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MERLINS OVER MALTA - VETERAN BIOGRAPHIES

The Merlins Over Malta - Standard Edition was signed by the following Malta Hurricane veterans:

The Merlins Over Malta - Malta Edition has the additional signature of the following Malta Hurricane veteran:

Thomas Francis Neil

Click here for a larger image...Tom Neil was born in Bootle on July 14th 1920. He joined the RAFVR on October 17th 1938 and began his flying training at 17 E & RFTS, Barton, Manchester. He was called up on September 2nd 1939. Neil went to 41 TW Bexhill in early November. On December 1st he was posted to 8FTS Montrose and on completion of the course he was commissioned and joined 249 (F) Squadron on May 15th 1940 at its reformation at Church Fenton.

Flying from North Weald on September 7th, Neil claimed a Bf109 destroyed, on the 11th a Heinkel He111, on the 15th two Bf109s and a Dornier Do17 destroyed and another Dornier Do17 shared on the 18th a Heinkel He111 damaged and a Junkers Ju88 shared.

On October 6th Neil shared a Do17, on the 25th claimed a Bf109 destroyed, on the 27th a Dornier Do17 probably destroyed, on the 28th a Ju88 shared and on November 7th a Junkers Ju87 Stuka and two Bf109s destroyed. On this day Tom Neil collided with Wing Commander F.V. Beamish during a patrol and lost his tail. He bailed out of Hurricane V7676 unhurt. Neil was awarded the DFC (08.10.40) and a bar (26.11.40) and made a Flight Commander in December. In May 1941 249 (F) Squadron went to Malta. The squadron flew off of HMS Ark Royal on the 21st. Neil leading the second group of Hurricanes. After a series of mishaps and misadventures they all reached Malta safely. On June 12th Neil destroyed a Macci 200. He left Malta on December 26th 1941 and returned to the UK via the Middle East, South Africa, West Africa and Canada finally arriving at Liverpool in early March 1942.

Neil was posted to 81 Group as Tactics Officer. He went to 56 OUT in mid-June and on September 1st 1942 he took command of 41 (F) Squadron at Llanbedr. In July 1943 he was posted to 53 OUT, Kirton-on-Lindsey as an instructor. He later went to the 9th United States Air Force as a Flying Liaison Office with the 100th Fighter Wing. After D-Day Neil did some operational flying in France as a supernumerary. In January 1945 he was posted to the School of Land/Air Warfare at Old Sarum instructing and lecturing.

Neil went to Burma in March 1945 flying Hurricanes with the Indian Wing on operations with No1 IAF Squadron. He returned to England and Old Sarum in April leaving there in January 1946 to go to the Empire Test Pilots course at Cranfield.

Neil was awarded the Bronze Star (US) (2.8.49) and the AFC (2.1.56). He retired from the RAF in 1964 as a Wing Commander.

Harry H. Moon

Click here for a larger image...Harry Moon joined the Royal Air Force as an RAF VR in June 1940. he began basic training at Torquay and went to 7AFTS Desford, Leicestershire, pilot training on Tiger Moths - the as part of the same course posted to Sealand for conversion to Miles Masters - then onto Turnhill April 1941. He received his Pilots Brevet (RAF Wings) 27th April 1941.

Harry went onto 59 OUT Carlisle for conversion to Hurricanes - soloing on type on the 8th May 1941. Four weeks later after completing 50 hours on Hurricanes Harry was posted over seas. He joined the Aircraft Carrier HMS Furious on the Clyde and sailed for Gibraltar. On reaching Gibraltar he transferred to the carrier HMS Ark Royal which was embarked on "Railroad1" to ferry Hurricanes out to Malta on the 27th June 1941 - then returned back to Gibraltar to collect more Hurricanes from Furious' hangar and departed on the 30th June 1941 for Operation "Railroad 2" for further delivery of Hurricanes for Malta. Harry Moon arrived in Malta with that second delivery of Hurricanes on the 30th June and was posted directly to 249 (F) Squadron. Just before the closure of the nine months service on Malta, Harry was transferred to 126 (F) Squadron.

