Sergeant John Edward Gallon
Sergeant John Edward Gallon was posted to 111 Squadron at RAF Debden on 14 July 1942, when he moved across the airfield from the co-located No.52 Operational Training Unit.
His first recorded flight with the squadron occurred on 19 July when he was given an hours’ “experience on type”, this was followed later in the day by some formation practice and sector reconnaissance. His training with the squadron continued after the move to RAF Kenley at the end of the month. However, he suffered an undercarriage failure when returning from another sector reconnaissance on 2 August.
Gallon’s first operational sortie took place the following day when he formed part of Blue Section on a convoy patrol along the coast. For a rookie pilot, this was a gentle introduction into squadron operations; another “safe” operation followed the next day when he participated in an “anti-Rhubarb” patrol. On 5 August the squadron conducted some air-to-ground firing practice at the Leysdown Ranges on the Isle of Sheppey. Leysdown’s claim to fame is as the site of the first powered heavier-than-air flight by a British citizen, on 2 May 1909, with John Moore-Brabazon at the controls.
More training continued until 9 August, when Sergeant Gallon took part in 111 Squadron’s feint sweep, with 308 Fighter Squadron (USAAF), between Dieppe and Le Havre. To more readily intercept the “tip and run” raiders, the squadron deployed a section to RAF Friston west of Eastbourne. Sergeant Gallon spent the afternoon of 11 August as part of Blue Section at Friston. The afternoon was enlivened by a scramble but no contact was made, Blue Section returned to Kenley in the early evening. The next day the squadron indulged in some air-to-sea firing, perhaps a portent of things to come. Training flights continued for Sergeant Gallon continued for the next few days but included a diversionary sweep to Dunkirk on 17 August.
The evening of 18 August, brought a squadron briefing in the Station Cinema by the Station Commander and the Wing Commander (Flying) on a large Combined Operation that would take place the following day.
19 August saw the launch of Operation Jubilee – the objective was to capture the port for a short period, test the feasibility of a landing and gather intelligence. German infrastructure in and around the port was to be demolished. The ground contingent consisted mainly of Canadian troops accompanied by a regiment of tanks. Fighter Command contributed forty-eight Spitfire squadrons from 11 Group, plus a further three from the USAAF 31st Fighter Group including 308 Fighter Squadron.
111 Squadron were the first squadron to launch from Kenley in the dark, although John Gallon was not one of the pilots on this occasion. The squadron landed back at 6.02 a.m. without having seen a German aircraft. Weather conditions in France prevented the Luftwaffe from launching its fighter aircraft until later in the morning. Gallon joined the second patrol over Dieppe, launched at 9.00 a.m. Although the squadron engaged German bombers, it does not appear Gallon had any success.
111 Squadron launched their third patrol over Dieppe at 12.20, they mainly encountered German bombers attacking the shipping supporting the raid. Ten pilots of the squadron were reported to have fired their guns, it is unclear if John Gallon was among them. He did however confirm the Do.217 damage claim of his Blue Section leader Flight Lieutenant Baraldi. Sergeant Gallon also joined the squadron’s final sortie of the day, taking off at 15.20. By this time the weather had deteriorated and the smoke from Dieppe also impaired visibility. This proved to be a quiet sortie, although six Fw.190s were seen above the squadron, they did not engage.
It was back to sitting at readiness at Friston the following afternoon for Sergeant Gallon, with more of the same on 26 August. In the intervening days he took part in a diversionary sweep to Ostend and a patrol over Beachy Head.
27 August saw 111 Squadron provide the Close Escort cover for Boston bombers attacking the airfield at Abbeville, for Circus 209. They experienced heavy anti-aircraft fire over the target and were engaged by Fw.190s as they returned home. It was during this combat that Sergeant Gallon was shot down, flying Spitfire Vb (AD202), and although he baled out over France, he did not survive.
Considerable heavy flak came up from the target area, and the formation was attacked by FW.190s on the return journey, and Sgt. Gallon, Blue 4, baled out over France.
John Edward “Teddy” Gallon was born in Newcastle-on-Tyne on 8th August, 1920, the eldest child of Edward Gallon, a painter and decorator, and Alice Gallon (nee Gaffney), who had married the previous year. They went on to have four more children, all girls – Kathleen, Veronica, Eileen and Maureen. In 1939, ‘Teddy’ was living in Clara St, Newcastle, with his parents and working as a railway control clerk. He enlisted at Padgate, sometime between September 1939 and February 1940. ‘Teddy’ had only been with 111 Squadron for six weeks when he was killed in action, not long after his 22nd birthday.
John Edward Gallon is buried in Abbeville Communal Cemetery.
The inscription on his headstone reads:
On whose soul, sweet Jesus, have mercy. R.I.P.
Rest in peace Sir and thank you for your service.