Wing Commander Forgrave Marshall Smith DFC

A resident of Dunning for many years, Wing Commander Forgrave Marshall Smith, D.F.C., RAF No. 37613, Hiram (as he was known) was born in Victoria, Alberta, Canada on 17August 1913, to Thomas and Margaret (nee Marshall), both born in Canada. Thomas and Margaret were married in 1904 in Montreal. Thomas died on 31 October 1967 aged 90; his wife having passed away in April 1965, aged 91.  Both had been living in Edmonton, Canada at the time of their deaths. Hiram was their only child and was educated at Oliver & Westmount High School and Victoria High School

Hiram joined a local militia unit when he turned 20 and spent three years learning all about the Canadian Army. He was, however at the same time pursuing his private pilot’s licence at the North Alberta Aero Club.  In 1935, Hiram was documented as a civil servant, living with his parents and sister at 11033, 86th Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta.

In late 1935, Hiram decided that a life in aviation was what he wanted. He made his way to England and was accepted into the Royal Air Force (RAF). On 11 March 1936, Hiram was granted a short service commission as an acting pilot officer on probation, with effect from – and with seniority of – 2 March 1936. He reported to RAF No. 3 Flying Training School at RAF Grantham, Lincolnshire on 14 March 1936

A little more than a year later the newly promoted pilot officer joined RAF No. 1 (Fighter) Squadron at RAF Tangmere, Sussex flying Hawker Fury biplanes. Smith’s stay with No. 1 Squadron was short-lived as a rapidly expanding RAF used ‘B’ Flight from the squadron on 22 February 1937 to form the nucleus of a new unit.

RAF No. 72 (Fighter) Squadron was based at RAF Church Fenton, North Yorkshire and, in late March, Smith joined the squadron where he honed his skills on Gloucester Gladiator biplane aircraft. In April 1939, No. 72 Squadron was re-equipped with brand-new Supermarine Spitfire Mk. 1 aircraft. Smith was one of the first Canadians to fly this potent fighter.

During the opening months of the war, the squadron flew convoy and defensive patrols, only occasionally coming to grips with the enemy. In the northern part of England and into Scotland the weather was often atrocious. At the end of a long patrol over the water, returning pilots were often greeted with rain and fog. More than once Smith just managed to make a ‘blind’ landing or was forced to divert to another airfield with mere ‘fumes’ remaining in his gas tank. It must have seemed to the aviators of RAF 72 Squadron that meeting the Luftwaffe in combat was a safer proposition then dealing with English and Scottish weather.

Flight Lieutenant F. M. ‘Hiram’ Smith claimed the first victory for RAF 72 Squadron on 4 September 1939. Taking off from RAF Church Fenton at 12.05 hrs, he was to intercept a barrage balloon that had broken away from its moorings. Forty minutes later he brought down the balloon down near Pateley Bridge about 40 miles northwest. Flying Officer’s Sheen and Eldson of RAF 72 Squadron whilst patrolling the East Coast of England on 21 October 1939 encountered fourteen Heinkel He 115, 3-seat seaplane torpedo bombers attacking a convoy and shot down two of them.

RAF 72 Squadron was temporarily stationed at many other airfields before the Battle of Britain began, sometimes just for days, or a week or two. These temporary stays were used to rest and re-group. RAF Leconfield in the East Riding of Yorkshire was taken over in October 1939 by RAF Fighter Command and the Spitfires of RAF 72 Squadron were the first squadron to arrive, though not for long: they were sent up to RAF Drem in East Lothian that same month. In January 1940, they were recalled to RAF Leconfield and then assigned to RAF Church Fenton where they remained until March 1940.

On 1 June 1940, RAF 72 Squadron were ordered south and saw five days of flying over the beaches at Dunkirk, Operation Dynamo covering the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force and other allied troops. On one occasion Hiram Smith’s Spitfire had a failure of the engine coolant pump. He landed with the cockpit filled with, as he noted in his log “a cloud of Glycol steam”. Another note is his log for this time states that he returned to RAF Shoreham (Brighton) “by the Grace of God, with 2½ Gallons left”.

