Battle of Britain London Monument – P/O R C Haine

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Privacy Statement The Airmen’s Stories – P/O R C Haine

 

Richard Cummins Haine was born on 1st October 1916 at St. Stephens, Gloucester and educated at the Crypt Grammar School in the city. After a five-shilling flight in an Avro of the Cobham Flying Circus he was determined to fly.

He took an apprenticeship at the Gloster Aircraft Company and spent his spare time at the Cotswold Flying Club at Staverton. He flew solo in a Gipsy Moth in August 1935 and a few days later responded to an Air Ministry call for direct-entry sergeant pilots, joining on 26th August.

After initial training at 2 FTS Filton Haine went to 11 FTS Wittering on 7th November and after completing his training joined 25 Squadron on 10th May 1936.

 

He was in the squadron aerobatics team at the Hendon Air Display in 1937. The squadron converted to Blenheims in December 1938 and in August 1939 moved to Northolt.

On 28th November 1939 he flew one of six Blenheims of 25 Squadron, which went with six from 601 Squadron to attack the seaplane base at Borkum, the first fighter attack of the war on Germany. He probably destroyed a He59 on the water.

 

(The Bristol Aeroplane Company produced a souvenir postcard of the raid (above) but unusually depicted the Mk4 bomber version rather than the Mk1 fighter version that was operated by 25 and 601 squadrons).

On 1st April 1940 Haine was commissioned and posted to 600 Squadron. On 10th May he flew one of the six Blenheims which attacked Waalhaven airfield, Rotterdam in daylight and from which only one returned safely to base. Haine claimed a Me109 destroyed and two Ju52’s damaged on the ground, before his Blenheim L1715 was shot down. After making a forced-landing, he and his gunner P/O M Kramer, evaded capture and returned to England in the destroyer evacuating the Dutch Royal Family. He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 9th July 1940).

Haine served with 600 throughout the Battle of Britain and on 14th January 1941 he was posted to 68 Squadron at Catterick as a Flight Commander. Haine moved to HQ 9 Group at Preston on 21st June as Squadron Leader Night Ops.

On 31st December he took command of 96 Squadron at Wrexham. When the command was upgraded to Wing Commander rank on 18th May 1942, Haine reverted to Flight Commander.

He was posted to HQ Fighter Command on 24th March 1943 as Squadron Leader Night Training and then went as Wing Commander, OC Training Wing at 54 OTU Charter Hall on 12th June 1943. On 2nd January 1944 Haine was given command of 488 (RNZAF) Squadron.

Haine destroyed a Ju88 during the night of 4th/5th August and a Ju188 on 1st/2nd September. He moved to HQ 85 Group Ghent on 23rd October 1944 and on 29th December took command of 147 Wing at Odiham.

 

 

Haine was made OC at Winfield on 19th March 1945 a satellite station of 54 OTU. He was briefly Station Commander at RAF Eshott in May.

He was next appointed to 302 Wing, forming up in preparation for service in the Pacific. The Wing sailed in early July but arrived in the theatre as the Japanese surrender was announced. 302 was immediately diverted to Hong Kong to assist in the rehabilitation of the colony and Haine was appointed to the staff of Rear Admiral Harcourt, the designated Military Governor.

Haine arrived on 4th September and took over the airfield at Kai Tak, with RAF Regiment personnel providing security. His party was confronted by widespread destruction and a great deal of looting, but his priority was to open the damaged airfield and arrange for the air evacuation of the Allied PoWs, who had suffered much privation. After a year, in which he still found time to fly most aircraft that operated from the airfield, he left for a staff appointment in Singapore.

On his return to England in January 1948 Haine went to the Central Fighter Establishment, where he was responsible for developing tactics for the RAF’s new jet fighters. After an appointment in the Air Ministry, he left for Iraq in September 1954 to command the Flying Wing of two Venom squadrons at the large RAF airfield at Habbaniyah, 40 miles west of Baghdad. Shortly before leaving he hosted a visit by King Faisal and made the preparations for the withdrawal of the RAF and the handing over of the airfield to the Iraqis.

Haine returned to command the airfield at Turnhouse (now Edinburgh Airport) before a very busy two years in charge of administration at the large RAF base at Akrotiri in Cyprus. For this work he was appointed OBE (gazetted 1st January 1962).

As staff officer flying at the Ministry of Aviation, Haine was responsible for the supervision of all test-flying of military aircraft by civil manufacturers, giving him the opportunity to add more aircraft types to the impressive number that he had flown. On a visit to the United States with a party from the Empire Test Pilots School he flew the USAF’s latest fighters, including the Phantom.

In September 1964 he took command of RAF Lindholme, the home of Bomber Command Bombing School, training radar navigators for the V-force and bomb aimers for the RAF Canberra squadrons. In 1965 he marched in Sir Winston Churchill’s funeral procession.

After staff appointments at the headquarters of Strike Command and Support Command, he retired from the RAF on 1st October 1970 as a Group Captain.

After a period in the insurance industry as a service liaison officer Haine became the harbourmaster of a large marina at Leamington, on the River Orwell. He enjoyed the outdoor life, spending much time hiking and sailing. He was in demand at airshows and Battle of Britain events, and in 2005 published his autobiography, From Fury to Phantom.

Haine died on 30th September 2008.

 

 

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