Battle of Britain London Monument – Sgt. D T Hick

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Privacy Statement The Airmen’s Stories – Sgt. D T Hick

 

David Thornhill Hick joined the RAFVR about May 1939 while studying at Keeble College, Oxford.

His initial training was carried out at 26 ERFTS Kidlington and also 17 ERFTS Barton outside term time, when he went home to Manchester.

Called up on 2nd September 1939, Hick was sent to No.1 ITW at Jesus College, Cambridge. At the end of the course he was posted to 3 SFTS South Cerney in May 1940, operating Harts and Oxfords. He was then sent to 6 OTU Sutton Bridge on 31st August 1940 to convert to Hurricanes.

After three weeks at Sutton Bridge he was posted 32 Squadron at Acklington in Northumberland. It had just been rotated north after two months in 11 Group.

 

 

On 31st October he went to 145 Squadron, which had moved to Tangmere the previous month.

In January 1941 145 Squadron began converting from Hurricanes to Spitfires. On 19th January 1941 Hick was transferred to the strength of RAF Tangmere and then attached to No. 1 Depot Uxbridge. On 10th June 1941 he was transferred to the Non-effective Pool at Uxbridge before returning to Tangmere on 30th June.

His service record had been endorsed with a Severe Reprimand on 16th April 1941. The reason for this is currently undocumented but is likely to involve a landing accident in which he was injured as this was a common occurence with pilots converting to the narrow-track Spitfire undercarriage.

Presumably due to his injuries in September 1941 he was re-graded as an U/T Pilot, demoted to AC2 but immediately re-promoted to Temporary Sergeant. In November he went to 59 OTU at Crosby near Carlisle, presumably to undertake a refresher course.

On completion of the course he was posted to the Middle East, initially being assigned to the Middle East Pool as 145 Squadron had been disbanded. On arrival in Egypt he was posted to the Transit Camp at Almaza but was then reallocated to the Far Eastern theatre following the Japanese invasion of Malaya, Singapore and Burma and their rapid advance towards India.

He joined 155 Squadron which was formed at Peshawar on 1st April 1942 but had no aircraft until Mohawk fighters arrived in August, by which time the unit was based at St. Thomas Mount.

Operations began in September when it carried out convoy patrols and began to provide air defence of Madras. In October 1942 the squadron began offensive patrols and in November met its first Japanese aircraft whilst flying as escort to a Blenheim raid. The unit made a number of moves to Alipore in October, Agartala in November, Rajyeswarpur in February 1943 before arriving at Imphal in March.

The squadron was involved in the heavy fighting taking place in the Imphal area and was now mainly conducting air support operations in support of the ground forces including dive bombing. These operations continued throughout 1943, although the squadron returned to Agartala in July before returning to Imphal in September.

In November Hick began a series of hospital admissions, probably as a result of him contracting some form of tropical disease such as malaria. During a brief return to the squadron between February and June 1943, although in April he seems to have been assessed fit for only limited flying duties, he probably converted to the Spitfire VIII, which 155 had begun to receive in January but in June he was back in hospital. Four days later he returned to 155 but in August he was hospitalised once again. His condition must have deteriorated as he was evacuated to Bombay and on to the UK.

On arrival in the UK he was admitted to the RAF Hospital Halton, which was also home to the RAF School of Tropical Medicine.

In early March 1945 he was posted to HQ Fighter Command and possibly undertook some refresher training at this time, before being posted to No 91 Squadron. At this time the squadron was flying the latest version of the Spitfire, the F21 and in July 1945 he was attached to RAF Fairwood Common near Swansea, probably as part of an advanced party sent to prepare the station to accept the squadron later that month. He returned to the strength of the squadron in August but in September he was posted out to No. 6 Air Crew Holding Unit.

With the end of the war Hick was processed through ground appointments until he was released from the RAF on 20th December 1945 with the Air Efficiency Award.

He died on 26th July 1973.

 

 

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