Despite fog so thick that they could not see the top of the hangars, on 4 June 1940 they were demanded to take-off ‘at any cost’ from RAF Gravesend. Returning to the airfield was hair-raising, a section landed at RAF Manston, an attempt narrowly missing at church steeple. Two Spitfires landed in a farmer’s field. Hiram Smith landed 60 miles further west at RAF Shoreham near Sevenoaks with only fumes left in his petrol tank.

Flight Lieutenant Smith (by now a section leader) dealt with increasing German attention throughout June and July as the Luftwaffe (night-time) attacked their airfield at RAF Acklington on a regular basis. Several aircraft were dispersed to satellite fields to avoid being bombed. At RAF Woolsington pilots had to sleep on chairs in the Flying Club longue as no other accommodation was available.

Flight Lieutenant Ronald Alexander Thomson from New Zealand on 26 June 1940 shot down A Junkers Ju 88 which had been caught in searchlights, one of the few night victories gained in a Spitfire. Thomson began his training on 16 November 1936 at No. 11 E&RFTS (Elementary & Reserve Flying Training School), RAF Perth (Scone).

Hiram Smith on 29 June 1940 (with two other members of the section) was credited with one-third of an enemy aircraft destroyed. Hiram Smith, leading three Spitfires of Yellow Section, scrambled from RAF Arklington and intercepted a solitary Dornier Do 17 which had been spotted about 10 miles from Holy Island. After flying for 40 minutes, they overtook the Dornier at 23,000 feet and Smith flashed a recognition signal at it. They received no response; the aircraft was then recognized as a ‘Flying Pencil’. Hiram circled the Dornier and closed to point-blank range from astern. He raked the Dornier with his machine guns. He was hit by defensive fire from the bomber and broke off his attack. Two other members of the section took their turn and then Hiram attacked from the enemy’s port quarter from about 50 yards away. The Dornier went into a spiralling dive and crashed into the sea.

Back at RAF Arklington it was discovered that an armour piercing bullet had just missed his Glycol tank, smashed into the engine rocker box, and had bounced along the rocker arms without breaking anything. Hiram was given the bullet as a souvenir by the aircraft mechanics. It was later learned that the Dornier was on a reconnaissance mission and was carrying a senior member of the German Meteorological Service.

Hiram was in the thick of things again on 15 August 1940 when RAF 72 Squadron was part of an RAF response to numerous German attacks throughout the day. Heinkel He 115’s made a feint attack towards Edinburgh, hoping to draw the defending RAF fighters north. German reports were that the RAF had suffered heavy losses in the south and the north would only be lightly defended. In fact, there were six Spitfire squadrons, a squadron of Boulton Paul Defiant’s and a squadron of Bristol Blenheim’s waiting for them. Most of the pilots in these squadrons were experienced, having fought in the previous two months over France and Dunkirk. They were now well rested and re-equipped. The Germans were also unaware that a 28-ship convoy was due to sail at noon from Hull, and all radars stations had been warned to be particularly alert. Anstruther Radar was first to report two formations of enemy aircraft approaching, one of which turned back about 40 miles from the coast of Scotland.

At eight minutes past noon radar stations began to plot a formation of 20+ enemy aircraft opposite the Firth of Forth. An hour later, the estimates rose to 30, in three sections, heading south-west towards Tynemouth. At Watnall, Fighter Command for the Midlands, they noted the approach of 13 Group’s first daylight raid. Scrambled in the afternoon at 12.15pm, RAF 72 Squadron and two other squadrons encountered more than one hundred Luftwaffe aircraft of Luftflotte 5 from bases in Denmark and Norway.

