Battle of Britain London Monument – F/Lt. J M Hewson

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Privacy Statement The Airmen’s Stories – F/Lt. J M Hewson

 

John Minchin Hewson was born in Kensington, London on 2nd April 1914. His father, an Englishman, had emigrated to Australia and married his Australian-born wife. Hewson’s elder brother and sister were born there.

Hewson was at Harrow School from 1928 to 1932 and learned to fly at Brooklands in the mid-thirties.

He joined the RAF on a short service commission in July 1936. He did his elementary flying at 10 E&RFTS Yatesbury, leaving there on 5th September for a short course at No. 1 RAF Depot Uxbridge. Hewson arrived at 11 FTS Wittering on the 15th, completed the course and joined 142 Squadron at Andover on 22nd May 1937. The squadron changed its Hinds for Battles in March 1938 and went to France as part of the AASF at the outbreak of war.

 

 

Hewson led a section of three Battles to attack German troops near Rouen on 13th June 1940. On the way home they were jumped by German fighters. Hewson’s aircraft was set on fire. He ordered his wireless operator to bale out and because the gunner was wounded and unable to leave the aircraft, Hewson stayed on and made a successful forced-landing.

He reached his aerodrome and two days later returned to England with the remnants of 142 Squadron. For the action on the 13th, he was awarded the DFC (gazetted 6th August 1940).

Hewson was back in action during July and August, bombing the Channel ports. In mid-August he volunteered for Fighter Command, in answer to an Air Ministry call for pilots to replace casualties in the fighter squadrons.

He joined 616 Squadron at Kenley on 21st August. On his first operational sortie in a Spitfire on the 26th, five 616 aircraft were shot down in a surprise attack by Me109’s. With his considerable previous experience of night flying, Hewson was picked for night patrols but without success, the Spitfire being completely unsuitable for the job.

 

 

On 11th September 1940 Hewson went to 7 FTS Peterborough as an instructor. He was posted overseas on 2nd November and arrived at 31SFTS Kingston, Ontario, Canada on the 10th, again as an instructor.

Posted back to the UK on 20th December 1942, Hewson joined the Airfield Board at the Air Ministry in February 1943.

He was posted away on 3rd December and arrived at Algiers on 25th December 1943, moving on to 3 Airfield Construction Group at Salerno on 26th January 1944.

Hewson left Leghorn for the UK on 3rd September 1944 and went to Stannington for an Admin course on the 26th, after which he was made Senior Admin Officer at Predannack on 17th November. He was there until 4th November 1945, when he took command of 567 Squadron at Manston.

Released from the RAF in 1946 as a Squadron Leader, Hewson went with his Swiss wife and their children to Australia to take over one of the properties in Western Queensland which his family had owned since the 1880s.

On his arrival Hewson took out Australian citizenship.

He died there on 2nd November 1996.

 

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