PETER TOWNSEND and FRANK CAREY<br> Battle of Britain<br>
Battle of Britain
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PETER TOWNSEND and FRANK CAREY<br> Battle of Britain<br>

Ensemble unframed: $77.84
Ensemble silver-framed: $117.35
Ensemble gun-metal-framed: $117.35

(Overall size 17½” x 13½”)

Gold Edition

Two highly decorated and distinguished fighter pilots both of whom became synonymous with the Hurricane during and after the Battle of Britain. Frank Carey flew Hurricanes almost throughout the war, Peter Townsend commanded 85 Sqn through the Battle and formed the first Hurricane night fighter squadron in the Blitz.

Frank Carey became the most highly decorated Hurricane fighter pilot of WWII, flying before, during and after the Battle of Britain in which he often flew as many as six operational sorties a day. Later transferring to the Far East he led the Hurricane wing in Rangoon. Peter Townsend commanded 85 Sqn’s Hurricanes for more than a year from May 1940, first as a day fighter squadron, then as the first night fighter squadron during the Blitz of London. After many other commands he became Equerry to King George VI in 1944.


My maiden flight was in a Bristol fighter in 1928 at Old Sarum where Sqn. Ldr. Leigh Mallory commanded an A-C Squadron. I later went to Cranwell, going solo in an Avro Tutor in September 1933. I graduated to Fighter Training flight, flying Bristol Bulldogs, was commissioned in 1935, and posted to No 1 Fighter Squadron at Tangmere to fly Hawker Furies.

When the Abyssinian crisis broke in 1936 I was posted to No 36 Torpedo Bomber Squadron in Singapore for reinforcement duties. Returning to U.K. in 1937 I was ‘grabbed’ by Coastal Command because of my navigational experience, but in 1938 wangled my way back into Fighter Command, as a Flight Commander on 43 Squadron. In the Autumn our Hawker Furies were replaced with Hurricanes.

Soon after the outbreak of war, 43 Squadron was moved to Acklington to perform convoy patrol duties, and on February 3rd 1940, leading ‘B’ Flight, we shot down an He 111, the first German to crash on English soil since WWI. Later that month I claimed my first solo victory, an He 111 which I shot-down at 20,000 ft. Both his wings were shorn off in his “death dive”.

I brought down another He 111 in April, and was promoted to lead 85 Fighter Squadron in May 1940. I had further combats against Dornier aircraft during the Spring and by mid-Summer the Squadron was becoming more and more intensively engaged with enemy aircraft. During the height of the Battle of Britain I led 85 Squadron’s Hurricanes against the mass Luftwaffe attacks over the Thames estuary. On 18th August, I claimed an Me 110 and two Me 109’s. The next two weeks saw the fiercest fighting – of 20 pilots in 85 Squadron, 14 were shot down (two of them twice), some killed, some wounded.

Invariably we had height disadvantage, and were frequently jumped’ by Me 109’s when attacking bombers. (We used a hair-raising head-on attack, to take out leading bombers which left the rest confused with nobody to follow!)

Fighter Command lost the greatest number of fighter pilots on August 31 st. 85 Squadron was bombed as we took off. I managed to shoot up an Me 110 and a 109 before collecting a head-on direct cannon strike from an Me 110. With my Hurricane screen starred, its centre tank shattered, and wounded myself in the foot, I baled out. After two weeks in hospital, I was able to walk on crutches, and re-assumed command of 85 Squadron. In September 85 Squadron was withdrawn from the front line, more or less decimated.

I’d taken command of 85 Squadron in May 1940. I had learnt a lot in command of B Flight of 43 Squadron which was of considerable benefit when commanding 85 Squadron, which I led for more than a year – first as a day-fighter squadron through the Battle of Britain and then as a night-fighter squadron during the night blitz of London. 85 Squadron had a proud tradition going back to the First World war with pilots such as Billy Bishop and Micky Mannock, and continued its fine fighting tradition by acquitting itself well in World War II in France, Britain, and later in offensive night patrols over Germany.

Based at Kirton-in-Lindsey 85 Squadron’s Hurricanes converted to night fighting, when bad weather caused serious problems. (Landing one night in dense fog I crashed, but escaped with bruises.) It was six months before we could claim our first night victory – a Dornier, its navigation lights on, which I destroyed one murky January night. We converted to radar-equipped Douglas Havocs in March, and in June 1941, I moved, as a Wing Commander, to Group H.Q. on the night fighter staff.