With an hour’s warning the fighter controller was able to put squadrons in an excellent position to attack. RAF 72 Squadron Spitfires were placed in the path of the enemy off the Farne Islands, about 25 miles to the north. They climbed to 18,00 feet and were the first to attack. It came as a bit of a shock to them when the 30 enemy aircraft materialised, 65 Heinkel He 111’s and 34 Messerschmitt Bf 110’s. Squadron Leader E. Graham led RAF 72 Squadron straight into the attack from the flank with one section attacking the Bf 110 fighters and the rest the He 111 bombers. Hiram Smith was leading four aircraft of Red Section. The Me 110s formed defensive circles whilst the He 111s split up. Some jettisoned their bombs in the sea and headed back to Norway.

A Messerschmitt Bf 110 streaked past Hiram, he saw a circle of six close and locked onto the last one. He emptied his guns into it noticing some effect. Aircraft were criss-crossing the sky in all directions with plumes of smoke marking the departure of several enemy aircraft. The fight lasted just five minutes. The surviving German aircraft were set upon again five minutes later by Hawker Hurricanes of RAF 605 Squadron followed ten minutes later by Hurricanes of RAF 79 Squadron. Pressing on the surviving Germans met Spitfires of RAF 41 Squadron. When they arrived at the coast, they found unbroken cloud from 10,000 feet to the ground making it impossible to bomb any of their intended targets. They jettisoned their bombs and headed for home, still harassed by newly refuelled and re-ammunitioned RAF fighters. Hiram recalled the event as:

Turning in behind a formation of bombers, I opened fire at one hitting its starboard engine, which started to smoke and large pieces flew off the main plane. I swung quickly behind another bomber firing a short burst into its port engine. I then transferred the attack to the third Heinkel, closing to point-blank range and I could see the incendiary bullets flash as they ricocheted on contact. I was close astern when the aircraft blew up with a tremendous explosion and disintegrated in a ball of fire, which I narrowly avoided flying into.”

The Luftwaffe lost eight bombers and seven fighters with several more damaged, all without any RAF losses. Further south, another unescorted raid of 50 Junkers Ju 88s from Aalborg in Denmark resulted in more losses for the Luftwaffe. In all, the northern attacks resulted in the loss of 16 bombers out of a serviceable Luftflotte 5 force of 123, and additionally seven fighters out of a force of 34 that were available. Luftwaffe reports indicated that 20% of the aircraft sent had not returned.

When the Battle of Britain started, RAF 72 Squadron was based at RAF Acklington, Northumberland (6 June 1940 to 31 August 1940), but urgently they were transferred on 31 August 1940 to the frontline at RAF Biggin Hill. Biggin Hill suffered severe damage on 30 August 1940. At 1.30 pm successive waves of German bombers started coming in over southern Kent; the third and largest raid began around 4 pm. One of the last remaining hangers was destroyed and most telephone, gas, electricity, and water supplies were cut.

The following afternoon, RAF Biggin Hill was attacked again by high altitude bombers – the damage had meant that two of the three squadrons based there had to be put under the control of nearby control sector stations. The temporary telephone lines installed after the previous days raid at Biggin Hill were destroyed. RAF 72 Squadron operated from the following day, (1 September 1940 to 12 September 1940) out of RAF Croydon.

It was from this airfield on 31 August that Smith’s part in the Battle of Britain came to an abrupt halt. During the last two weeks of August 1940, the life expectancy of RAF frontline fighter pilots has dropped to just two weeks. After little more than three hours after arriving at their new home, squadron members were scrambled to engage German raiders. Somehow, Hiram Smith and the three other pilots of his section became separated from the rest of the squadron and found themselves alone in the sky, they had climbed to 20,000 feet over the port town of Rye. More than 100 enemy aircraft were a few thousand feet below them. The four airmen did not hesitate, and dived into them, each man for himself. Smith was immediately challenged by a Messerschmitt Bf 109 making a head-on pass, cannons and machine guns blazing. His first thought was “missed me”, but then a 20mm cannon shell exploded with a bang near the left earphone of his flying helmet, fragments of steel penetrated his head, neck, shoulders, and arm. More shells smashed into his Spitfire sending it plunging vertically. Smith’s Spitfire was mortally damaged.

