The Airmen's Stories - P/O C H Saunders
Cecil Henry Saunders was born on 7th July 1911 in Forest Hill, London. He joined the RAF on a short service commission and began his initial training course at the Civil Training School at Derby on 24th August 1939 and then moved on to 14 FTS Kinloss for No. 3 Course, which ran from 4th November 1939 to 20th April 1940.
Saunders joined 92 Squadron at Croydon on 20th April 1940, direct from 14 FTS. He probably destroyed a He111 and shared in the destruction of another on 4th July and on the 11th he probably destroyed a Ju88.
After a combat with enemy aircraft over Biggin Hill on 9th September Saunders made a crash-landing at Midley, near Rye, in Spitfire L1077. He was admitted to the RAMC Hospital at Brookland, with shrapnel wounds in the leg.
On 11th October Saunders was almost fully recovered and awaiting a Medical Board. He was found to be fit and rejoined 92 Squadron.
On 26th October Saunders damaged a Me109, on the 29th shared in destroying a Me110 and on 1st November he shot down a Ju87 and damaged a Me110. In this action his Spitfire, X4555, was damaged and he made a crash-landing three miles east of Eastchurch, unhurt.
On 1st December he destroyed a Me109 and on 5th February 1941 shared in the destruction of a Ju87.
In May 1941 Saunders was posted to 74 Squadron at Gravesend as a Flight Commander and on 27th June he got a probable Me109.
The squadron went to the Middle East in April 1942 but had no aircraft after its arrival in Palestine.
Saunders joined 145 Squadron in the Western Desert in late July 1942 as a Flight Commander.
On 3rd August he probably destroyed a Me109, on 11th September destroyed a Mc202, on 22nd October damaged a Me109 and on the 25th claimed another Me109 destroyed. He was posted away from 145 in November 1942.
Awarded the DFC (gazetted 4th December 1942), Saunders was posted to 71 OTU Port Sudan, which later moved up to Abu Sueir, Egypt.
For the invasion of Sicily on 10th July 1943 Saunders was on a Fighter Direction ship. He took command of 154 Squadron at Lentini East in August. The squadron moved on to Italy and in February 1944 went to Corsica, to cover the American invasion of Southern France.
Saunders commanded the squadron until October 1944. He also commanded 145 Squadron in July/August 1945.
He retired from the RAF on 5th May 1958 as a Wing Commander.
Saunders died on 1st September 1992.