AIRMEN'S STORIES - Pilot Officer D. R. Stubbs
Group Captain Dennis Raymond Stubbs, DSO, OBE, DFC, RAF was the last fighter pilots name to be added to the London battle of Britain Monument on the Victoria Embankment at Westminster.
When the Battle of Britain was recognised as a campaign deserving of a campaign medal (or as it turned out a Clasp or attachment to the 1939-45 Star) the task of identifying those eligible for the award was of course paper-based as were the records of that time. Modern computers may not have done a better job but of course it meant that there was the potential for errors where records were destroyed by enemy action or other means, lost or just overlooked.
Also our research has revealed that some aircrew who qualified for the award by flying just one or two missions did not feel that they had "earned" it and failed to seek the award of the Clasp when it was not issued by the system. And of course until the advent of the London Monument, where the names will be recorded in bronze, there was no real requirement for a definitive list.
After two years of intensive research we felt that a we had a more accurate picture than had previously existed. It was just as well that complacency did not set in for in the early part of 2005 a pilot emerged whose name had never previously been mentioned in any of the torrent of books, magazines, films and TV programmes about the Battle.
Nigel Stubbs had held the medals of his father Group Captain Dennis Raymond Stubbs, DSO, OBE, DFC, RAF since his early death in February 1973 aged 55.
These clearly held the Battle of Britain Clasp but the name of Stubbs did not appear on our Master List on the website. Nigel opened an email dialogue with us and was able to tell us from his father's logbook that he had flown with 601 Squadron at Exeter in the last days of October 1940 i.e. within the qualifying period.
As next-of-kin Nigel was entitled to request his father's service record from the RAF Personnel Agency* and this confirmed that the Clasp had indeed been awarded. As the name plaques had long been laid out and were in the casting process we were only able to add Pilot Officer (as he then was) D R Stubbs to the St* range but out of exact sequence, an anomaly that may well puzzle future generations ! We are still unaware as to why he remained "missing" for so long.
Nigel very kindly provided a synopsis of his father's RAF career as follows;
My father joined the RAFVR in March 1939 and was mobilised at the outbreak of war. He gained his wings in July 1940 but was hospitalised after an accident and did not fly at all in August. He was commissioned on 6 October. He then flew Hurricanes with 601 Sqn. and then with 238 Sqn. until the end of the year.
After instructor training at Cranwell he was an instructor there until being posted out to South Africa as an instructor. He returned to the UK at the end of 1943 and undertook operational/conversion training on Lancasters before joining 9 Sqn as OC A Flight. In June 1944 he was posted to 50 Sqn. as OC B Flight. At this point there is a lot of red ink in the log book, for example on 24 July 1944 on an operation to Stuttgart he was flying for 8 hours including 5 instrument flying. In August he was awarded the DFC after leading a raid on La Pallice. A The letter shown above was sent to Mrs Stubbs as a congratulatory letter on DFC award from Henry "Chips" Channon, a wartime government minister and famous diarist).
In November 1944 he became a Pathfinder and from January 1945 was Master Bomber with 54 Base (an administrative sub-unit of a Bomber Group). Targets included the Dortmund-Ems canal, Munich, oil plants at Politz, Rositz and Bohlen, and Operation Trondheim.
He was awarded the DSO for his role as Operations Controller at 54 Base. And that was the end of war-time flying.
After the war he became Chief Instructor at the Aircrew NCO School. He attended the RAF Staff College followed by a tour at Air Ministry. In May 1949 flying resumed with spells as W/Cdr. Flying at Coningsby and Hemswell.
The photo on the left shows the Bomber Command Books of Remembrance being taken into Lincoln Cathedral, Nov. 1949 - the books list the 21,000 members of Bomber Command who perished during WWII.
In August 1951 he joined HQ FEAF. He was created an OBE in 1954. On his return to the UK he attended the RAF Flying College and then moved to Wyton as Officer Commanding Flying Wing. In 1957 he attended the US Air War College in Alabama and later served on the staff at the USAF Command and Staff College. He returned to the Air Ministry.
He was appointed Station Commander and CO of the newly reformed N° 7 Flying Training School at Church Fenton in March 1962 and the photograph below shows the Queen Mother Queen Elizabeth being welcomed to Church Fenton in August 1962. This was his last flying post and ended a career that saw him pilot 35 different aircraft types from Tiger Moth to U3.
In October 1964 he became Gp.Capt. Plans & Ops at LIVE OAK based at SHAPE HQ in Paris. His last posting before retirement in June 1968 was SOA at N° 38 Group based at Odiham.
My father was one of five brothers all of whom served in the RAF during the war. Cecil was killed in action on 21 October 1940. Robert, the youngest, was a rear gunner with 158 Squadron who went missing on 24 May 1944. He subsequently spent 300 days as a POW and never really recovered from the trauma. Stanley lost an eye. Leslie survived intact but died prematurely as indeed did my father.
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"I regard it as a privilege to fight for all those things that make life worth living - freedom, honour and fair play"
Pilot Officer William "Bill" Millington Australian 79 & 249 Squadrons Fighter Command