Squadron Leader David Douglas Pryde DFC

Squadron Leader David Douglas Pryde DFC was born in Crieff on 17 April 1918 and was one of three brothers who died during the early years of World War Two. Squadron Leader David Douglas Pryde was the son of the Reverend John Marshall Pryde, B.D. and Jean Marshall Pryde, at the time of his death they were residing at Kilrenny Manse, Anstruther.

During World War One, whilst the Reverend John Marshall Pryde was on active service as a Chaplain, the family stayed in Crieff. David, his oldest brother, and sister spent several years being educated at Morrisons Academy in Crieff.

His brothers Squadron Leader George A.M. Pryde, D.F.C. and Flying Officer William S. Pryde, also died in service. Squadron Leader George Pryde won his DFC for an operational flight over Belgium in 1940. Another brother, Captain John Marshall (Jack) Pryde, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders served in the Middle East during WW2.

On 9 June 1942 Squadron Leader Pryde was piloting Armstrong Whitely V, BD195, of RAF 77 Squadron over the Bay of Biscay, just southwest of Brest.

The crew comprised:
Squadron Leader David Douglas Pryde (39564) RAF Age 24
Flight Sergeant William Carmichael (1252018) RAFVR
Sergeant John William Cook (922612)
Flight Lieutenant Robert Gordon Nicholas Laidlaw (J/5319) RCAF
Flight Lieutenant Alan Peter Tyson (123994)

Taking off from RAF Chivenor, near Barnstaple on the north coast of Devon in England. They were tasked with an anti-submarine patrol. Over the Bay of Biscay, 60 kms southwest of Brest, France, at 12.30 hours they were attacked by enemy aircraft and shot down.

Squadron Leader Pryde, Flight Sergeant Carmichael and Sergeant Cook were reported missing, believed killed. They are all remembered on the Runnymede Memorial and Squadron Leader Pryde is also remembered at the family plot in Anstruther, his name is included on his parent’s headstone and on the Waid Academy, War memorial, Anstruther.

Flight Lieutenant Laidlaw survived, was rescued, and became a prisoner of war at Stalag Luft3, Sagan and Beleria, near Żagań in Western Poland. Flight Lieutenant Tyson was also rescued and became a prisoner of war at Stalag 357, Kopernikus near Toruń in Poland.

Squadron Leader David Douglas Pryde joined the RAF in 1937 at the age of 19. He was appointed Acting Pilot Officer on Probation 8 March 1937. Then graded as Pilot Officer on 21 December 1937 and promoted to Flying Officer on 8 September 1939. On the 20 May 1940 he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC).

When still a Flying Officer, David Douglas Pryde on 20 May 1940 was detailed for a collaboration operation involving an attack on the communication centre at Hannapes, 100 km east of Amiens. (The German army had invaded France on 10 May 1940, making a surprise attack through the Ardennes Forest (50 kms west of Hannapes), code named – operation Fall Gelb (“Case Yellow”)).

Taking off from RAF Driffield in North Yorkshire in RAF 77 Squadron. Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk.V N1384 (KN-G) at 20.36 pm they were reported to have force landed near Abbeville, France. The Whitley was severely damaged by flak (anti-aircraft fire) and was set on fire. All the crew were uninjured and soon returned to Raf Driffield to resume their operational duties.

The official Air Ministry file on the incident: “Whitley N1384 crashed at Beauvais, France, 21 May 1940. Warrant Officer A C Thompson, Pilot Officer A C Meigh, Flying Officer D D Pryde, Pilot Officer A W Dunn, Aircraftman 1st Class T B Kenny and Aircraftman 1st Class F Crawford, safe”

Report on Flying Officer David Douglas Pryde’s in Whitley N1384, 20 May 1940 mission:
The example he set that day of courage and determination, that came at the end of six months of war flying during which he had completed 16 operational flights, both as a second pilot and as captain, showed courage and dash. And the spirit in which he tackles his flights is an infectious stimulant to all who work with him.’

This was further refined for the Air Ministry Honours and Awards Committee to read as follows: ‘London Gazette No. 34870, Dated 11 June 1940. On 20th May 1940, this officer was detailed for a collaboration operation involving an attack on the communication centre at Hannapes, France. Despite difficult conditions, he succeeded in identifying the target from a very low altitude. Although his aircraft was hit heavily, Flying Officer Pryde climbed to 3,000 feet and executed a successful bombing attack. His aircraft subsequently caught fire, but he continued flying and when height could no longer be maintained, the entire crew landed by parachute. Flying Officer Pryde has completed sixteen operational flights during six months of war flying and has displayed considerable courage and determination of a high order.’

