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Air Commodore D M Somerville (32113)


Photograph of D M SomervilleDuncan MacDonald           

b: 30 Nov 1910                   

r: 28 Dec 1957                    

d: xx xxx xxxx

OBE - 1 Jan 1946, MiD - 1 Jan 1943, MiD - 8 Jun 1944.

Plt Off (P): 9 Oct 1931, Plt Off: 9 Oct 1932, Fg Off: 9 Apr 1933, Flt Lt: 9 Apr 1936, Sqn Ldr: 1 Dec 1938, (T) Wg Cdr: 1 Mar 1941, Act Gp Capt: 1 Jun 1942?, Wg Cdr (WS): 1 Dec 1942, Wg Cdr: 1 Oct 1946, Gp Capt: 1 Jul 1949, Act A/Cdre: 1 Jun 1955?, A/Cdre: Retained.

29 Oct 1931:          U/T Pilot, No 3 FTS.

18 Sep 1932:          Pilot, No 4 Sqn.

 1 Jan 1935:            Staff, RAF Farnborough.

27 Apr 1936:          Attended Instructors' Course, Central Flying School (graded B).

13 Jul 1936:            QFI, No 8 FTS.

21 Apr 1938:          Flying Examining Officer, HQ No 26 (Training) Group.

 5 Dec 1938:           CFI?, No 2 Air Armament School

16 May 1939:         Officer Commanding, No 112 Sqn.

15 Apr 1940:          Recovering in 2/10th General Hospital, Helmieh

23 May 1940:         Discharged from hospital and granted 28 days leave.

xx Jun 1940:            Resumed Command of No 112 Sqn.

29 Sep 1940:

1944                       Staff, HQ No 8 (Pathfinder Force) Group.

xx Aug 1945:           Officer Commanding, RAF Gatow.

xx Jul 1947:

21 Sep 1948:           SASO, No 66 (Scottish) Group.

xx xxx 1951:           Officer Commanding, RAF St Eval

xx May 1954:         Staff Officer, Amphibious Warfare HQ.

 1 Jun 1955:            Director of Flight Safety.

A fellow member of his course was Jeffrey Quill, who would make a name for himself after leaving the RAF as a test pilot with Supermarine, carrying out much of the test work on the Spitfire.

In May 1939, he was posted to the Middle East and whilst sailing to Egypt, was tasked with the formation of No 112 Squadron.  Equipped with Gladiators, the squadron saw little activity until it was sent to the Sudan in June 1940, however, he did not go with his unit as he was recovering form a accident on 15 April 1940: -

"Forced to bale out when his plane mysteriously caught fire, pilot hospitalized with burns, Some months before Italy declared war, S/L ‘Slim’ Somerville was up in his Gladiator (K8024) carrying out an aerobatic display, when suddenly in the middle of a slow roll, dead over the aerodrome, a spurt of flame and smoke burst from the cockpit.  The roll was completed and the C.O. took to his parachute, making a successful landing a few miles from the aerodrome but unfortunately his face and hands were badly burnt before he could get out of his aircraft.  However, the ambulance and ‘pick-up’ were racing across what appeared to be a mile of flat sand waste to where the C.O. was about to land.  The Ford ‘pick-up’ had outstripped the slower ambulance, when they shot straight into a wadi with a sheer bank of sand 15 feet below, but apart from scratches and bruises and a dent in the roof and bonnet of the car, no damage was done and the car was pushed onto its wheels, started up and even so arrived first on the scene to help the C.O."

* From 'March of the Gladiators' by J.F. Fraser

Whilst serving at HQ No 8 Group, he occasionally acted as a 'Master Bomber'.

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