Glyn ‘Jumbo’ Ashfield, who could, and frequently did, put the stately Blenheim through a series of aerobatic manoeuvres unimagined by its designers. His apparent speciality was high speed, low level flying under electricity cables!
(Wing Commander Chamberlain)
Although Glyn is not believed to have been stationed at RAF Kenley, he and his parents Ernest Andrew and Elizabeth Selina Ashfield, lived in Limpsfield and Oxted, Surrey for most of their lives.
Glyn was born on 10th August 1912 in Chelmsford, Essex and joined the RAF , aged just 16 years, as an Aircraft Apprentice. He received a number of postings before joining 29 Squadron at Ambala, India in 1932.
Whilst in India, he applied for pilot training, moving to 30 Squadron in Iraq in 1935 as a Sergeant Pilot.
Returning to the UK in August 1937, he joined 79 Squadron at Biggin Hill and in September 1939 he was granted a permanent commission as Pilot Officer.
By this time he had married a nurse, Ruby Houghton Williams.
As a Pilot Officer he spent several months as an instructor before being posted to the Fighter Interception Unit at Tangmere on its formation in April 1940.
Just under two weeks into the Battle of Britain, during the night of the 22nd/23rd July, Glyn was captain of a Bristol Blenheim, L6836, equipped with airborne interception equipment. Together with his crew, P/O Morris (observer) and Sgt Leyland (AI operator), they made the first successful interception leading to the destruction, at night of what is believed to have been a Dornier DO 17Z off Bognor Regis, Sussex.
According to the combat report from that night, Glyn reported –
We flew full throttle until inside own AI range and at about 400/500 (yards) I opened fire. As I could not see my foresight I closed with continuous fire and by the huge firework display which resulted from bullets making contact, I knew the aim to be ok. I continued to fire, with the E/A looking the size of a house, it gave a lurch to STBD and nose fell. I attempted to follow it still firing, when the whole of the cabin perspex was covered with oil from the E/A. In the next few seconds we were on our back and recovery was not made until 700ft by which time we had lost contact with the enemy.
With great skill, he was able to control the Blenheim, landing blind but safely at Tangmere. The crew from the Dornier were all later rescued from the sea.
Glyn and his crew were credited with being the very first to destroy an enemy aircraft by using airborne radar.
Two months later in September, Glyn was promoted to Flying Officer and he and his crew escaped unhurt when he had to make a forced landing at Tangmere after the cockpit roof of the Beaufighter R2059, he was flying, flew off during a night patrol. He collided with an unlit truck on landing.
For his work with FIU, Glyn was mentioned in dispatches in January 1941 and awarded the Air Force Cross just two months later in March. September, saw a further promotion to the rank of Flight Lieutenant.
February 1942 and Glyn moved to 157 Squadron as Senior Flight Commander. The squadron was in the process of being equipped with Mosquitos.
On the 19th October, flying Mosquito NF II DD612, he damaged a Ju 88, his fifth overall claim.
Sadly, Glyn was killed, aged just 30 years, on December 12th 1942, when his Mosquito W4099 struck a tree during an Army Co-operation Exercise in Radwinter, Essex, killing him and his Navigator F/O Beale.
Only 8 days before his death, he was awarded the DFC.
His citation reads –
This officer has completed numerous sorties, many of them in adverse weather at night. He has at all times displayed exceptional keenness to engage the enemy and, by his skilful and untiring efforts has contributed materially to the successes achieved by the squadron he commands. He has destroyed 2 and probably destroyed further enemy aircraft.
He is buried in St Peters Churchyard, Limpsfield, Nr Oxted, Surrey and also remembered at the Battle of Britain Monument, Capel-le-Ferne in Kent.
Rest in peace Sir and thank you for your service.
- Service Number – 535242 and 36225
- Rank – Squadron Leader
- Squadrons – 29, 30, 79,Fighter Interception Unit, 157
- Nationality – British
- Date of death – 12.12.42
- Age at death – 30
- Memorial or graveyard – St Peters, Churchyard, Limpsfield, Nr. Oxted, Surrey
- Grave details – Sec B Row E Grave 17
Kenneth G Wynn: The Men of The Battle of Britain.