On 2nd April 1942, Harry left the island in a Sunderland flying boat for Aden. Once there, he became part of the "Aden Defence Flight" in May 1942. Harry left Aden in February 1943. In May 1943 he was posted to 274 (F) Squadron flying Hurricanes from Tripoli carrying out convoy escorting duties. In December 1943 Harry returned to Idku just outside Alexandria to re-equip with Spitfire MkVs, going onto Mersa Matru - Castle Benito and onto cover the Anzio landings until the end of 1943, beginning of 1944. Here the squadron shot up tanks, trucks, rolling stock etc. After 1st April 1944 the squadron returned to England from Naples in Italy to Scotland via the Clyde. 274 were then posted to Hornchurch in Essex where they converted to Spitfire MkIXs. It was here Harry was promoted to 'A' Flight Commander. The Squadron then moved to Detling, Kent, for sweeps over Europe. On June 5th and 6th 1944 the Squadron covered the build-up and landings on D-Day. On the 12th June the squadron landed on one of the first beachhead landing grounds in readiness for the coming offensive.

At the end of June 1944 Harry was posted to the Central Gunnery School at Catfoss in Yorkshire, then Eshott, Northumberland to a Spitfire OTU and later a Typhoon and Tempest OUT Gunnery School at Millfield Northumberland until December 1944. Harry stayed with this unit until 1946. Harry was then posted to Keevil, Wilts, to a Spitfire OUT. In July 1946 Harry was posted to India as Command Gunnery Officer, only to find the posting only existed on paper. Harry then managed a posting to 30 Squadron in India flying Tempests at Agra. The squadron was then re-numbered as 20 Squadron. In August 1947 Harry was posted back to England and on the 1st of August Harry was promoted to peacetime Squadron Leader and was posted as CO to command RAF Cuxton, near Rochester, where he spent one year. From here he was posted to Church Fenton to command 41 (F) Squadron operating the De Havilland Hornet. Twelve months later Harry was posted to RAF Padgate overseeing all National Servicemen entering the Royal Air Force. In August 1952 Harry was chief ground instructor on Meteors at Workshop for two and a half years. He was then posted to 64 Group, staff job York looking after a quarter of the ATC Squadrons throughout England. One year later Harry was posted to an Air Traffic Controllers course. He retired from the RAF in 1956.

In 1958 Harry applied for an Air Traffic Controllers position with the American Air Force at Bentwaters. Harry Moon served 18 years with the Royal Air Force and a further 21 years as an ATCO retiring on his 60th birthday.

Antony Robert Fletcher Thompson

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Tommy Thompson was born on October 14th 1920. He joined the RAF VF about July 1939 as an airman under training pilot. Called up on September 1st, he completed his training at 15 EFTS and 5 FTS Sealand and arrived at 6 OUT on September 10th 1940. After converting to Hurricanes, he joined 85 (F) Squadron at Church Fenton on the 29th and moved to 249 (F) Squadron at North Weald in Essex on October 17th 1940. Thompson shared in the destruction of a Junkers JU88 on October 28th and destroyed a Bf109 on the 30th. In May 1941 249 Squadron went to Malta and flew off of HMS Ark Royal in two groups on the 21st. On August 5th Tommy Thompson joined the Malta Night Fighting Defence Unit then formed at Ta Kali. He damaged an Italian BR20 at night on November 11th. The unit became 1435 (Night Fighter) Flight on December 23rd 1941

Thompson was posted to 71 OUT Gordon's Tree, Sudan on March 3rd 1942. He returned to operations on October 1st joining 73 (F) Squadron in the Western Desert. In mid-November he was appointed 'A' Flight Commander. At the end of December Thompson was posted to Cairo and in February he went to 206 Group as a test Pilot. He was awarded the DFC (23.03.43). On March 10th 1944 Thompson was seconded to BOAC and he took his release in Cairo on January 26th 1946 holding the rank of Flight Lieutenant. The following day he signed a contract with BOAC as a Captain. He retired from British Airways on October 14th 1975.

