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Pilot Officer Douglas Cyril Winter, RAF Fighter 'Ace' and one of 'the few'

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posted on 2024-06-05, 18:59 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

My blood relative, Pilot Officer Douglas Cyril Winter, RAF Fighter Command 'ace' and one of 'the few', was born in South Shields on 7 June 1914. Douglas joined the RAF in September 1929 as an aircraft apprentice, later passing out as a fitter (armourer) in August 1932.

Douglas later served in Egypt and Palestine. Something of a marksman (a prerequisite for being an effective fighter pilot), he represented the RAF at target shooting, winning a brace of medals at Bisley. He also represented the RAF in athletics.

Later applying for pilot training, Douglas successfully completed his pilot's course, gaining his coveted flying wings. He was duly posted to 72 Squadron, based at Church Fenton, on 14 October 1939, as a Sergeant. He was commissioned as a Pilot Officer on 1 April 1940.

Flying a Supermarine Spitfire, number K9929, Douglas achieved his first 'kill', a JU87 Stuka, over Dunkirk on 2 June 1940. He added a third of a kill, a Dornier 215, over Holy Island on 29 June while flying Spitfire L1092; two Bf110s over Newcastle on 15 August, and a Bf109 over the South of England on 1 September while flying Spitfire K9958.

Douglas flew throughout the summer of 1940, most notably taking part on 15 August in the interception of Luftflotte 5, the first and last time Luftflotte 5 launched a mass daylight raid from Norway to strike at the North-East of England.

Tragically, Douglas was killed on 5 September 1940 over Covert Wood, Elham. The CO of 72 Squadron had foolishly ordered his pilots to fly in the discredited 'Vic' formation. Douglas's section was subsequently shot down by Bf109s. Bailing out far too low, his parachute failed to deploy properly, and he was consequently killed. He was 26 years old.

Douglas is buried in South Shields (Harton) Cemetery. His CWGC headstone reads: 'One of the few who, in the Battle of Britain, gave his life that we might live'.

Douglas Winter is listed in the following books: 'The Men of the Battle of Britain' and 'Aces High: A Tribute to the Most Notable Fighter Pilots of the British and Commonwealth Forces in WWII'.

History

Person the story/items relate to

Pilot Officer Douglas Cyril Winter

Person who shared the story/items

Dr Paul Winter

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

He was a distant cousin of my paternal grandfather, Ralph Winter.

Type of submission

Shared online via the Their Finest Hour project website.

Record ID

121701