Battle of Britain London Monument – Sgt. J H Lacey

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Privacy Statement The Airmen’s Stories – Sgt. J H Lacey

 

James Harry Lacey was born at Wetherby, Yorkshire on 1st February 1917 and educated at King James Grammar School, Knaresborough. He left school in 1933 and became an apprentice pharmacist.

Lacey joined the RAFVR on 25th January 1937 as an Airman u/t Pilot and was on the first course for Sergeant pilots at 11 E&RFTS Perth. He was the first one to solo and afterwards continued to fly at 4 E&RFTS Brough at weekends. He was given the nickname ‘Ginger’ which followed him throughout his RAF service.

In late January 1939 he went on six weeks attachment to No. 1 Squadron at Tangmere for further training.

 

Called up at the outbreak of war, Lacey joined 501 Squadron at Filton. He went to France with the squadron on 10th May 1940. He destroyed a Me109, a He111 and a Me110 on the 13th and two He111’s on the 27th.

He returned to England when the squadron was withdrawn on 19th June and went to Croydon after a brief stay in Jersey. Lacey was awarded the C de G (Fr) and received a Mention in Despatches.

Lacey destroyed a Me109 on 20th July, destroyed a Ju87, probably another and probably a Me110 on 12th August, damaged a Do17 on the 15th, got a probable Me109 on the 16th, destroyed a Ju88 and damaged a Do17 on the 24th, shot down a Me109 on the 29th, destroyed a He111 and probably a Me110 on the 30th and destroyed a Me109 on the 31st.

He shot down two Me109’s and damaged a Do17 on 2nd September, destroyed another two Me109’s on the 5th and a He111 on the 13th.

In this engagement Lacey was hit by return fire from the Heinkel and had his radiator shot off. He baled out, with slight burns. His Hurricane, P2973, is believed to have crashed at Abbey Farm, Leeds, Kent.

On the 15th Lacey destroyed a He111 and two Me109’s and damaged a third Me109. He was shot down over Ashford on the 17th and baled out, unhurt. His Hurricane, V7357, is believed to have crashed at Winstead Court.

He shot down a Me109 on the 27th, damaged a Ju88 on the 30th, got a probable Me109 on 7th October, destroyed Me109’s on the 12th, 26th and 30th and on the latter day he also damaged another Me109.

Lacey was awarded the DFM (gazetted 23rd August 1940) and a Bar (gazetted 26th November 1940).

Commissioned in January 1941, he was promoted to Acting Flight Lieutenant on 26th June and appointed ‘A’ Flight Commander. Lacey destroyed a Me109 on 10th July, damaged another on the 14th, destroyed a He59 on the 17th and two more Me109’s on the 24th. He was posted away to 57 OTU Hawarden on 18th August 1941 as an instructor.

Lacey joined 602 Squadron at Kenley on 10th March 1942 and damaged Fw190’s on 24th March and 25th April.

He was posted to HQ 81 Group on 7th May as Tactics Officer. He went to the A&AEE Boscombe Down on 28th September 1942 to do research on rocket armament before moving to No. 1 Special Attack Instructors School at Milfield on 30th November as Chief Instructor.

Posted overseas on 26th March 1943, Lacey arrived in India in June and was posted to 20 Squadron at Kalyan, to convert it from Lysanders to Hurricanes. On 6th July 1943 he went to 1572 Gunnery Flight, to convert Blenheim bomber squadrons on to Hurricanes and later from Hurricanes to Thunderbolts.

Lacey was posted to 155 Squadron as CO on 6th November 1944 but moved on the 23rd to take over 17 Squadron at Palel. He destroyed a Nakajima ‘Oscar’ on 19th February 1945.

In March 1946 Lacey led the squadron to Japan. He was posted back to the UK in May. Granted a permanent commission in December 1948, Lacey retired from the RAF on 5th March 1967 as a Flight Lieutenant, retaining the rank of Squadron Leader.

Lacey’s portrait was made by both Eric Kennington (below left) and Cuthbert Orde (below right).

 

                  

 

He died on 30th May 1989. In accordance with his wishes Lacey was cremated and his ashes were scattered from an aircraft over Bridlington.

 

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