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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. R Smithson


Richard Smithson, of South Hetton, was born on 6th June 1916 and joined the RAF in August 1935 as an Aircrafthand. He later applied for pilot training and was selected. He remustered to Airman u/t Pilot on 27th July 1939.

He did his elementary training at 8 E&RFTS Woodley and went on to 10 FTS Ternhill on 9th October 1939 for No. 15 Course. He fell sick and was transferred to No. 16 Course, which ended on 11th May 1940.

Smithson joined 249 Squadron at Church Fenton on 16th May, direct from 10 FTS. On 5th September he probably destroyed a Do17 and damaged another.

He crashed at Eastchurch after combat with Me109's over Maidstone on 7th September in Hurricane V6574. He was wounded and did not return to the squadron until 13th October.

Smithson was posted from 249 to 96 Squadron on 18th December 1940 when it was reformed at Cranage with 422 Flight as a nucleus.

Commissioned in July 1941, Smithson was killed on the 22nd July as a Pilot Officer with 96 Squadron aged 25. Defiant T4071 was on a night air test from Squires Gate when it flew into high ground at Eddisbury Hill, Delamere, Cheshire.

Sgt. IN Robinson RNZAF was also killed.

Smithson is buried in the Holy Trinity churchyard, South Hetton, Durham.



Above image courtesy of findagrave.


Battle of Britain Monument