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15 October 2014
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A Pilot’s story

by cambsaction

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Archive List > Royal Air Force

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Paul Rogers son of J.H. Rogers
Location of story: 
Debden, East Anglia. Squadron leader Peter Townsend
Background to story: 
Royal Air Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
21 December 2005

A photo of Paul Rogers' father —pilot in RAF.

Father joined RAF in 1938 and did his boot camp training in RAF Cardington in Bedfordshire and then did his trade training at St. Athans in Wales and then was put out to first squadron, 85, Secin near Abbevile in france. His job was to look after all the inexperienced pilots and the two bladed wooden propeller early hurricanes with their fabric covered wings He looked after the aircraft squadron and the calls signs which were: VYQ, VYG and VYX. He was involved with the Battle of France during the phoney war. When the Germans started to hot up the invasion and the 109 and 110s were straffing the grass airfields they had to reposition some of the aircraft and try to camouflage the remaining aircraft with whatever was available to try to protect them. Germans invaded the low countries and remaining unserviceable hurricanes were destroyed. Gathered remaining transport back to Bolougne. Tried to get across channel in sinking Dutch trawler. Peter Townshend took over 85 Squadron and had to bring the squadron up to operational readiness for the Battle of Britain. Took part in Battle of Britain, moved operations to Castle Camps, due to German attacks. Hurricanes were moved to night time operational flights. Also reconnaisance and coastal command sweeps to protect ships and English coast. Moved to training on Tiger Moths, Ansons and flying Wellingtons from 99 squadron on the Thousand bomber raids to the Ruhr and Hamburg, 1941-42 Was then stationed at a number of different aerodromes. He then flew Stirlings and on one raid on the return he was straffed by enemy aircraft and received injuries to the right side of his face. Despite immediate medical attention a slither of glass remained undetected in his eye for another six months. This came to light because he could not focus from the instrument panel to the runway because of a slither of steel that hd wrapped itself around his optic nerve. Then put onto daytime operations only. Still had problems landing aircraft, crash landed at Newmarket racecourse as only large grass area available , racegoers complained. Had operation to remove damaged eye, replaced with glass eye. Not allowed to fly after that even though he tried. Transferred to Fairford put in charge of getting 40 Stirlings together and converting them to gliders for the D-Day landings. After D-day transferred to Chedborough to maintain rogue aircraft. Remainned there until end of the war. This part of the family history has moved on to the next generation because I am part of the Cambridge bomber and fighter society based at Somersham and Townshend’s eldest son is the President of the Society! For more information you can log on to our website at

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