Baillon Paul 609 *

Pilot Officer Paul A Baillon – 609 (West Riding) Squadron

Paul Abbott Baillon was born at Upton, Northampton, on 1 April 1914. He was educated at Ratcliffe College, Leicester, from 1924-1932 after which he trained as a solicitor, qualifying in July 1938. He joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve in September 1938 as a trainee pilot and on the outbreak of hostilities a year later he was called up into permanent service, completing his flying training at Hastings Cranwell and Hawarden. He joined No 609 (West Riding) Squadron at Middle Wallop near Salisbury as a qualified Spitfire pilot in September 1940, during the intense final phases of the Battle of Britain.

On 27 October 1940, during his first engagement with the enemy, and flying Spitfire P9503, he encountered a Junkers Ju88 somewhere over Salisbury, but was hit by return fire. His aircraft was badly damaged and oil spewed over his windscreen, thereby severely limiting his vision and preventing him from having any chance of landing safely. Paul therefore elected to bail out, and as he floated safely down to earth he watched his Spitfire crash in flames close to a small wood near Upavon on Salisbury Plain.

Very sadly, and almost exactly a month later, in the late afternoon of 28 November 1940, 609 Squadron encountered the Messerschmitt Me109s of Jagdgeschwader 2 ‘Richthofen’ led by Major Helmut Wick in a dogfight over the Needles on the Isle of Wight. At the time Wick was the Luftwaffe’s leading fighter-ace and within seconds of the opposing aircraft clashing Paul Baillon, flying Spitfire R6631, became his 56th victim. Paul was shot down and killed, crashing into the English Channel.

His body wasn’t found until the following year when he was washed ashore in Normandy, the Germans affording him the honour of a military funeral and burying him at St Marcouf. When the new Commonwealth War Grave Cemetery was being constructed in Bayeux post-war, Paul was among many burials moved there and he can be found there today, a rare combatant from 1940 among the many from D-Day and the Normandy Campaign.

Ayre George 609 *

90330 Flying Officer George Desmond Ayre

George Ayre was born on 17 September 1914 in St John’s, Newfoundland. He was educated at Winchester College from 1924 until 1933, when he left to work for a London bank. He was always enthusiastic about aviation and he joined the Auxiliary Air Force in 1935 and was posted to 609 (West Riding) Squadron.

On 12 January 1940, whilst based at Drem, he made the squadron’s first engagement with the enemy, when he chased a Heinkel bomber attacking merchant shipping off the mouth of the River Tay, however, it disappeared into cloud and got away. A month later and he shared in the squadron’s first victory, another Heinkel bomber, which was shot down near St Abb’s Head.

On 19 March 1940 he was lucky to escape injury when he undershot his landing and crashed his Spitfire, which was a write-off.

On 18 May the squadron moved to Northolt and at the end of that month was operating over the Dunkirk area, covering the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force. On 30 May George unfortunately became 609’s first casualty of the war. Flying over Dunkirk at 15,000 ft for an hour and low on fuel, the squadron split up and headed for home but George became separated from his comrades. Nothing is known about what happened to him until he crashed near Oakley, perhaps he had been damaged by enemy action or had a problem with this Spitfire.

He was 26 years old and is buried in Northwood Cemetery.

Ambler Geoffrey 609 *

Air Vice-Marshal Geoffrey H Ambler CB CBE AFC

Geoffrey Ambler was born in 1904 and educated at Shrewsbury and Clare College, Cambridge.  He was a keen sportsman and rowed for Cambridge in the Boat Race in 1924, 1925 and 1926. Following his studies he joined the family textile firm, F Ambler Ltd, in Bradford.

In 1931 he joined the Auxiliary Air Force and served as a pilot with No 608 (North Riding) Squadron, rising to the rank of Flight Lieutenant by November 1933. A year later he was promoted to Squadron Leader as Officer Commanding.

