View Full Version : F/L Robert Edward WINDLE, Air Force Cross

11th May 2022, 20:02
WINDLE, Robert Edward, F/L (173807) - No.245/266 Squadron, Horsham St. Faith - Air Force Cross - awarded as per London Gazette dated 2 January 1950. Enlisted September 1940; trained in Canada and USA. Posted to No.135 Squadron (Hurricanes, Dum Dum, near Calcutta). Squadron went to Arakan, January 1943. In his first engagement he shot down a Japanese Army fighter. Several days after this he was attacked by enemy aircraft over Akyab; through severely damaged (29 bullet holes) he managed to land at an emergency strip. He was fortunate in being picked up by a Special Army Patrol which had seen his descent. Early in 1944 the unit moved to Ceylon where he contracted malaria. Then to Chittigong and conversion to Thunderbolts. On escort to B-24s and B-29s, he shot down a second Japanese Army fighter. Squadron to front line in December 1944. During a fighter sweep and escort for Lord Wavell, he collided with another aircraft of his patrol. The other pilot baled out successfully. Windle returned to base after a 200-mile flight at full throttle with a severely damaged wing and propellor. Ended the war as an instructor at Armada. To UK, 1946. Next to No.245 Squadron. Toured Copenhagen, Brussels and the Middle East. Public Record Office Air 2/10307, found by Pavel Vankata. has citation drafted when he had flown 1,555 hours, 53.5 on current duties, 23.3 in previous six months.

Flight Lieutenant Windle has been the leader of No.245/266 Meteor Squadron Formation Aerobatic Team since its formation in March 1948, except for a short break when he was posted to staff duties during the winter of 1948/1949. His was the original idea of doing flight aerobatics in Meteor IV aircraft and it was his primary work in demonstrating its possibilities that laid the foundation of the team. This aerobatic team has now flown over 100 sorties in practice and in actual performance. Among the performances which this team has successfully completed are those before the King and Queen, the British and Belgian Press, the Swedish Air Force and the Italian Air Force. This team has also performed at the Federation of British Industries Exhibition at Copenhagen and at the thirtieth anniversary of the Belgian Air Force in Brussels this year. The standard set by the team, under the leadership of Flight Lieutenant Windle, has been an inspiration to the whole of the Eastern Sector Day Fighter Wing, and has resulted in a considerable all-round improvement in the accepted standard of this wing. His leadership in the air has been of the highest order, and his skill in the accurate positioning of the demonstrations has been largely responsible for the team’s success. The performance of the Meteor Aerobatic Team as representative of Fighter Command and the Royal Air Force, before so many Western Union representatives both in their own countries and in the United Kingdom, must have materially enhanced the confidence of the air forces of those countries in the Meteor aircraft.

Spink auction catalogue of 19 November 2009 had the following summary and biography:

An unusual and well documented 1950 ‘Aerobatics’ A.F.C. Group of Five to Hurricane, Thunderbolt and Meteor Jet Pilot Flight Lieutenant R.E. Windle, 135 and 245 Squadrons Royal Air Force, Who shot down two Japanese aircraft during his second war service, and was shot down himself over the Jungle, surviving 29 bullet holes in his Hurricane’s cockpit, 14.3.1943.

Flight Lieutenant Robert Edward Windle, A.F.C., born Kingston upon Hull; volunteered for Aircrew duties, August 1940, ‘only a week before I was called up for full time service, a German bomber dropped a pair of ‘land mines’ on parachutes on West Hull, one of which landed only 75 yards from my home. These bombs drifted down slowly and were fitted with a pressure detonator so that the one ton of explosives would explode at ground level. My family were lucky but as I heard the cries of those trapped, I distinctly remember saying, tearfully and with immense emotion, “I’ll get one for that”; the following month, he was chosen for pilot training and posted to 5 Initial Training Wing, Torquay, 3.5.1941; posted for further training to No. 6 British Flying Training School (Harvards), Ponca City, Oklahoma, U.S.A.; gained his “Wings” January 1942; converted to Hurricanes before posted to 135 Squadron (Hurricanes), Dum Dum, Calcutta, ‘The squadron was a ‘Defence of Calcutta’ role until mid Jan. 1943 when the squadron moved forward, split into two flights on separate airfields. One flight actually used a 10-mile length of beach as a runway situated on the Arakan coast about 15 miles south of Cox’s Bazaar near The India/Burma border.

