Monday, 19 March 2012

DFC for Battle of Britain pilots

The change of German tactics from daylight raids on airfields and aircraft factories to mixed day and night raids on cities and towns was both a relief and a worry for Dowding and the higher ranks at Fighter Command.

On the plus side, the change gave Fighter Command a much needed break. The constant pounding of airbases, especially in Kent, had caused heavy casualties among highly trained groundcrew who could not easily be replaced and had severely disrupted the smooth efficiency of the command. Now that the bases were no longer being bombed – or at least not so heavily nor so often – the fighter squadrons could return to a higher level of efficiency. Certainly the pilots appreciated knowing that at the end of an arduous mission they stood a good chance of being able to land back at base rather than finding it a smoking ruin.

One of the activities that the Command was able to catch up with was the award of medals. Throughout the Battle of Britain feats of outstanding skill or bravery had resulted in recommendations, and in most cases awards, of immediate medals. Now that the pressure was off, however, time was found to reward the less spectacular but no less heroic feats of sustained work and devotion to duty.

In October Pilot Officer Anthony Bartley of No.92 Squadron was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. During the hectic months he had shot down no less than 8 German aircraft and, as his squadron commander wrote “has always displayed great coolness in action and proved himself a clever and determined fighter.” Flt Lt George Christie was likewise awarded a DFC having shot down seven German aircraft and “shown outstanding ability and leadership over a long period of air operations”.

Sergeant Reggie Llewellyn of No.213 Squadron, being an NCO, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal. By October his score had reached four Ju88s, four Me110s, three Me109s, one Heinkel 111 destroyed plus several probables. “He has,” wrote his commander when making the recommendation for a medal “at all times shown great courage and devotion to duty.”


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