WRIGHT, James Alan, S/L (106084, RAFVR) - No.169 Sqn - Distinguished Flying Cross - awarded as per London Gazette dated 26 October 1945. Airman 939284, commiissioned 14 August 1941. Awarded MBE, 10 June 1954. Attained rank of Wing Commander, 1 January 1959. Retired 29 October 1966. Citation from Air Ministry Bulletin 20047.
Squadron Leader Wright commenced operational flying in March 1941, and on his second sortie he destroyed a Ju.88. In May 1941 he attacked a He,111. During this combat he was injured and the aircraft damaged. Despite this he pressed home his attack until the enemy aircraft was destroyed. This officer has completed numerous fighter and convoy patrols from Malta. Throughout his operational career, Squadron Leader Wright has displayed outstanding enthusiasm, courage and devotion to duty.
Medals offered at auction, 22 June 2023 by Harland Auctions, suggesting 5,250 pounds as a price. Their catalogue gave the following information.
James Alan Wright was born in early 1920. During the Second World War, he served in the Royal Airforce as a Pilot, initially serving on 604 Squadron, which operated Beaufighters as nightfighters. Wright joined the Squadron, based at Middle Wallop, in March 1941.
On his second sortie on 12th March 1941, he got a confirmed kill, shooting down a Ju.88. On 7th May 1941, he shot down a He.111 off Portland. During the dogfight, Wright's Aircraft suffered significant damage. The Squadron ORB stated;
“7.5.41 10 patrols were carried out by the Squadron. S/Ldr Cunningham D.S.O., D.F.C. engaged and destroyed a He.III near Yeovil. F/O Joll detected an e/a but was unable to engage as e/a took violent evasive action. Sgt. Wright detected and engaged an e/a but was himself attacked and slightly wounded. However, his attack on the e/a was successful, but when trying to return to base his port engine burst into flames so he and his operator descended by parachute and were uninjured other than slight wounds to the pilot. Their a/c was completely destroyed by impact and fire.”
While with 604, he flew a total of 43 sorties on Beaufighters, Havocs and Mosquitos, serving alongside John ‘Cat’s Eyes’ Cunningham. Wright left the 604 in August 1943, having risen to the rank of Flight Lieutenant.
Posted to 256 Squadron the following month, which was based out of Luqa, Malta. The Squadron was tasked with helping to defend Malta at night; Wright would fly 13 sorties with the Squadron, operating Mosquitoes.
On his return to England, he was promoted to acting Squadron Leader and given a rest away from operational flying. He resumed Ops with 169 Squadron flying a further 31 sorites. The Squadrons' main role was to fly patrols at night over Germany while bombing raids took place. Interestingly they also attacked German Airfields at night, catching enemy aircraft on the ground.
His last Op of the war was on 2nd May 1945, when Bomber Command attacked Jagel airfield. Wright dropped Napalm on the airfields around Kiel.
Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, which was gazetted on 26th October 1945. The recommendation was follows;
‘S/L. J. A. Wright commenced operations in March, 1941, with No. 604 Night Fighter Squadron. On his second sortie he destroyed a Ju.88. In May, 1941, attacked a He.111, during this combat he was injured and his aircraft damaged. Despite this, he pressed home his attack until the enemy aircraft was destroyed. He then commenced to fly home with one engine stopped and on fire and had almost reached base when the aircraft started to blow up, he and his navigator baling out safely from a low altitude. In all he completed 43 defensive night fighter patrols.
In September, 1943, he went to Malta with 256 Squadron and carried out 13 Fighter and Convoy patrols.
He started Bomber Support operations with 100 Group in October, 1944, and completed 31 offensive sorties.
His keenness to operate has always been of the highest order throughout every phase of his career. With the introduction of any new operation, including low level attacks on aerodromes, his infectious keenness, coupled with his skill and judgement, has had a very marked effect on all crews.
I strongly recommend that he be awarded the D.F.C.
Remarks by Station Commander:
S/L. Wright has been a flight commander in No. 169 (B.S.) Squadron since 20th December, 1944. He has proved a most capable and conscientious aide to his squadron commander and has at times set the finest example of keenness and offensive spirit to the members of his flight and Squadron. He stands out amongst his fellows for his devotion to duty.’
Wright survived the war and remained in the Royal Airforce, serving in Palestine. Promoted to Wing Commander in 1959, he retired in 1966, having been awarded the M.B.E., gazetted 10th June 1954.
For what it is worth, Wg Cdr Wright later commanded 64 Sqn (Javelins) at RAF Duxford. He arrived at the unit on 19 March 1958 and left on 9 May 1960, on posting to the Air Ministry. His medal group contains the 1953 Coronation medal, however he does not feature in the master roll.
Last edited by jonny; 29th August 2023 at 11:10.