THE SPITFIRE EDITION
Each Spitfire Edition is signed by three of our remaining Battle of Britain aces.
Squadron Leader Geoffrey Wellum
Geoffrey Wellum joined the RAF in August 1939. After training, he joined No. 92 Squadron at RAF Northolt, flying Supermarine Spitfires. The squadron saw heavy fighting during the Battle of Britain, and Wellum would claim one enemy aircraft destroyed, two damaged, one shared destroyed and one shared damaged. After the Battle he remained with No. 92 Squadron, and went on to claim one enemy aircraft destroyed, one damaged, and one probably destroyed before being posted as an instructor. In August 1941 he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
In February 1942 Wellum was posted to No. 65 Squadron as a Flight Commander, then in July embarked for Malta on HMS Furious. In August 1942 he led a detachment of replacements into Malta, but fell ill and was evacuated back to the UK soon afterwards. After a long period in recovery, Wellum became a test pilot at Gloster Aircraft, testing the Hawker Typhoon, and later became a gunnery instructor. After the war he served as a staff officer in Germany, and then returned to flying with No. 192 Squadron. He retired in 1961.
Wing Commander Thomas Neil
Thomas Neil entered the RAFVR in 1938, and after training joined No. 249 Squadron in May 1940. Initially flying Supermarine Spitfires, his squadron re-equipped with Hawker Hurricanes in June 1940, and flew them throughout the Battle of Britain. In the intense fighting during and after the Battle, Neil would claim ten enemy aircraft destroyed, shared in destroying four more, claimed three ‘probably’ destroyed and one damaged. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in October 1940, and awarded a Bar to it in November.
Between May and December 1941, Neil flew with his squadron in the Battle of Malta, before returning to the UK and series of staff and instructing posts until receiving command of No. 41 Squadron in September 1942. In July 1943 he relinquished command and returned to instructing until posted as a liaison officer with the USAAF in January 1944. In January 1945 he returned to the RAF and, after a brief spell in Burma, became a test pilot. He filled a number of flying and staff posts after the war, receiving with US Bronze Star in 1949 and the Air Force Cross in 1956. He retired as a Wing Commander in 1964.
Squadron Leader Paul Farnes
Paul Farnes entered the RAFVR in 1938, and in September 1939 joined No. 501 Squadron, flying Hawker Hurricanes at RAF Filton. This squadron deployed to France in May 1940, and in the subsequent fighting Farnes claimed one enemy bomber destroyed, two as ‘shared’, and a fourth as ‘possibly destroyed’. The squadron returned to Britain in June 1940.
Farnes continued to fly with No. 501 Squadron in the Battle of Britain, claiming six enemy aircraft destroyed, six damaged and two ‘probably’ destroyed. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal in October 1940, and commissioned in November. After the Battle, Farnes spent time as an instructor in the UK and Aden, before joining No. 229 Squadron in the Battle of Malta in March 1942. In two months he damaged five enemy aircraft, and became squadron commander. Afterwards he was posted to a staff post in Iraq.
Farnes returned to flying duties in 1945, commanding No. 164 and then No. 63 Squadrons, operating Supermarine Spitfires, between August 1945 and January 1947. These commands were followed by a series of staff and instructing posts until he retired as an Acting Wing Commander in 1958.