Battle of Britain London Monument – Sgt. J Keatings

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Privacy Statement The Airmen’s Stories – Sgt. J Keatings


John Keatings was born in Neston, Cheshire on 8th July 1916. He joined the 1st Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles in February 1932 as a boy soldier. He saw service in Egypt and Palestine.

In early 1935 he purchased his discharge for £35 and joined the RAF as an Aircrafthand. After initial training at Uxbridge he was posted to Northolt. His skill as a marksman was quickly seen and he joined the RAF team at the shooting championships at Bisley.



In September 1935 Keatings joined 45 Squadron at Helwan, Egypt and started training as an Armourer/Air Gunner, making his first flight on 11th October. Keatings flight was posted to 6 Squadron at Ismailia and then detached to Palestine, where it carried out operations against terrorists.

In December 1936 Keatings returned to the UK and was posted to 21 Squadron at Lympne. He took part in the 1937 Hendon Air Display, flying in the mass formation of 250 aircraft. He went to No. 1 Air Armament School at Eastchurch in November 1937 to convert to Fitter-Armourer.

Keatings joined 269 Squadron at Abbotsinch in March 1939, a general reconnaissance unit with Ansons, on armament and flying duties. At the outbreak of war he was recalled from a hydraulic turret course at Bristol Aircraft in Filton to rejoin the squadron, which had moved to Montrose, to carry out anti-Uboat patrols and convoy-escorts along the East Coast.

In October 1939 Keatings was posted to 219 Squadron, then reforming as a night-fighter unit at Catterick.

He was sent on a Gunnery Leaders course to CGS Warmwell in January 1940 and rejoined the squadron in March. He then combined operational flying and training air gunners.

On 15th August 219 was scrambled to intercept 40+ He111’s and Ju88’s off Flamborough Head. Seven were shot down, with only one Blenheim damaged. It was a remarkable result.

In December 1940 Keatings was posted to CGS Warmwell as a gunnery instructor. He did not fly operationally again and he later became a Senior Armament Instructor at No. 1 AAS.

Keatings was released from the RAF in 1945 as a Flight Sergeant.

He died on 18th February 2010.


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