one of the
profiles of
"The Few"

The crest of 253 Squadron

John Greenwood
and his family

Taken in 1940
The Greenwood Family in 1940 - Taken in London
From Left: John, Mother, Ruth, Father & Betty

John, taken later during the war
This photograph was possibly taken later during the war. Wearing what looks like a summer uniform and the stripes displaying stripes indicates that John had received promotion by the time this photograph had been taken.

John in the year 2000

With an uncertain future in Britain, John decided to move to Western Australia, where he lives in good health and spirits today. Always keen to talk about the Battle of Britain, although his experiences later in the war, do not appear to be the talking point that the events of 1940 were.

John was born on the 3rd April 1921 in London. His childhood was spent in the Richmond / Kingston area of Surrey. He was a child full of adventure and mischief, and along with his younger sister, Ruth, they were never bored in the search for a laugh. His older sister, Betty, kept her distance from these two, so as not to be implicated in their mischief. The Greenwood family were blessed with a wonderful sense of humour, which has been passed on through the generations.

At 15 years of age, John decided school and himself would not work, so he moved out into the workforce. Far from being a non-achiever, John learnt quickly, and being a good reader, he gained much valuable knowledge. In early 1939, John applied, through devious means, and was accepted by the RAF on a short service commission. In February 1939, he began his flying training.

September 1939 saw Britain declare war on Germany. In February 1940, 253 squadron started to receive the Hurricane fighter aircraft. The squadron was sent to France in May 1940 to fly these wooden framed aircraft, without any armour plating, against the might of the Luftwaffe. To get out of France was a bonus, only for John and his fellow squadron members to regroup and prepare for the onslaught of the Battle of Britain.

With the Battle of Britain won, many of these brave "few" transferred to fight in other theatres of war. John was no exception, and his war experiences are detailed on the page " Johns War Years " .

Released from the RAF in 1947, and with his youth gone he tried to settle down in post war London. His younger sister, and great friend, Ruth, had met an American officer during the war, who she later married, raising 3 children together, Melody, David & Peter. Most of their childhood was spent in Kenya. Ruth passed away in 1981 and Peter was tragically killed in a peace time helicopter accident while serving with the US Navy in 1990. John's older sister, Betty, married an ex-Battle of Britain pilot, raising 2 children, Mary-Anne & Alec, in the tranquil surrounds of rural Scotland. Betty continues to keep good health in the wilds of Scotland.

In 1950, John and a friend boarded a ship from Southampton bound for Australia, the best move of his life. On arrival, he worked many odd jobs throughout this wild and wonderful country. Finally, he joined the airline industry as a pilot. It was here he formed many close friendships, and met an airline hostess, Joyce Tomlinson, who he married in 1954.

They left the airlines and settled in Perth for a short time, prior to an 11 year stint running their own business and raising 4 children in the Western Australian country town of Gnowangerup. The children Helen, Christopher, Michael & Nicholas all enjoyed the experience of growing up in the rural environment.

In 1973, the Greenwoods moved back to Perth and in 1981, John retired. He leads an interesting and active lifestyle in good health and humour

John and his family in
The Greenwood's - April 2000
From Left : Michael, Joyce, Nicholas, John, Christopher & Helen


These pages was originally created by Mike Greenwood (son of John Greenwood)
Modified for the "Battle of Britain Historical Society website by Alan L.Putland