Flight Lieutenant (Pilot) William Percival Cambridge
William Percival Cambridge was born in India in 1912. He was the son of Sidney John Cambridge, a civil servant, and his wife Agnes. Following his education in England, he returned to India and began work in the sugar industry. By February 1936, he was back in England, and joined the RAF on a short service commission.
He undertook his training with 10 Flying Training School at RAF Tern Hill from May and joined 29 Squadron at RAF Debden on Christmas Day 1936. By the end of 1938, he was Commander of “B” Flight.
In June 1939, William was detached to 11 Group Headquarters on Air Intelligence Duties. He was promoted to Acting Flight Lieutenant in September and got married to Mary Margaret Blackwell.
On 24th May, 1940, Cambridge was posted to 253 Squadron, who had just arrived at RAF Kirton-in-Lindsey to re-equip after sustaining losses during the heavy fighting in France. On 4th June, Flight Lieutenant Cambridge was attached to RAF Northolt for a ten day “air fighting” course. Later in the summer, 253 moved further north, this time to Turnhouse and Prestwick.
The Squadron returned to RAF Kenley on the morning of 29 August, the flight time was around 2 hours and thirty minutes, relieving 615 Squadron who replaced them at Prestwick. As the last pilot to make the journey, Cambridge did not take part in the afternoon sorties.
In an intense period, between 30th August and 6th September, Cambridge flew 23 sorties during which he claimed two Messerschmitt Me.110’s destroyed and one damaged. From 1st September, Cambridge assumed command of 253 Squadron, as he was the senior Flight Commander, after Squadron Leader Starr was killed and Squadron Leader Gleave injured on 31st August.
Flight Lieutenant Cambridge flew his last sortie on 6th September, 1940. Flying Hurricane P3032, he took off at 08.30hrs with the first patrol of the day. Tragically, the aircraft developed engine trouble and crashed. Cambridge managed to bail out but died as a result of parachute failure. His Hurricane crashed at Kingsnorth, near Ashford, Kent.
Only a year after their wedding, Margaret arranged for her husband to be buried in Henley Road Cemetery, Reading, close to Caversham, Berkshire, where she lived.
Rest in peace Sir and thank you for your service.