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The Airmen's Stories - S/Ldr. P J Sanders


Phillip James Sanders was born on 1st May 1911 in Brampton, Chesterfield, Derbyshire and educated at Cheltenham College and Balliol College, Oxford. He joined the RAF with a direct-entry permanent commission as a University Entrant in March 1936.

His flying training was carried out at 5 FTS Sealand and he joined No. 1 Squadron at Tangmere on 11th October 1936.



Sanders was posted to RAF Hornchurch on 1st August 1939 for Ops duties. He took command of 92 Squadron at Northolt on 25th May 1940. Over Dunkirk on 2nd June he destroyed two He111's.

On 9th September he destroyed a He111 and probably a Me109, on the 11th he destroyed a Me109 and a He111 and probably another Me109, on the 15th he destroyed a Do17 and on the 20th a Me109.

After this engagement near Dover, Sanders headed back to Biggin Hill. His aircraft was damaged in the action and he had some petrol on his clothes, where his batman had used it to remove an oil stain. After landing he lit a cigarette and ignited some of his clothing, suffering minor burns.

Sanders flew no more operational sorties with 92 Squadron before being posted away to HQ 11 Group on 3rd October, joining the Air Staff on the 8th.

He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 8th November 1940).

In June 1941 he took command of 264 Squadron at Colerne. In early 1942 he went to the USA as a fighter test pilot at Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio.

Back in the UK, he joined the staff of HQ 84 Group, remaining there until the end of the war. He stayed in the RAF postwar, retiring on 3rd April 1962 as a Group Captain, retaining the rank of Air Commodore.

Following retirement he remained at the Ministry of Defence in a civilian capacity, retiring in 1976.

Sanders died on 11th January 1989.


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