132 Squadron (City of Bombay)

Dates of flights in BL688 and pilot details as currently known.

28/3/1942, 4 & 30/7/1942 – Sgt AE Burbidge
28 & 30/4/1942 – P/O Szyszkowski who was killed in action on 22/8/1942 serving with 306 Squadron

29/4/1942, 28/7/1942 & 27/8/1942 – Free French pilot Paul Hubidos initially escaped France in July 1940, boarding a freighter with others bound for England. After training at RAF Odium, he was assigned to 132 Squadron and flew BL688 on a number of occasions. He was shot down over Rouen on 8 March 1943, whilst on “Ramrod 76” mission with 340 Squadron in Spitfire Mk IX BS312.

26/6/1942 – Sgt Basey

29/6/1942 & 5/7/1942 – Plt Off Hammond

2/7/1942 – Free French pilot Phillipe Beraud flew BL688 between March and July 1942 when he was assigned to 132 Squadron. He came to the squadron after fleeing France shortly after the Battle of France in June 1940, where he joined the RAF and completed training at RAF Odium. Sadly, he was shot down on 17 April 1943, whilst serving with 341 Squadron, escorting Lockheed Ventura bombers over Caen.

30/7/1942, 31/10/1942 & 1/11/1942 – P/O Arthur Dickens Chiddenton, originally from Toronto was a member of the Canadian Air Force and flew BL688 on several occasions during 1942. In December that year, he was on an operation in Spitfire Vb AB369 when he was hit by enemy flak and crashed into the North Sea. He was reported Killed in Action aged just 20 years in Spitfire AB369 and his body was never recovered.

Squadron Leader, Desmond Fopp was born in Australia in 1920. Well known as a fighter pilot in the Battle of Britain, he was severely burned after attacking Messerschmitt fighter aircraft. Following his commission, he joined 132 Squadron where he flew Spitfires including BL688 on air defence duties over Scotland before the squadron moved to Suffolk.

Throughout 1942, Fopp flew many ground attacks sorties across Northern France and after having been promoted to Flight Commander, he went on to shoot down a Focke Wulf 190, reputed as a much better fighter aircraft at the time. He put his success down to a high polish of the Spitfire and fine tuning of the Merlin engine which gave the aircraft extra speed. Fopp died in 2005.

27/9/1942 & 01/10/1942 – Sgt WJ Johnston, Free French pilot who completed four sorties in BL688
27/9/1942 & 19/10/1942 Sgt T Wallace

27/9/1942, 6, 8,10, 11, 13, 14, 21, 23, 24, 28, 30/11/1942, 1 & 2/12/1942 – Sgt Arthur Weekes, a pilot from Barbados, flying with 132 Squadron, flew BL688 between September and December 1942. This was a mix of sorties, night flying and convoy patrol and he was later credited with shooting down Luftwaffe FW-190 fighters in aerial combat near Lubeck, Germany in 1945

29 & 30/9/1942 – Sgt JF Kelman
9/10/1942 – P/O T Nesbitt
11/10/1942 – P/O VJ Verby
12/10/1942 – P/O AG Russell
12/10/1942 – P/O EJ Cowan
18/10/1942 – P/O D Hunter
29/10/1942 – P/O GP Stone
25 & 26/11/1942 – P/O VJ Sumpter
29/11/1942 – F/Lt G St CB Reid
5/12/1942 – Sgt RJ Fowles who flew search and rescue in the operation to try to locate P/O AD Chiddenton.
6/12/1942 – Sgt RA Southward
7 & 12/12/1942 – Sgt WA Cruikshanks
8 & 12/12/1942 Sgt DA Atchinson

RAF Pilot, P/O AD Chiddenton © ww.aircrewremembered.com
Free French pilot, Paul Hubidos, rear centre © www.francaislibres.net
Free French pilot Phillippe Beraud, right
RAF pilot, Sqn Ldr, Desmond Fopp © Battle of Britain London Monument
L to R - Sgt A Weekes and Sgt C Joseph © RAF Museum

501 Squadron RAF (County of Gloucester)

16/4/1943 – W/O JL Lilburn

12/4/1943 – Flt Sgt S E Nichol, RNAF, originally from New Zealand flew BL688 in formation flights during April 1943, over Ballyherbert, Northern Ireland. Here he was involved in a mid-air collision with Spitfire Mk Vb P8741 flown by Sgt P M Rogerson, who was killed.

3/5/1943 – Flt Lt L M Ralph
30/6/1943 – J/Lt Barthold

16/6/1943, 26/6/1943, 27/6/1943, 28/6/1943 – Sgt W Atkinson



Bernard Fuchs, born in North East France in 1916 served originally in the French Air Force before arriving in England in June 1940 where he was posted to 154 Squadron and later to 610 Squadron, 19 Squadron and 501 Squadron where he flew BL688, which he nicknamed Annette II, on many training and active operations throughout summer 1943.