Later, on the night of 19/20 June 1940, Squadron Leader David Douglas Pryde, RAF 77 piloting Armstrong Whitely, N3171 was undertaking an operational flight to attack marshalling yards at Wanne-Eickel, Germany (between Essen and Dortmund), when it was hit by flak and sustained some damage. It was able to make a safe return to land at RAF Driffield at 03.40hrs and the damage was soon repaired on site.

RAF Flying Officer William Symington Pryde (37690) died on 24 September 1939, age 22 years. William Pryde was piloting North American Harvard Mk. I, N7067 from RAF Grantham, No.12 Flying Training School when it went out of control, spun out of cloud into the ground at Newton, North Kesteven, Lincolnshire (10 miles west of Grantham). Flying Officer William Symington Pryde (37690), and Leading Aircraftman Albert Bernard Hayes (219069), aged 49, were both killed. Flying Officer William Symington Pryde is buried in Anstruther New Cemetery. (In 1944, RAF Grantham was renamed RAF Spitalgate)

RAF Squadron Leader George Archibald Marshall Pryde (32232) (ex RAF 21 squadron) was killed on 19 June 1940 in an aircraft accident at Tunis, Tunisia, North Africa. The aircraft he was killed in was Bristol Blenheim Mk. IV, L9334. He was piloting it on a delivery flight, one of twelve Bristol Blenheim’s going to Malta for 4 (Continental) Ferry Pilots Pool.
Taking off from RAF Tangmere between 6.30 and 6.45 hours on 18 June 1940 in Bristol Blenheim Mk. IV, L9263 an engine cut-off at Mariganne (Marseille) in the south of France. The Blenheim L9263 struck the boundary and was abandoned there.

The next day they took off 1730 hrs from Marignane (Marseille) in Blenheim L9334 on the next leg of the flight to Malta. They overshot the island of Malta and on approaching the Tunisian coast they crashed into the sea. The pilot, Squadron Leader Pryde, age 30 and Sergeant Alexander Scott RAFVR (759142), RAF 500 Squadron, age 19, the Wireless operator/Air Gunner were killed instantly. Sergeant Leslie Arthur Hibbett RAF (58116), age 19, died two days later. Sergeant Scott is buried in Medjez-el-Bab War Cemetery. The others are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. George Pryde was born in St. Machar in Aberdeen city.

Before that, Squadron Leader George Pryde flew with RAF 21 Squadron on operations over France during the German Blitzkrieg (Battle of France (10/05/1940-22/06/1940). On 11 May 1940, Squadron leader George Pryde took off at midday from RAF Watton, Norfolk. They overflew the Netherlands and Belgium at 15,000 feet. George Pryde then led his RAF 21 Squadron to attack German forces in and around the Albert Canal bridges near Maastricht, Netherlands.

His Bristol Blenheim’s bombers shallow dive-bombed vehicles on a road. A dense curtain of flak was put up in response, one air gunner was killed by shrapnel. The next morning no less than eight of the Squadron’s aircraft were unserviceable.

George Pryde also attended Morrisons Academy, Crieff during the closing years of the Great War when his father was on active service as a Chaplain.

During World War II, the Albert Canal functioned as a defence line. The Albert Canal that connects Antwerp with Liège. The crossing of the Albert Canal by the German forces and the destruction of Fort Eben-Emael (south of Maastricht) on 11 May 1940 was a milestone in the German invasion of Belgium.

Captain John Marshall Pryde joined the RAF on 1 July 1937 on a short service commission. His commission was terminated on 3 December 1937. It was speculated that Sergeant John Pryde was involved in an air accident crash and left the RAF due to his injuries. John Pryde later joined the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders as a 2nd Lieutenant in August 1940. He rose to the rank of Captain and was known to have served at some point in the middle east. He appears to have survived the war and emigrated to Arizona, USA.


In German, stalag was a term used for prisoner-of-war camps. Stalag is a contraction of “Stammlager”, itself short for Kriegsgefangenen-Mannschaftsstammlager.

On 20 May 1940, the day Squadron leader Pryde won the DFC, the first prisoners arrived at a new concentration camp, Auschwitz and German General Guderian’s tanks captured Amiens at 0900 hours, Abbeville at 1900 hours, and Noyelles-sur-Mer at 2000 hours (70 kms); they had reached the English Channel.