The jungle came almost down to the beach and when the tide came in, and at dusk, the aircraft were pushed back into jungle clearings. Our roles were as interceptor fighters and as close suppor, to the army at the front. Life was Spartan but morale was wonderful. Flying was all operational and always exciting. I managed to down a Jap. Army OI Fighter in February 1943. A month later, I was shot down myself and was picked up by a special Army Unit who visited sites of shot down Japanese aircraft and collected pieces of interest to keep a check on Japanese modifications. The unit had recently visited the one I had shot down and gave me two pieces of that actual aircraft [see lot].

Whilst waiting, the army ran me back to my Hurricane and I counted 29 bullet holes in the cockpit area. I was completely unhurt’, his Log Book gives the following on the two accidents, 12.2.1943 ‘Scramble 12 Army OI’s. One Army OI destroyed’; and 14.3.1943 ‘B.E. Jumped force lobbed hatchet. Sandy Morrison & Don Robertson killed OI’s intercepted by OI’s Shot up’; after a gunnery course, he rejoined the squadron at it’s new base at St. Thomas’s Mount Madras, May 1943; moved with the squadron to Ceylon, January 1944, ‘another strip in the jungle…. I collected my commission and malaria on the same day, lost two stone in two days. We converted onto Republic P47 Thunderbolts in June and prepared ourselves to move back to the forward area in the autumn.

In the October we moved forward to Chittagong E. of Calcutta and back onto operations with a role of long-range escort to B.29s and Liberators. Some of the sorties involved a 1,200-mile round trip and up to 6 hours, mostly over jungle. We also carried out long range fighter sweeps, hoping to attract Japanese fighters into the air and have them back on the ground when our bombers where over their target area. On one of these sweeps near Rangoon, I managed to down another Jap. Fighter, again an Army OI’, Windle’s Log Book gives the following, 17.11.1944 ‘Sweep Rangoon Airfields 8+ Oscar II’s sighted, got 1 destroyed’; moved with the squadron to Jumchar, near Cox’s Bazaar, December 1944, ‘Our role was interesting, dive bombing with 2 x 500 lb bombs both close support to the Army and longer-range target bombing using a 100-gallon long range fuel tank under the belly. We also used napalm bombs which were devastating….

Although we could see results on just about every mission, we all wanted to see more enemy aircraft, to ‘have a go!’;Windle served as an instructor at Amarda Road and Bhopal until V/J Day; on his return to the UK, he was posted to 245 (Northern Rhodesia) Squadron (Meteor Jets), Colerne, Bath, and moved with the squadron to Horsham-St. Faith, Norwich, August 1946; joined the squadron in Lubeck, Germany, December 1946; returning to the UK following year, before being re-equipped with Meteor IV’s by March 1948 and as a consequence of this, as was coined in one national newspaper at the time, he became part of the ‘Worlds Fastest Fighter Squadron’; Windle was one of the founder members of the squadron’s acrobatic team, ‘We did about 7 minutes formation aerobatics, loops, rolls, rolls off and split ‘S’s. Then we would peel off and do about 4 minutes individual runs… We did the show many times in front of sometimes large crowds and sometimes a select few like the Royal Family at Cranwell, the Shah of Persia, but the highlight was an overseas trip to Denmark, Copenhagen in October where we performed before 100,000 people along the seafront’; after a brief administerial posting, Windle returned to 245 Squadron and the aerobatic team, with which he took part in the Defence Exercise displays in the Middle East, ‘the Egyptian Government were so impressed that they ordered 50 Meteor IV’s for their own air force’; later postings, where he continued with aerobatic teams – often of his own organization, included as Chief Ground Instructor 226 O.C.U.; 609 Squadron, March 1952 and after a break from the service returning to 245 Squadron at Stradishall, 1956; following a posting to the Air Weapons School, R.A.F. Leconfield, Windle retired 1961.