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The Airmen's Stories - F/O R F Smythe


Rupert Frederick Smythe was born in Killiney, County Dublin, Ireland on 11th June 1916.

He was the son of Lt. Col. Rupert Caesar Smythe CMG DSO, late Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, who had served in the Boer War and the Great War. During the latter he was Mentioned in Despatches three times and was appointed DSO in 1918 while commanding a service battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment.

His CMG was awarded in 1919 when he was commanding a battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles. He retired from the Army after commanding the Inniskillings Depot in Omagh. In 1930 he bought Augher Castle. He died from heart failure in February 1943 when he was CO of 5th (South Tyrone) Bn Ulster Home Guard.

RF Smythe joined the RAF on a short service commission and began his initial training course on 25th October 1937.

He was posted to 11 FTS Wittering in January 1938 and after completing his training joined 29 Squadron at Debden on 24th October.

He married Margaret Ada Fewell in Saffron Walden in late 1939.


Above: Smythe (right) shows his damaged flying helmet to F/Lt. PM Brothers



On 7th September 1939 Smythe joined 504 Squadron at Digby. He was posted to 32 Squadron at Gravesend on 26th January 1940. He joined it on 2nd February after going on leave.

Smythe was ordered to RAF Hendon on 17th May 1940 for an onward posting to a squadron in France. This did not come about and he rejoined 32 Squadron on 24th May.

Over Dunkirk on 2nd June he destroyed a Ju88 and probably a Me109. In a patrol over France on 11th June Smythe destroyed a Hs126. He claimed two Me109's destroyed on 4th July, probably destroyed another on the 19th, destroyed a Do17 on 12th August, another Me109 on the 14th and damaged Do17's on the 20th and 22nd.

Smythe was shot down in combat with Me109's over Folkestone on 24th August and crashed at Lyminge in Hurricane V6568, wounded. He was taken to the Royal Masonic Hospital at Hammersmith.

He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 30th August 1940). Smythe rejoined 32 Squadron on 1st November 1940.

He did not return to operational flying. He was posted away from 32 in December 1940 to 2 CFS Cranwell for an instructors course.

He arrived at 15 EFTS on 22nd January 1941 as an instructor. His subsequent service is currently undocumented until he was released from the RAF in 1946 as a Flight Lieutenant.

He re-engaged in the RAF for 5 years in 1951, some sources have him later running a pub in Fakenham, Norfolk.



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