The Airmen's Stories - F/O S R Peacock-Edwards
Spencer Ritchie Peacock-Edwards was born on 27th May 1915 in Kokstad, South Africa and attended Michaelhouse School in Natal.
He was one of eleven candidates selected in Southern Rhodesia by an RAF Board to join the RAF on short service commissions.
He went to the UK and began his initial training on 7th March 1938. He was posted to 2 FTS Brize Norton on 21st May and with his training completed joined 150 Squadron at Boscombe Down on 17th December 1938, a Fairey Battle unit.
Above: Peacock-Edwards in Ceylon.
Above image courtesy of Rick Peacock-Edwards.
The squadron went to France on 2nd September 1939. Peacock-Edwards was detached to Boscombe Down for a short gunnery course from 8th to 17th October. After the squadron was withdrawn to England in June 1940, Peacock-Edwards volunteered to serve with Fighter Command and was posted to 615 Squadron at Prestwick on 4th September.
He moved to 253 Squadron at Kenley on the 15th.
On 6th October he possibly destroyed a Do17 but it is not recorded, on the 21st he damaged a Do17, on the 30th he damaged a Me109, on 22nd November he damaged another Do17 and on 3rd December he shared in the destruction of a Do17.
Peacock-Edwards was posted away on 15th December 1940, destined for the Middle East. He embarked in the aircraft carrier HMS Furious at Liverpool and flew a Hurricane off at Takoradi on 9th January 1941. With other pilots he then flew a Hurricane north on the multi-stage ferry route to Ismailia in Egypt, from where he flew in a Sunderland to Malta, arriving there on 30th January.
He joined 261 Squadron at Hal Far, claimed a Ju88 destroyed on 1st February, was appointed 'A' Flight Commander on the 16th, destroyed two Ju87s and damaged another on 23rd March, destroyed a Me109 on 13th April and then made a crash-landing at Hal Far in his badly-damaged Hurricane, V7472.
In May 1941 Peacock-Edwards returned to the Middle East. From August he instructed at 71 OTU Gordons Tree, Sudan and later in the year he went to the Pilot Pool at Kasfareet.
In February 1942 Peacock-Edwards embarked on HMS Indomitable and flew off at Ceylon on 7th March to join 'G' Squadron there, which was renumbered 258 Squadron on 30th March. The squadron was scrambled on 5th April when Japanese carrier-based aircraft attacked Colombo. Peacock-Edwards destroyed a Navy 99 aircraft and probably a Zero.
He was posted to 273 Squadron at Katukurunda, Ceylon in August 1942 and was awarded the DFC (gazetted 29th December 1942). He took command of 30 Squadron at Colombo in February 1943 and led it until April 1944, when he returned to the UK.
Peacock-Edwards retired from the RAF on 14th February 1958 as a Squadron Leader. He returned to South Africa to live.
He died in Johannesburg in September 1983.
Peacock-Edwards had three sons, the eldest of whom, Richard (known as “Rick”), joined the RAF in 1965. His service as a fighter pilot included spells on Lightnings and Phantoms. He introduced the fighter version of the Tornado to RAF service and formed and commanded the first such Tornado squadron before taking command of RAF Leeming.
He was deputy commander RAF staff and assistant Air Attaché at the British Embassy in Washington. On his return to the UK he became the RAF’s inspector of flight safety. His last posting before retirement, as an Air Commodore in 1999, was as Director of Eurofighter Today. He was appointed CBE and awarded the AFC.