In 1972, the newly created School Board of Anstruther Easter approached the Trustees of Andrew Waid’s will to set up his Academy and on Monday 6th September 1886 at 2pm, the Board of Governors opened the Waid Academy, Anstruther, to 75 pupils who had passed the entrance examination. Andrew Waid was born on 18th June 1736, and when the American War of Independence started in 1776, Waid was actively engaged on the Loyalist side. He lost his ship “Thrifty Lass” shortly after the war started to the rebels. He returned to his native homeland by 1781. His loyalty was rewarded with him being made a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy and served “with distinction, especially in the North Seas” till he retired on half pay. In 1795 he was given the freedom of the City of Perth, shortly followed by a similar honour by the Burgh of Anstruther Easter.

RAF 21 Squadron was formed in 1915 and was disbanded for the last time in 1979. The squadron is famous for Operation Jericho on 18 February 1944, when the crews of Mosquitoes breached the walls of a Gestapo prison at Amiens, France, allowing members of the French Resistance to escape.

The life of Whitley N1371. It was built to contract 75147/38 by Armstrong Whitworth Ltd. at Baginton (near Coventry) and was awaiting collection on 24th September 1939. After a short period of storage at an Maintenance Unit it was delivered to RAF 102 Squadron at RAF Driffield in November 1939 when the unit began converting to Mk.V’s from Mk.III Whitleys. It later transferred to RAF 77 Squadron also based at RAF Driffield in January 1940.

Following minor flak damage on 15th June 1940, Cat M/FA damage was recorded, and it was repaired on site very quickly and returned to the unit. It sustained Cat.M/FB again five days later, 20th June 1940 when it was again hit by flak on Ops to Wanne-Eickel (detailed above). Again, it was repaired on site and returned to the unit.

On 24th June 1940 Cat.R(b)/FB damage was recorded after it was sustained serious flak damage on Ops at Kassel, seriously damaged and with only one good engine the pilot made an emergency forced landing at RAF Bircham Newton sustaining further damage, but the crew survived. It was taken apart and repaired in works and after completion of the repairs and after a period of storage it was issued to 19 Operational Training Unit at RAF Kinloss (near Forres) in 1941.

On 31st December 1942 Cat.E(m)/FA had to be recorded on the airframe after it was lost at sea. Shortly after tale off from Kinloss to was seen to fly at speed into the sea in a steep dive and crash in Findhorn Bay.

Squadron Leader David Douglas Pryde
AIRCRAFT OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE 1939-1945: ARMSTRONG WHITWORTH AW.38 WHITLEY. (CH 1217) Whitley Mark V, N1503 ?M?, of No. 19 Operational Training Unit based at Kinloss, Morayshire, parked at Abingdon, Berkshire, while visiting No. 10 OTU. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205126862
AIRCRAFT OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE 1939-1945:ARMSTRONG WHITWORTH AW.38 WHITLEY (C 928) Two Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mark Vs, N1373 ‘KN-J’ and N1347 ‘KN-E’, of No. 77 Squadron RAF, overfly Driffield, Yorkshire, on return from a night-reconnaissance sortie. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205207618
AIRCRAFT OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE 1939-1945: ARMSTRONG WHITWORTH AW.38 WHITLEY. (MH 4295) Whitley GR Mark VII, LA794, after completion at the Armstrong Whitworth factory at Baginton, Warwickshire, where it was retained by the makers for flight testing. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205126830
BRISTOL BLENHEIM MARK IV (CH 792) Original wartime caption: [For caption see CH.782] A flight of Bristol Blenheims. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205442448
BRISTOL BLENHEIM MARK IV (CH 789) Original wartime caption: [For caption see CH.782] A flight of Bristol Blenheims. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205442445
THE GERMAN INVASION OF HOLLAND, MAY 1940 (C 1583) A salvo of bombs burst on German troops massed on the east bank of the River Meuse at Maastricht, Netherlands, during the desperate attempt by aircraft of No. 2 Group RAF to block the German advance by bombing bridges and buildings near the bridges in Maastricht, Hasselt and Tongres, 12 May 1940. Of forty-two Bristol Blenheims despatched on the raids by Nos 15, 107 and 110 Squadrons RAF, eleven we… Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205022873
AMERICAN AIRCRAFT IN RAF SERVICE 1939-1945: NORTH AMERICAN NA-16 & NA-66 HARVARD. (CH 606) Harvard Mark I, N7033, of No. 2 Service Flying Training School based at Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, in flight with undercarriage lowered. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205208655
Courier and Advertiser 10 June 1940
Perthshire Advertiser 12 June 1940
Strathearn Herald 15 June 1940
Evening Telegraph 10 July 1940
Courier and Advertiser 3 July 1940