The Airmen’s Stories – F/Lt. G Allard
Geoffrey Allard was born in York on 20th August 1912. He attended the Priory Higher Grade School there and then joined the RAF at Halton on 3rd September 1929 as an aircraft apprentice.
He passed out as an LAC Metal Rigger on 19th August 1932 and was posted to the maintenance staff at RAF College, Cranwell, remaining there until 3rd March 1936 when he went to 2 Armament Training Camp, North Coates.
Allard had applied for pilot training. He was selected in 1936 and on 21st December began his initial training at 2 E&RFTS Filton. He went on to 9 FTS Thornaby on 20th March 1937, moved with the unit to Hullavington on 9th July, passed out as a Sergeant-Pilot on 23rd October and joined 87 Squadron at Debden.
On 1st June 1938 Allard was posted to 85 Squadron, then reforming with Gladiators at Debden. These were replaced by Hurricanes in September 1938.
On 9th September 1939 the squadron flew to France but saw little action before the blitzkrieg began in May 1940. Between the 10th and 16th Allard is believed to have destroyed at least ten enemy aircraft but the loss of the squadron records meant that only two confirmed He111’s (10th and 15th May) were recognised.
After heavy losses 85 was withdrawn to Debden on 21st May. Allard was awarded the DFM (gazetted 31st May 1940).
Above: Allard returns from a sortie in France.
On 8th July he claimed a He111 destroyed, on the 9th another, on the 30th a shared Me110, on 6th August a shared Do17, on the 24th a Me109, on the 26th a Do215, on the 28th two Me109’s, on the 30th two He111’s, on the 31st a Me109 and on 1st September a Do17 and a Me109.
Allard was commissioned in August and in a squadron severely depleted by losses he was promoted to Acting Flight Lieutenant and given command of ‘A’ Flight. He was awarded a Bar to the DFM (gazetted 13th September 1940) and the DFC (gazetted 8th October 1940).
85 Squadron was withdrawn from Croydon in early September 1940 and sent north to rest. On 6th November the squadron moved to Gravesend and prepared for a night-fighting role. Conversion from Hurricanes to Havocs began in February 1941 back at Debden.
On 13th March Allard, with P/O WH Hodgson and Sgt. FR Walker-Smith as passengers, took off from Debden in a Havoc. Shortly afterwards the aircraft crashed at Mill Field Ley, just south of Wimbish. The three pilots were killed. It is believed that an insecurely-fastened nose panel flew off and jammed in the rudder, causing the aircraft to become uncontrollable.
His portrait was made by Eric Kennington (below left) and Cuthbert Orde (below right).
Allard is buried in Saffron Walden Borough Cemetery, Essex.