With his aircraft spiralling down out of control, the dazed and bloody Canadian, but still conscious, he jettisoned the cockpit canopy and attempted to climb out of the aircraft. The slipstream pinned Smith to the rear of the cockpit, hanging half in and half out of the Spitfire. Later, Smith recalled:

 ‘Every effort having been made to no avail and having gone through the full range of emotions – embracing emergency, frustration, consternation, fear, panic, and supplication, it was clear to me that owing to the speed at which I was approaching the ground, it could only be a matter of moments before I hit it. I then became completely relaxed and resigned to imminent extinction.’

Then suddenly, unexpectedly and for no reason, he found himself clear of the aircraft. Hurriedly pulling the ripcord of his parachute he drifted down to a hard but satisfying landing. In his weakened state, he could not grab the lines of his parachute to collapse it. He was dragged by a strong wind across a field.

After convincing a member of the Home Guard pointing the barrel of a .303 rifle at him, that he was indeed an ‘English’ airman and not eligible for shooting, he was taken to No. 7 Casualty Clearing Station. Smith survived his extensive injuries, the pieces of steel, according to the surgeon had missed “all the important pipes and things”.

Amongst his fellow patients in the RAF hospital at Halton was an old friend, Flight Lieutenant Eric James Brindley ‘Nick’ Nicolson, VC, DFC. Nicholson was a former member of RAF 72 Squadron; he was awarded the Victoria Cross on 16 August 1940 whilst flying a Hawker Hurricane. He was fired upon by a Messerschmitt Bf 110 injuring him in one foot and the eye. As he struggled to leave his blazing Hurricane, he saw another Messerschmitt. He got back in and continued firing until he saw it dive away to destruction. Then he bailed out and upon landing was fired upon by the Home Guard who ignored his cry of being an RAF pilot. When the pair of them were transferred to the Palace Hotel, Torquay, Flight Lieutenant E. J. B. Nicolson, VC, promptly wrote Hiram out a cheque for £1 in payment for a bet they had taken earlier in the war. The bet was for the first man to be credited with a confirmed kill. Hiram takes up the story:

” We met at the R.A.F. Hospital, Halton, about the end of December 1940. I had sustained 109 cannon shell injuries to my head and neck, and Nick had severe burns to his face and hands. At that time treatment for burns involved liberal coatings of gentian violet, which, added to their injuries, resulted in burns patients not being a pleasant sight … Sometime later I met Nick again at Torquay. Once again, we had been to town at lunch time and, upon returning to the Palace Hotel and entering the front door, Nick was called over to the desk in the hall. I sat down on a settee at the opposite side of the room. A few moments later, a completely shattered Nicolson collapsed beside me and thrust a piece of paper into my hand. It was a telegram and the message started off ‘His Majesty King George VI …’, and I thought it must be a joke, but reading on it promulgated ‘the award of the Victoria Cross to Flight Lieutenant J. B. Nicolson.’ As I finished reading the message, Nick turned to me and said, “Now I have to go and earn it.”

After three months in hospital, Smith returned to RAF 72 Squadron. Hiram was promoted to Squadron Leader and posted to command RAF 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron at RAF Turnhouse on 1 April 1941. On 16 May 1941 Hiram and his squadron moved to RAF Hornchurch, back into the front line of the battle. Conditions had changed, the RAF were now taking the fight to the Germans with fighter sweeps and bomber escorts over enemy held territory.

Hiram wrote in his logbook, “on almost every occasion, the formations of Messerschmitt Bf 109’s were waiting high in the sun, often well above the RAF raiding aircraft: and they dived down at will on them when they were in a favourable position. They used dive and climb tactics, almost dog-fighting at will with their Bf 109 f’s which were slightly superior to the Spitfire V used by No. 603 Squadron, and most other units on the Channel Front in the summer of 1941”.

