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The Airmen's Stories - F/O F N Brinsden


Francis Noel Brinsden was born in Auckland on 27th March 1919 and educated at Takapuna Grammar School. After leaving he worked as a bank clerk.

He applied for a short service commission in 1937, was provisionally accepted and sailed for England in the RMS Arawa in mid-August.

Brinsden began his elementary flying at 7 E&RFTS Desford on 27th September 1937. In mid-December he was posted to 3 FTS South Cerney and on 9th July 1938, with his training completed, he joined 19 Squadron at Duxford.


Over Dunkirk on 26th May 1940 Brinsden destroyed a Ju87 and shared another and on the 27th he shared in destroying a Hs126 over Ypres.

On 31st August Brinsden was late taking off. Trying to catch up with the squadron he met a Me110 head-on at 22000 feet. The German pilot fired first and Brinsden's Spitfire, R6958, went into a dive. Brinsden baled out at 5000 feet and landed unhurt. On 9th September he shared in probably destroying a He111.

On 6th November 1940 he was promoted to Acting Flight Lieutenant and posted from 19 Squadron to RAF Leconfield. He joined 303 Squadron there the next day, as 'A' Flight Commander.

Brinsden was appointed British Liaison Officer with 303 Squadron from 1st January 1941, when Polish officers took command of the squadron.

He returned to operations on 26th March 1941, when he joined the newly-formed 485 Squadron at Driffield as a Flight Commander. He went to the MSFU at Speke on 22nd July 1941 as Port Loading Officer.

Brinsden took command of 3 ADU at High Ercall in mid-August 1942. He was posted to 54 OTU Charter Hall in February 1943 for a night-fighting conversion course, after which he joined 25 Squadron at Church Fenton.

On 17th August 1943 Brinsden was captain of Mosquito HX826, supporting bombers raiding Peenemunde. He decided to bomb Sylt airfield and successfully attacked the hangars at rooftop height. He was then picked up and blinded by searchlights. With his vision almost lost, he headed out to sea but struck the surface of the water and broke both airscrews.

Brinsden ditched the aircraft. He and the navigator got into their dinghy and attempted to sail out of the bay under an offshore breeze. Dawn brought a wind change and at mid-day on the 18th they were blown ashore into the arms of German troops, who had been watching them for six hours.

Eventually Brinsden found himself in Stalag Luft 3. He was released on 9th May 1945, went on a pilot refresher course and then took command of No. 3 Missing Research and Enquiry Unit, tracing Allied aircrew.

After a leave in New Zealand in March 1947, Brinsden was given a permanent commission in June. He served in a number of ground and flying appointments before his retirement on 31st December 1966 as a Wing Commander.

He went to live in Western Australia and he died there in 1993.

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