In 1938, he was appointed to command No 609 (West Riding) Squadron at RAF Yeadon, north of Leeds. He took delivery of the first Spitfire to be issued to the Sqn in August 1939 and led the unit from peace-time to war, commanding the Sqn during the first wartime deployments to Catterick, Acklington and Drem.

In December 1939, he was promoted to Wing Commander and posted to RAF Drem as Operations Controller, gaining further promotion to Group Captain two years later. In June 1942, he became an acting Air Commodore and took command of the Royal Observer Corps, the first serving RAF Officer to do so. During his time as Commandant he reorganised the Corps and Sector HQs and realigned each area to that of its associated Fighter Command Group, thus ensuring more cohesive interception of enemy aircraft.

Now confirmed in the rank of Air Cdre, he was appointed as Deputy Senior Air Staff Officer (DSASO) in June 1943 at RAF Fighter Command HQ, Bentley Priory. In February 1945 he became the Senior Air Staff Officer (SASO) in the rank of Acting Air Vice-Marshal. He was also Aide de Camp to King George VI between August 1943 and October 1944.

Post war, he retired from the RAF and returned to the family firm in Bradford, eventually rising to be Chairman of the company. He was made a Deputy Lord-Lieutenant for West Yorkshire in July 1949 and became the Honorary Air Commodore to all three West Riding Auxiliary Squadrons – 609, 2609 and 3609 – until their disbandment in 1957.

He died in August 1978, aged 74 and remains one of the few pre-war Auxiliaries to rise to 2* rank during their career.

Angus, Duke of Hamilton *

Angus, the 15th Duke of Hamilton and Brandon

Angus Alan Douglas Douglas-Hamilton was born Earl of Angus, later Marquis of Douglas and Clydesdale, eldest son to Douglas, the 14th Duke of Hamilton and to Lady Elizabeth Ivy Percy, eldest daughter of the Duke of Northumberland.  The young Angus was educated at Eton and Balliol College Oxford, where his interest in engineering was evident.  He said later, “Yes, I went to Eton but I do hope it doesn’t show”.  Following his graduation from Oxford University, he joined the Royal Air Force and after completing flying training, Flt Lt the Lord Clydesdale, was posted to Tengah in Singapore to fly Canberras with 81 (Photographic Reconnaissance) Squadron. For his work in the Far East during the Indonesian Confrontation he was awarded the Pingat Jasa Malaysia, a medal given by the King and Government of Malaysia to recognize his contribution to service.

Angus then qualified as a flying instructor and later as a test pilot.  But his quest for speed was not confined to the air.  On the ground he was an accomplished motor racing driver and he took part in the Far East Grand Prix.   He broke no less than 47 land speed records and he was the holder of more than 60 British national and international land speed and racing titles.

Angus came from a rather exceptional ‘RAF family’.  His father and three of his uncles each commanded a squadron; a unique situation that is unlikely ever to be repeated.  Angus was invited to become the Honorary Air Commodore of No 2 (City of Edinburgh) Maritime Headquarters Unit of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, a position he held for eight years.  He was a huge supporter of the Auxiliaries and held them in high esteem..

Angus, Duke of Hamilton, leaves Kay, the Dowager Duchess and his three children including Alex now the 16th Duke of Hamilton.  He will long be remembered as an innovative and skilled engineer, a world record holder of some distinction, an acclaimed author, musician, animal lover, a well above average RAF pilot, a Royal Archer, Scotland’s premier peer, Keeper of the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Bearer of the Crown of Scotland, fierce supporter of The Queen and not least as the Honorary Air Commodore of No 2 (City of Edinburgh) Maritime Headquarters Unit of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force.