Hiram’s first success with No. 603 Squadron came on 12 June 1941 when he shot down a Messerschmitt Bf 109 from a range of about 40 yards whilst it was attacking another Spitfire. Two days later, 14 June 1941 he thought he had just damaged another Bf 109 between Dunkirk and Dover in the English Channel. He did not claim this one as he did not see it crash, however other pilots confirmed that the aircraft attacked by Hiram plunged into the sea.

Hiram Smith was rested after two operational tours, 86 sorties and flying time close to 1,000 hours. He left the squadron on 24 July 1941 and on 14 August went to 52 OTU (Operational Training Unit) as Chief Flying Instructor. It was form at RAF Debden and moved to RAF Ashton Down on 31 August 1941.

Smith formed and then briefly commanded RAF 175 Squadron at RAF Warmwell, Dorset, from 3 March 1942, flying Hawker Hurricane IIB aircraft. Hiram then flew with RAF 145 Squadron flying Spitfire Vb’s out of RAF Helwan in Egypt and them RAF Gambut in Libya. The Spitfire’s key role was to provide high-altitude cover against Messerschmitt Bf 109’s and Italian Macci C.202 Foglore (Italian “thunderbolt”).

Promoted to Wing Commander, he was posted to India as Chief Flying Instructor at Risalpur. After a course at the Middle East RAF Staff College, Haifa, Palestine, he returned to India and became Wing Commander Operations at Air HQ, New Delhi. Smith returned to the UK for a course at the Fighter Leaders’ School and again returned to India, this time to command RAF 902 Wing.

In March 1942, he formed RAF No. 175 Squadron and in August 1942 he went to India where he became Chief Flying Instructor at 151 OTU, Risalpur. In 1944, he attended RAF Staff College at Haifa, Palestine, returning to India in June to become Wing Commander Operations at Air HQ, New Delhi.

He returned briefly to the UK to attend the Fighter Leaders’ School and then back to India as Wing Commander, Flying, 902 Wing. He was Joint Assault Commander for the invasion of Ramree Island, on the Arakan coast, Burma. The Battle of Ramree Island (Operation Matador) took place from 14 January 1945 to 22 February 1945. In May 1945, Smith was detached for the invasion of Rangoon, with the task of establishing an airfield.Hiram Smith remained with 902 Wing until the end of the war, following which he led RAF 11 and RAF 75 squadrons off the deck of HMS Trumpeter in the planned but never fully executed Operation Zipper, designed to recapture Singapore. At the end of the war in the Pacific, the Japanese garrison in Penang surrendered (2 September 1945) – the formal Japanese surrender was held in Singapore on 12 September 1945. A Commonwealth force reached Kuala Lumpur on the same day.

During this period, Hiram rose to the rank of wing commander and was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross, gazetted 30 October 1945. Public Records Office Air 2/9287 has original recommendation by G/C G.P. Marvin dated 27 July 1945 when he was credited with 346 hours operational flying time and was Wing Commander (Flying) of No.902 Wing, No.224 Group:

Wing Commander Smith is in his fourth operational tour and has carried out 280 operational sorties involving 346 hours flying.

This officer’s first and second tours were carried out during the Battle of Britain and consisted of interception, convoy patrols, day and night air cover over Dunkirk and sweeps over France and Belgium during which time he carried out 236 operational sorties involving 300 hours flying. During the Battle of Britain, he was wounded in the head by a cannon shell. His third tour was carried out in the Middle East and consisted of bomber escorts and fighter sweeps over Alamein involving 16 sorties totalling 17 hours flying. This tour was terminated on his posting to India.

During the above operational tours, he has destroyed three Ju.88s, one Do.17, one Me.109 and damaged one Me.110 and three Me.109s.

Wing Commander Smith is now in his fourth operational tour and has carried out 28 operational sorties involving 30 hours flying in the Burma theatre of operations. He has taken part in escort to bombers, bombing and ground strafing Japanese positions and sampans over the worst type of country to be found in any theatre of operations. His record shows that he has been almost continuously on operational flying throughout the present hostilities.

