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Remembrance Day Flypasts

On the 9th November Aero Legends did its part to commemorate Remembrance Day.

Spitfire TD314 departed Duxford flown by John Romain and accomplished flypasts at Capel le Ferne and Headcorn plus full displays at Headcorn and Spitzbrook House which was a very poignant event to honour a fallen Battle of Britain Spitfire pilot as detailed below.

John William Ramshaw, known as Jack Commenced Flying Training at the Hull Aero Club at Hedon flying the DH 60 X Moth and between May 1936- Feb 1937 flew 9 hours and 45 minutes. On April 25th 1937 he enlisted for 5 years in the RAFVR and was promoted to Sergeant a year later. Between April 26th 1937 and September 1937 Jack flew 70 hours on the Blackburn B2 with no 4 ERFTS (Elementary and Reserve Flying Training School)at Brough with his first solo on type being on May 9th 1937 in G-ACEM.

From September 1937 to November 1938 Jack flew 55 hour on Hawker Harts and Hawker Audaxes from Brough and gained his RAF Flying Badge November 28th 1938. After war was declared Jack attended No 13 EFTS (Elementary Flying Training School)at White Waltham between October 7th 1939 and November 6th 1939, presumably flying the DH82a Tiger Moth for refresher Training. Between February 18th 1940 and March 25th 1940 Jack was at 15FTS.( Flying Training School)at Lossiemouth and converted onto the Harvard.

From April 6th 1940 to April 30th 1940 Jack was at No 5 OTU (Operational Training Unit) at Aston Down, Gloucestershire for conversion onto fighter aircraft. 5 OTU was equipped with Hurricanes at the time and it is thought Jack flew these although the log book containing flights for this period is missing so we can’t be sure.

He was posted to 222 squadron initially at R.A.F. Digby for an advanced fighter course on May 5th 1940 and moved with 222 squadron to Kirton in Lindsey on May 23rd. During the Dunkirk evacuation( Operation Dynamo) between 27th May 1940 and 4th June 1940, 222 Squadron were temporarily based at RAF Hornchurch. Upon return to Kirton in early June 1940, the squadron was kept busy intercepting numerous air raids on the North East Coast between the River Tyne and River Humberand intercepting raids on the cities of Hull, York and Sheffield. On August 29th 1940 222 squadron returned to RAF Hornchurch as Air Fighting, later to be known as the Battle of Britain intensified.

4th September 1940 – Day 57 of the Battle of Britain. Radar at Dover and Rye detected a wide formation coming across the Channel for the midday attack. Some 300 enemy aircraft were detected crosing the coast in the vicinity of Folkstone and Beachy Head. This consisted of 50+ Heinkel He111s, 30+ Dornier Do17s and 200 Bf109s. 222 squadron based at Hornchurch were scrambled at 12:35 for the second time that day, amongst their number was Jack flying Spitfire mark 1 K9962.

On this particular day the R.A.F. claimed to have destroyed 52 German aircraft, probably destroyed 19 and damaged 22 for a loss to themselves of 17 aircraft and 6 pilots. Jack was one of the 6 pilots. From eye witness reports Jack apparently suffered an engine failure at 20,000 feet and whilst trying to force land without power was attacked by an ME 109 which continued to shoot at his aircraft until approximately 200 feet above the ground. His Spitfire belly landed in an Apple orchard on ground adjacent to the River Teise close to Spitzbrook House at 13:35. He was rescued from the aircraft, which burnt out but died of his injuries sustained during the crash whilst en route to the West Kent Hospital. He was 24 years old.

On remembrance Sunday this year members of Sergeant Ramshaw’s family gathered at Spitzbrook House to honour him. Following the display at Spitzbrook House TD314 returned to Duxford and performed a display there in front of a crowd estimated at 10,000.