He was credited with two confirmed kills over Abbeville as well as destroying many trains, ships and transport vehicles. In August 1944 he entered Paris with a number of high-ranking French officers including General Valin, Chief of Staff for the French Air Force. Awarded the Cross of the Liberation in November 1944 by General de Gaulle, he remained in the French Air Force after the end of the war, achieving the rank of Marshall, retiring in 1966. Amongst his other awards were the UK DFC (for his service with 19 Squadron), the Croix de Gueer, the Grand Cross of the National Order of Merit, the Companion of the Liberation and Grand Officer of the Legion of Honour. He died in Paris on 30 October 2005.

Accident Record for Flt Sgt Nichol
Free French pilot, Bernard Fuchs © www.yorkshire-aircraft.co.uk)


21/1/1943 – P/O John Gower Allen Small – survived the war and died on 14/1/1989 and is buried in North Devon.

335 Fighter Squadron USAAF

Enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force, Maj Mac McKennon, originally of Arkansas, was posted to the Eagle Squadron, as it was known, on 27 February 1942 and is known to have flown BL688 until the squadron transitioned from Spitfire Mk V’s onto P47 Thunderbolts. Mac was an ace fighter, credited with 12 aerial kills and nine ground victories. He died in an air crash on 19 June 1947 in a student training accident in the USA.

Canadian Pilot, Maj Mac Mackennon © 335 Fighter Squadron USAAF

316 Squadron (City of Warsaw)

23/12/1943 – F/Lt J Siekierski flew on patrol and survived the war, settling in the UK.

11 & 24/11/1944 Brunon Steinborn was originally conscripted into the Polish Air Force where at the outbreak of the Second World War, he flew reconnaissance missions with 41 Squadron. Due to the might of the German Air Force, many Polish forces retreated south to Romania, including Steinborn, reporting to the Polish Consulate in Bucharest. Having been officially declared unfit for military service and equipped with money and identification papers, Steinborn headed to Beirut by ship and then sailing onto Marseille, France, where he reported to the Polish Air Force.

Facing retreat once again, following the German Blitzkreig on 10 May 1940, Steinborn boarded a ship to Blackpool, England with other Polish airmen. Here he was selected for pilot training initially on Tiger Moths and then moving onto Lysander and Martinet aircraft. In September 1943, he was posted to 58 OUT at Grangemouth and commenced his training on Spitfires, before heading to OUT at Mantfordbridge to complete his training.

He joined 316 Polish Fighter Squadron (City of Warsaw) on 14 December 1943 where he carried out operational sorties and training exercises until April 1944 and flew BL688. He carried out operational missions over occupied Europe for the duration of the combat. After the war he married an English woman before emigrating to Australia working in military electronics until he retired in 1978. He died in January 2015.

F/Lt Kazimierz Dolicher flew with both 316 and 308 Squadron for the RAF. He returned to Poland after the war and died on 17/11/1999 in Poznan.

Fl/Sgt Zygmunt Kowalksi of the Polish Air Force flew BL688 in January 1944 but was killed in an air crash on 21 March that year, in Spitfire Mk Vb W3569 aged just 22 years old.

Polish pilot, Brunon Steinborn 316 Fighter Squadron USAAF © Lista Kryzystka
Polish pilot, Fl/Sgt – Zygmunt Kowalski © www.aircrewremembered.com


8/9/1944 – F/Lt AH Greenhalgh flew on naval bombardment spotting operations in support of HMS Erebus off Le Havre. 

10/9/1944 and 2/11/1944 F/Lt FM Sheret  naval bombardment spotting operations in support of HMS Erebus off le Havre and Walcheren Island, Holland.

26/9/1944 – F/Lt RN Vickers flew fighter escort to B 25 Mitchells and Bostons over Breskens, Holland.

2/11/1944 – F/Lt Coggins flew naval bombardment operations over Walcheren, Holland

F/Lt J Mills flew non operational flight from Manston to North Weald where BL688 had a landing accident and was damaged. The pilot was unharmed.

aircraft receiving mainteance from us navy
Spitfire receiving maintenance from mechanics of US Navy Cruiser Scouting Squadron Seven © USAAF VCS-7

58 OTU (Operational Training Unit)

Following the end of the war, the last pilot to fly BL688 was 20 years old, Polish airman, Sgt Zygmunt Bauerek was on a Sector reconnaissance flight on 29 June 1945. The new pilot struggled with very bad visibility and sadly was killed instantly when the aircraft struck high ground. His body was recovered during a five-day operation by No 75 Maintenance Unit and he is buried at Newark Cemetery. The wreckage was taken to Cowley in Oxfordshire where it was reused in the war effort. 

Polish pilot, Sgt Zygmunt Baurek www.laituk.org