As Wing Commander Sweep Leader during his present tour, he has displayed exceptional keenness and has at all times set a very high example to the pilots of the squadrons in the wing.

To this, the Air Officer Commanding, No.224 Group, adds on 4 August 1945:

During his appointment as Wing Commander Flying in the Burma campaign Wing Commander Smith has displayed a fine sense of leadership and his courage and devotion to duty have been largely responsible for the offensive spirit of this wing. This and his previous operational record make him worthy of the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross for which he is strongly recommended.

Wing Commander Forgrave Marshall Smith took part in 280 operational sorties during the war. Hiram retired from the RAF on 13 October 1957 as a wing commander and went to work for British Petroleum as a departmental personnel manager. He was recorded, along with his wife June, on the 1958 and 1959 electoral rolls, as both living at Meadow Croft, Tilthams Corner, Godalming, Guilford, Surrey.  (The 1955 and 1956 rolls recorded June at this address, but not Hiram). On the 1960 and 1961 electoral rolls, both Hiram and June were listed as living at Byways, Ridgley Road, Farnham, Surrey, England.

Following his retirement from B.P., and at the time of his death, Hiram and his wife June, resided at Glebe House, Dunning. Hiram is reported to have liked fishing for salmon in the River Earn and his wife June, painting landscapes of the surrounding area. Hiram died of natural causes on 9August 1994, at Hillside Hospital, Perth, Scotland, shortly after his 81st birthday. His death was reported in The Courier and Perthshire Advertiser on 12 August 1994. He was survived by his wife June, two sons (Ian and David) and two daughters (Fiona and Katherine).

Hiram’s WW2 1940 to 1941 known tally:

29 June 1940, Dornier Do17 (1/2 claim),

(Spitfire Mk. 1 P9438, 100m East of Isle of May Island, Firth of Forth, RAF 72 Squadron)

15 August 1940, Heinkel He 111 (2 destroyed)

15 August 1940, Heinkel He 111 (probable)

15 August 1940, Messerschmitt Bf 110 (damaged)

(Spitfire Mk. 1 P9438, 300m East of Farne Islands, off Bamburgh, Northumberland, RAF 72 Squadron)

12 June 1941, Messerschmitt Bf 109 (destroyed)

(Spitfire Mk. Va, W3130, 10 miles of Ostend, Belgium, RAF 603 Squadron)

14 June 1941, Messerschmitt Bf 109 (destroyed),

(Spitfire Mk. Va, W3130, between Dunkirk/Dover (10 miles west of Calais), RAF 603 Squadron)

Story by Ken Bruce and Sue Gibson

Sources include various websites and books:

  • The Narrow Margins by Derek Wood and Derek Dempster, 1961
  • Swift to Battle – No. 72 Fighter Squadron RAF in Action, Tom Docherty, 2009
  • Canadian Wing Commanders, George Brown and Michael Lavigne, 1984


Accounts of aircraft shot down by Hiram on 15 August 1940 have been recorded as 2 x Junker Ju 88 with 1 x Ju 88 probable. His D.F.C. recommendation tally states 5 shot down including Ju 88’s, the northern raid he encountered was Bf 110 and Bf 111 aircraft. Junkers Ju 88’s from Denmark did attack further south and were met by RAF 73 and RAF 616 Squadrons off Flamborough Head.

Hillside Hospital at Barnhill, Perth closed on 31 December 1997. Glebe House, Dunning, was the former manse of St. Serf’s Church. 

The attack by the Luftwaffe of 31 August 1940 was Fighter Command’s heaviest day of losses.  Thirty-nine RAF fighters were shot down with 14 pilots killed. The Luftwaffe lost 41 aircraft in the whole 24-hour period. It was advised at 6.35 pm that all telephone lines to Biggin Hill Fighter Control sector were dead and urgently required was the frequency and call signs of RAF 72 and RAF 79 squadrons. A despatch rider had to be sent to fetch the information. A fourth attack was delivered at 5.30 pm by Junkers Ju 88s and Messerschmitt Bf 110s which further cratered runways, mainly at RAF Hornchurch. RAF Hornchurch and RAF Biggin Hill were, nonetheless, serviceable the next morning.

