaluated various makes of fighter aircraft for the RAF and played a key role in getting Spitfire aircraft to the defence of Malta.[6] In August 1942, he was stationed in Malta as Group Captain. On 27 August, Churchill was killed in action while leading a raid in a Spitfire on Biscari airfield near Gela in southern Sicily, and was buried at the Syracuse War Cemetery.[7]

Extract of letter from Air Vice Marshal Keith Park, Air Officer Commanding, R.A.F. Mediterranean to his widow:

Dear Mrs Churchill,

I am writing because I feel that it may be some comfort to you in your great loss to know that your husband met his end leading a fighter formation in a most successful attack on the enemy. Although Walter Churchill has passed on, his fine example and inspired leadership will live on in Malta to the end of the war. He arrived in Malta leading a formation of reinforcing Spitfires to protect the last vitally important convoy. During his all too short stay in Malta Walter Churchill was an inspiration to the fighter squadron in the air and on the ground.

If it was ordained that Walter Churchill was to give his life for his country I feel sure he would have chosen to end it as he did, leading a fighter formation on a daring and most successful fighter sweep over enemy territory.

The company continued under the management of his wife, Joyce and subsequently by his second son, James. The company is now known as J. J. Churchill Ltd. and is managed by James's son, Andrew.[8]

Honours and awards[edit]

This officer has shot down three enemy aircraft since his arrival in France and has led many patrols with courage and skill.

— London Gazette[9]

This officer assumed command of a squadron shortly after its arrival in France and led it with marked success, inspiring his pilots and maintenance crews magnificently. He undertook the tactical instruction of new pilots, led many patrols successfully and organised his ground defences and crews in an exemplary manner. While under his command the squadron destroyed 62 enemy aircraft and he was throughout the main-spring of the offensive spirit, their excellent tactics and their adequate maintenance results. Only four pilots of the squadron were lost. Flight Lieutenant Churchill has recently destroyed four enemy aircraft, bringing his total to seven

— London Gazette[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Watermarks in Paper
  2. ^ "Deaths." Times [London, England] 3 Aug. 1943: 6. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 3 Apr. 2013.
  3. ^ a b About JJ Churchill
  4. ^ 71 Squadron
  5. ^ Battle of Britain Memorial
  6. ^ Eagle Squadron
  7. ^ Commonwealth War Graves Commission listing
  8. ^ Management of J J Churchill Ltd.
  9. ^ a b "(Supplement) no. 34860". The London Gazette. 31 May 1940. p. 3252. Retrieved 21 August 2010. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Cull, Brian. Spitfires over Malta – The Epic Air Battles of 1942. London: Grub Street, 2005. ISBN 1-904943-30-6.

External links[edit]