Adam Ken 609 *

Flight Lieutenant Kenneth Adam RAFVR – 609 Squadron

Ken Adam was born Klaus Hugo Adam in Berlin in 1921, to a Jewish family, the son of a former Prussian cavalryman. His father and his uncles owned a successful high-fashion clothing store, so the family was well-off. He was educated at the Französisches Gymnasium Berlin, and the family had a summer house on the Baltic. In 1933, the Nazi Party rose to power. Adam watched the Reichstag fire from the Tiergarten and that same year the family’s shop was forced into bankruptcy by SA Brown Shirt harassment. So a part of the family relocated to England when he was 13 years old and he went to St. Paul’s School in Barnes, and then attended University College London and Bartlett School of Architecture, training to be an architect.

When the Second World War started, the Adam family were German citizens and could have been interned as enemy aliens. But Adam joined the Pioneer Corps, which was open to any Axis citizen resident in Britain or the Commonwealth, and not considered a security risk. He was seconded to design bomb shelters. In 1940, Adam applied to join the Royal Air Force as a pilot but there were complications and it was only due to his sheer determination and persistence that he was finally accepted for service over a year later and he started training, eventually being commissioned in the RAFVR. He also changed his name to Kenneth. He and his brother Denis were the only two German-born pilots serving in the RAF.

Sergeant Adam joined 609 Squadron of the Auxiliary Air Force at RAF Lympne on 1 October 1943, flying the Hawker Typhoon. The Squadron was employed intercepting ‘hit and run’ raiders on the south coast, as bomber escorts and also for raids across the Channel attacking all manner of targets. In early 1944 emphasis turned to building up for D-Day as Allied Air Power systematically dismantled the road, rail and waterway infrastructure, the bridges, and radar stations in Normandy and further inland. In July 1944, 609 Sqn deployed into France and conducted close air and ground support missions throughout the campaign in North-West Europe until the end of the war. Ken was commissioned in 1945 by which time he had flown with 609 throughout, he only served on one Squadron. Shortly after the end of hostilities he secured his release from the RAF to resume his civilian career.

Adam first entered the film industry as a draughtsman for This Was a Woman (1948) He met his Italian wife Maria Letitzia while filming in Ischia, and they married on 16 August 1952. His first major screen credit was as production designer on the 1956 British thriller Soho Incident. In the mid-1950s he went to Hollywood, where he worked (uncredited) on the epics Around the World in 80 Days and Ben-Hur. His first major Hollywood credit was the Jacques Tourneur cult horror film Night of the Demon, and he was the production designer on several films directed by Robert Aldrich. He was hired for the first James Bond film, Dr No, in 1962. In 1964 he designed the famous war room set for Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove and he made his name with his innovative, semi-futuristic sets for the early James Bond films such as Dr. No (1962), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice(1967) and Diamonds Are Forever (1971). The supertanker set for The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) was the largest sound stage in the world at the time it was built. His last Bond film was Moonraker (1979).

Adam’s other notable credits include the Michael Caine cult spy thriller The Ipcress File (1965) and its sequel Funeral in Berlin (1966), the Peter O’Toole version of Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969), Sleuth (1972), Salon Kitty (1976), Agnes of God (1985), Addams Family Values (1993) and The Madness of King George (1994). He was also a visual consultant on the acclaimed BBC-TV adaptation of Dennis Potter’s Pennies from Heaven (1981).

He returned to work with Kubrick on Barry Lyndon, for which he won his first Oscar and he also designed the famous car for the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which was produced by the same team as the James Bond film series. During the late 1970s he worked on storyboards and concept art for Planet of the Titans, a Star Trek film then in pre-production. The film was eventually shelved by Paramount Pictures.

Adam was a jury member at the 1980 Cannes Film Festival and the 49th Berlin International Film Festival. In 1999, during the Victoria and Albert Museum exhibition “Ken Adam – Designing the Cold War”, Adam spoke on his role in the design of film sets associated with the 1960s through the 1980s.

Adam was naturalised as a British citizen, and was awarded the OBE for services to the film industry. In 2003, Adam was knighted for services to the film industry and Anglo-German relations. He died in March 2016.