RAF 72 Squadron nickname, “Basutoland”, is derived from the fact that during both world wars, the Basutoland Protectorate, now Lesotho, donated aircraft to RAF, which were assigned to No. 72 Squadron

RAF 54 Squadron was caught in the act of taking off on 31 August 1940. Two sections had got airborne, but the last was blown into the air by explosions. All three pilots emerged shaken and injured but were back on operations the next morning. Thirty Dornier Do 17s dropped about 100 bombs on the airfield; four were later shot down.

The Messerschmitt Bf 110, often known unofficially as the Me 110, was a twin-engine Zerstörer, fighter-bomber.

Flight Lieutenant Ronald Alexander Thomson on 1 September 1940 was shot down in Supermarine Spitfire P9448 by Messerschmitt Bf 109’s. Wounded in the chest, lungs, stomach, hands and one leg by shell splinters and with a dead engine he manged a belly landing outside Leeds Castle. He re-joined RAF 72 Squadron at Biggin Hill on 11 October 1940.

Luftflotte 5 at the time of the northern raids was under the command of Generaloberst Hans-Jürgen Stumpff, (10 May 1940 – 27 November 1943). Stumpff served as the representative of the Luftwaffe at the signing of the unconditional surrender of Germany. He was released from captivity in 1947 and died in 1968.

Although lightly armed and with several other design flaws, during mid-1942, in North Africa, the underrated Macci C.202 Folgore achieved a ratio kill/loss better than that of the Messerschmitt Bf 109.

Supermarine Spitfire Mk. 1 K9942 which was flown by Hiram Smith and Flying Officer J. B. Nicholson VC, was restored and is in the collection of the RAF Museum, (hangar 3) at RAF Cosford, north-west of Birmingham.

Spitfire K9942 history file:

As a wing commander, E. J. B Nicolson, VC, DFC was killed on 2 May 1945 when a RAF B-24 Liberator from No. 355 Squadron, in which he was flying as an observer, caught fire, and crashed into the Bay of Bengal. His body was not recovered. He is commemorated on the Singapore Memorial. Hiram remained good friends with Nick Nicholson until his death, back in 1940 he became godfather to his son, James

Forgrave Marshall ‘Hiram’ Smith
THE BASUTOLAND SQUADRON [No.72] (CH 18999) Original wartime caption: For story see CH.18995A Pilots of the Basutoland Squadron at dispersal. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:
THE BASUTOLAND SQUADRON [No.72] (CH 19025) Original wartime caption: For story see CH.18995A Pilots of the Basutoland Squadron. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:
THE BASUTOLAND SQUADRON [No.72] (CH 18995A) Original wartime caption: The Basutoland Fighter Squadron of the Royal Air Force was one of the earliest Spitfire squadrons in action in the Battle of Britain. The squadron was reformed after the last war in February 1937 and has already five DFCs and two DFMs to its credit in this war. Squadron records show that its pilots have destroyed 83 enemy aircraft and 29 probables with 37 damaged. A line … Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:
RAF FIGHTER COMMAND 1940 (HU 104498) Ground staff re-arm a Spitfire Mk I at Biggin Hill, September 1940. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:
Spitfire IIA 72 Sqn RAF in April 1941
A Royal Air Force Supermarine Spitfire Mark IIA (s/n P7895, “RN-N”) of No. 72 Squadron, RAF based at Acklington, Northumberland (UK), in flight over the coast, piloted by Flight Lieutenant R. Deacon Elliot.

Flight Lieutenant James Brindley Nicolson VC playing a ‘Jew’s harp’ while recovering in hospital, 1940. Forgrave Marshall Smith playing the washboard (authors guess see ID card above) R.A.F. FIGHTER V.C. (CH 1697) Original wartime caption: The Swanee whistle. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: