Flight Lieutenant Robert Stephenson Cromie M.D., M.M.S.A.
Among those killed in the bombing raids which devastated Kenley on the 18th August, 1940, was Flight Lieutenant Robert Cromie, No.615 Squadron’s much loved Medical Officer.
Along with other medical staff and patients, Robert had sought refuge in air raid shelter No. 13, adjacent to the station hospital block. However, bombs fell at both ends of the crescent shaped shelter, effectively entombing those inside. Many of those in the central section of the shelter were dug out alive, although most had been injured, but Dr. Cromie was not so fortunate.
Laurie Hale, a member of 615 Squadron’s “B” Flight ground crew, remembered Dr. Cromie:
The great tragedy of the day was the loss of life in air-raid shelter No.13. It was located outside the sick-bay and in it at that moment was Flight Lieutenant R. Cromie, the auxiliary squadron medical officer who had joined us in peacetime and at the outbreak of war gave up his local practice to come with us to France. I remember seeing Doc Cromie whip off his jacket and rugby tackle Tom Cronin at Vitry when Tom’s trousers were soaked in petrol and flaming.
Robert, his wife Mabel and their young son Graham, lived in Coulsdon. Robert had been the local general practitioner before joining the RAF, so his loss was keenly felt in the local community beyond the aerodrome.
Information about his service is scant, but we know Dr. Cromie was posted from 615 Squadron, Croydon, to RAF Kenley on 3rd October, 1939, and that he joined 615 Squadron in Vitry, France, as Medical Officer on 21st December, 1939, visited 615’s detached Flight at St. Inglevert on 29th December, and had compassionate leave from 2nd – 8th February.
Robert was the son of Samuel James Cromie and Sarah Morton Cromie, of Ballymoney, County Antrim.
Rest in peace Sir and thank you for your service.