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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. R J Hyde

 

Reginald Jack Hyde was born in Islington, Canterbury on 21st December 1912. He trained as an electrician and in 1936 went to the UK to gain further experience.


He began taking flying lessons at the Cambridge Aero Club. On 23rd July 1938 he joined the RAFVR and trained at weekends at 15 E&RFTS Redhill.


In May 1939 Hyde was accepted for six months full-time training with the RAF and at the outbreak of war he had almost completed his training.

 

 


He was loaned to 769 (FAA) Squadron at Donibristle, where he flew Gladiators and Swordfishes and practiced landings on the carrier HMS Furious.


Hyde went to 12 Group Pool Aston Down on 30th October 1939 for further training. He converted to Spitfires, was posted to 66 Squadron at Duxford on 8th December 1939 and joined the squadron on the 16th.


On 11th July 1940 Hyde damaged a Do17. On the 18th he reported to RAF Uxbridge and joined a group of pilots which ultimately became 418 Flight. They collected Hurricanes from the MU at Hullavington and flew them to Abbotsinch. The wings were removed and the aircraft were loaded on to the carrier HMS Argus, which sailed on 23rd July.


They flew off for Malta on 2nd August and landed safely at Luqa, with the exception of one which crashed on landing. On the 16th 418 Flight was incorporated into the newly-formed 261 Squadron. Hyde was in 'B' Flight.


On 8th September he destroyed two CR42's and on 4th October a Mc200. In the period 16th January to 19th January 1941 he destroyed a Ju88 and possibly other enemy aircraft. On 22nd April 1941 he claimed a Me109 destroyed and damaged another. Records in Malta over this period are virtually non-existent.


When 261 Squadron added an Intelligence Officer to its establishment, he went through the scrappy paperwork done prior to his arrival. Hyde was credited with five enemy aircraft destroyed, seven probably destroyed and others damaged. As well as flying Hurricanes, he also flew the three Gladiators, 'Faith', 'Hope' and 'Charity'.


When 261 was disbanded in early May, Hyde returned to the UK and was posted to 58 OTU Grangemouth as an instructor. Promoted to Warrant Officer on 1st October, he was recommended for the DFM but instead received a Mention in Despatches (gazetted 1st January 1942).


Commissioned in January 1942, Hyde moved to 55 OTU Aston Down in April. He returned to operations in early December, joining the newly-formed 197 Squadron at Drem. He left the squadron in October 1943 and then spent three months flying Gladiators for the film 'Signed with their Honour', set in Greece in 1941.


In February 1944 Hyde went to CGS Sutton Bridge on a course, at the end of which he was posted to 3 Tactical Exercise Unit at Annan. He was appointed OC Gunnery and Rocket Squadron at 62 OTU Newcastle in July 1944 as an Acting Wing Commander.

He was awarded the AFC (gazetted 1st January 1945) and in February transferred to the RNZAF.


Hyde was posted to 59 OTU Acklington as OC Flying in early March 1945 and recommended for an OBE but instead received a second Mention in Despatches (gazetted 1st June 1945).

In June he went as OC Flying to the Tactical Exercise Unit at Milfield. He returned to New Zealand on 17th September and went on to the Reserve at the end of December 1945.


Hyde started an electrical business in Christchurch and ran it for many years. He died on 23rd March 1985.


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