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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. L Staples


Lionel Staples was born in Woking on 22nd September 1915 and educated at Horsell School there. After leaving he worked as a maintenance engineer in a laundry.

On 25th November 1938 Staples joined the RAFVR in London as an Airman u/t Pilot and began his weekend flying at 18 E&RFTS Fair Oaks on Tiger Moths, Hinds and Audaxes.


Called up on 1st September 1939, Staples went to 4 ITW Bexhill in November, moved to 6 EFTS Sywell on 14th March 1940 and on to 8 FTS Montrose for No. 19 Course from 6th May to 16th August.
With the course completed, Staples arrived at 5 OTU Aston Down on 17th August and moved to 7 OTU Hawarden on the 19th.

After converting to Hurricanes he joined 85 Squadron at Croydon on 4th September, moved to 242 Squadron at Coltishall on the 13th and then to 151 Squadron at Kenley on the 21st.

The squadron went over to night-fighting in November 1940 and at the end of the month it began to convert to Defiants. On 10th April 1941 in Defiant N3479 Staples shot down a Ju88 near Birmingham at 2am. The aircraft, of II/KG51, crashed at Preston Hill Farm, Hitchin and the crew of four were captured.

On 23rd August 1941, with his tour completed, Staples was posted to 60 OTU East Fortune as an instructor on Masters. He went to CFS for a course on 4th January 1942 and returned to East Fortune on 16th February. Commissioned at the end of the month, Staples rejoined 151 Squadron, then operating Mosquitos at Wittering, on 14th April 1942 but stayed only until June when he was posted to Collyweston as a Beam Approach Training instructor.

Staples joined 1426 EAC Flight (Enemy Aircraft Circus) at Duxford on 11th March 1943.
He flew captured Me109's, Me110's, Fw190's and He111's on familiarisation exercises with USAF bombers.

Flying from Thorney Island prior to the invasion he flew enemy aircraft over southern England to familiarise troops with their appearance.

In October 1944 Staples joined 4 ADF at Clifton, near York. He was later temporarily grounded, spending a month in hospital with vertigo.

Released in September 1945, as a Flight Lieutenant, Staples rejoined the RAFVR in 1947 and flew again from Fair Oaks until disbandment in 1952.

He died in 1992.


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