Battle of Britain London Monument – S/Ldr. E B King

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Privacy Statement The Airmen’s Stories – S/Ldr. E B King

 

Eric Bruce King was born in Dublin on 7th June 1911 and attended Dulwich College from 1925 to 1929. He then worked for the Asiatic Petroleum Company. On August 12th 1932 King joined the RAF on a short service commission and on the 27th he went to 2 FTS, Digby. He was then posted to 26 (Army Co-operation) Squadron at Catterick on 20th August 1933, moved to 31 Squadron at Karachi on February 14th 1934 and returned to the UK in mid-1936. He went to the Home Aircraft Depot, Henlow on August 12th, for an Officers’ Engineering Course. After another course at CFS, Upavon, King was granted a Permanent Commission and was posted to the instructing staff at 2 FTS, Brize Norton on 15th June 1937. He joined the permanent stiff of 612 Squadron, Auxiliary Air Force at Aberdeen on 12th September 1938.

King was posted as supemumerary Squadron Leader to 253 Squadron at Turnhouse on 17th 1940 and moved in the same capacity to 249 Squadron at Church Fenton on 5th August. On the 14th the squadron moved to Boscombe Down. Two days later King was flying in a section of three, with Flight Lieutenant J B Nicolson and Pilot Officer M A King. Over Southampton they were jumped by Me109’s. Nicholson was wounded and his subsequent action led to the award of the VC.

Pilot Officer King’s aircraft was set alight, he baled out but was killed when his parachute canopy collapsed, possibly holed by rifle fire from a Royal Artillery contingent as he neared the ground.

Squadron Leader King managed to make a forced-landing back at Boscombe Down in his severely damaged Hurricane, P3870, unhurt. On 21st August King took command of 151 Squadron at Stapleford. He had the airscrew of his Hurricane, V7380, shot off in combat with Me110’s over North Weald on the 24th but landed safely.

On August 30th King led the squadron to intercept some enemy aircraft. Later, he is thought to have gone ahead of the squadron to investigate another enemy force heading towards Rochester. A letter from the Mayor of Rochester, written later, said that there had been some fighting over the city at a great height and an aircraft was heard to come down in a terrific power dive, engine at full throttle, and crash. This was King’s aircraft and he must have been unconscious or dead before impact. The Hurricane, V7369, crashed in Temple Street, Strood.

King is buried in Highgate Cemetery, London. It seems from the headstone that King’s father died when King was 5 years old "from illness contracted during active service in Gallipoli and Serbia". There is also a dedication to another family member who served in the RAF reaching the rank of Group Captain.

At Dulwich College after the war, the ‘King Memorial Prize’ was instituted in his memory, two prizes to be awarded annually for work on aeronautical subjects.

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