Cyril Stanley Bamberger

Click here for a larger image...Born in Port Sunlight on May 4th 1919, Bamberger won an electrical engineering apprenticeship at Lever Brothers in 1934. He joined 610 Squadron AuxAF, in 1936 on the ground staff. Accepted for pilot training with the RAF VR in late 1938, he soloed in mid 1939.

Bamberger was called up at the outbreak of war and on the 23rd October 1939 was posted to No 8 EFTS, Woodley and later went to 9 FTS, Hullavington to complete his training. He rejoined 610 (F) Squadron at Biggin Hill on July 27th but with no experience on Spitfires, he was sent to Hawarden for three weeks. Back with 610 (F) Squadron, Bamberger claimed a probable Bf109 on August 28th 1940. He was posted to 41 (F) Squadron at Hornchurch, Essex, September 17th and on October 5th he claimed a Bf109 destroyed.

After volunteering for Malta, Bamberger left 41 (F) Squadron in mid-October 1940. He sailed from Glasgow on the Aircraft Carrier HMS Argus. Luckily for him, he did not fly off for Malta with the twelve Hurricanes ad two navigating Skuas which did. Only five of the fourteen aircraft reached their destination. Bamberger eventually reached Malta on November 28th on the destroyer HMS Hotspur, and on arrival he joined 261 Squadron. On January 18th 1941 he destroyed a Junkers JU87 Stuka and another the following day. 261 Squadron was dispended on May 21st 1941. Bamberger moved on the 12th to the newly formed 185 (F) Squadron at Hal Far.

He was posted back to England on June 12th and was sent to Central Gunnery School at Sutton Bridge. Commissioned in February 1942, he was posted to Northern Ireland as a Gunnery Officer with the Americans who were converting to Spitfires. In March 1943 Bamberger volunteered for North Africa where he joined 93 Squadron at Hal Far, Malta in May. On July 13th operating over Sicily, he shot down a Junkers JU87 Stuka. In August Bamberger joined 243 Squadron in Sicily as a Flight Commander. He was awarded the DFC (28.09.43). On October 16th Bamberger damaged a Bf109, his first success after 243 crossed into Italy. On May 25th 1944 he claimed a Bf109 destroyed and on June 15th a Macci 202 damaged. Bamberger came off operations in July for medical reasons returning to the UK. He was sent on an instructor’s course and in early 1945 was posted to the Gunnery School at Catfoss. Awarded a bar to his DFC (14.11.44). Bamberger received it from the King at Buckingham Palace on July 3rd 1945.

Released in 1946, Bamberger returned to Lever Brothers and rejoined 610 Squadron at Hooten Park, becoming its CO in 1950. When the Korean crisis came, he was recalled to the RAF. In February 1951 he was granted a permanent commission and in May 1952 moved to an Intelligence Unit, assessing strike capabilities of the Chinese and Koreans. Bamberger retired on January 29th 1959 as a Squadron Leader, and became managing director of a small packaging materials company – he started in 1954. On retirement he had an antique shop in Hampshire.

Percival Graham Leggett

Click here for a larger image...Graham Leggett was born on February 24th 1921. He joined the RAFVR about June 1939 as an Airman under training Pilot. He was called up on September 1st and he completed his training and arrived a 5 OUT Aston Down in September 1940. On the 18th he crashed at Oldbury-on-Severn, Gloucestershire but was unhurt. He joined 615 (F) Squadron at Prestwick soon afterwards, moving to 245 (F) Squadron at Aldergrove on the 28th and then to 46 (F) Squadron at Stapleford on October 18th.

He claimed a Fiat BR20 probably destroyed and shared in the destruction of another on November 11th. Leggett was possibly posted to 145 (F) Squadron in late November 1940 and then 96 Squadron when it was formed at Cranade on December 18th 1940. In late June 1941 Graham Leggett joined 249 (F) Squadron in Malta and he claimed a Macci 200 on July 17th. He was shot down by enemy fighters on December 21 1941, baled out and was admitted to hospital with slight abrasions. Graham Leggett retired from the RAF on May 23rd 1958 holding the rank of Squadron Leader.

