Battle of Britain London Monument – S/Ldr. R G Kellett

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Privacy Statement The Airmen’s Stories – S/Ldr. R G Kellett

 

Ronald Gustave Kellett was born on 13th September 1909 at Biddick Hall, Chester-le-Street in County Durham. Kellett, the fifth son of a colliery owner and mining engineer, was educated at Rossall School, Fleetwood in Lancashire.

In 1931 Kellett was the National Conservative candidate for Parliment for Chester-le-Street. He joined 600 Squadron Auxiliary Air Force at Hendon in 1933. Kellett was made a member of the Stock Exchange in 1938.

 

Above : Kellett (second from left) with Polish pilots of 303 Squadron.

 

He was OC ‘A’ Flight of 600 Squadron in 1938 and on 20th March 1939 he transferred to 616 Squadron Auxiliary Air Force as a Flight Commander. Called up on 25th August 1939, Kellett was posted on 16th May 1940 to 249 Squadron, then reforming at Church Fenton as a Flight Commander.

He relinquished this post on 1st June but appears to have remained with 249 as a supernumerary. He was posted to Northolt on 19th June to form and command 303 Squadron and arrived there on the 23rd.

The squadron was formed on 2nd August with 13 Polish officers and 135 other ranks, posted in from the Polish Wing at 3 School of Technical Training Blackpool. The squadron became operational on 19th August 1940.

The pilots, he was told, would be Czech but they turned out to be Poles who had escaped to England via France.

Since no arrangements had been made to pay the Poles, Kellett paid them himself with cheques drawn on his own account.

When, after some weeks, Winston Churchill visited the squadron, Kellett mentioned that he was still issuing cheques for his men’s pay, just as if he were serving in the Crimean War. The problem was swiftly resolved.

Kellet claimed a Me109 destroyed on 31st August, a Me109 destroyed and probably another on 5th September, a Do17 destroyed on the 6th, a Me110 destroyed and probably a Do17 on the 15th, a Me109 destroyed on the 26th and another damaged on 5th October.

He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 1st October 1940), the DSO (gazetted 25th October 1940) and the VM (5th Class) (gazetted 24th December 1940).

303 Squadron, credited with 113 kills and many probables, was rated the highest scoring fighter squadron of the Battle of Britain.

Kellett was posted to Cranage in December 1940 to form 96 Squadron, from 422 Flight.

Appointed Wing Leader at North Weald in March 1941, he went off operations later in the year to go to the Air Ministry, later becoming Air Member for Training. In 1943 Kellett went to the Army Staff College and he instructed at the RAF Staff College in 1944/45.

After an attachment to the Turkish Air Force at Ankara, Kellett was released from the RAF later in 1945, as a Wing Commander.

After the war Kellett returned to the City where in 1948 he became a partner at the stockbrokers Laurence, Keen and Gardner.

From 1946 to 1949 he also commanded No 615 (County of Surrey) Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force.

Kellett bred Charolais cattle at his farm in Kent and laid out a landing strip for light aircraft. He much enjoyed sailing and hunting and would fly to Lincolnshire to hunt at Cranwell.

He was knowledgeble about wine and advised the Stock Exchange on wine purchases.

Kellett died on 1st November 1998.

His portrait was made by Cuthbert Orde (below).

 

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