The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. J Stokoe
Jack Stockoe, the son of a coal miner, was born in West Cornforth, County Durham on 1st February 1920. He joined the RAFVR in June 1939 as an Airman u/t Pilot and did his weekend flying at 26 E&RFTS Oxford.
Called to full-time service at the outbreak of war, Stokoe was sent to No. 1 ITW Cambridge, based at Magdalene College. He was posted to 15 FTS Lossiemouth for No. 6 Course, which ran from 29th December 1939 to 10th June 1940.
Stokoe arrived at 5 OTU Aston Down on 10th June and converted to Spitfires. He joined 263 Squadron at Drem on 26th June.
The squadron was then converting to Whirlwinds but Stokoe chose to remain on single-engine fighters and was posted to 'A' Flight of 603 Squadron at Dyce on 3rd July 1940.
He probably destroyed a Me109 on 29th August, destroyed a Me109 and probably another on the 31st, destroyed another Me109 on 1st September and damaged a Me110 on the 2nd. On this day Stokoe was himself shot down in flames in Spitfire N3056. He baled out, wounded, and was reported 'Missing'. He turned up at Leeds Castle Hospital, near Maidstone. He spent six weeks in hospital, with severe burns on hands and face.
Stokoe was non-effective sick until 14th October 1940, when he returned to the squadron. On the 26th Stokoe's engine seized at 25000 feet. He decided he had enough altitude to glide back. As he crossed the coast, he chose a field, manually lowered his flaps and undercarriage and made a successful landing.
Several pilots and aircraft had been recently lost in similar circumstances and an examination of Stokoe's intact Spitfire revealed an oil pump system fault. Once discovered this defect was rectified on other Spitfires.
He shared a Me110 on 7th November, destroyed a Me109 and damaged another on the 8th, destroyed another on the 17th and shared a Do17 on the 29th.
Commissioned in January 1941, Stokoe was posted away to 54 Squadron at Catterick on 3rd February.
On 5th March Stokoe destroyed a Me109 and on 20th April destroyed a Me110 but was himself shot down in Spitfire P7666. This was a presentation aircraft 'Royal Observer Corps' . Stokoe baled out safely into the sea and was picked up.
On 6th May Stokoe damaged a Me109, on 7th June he shared in probably destroying another, got another probable on the 21st and destroyed another on the 24th, his final victory.
He was posted to 74 Squadron at Gravesend on 27th June 1941 but the stay was a short one and he went to 59 OTU Crosby-on-Eden as an instructor. Stokoe moved to 60 OTU East Fortune on 17th July 1941. This unit was re-numbered 132 OTU in November 1942.
Stokoe went to 1692 (R/D) Flight at Drem on 3rd October 1943, to instruct on specialised airborne radar equipment.
He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 6th June 1944).
In late June 1945 he became Senior Admin Officer at Great Massingham, later becoming Station Commander.
He was released from the RAF on 21st August 1946 as a Squadron Leader. He rejoined the RAFVR in July 1947, flying Tiger Moths and Chipmunks until June 1952 at 24 RFS Rochester.
Stokoe later settled in Kent and worked for the County Council there.
For his final fourteen years he was Chief Standards Trading Officer.
He retired in 1983 and died after a stroke on 2nd October 1999.