Keith Ashley Lawrence

Click here for a larger image...Born in Waitara, New Zealand on November 25th 1919, Lawrence was at Southland Boy's High School from 1933 - 1936 and then went to work as a bank clerk in Invercargill.

He enrolled in the Civil Reserve of Pilots in February 1938 and in June successfully applied for a short serve commission in the RAF. Lawrence left for the UK on February 1st 1939 on the RMS Tainvi. He went to 10 E & RFTS, Yatesbury on March 13th and moved to 5 FTS, Sealand on May 28th and joined the newly-formed 234 Squadron at Leconfield from OUT on November 6th. The squadron then had Blenheims but began to receive Spitfires in March 1940. Lawrence shared in the destruction of a Junkers JU88 on July 8th - the squadron's first victory. On July 12th he damaged a JU88, on the 24th August he damaged a Bf110 and on the 7th September claimed a Bf109 destroyed and damaged a Dornier Do17. Two days later he was posted to 603 Squadron at Hornchurch, Essex and on the 15th of September claimed a Bf109 destroyed and two more damaged.

On October 8th Lawrence was posted to 421 Flight, then forming at Hawkinge, Kent. On November 23rd he damaged a Bf110 and on a weather recce over Ramsgate on the 26th he was shot down by Bf109s. His Spitfire disintegrated and he found himself falling. He managed to get his parachute open and went into the sea and burst open a dye sachet colouring the sea. He was picked up by a minesweeper and taken to Ramsgate, where he was admitted to hospital with his right arm dislocated and his right leg broken.

After convalescence at Torquay, Lawrence rejoined his unit, by then re-numbered as 91 (F) Squadron on December 4th 1941. He was posted to 52 OUT, Aston Down for a refresher course on Spitfires and rejoined the squadron on January 10th 1942 but soon afterwards was posted to RAF HQ Mediterranean at Valletta, Malta. Lawrence joined 185 Squadron at Hal Far on February 17th.

On March 23rd he shared a Heinkel He111, on April 9th damaged a Ju88 and on the 24th damaged a Bf109. On May 9th he got a probable Junkers Ju87 Stuka and on the 19th damaged a Macci 202. He was promoted and took command of 185 leading the squadron until he returned to the UK in early August.

Lawrence was posted to 52 OUT at Aston Down but moved on September 4th to 57 OUT at Hawarden. He was awarded the DFC (12.09.42). In early July 1943 Lawrence went to Duxford for liaison duties with the USAAF. On October 27th he was posted to 56 OUT Sutton Bridge on the Pilot Gunnery Instructors Training Wing. In late May 1944 Lawrence went to 28 OUT, Wymeswold where he flew Hurricanes by day and night against Wellingtons training Air Gunners.

Lawrence returned to operations on February 5th 1945 when he joined 124 Squadron at Manston, Kent, flying the Spitfire Mk IX. On July 15th 1945 Lawrence transferred to the RNZAF. He returned to New Zealand in late May 1946 and went into the reserve in September. He later returned to Great Britain and settled here.

Robert Alexander Innes

Click here for a larger image...Born on June 15th 1918, Innes joined the RAFVR about August 1938 as an Airman under training Pilot. Called up on September 1st1939 he completed his training at No 10 FTS Fern Hill from November 5th 1939 to early May 1940.

Bob Innes was then posted to 253 (F) Squadron on Hurricanes at Kenley on May 6th 1940. He claimed a Bf110 destroyed on August 30th and on September 15th shot down a Dornier Do17 of 8/KG2.

Bob Innes crashed in Hurricane V6736 on September 20th 1940 following an attack by Bf109s over Maidstone. He crashed again during an interception patrol on October 11th at Staplehurst in Kent, whilst flying Hurricane L1666 (force landing). He probably destroyed a Bf109 off the coast of Essex on November 11th 1940.

Commissioned in March 1941 - Bob Innes served in Malta and retired from the RAF on August 31st 1961 as a Squadron Leader. Bob sadly passed away on April 6th 2005.

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