There followed several squadron and station command positions throughout the remainder of 1941 and 1942, and in February 1943 I relinquished the post of Station Command at West Mailing, and joined training command. After commanding the Free French training wing in 1944 I was appointed Equerry to H.M. King George VI. As such I ended the war. Following his death in 1952 I was for a short period Comptroller to H.M. The Queen Mother. In July 1953 I was appointed Air Attache in Bruxelles, and in 1956 retired from the R.A.F. after 21 years service.

Notes on Aircraft flown in Combat, 1939-45

I flew the Hurricane, Defiant, Havoc and Boston in combat, and the marvellous Spitfire on numerous operations. The Hurricane was a redoubtable fighter, and my favourite, slower, but slightly more maneouvrable than the Spitfire, it had a better fighting view, a more stable gun platform and a closer grouped battery of 4 guns in each wing. It was also extremely robust and easy to repair. In all Hurricanes shot down more enemy aircraft than did Spitfires during the Battle of Britain


1930 found me leaving the RAF Halton Apprentice School with three years training under my belt to join, as a fully blown mechanic, No. 43 Squadron at Tangmere, one of the happiest and renowned of Squadrons. When in 1936 I rejoined ‘43’, after an absence of two years, as a Sergeant Pilot just out of training at 6 F.T.S. Netheravon, my world was complete. We flew Hawker Fury aircraft, a pure delight in themselves, and when we re-equipped with Hurricanes in late 1938 we were ready for anything.

I gained early combat experience at the beginning of 1940 in the shooting down of three individual Heinkel 111’s in the act of bombing shipping in the North Sea. On April 1st, 1940 I was commissioned and posted to No. 3 Squadron, Kenley which almost immediately was packed off to Merville.

In early May 1940 the air over Northern France and Belgium fairly teemed with German aircraft, mostly without fighter escort. With this background my luckiest sortie began promisingly enough when I saw a Heinkel III with one engine feathered. A short burst at the working elastic soon abruptly terminated its flight. Minutes later a great gaggle of some 60 odd JU 87 Stukas hove into view. The Stuka had the rather obliging characteristic of bursting into flames almost as soon as one opened fire. Two of these performed predictably and hit the ground and two others were following suit on their way down when I saw a beautiful bright silver DO 17 float across my bows. Giving it the remainder of my ammunition in one long burst, it slewed violently with much smoke pouring out, but being very short of fuel I turned hurriedly for base. The conspicuous DO 17 was confirmed by a fellow pilot who saw it crash.

On May 14th, 1940, after an intense period of fighting with plenty of good fortune, I was shot down, slightly wounded in the leg, near Wavre, to be snatched from under the very nose of the Germans by an enterprising Belgian Army reconnaissance patrol. About a month later in company with three other slightly shop-soiled RAF pilots near St. Nazaire we came across a forlorn Bristol Bombay absolutely asking to be brought back to UK.

Once more my luck held and I was able to rejoin 43 Squadron at Tangmere, and was promoted Flight Lieutenant just before the Battle of Britain began. On 18th August 1940 after some eight weeks of anything up to six sorties a day, I was shot down again, slightly wounded in the leg to regain that now familiar limp.

For the next twelve months I was mainly engaged in training young pilots either ‘on the job’ in 43 or 245 Squadrons or at 52 O.T.U. Debden. Over a period of ten years I had the unique experience of having served in A Flight, 43 Squadron, as A.C.I., LAC, Sergeant Pilot, Pilot Officer and finally commanded it as a Flight Lieutenant, so my strong feelings for the Squadron can perhaps be understood and excused.

43 Squadron had an excellent record of past achievements right from its birth in Stirling in 1916 and always maintained the highest flying standards. All ranks found it a most happy Squadron which also had the good fortune to be based, between the wars, in a really beautiful part of the Sussex countryside.

In August 1941 I was promoted Squadron Leader to form No. 135 Squadron which was ordered overseas in December 1941, travelling via Takoradi, Cairo, Basra, Karachi and Calcutta to finish up landing in Rangoon on 19th January 1942 – in the middle of an air raid!

In February I was promoted to Wing Commander to lead a Wing which could seldom muster more than six serviceable Hurricanes and once took part in what we chose to call a “fighter sweep” with just one other aircraft.

Rangoon was evacuated in early March and, despite giving the Jap a good crack or two, the end was inevitable. March 19th saw me flying an old Tiger Moth to Akyab and a Vickers Valencia on to Calcutta to plead for more aircraft, but I was already sick with malaria on arrival. Before I left hospital, the Wing at Magwe in Central Burma had been heavily attacked, completely grounded, leaving the remnants to plod the hard way up to China via the Burma road.

Later in 1942 a newly reorganised Wing went forward to Chittagong and the Burma border, but before many months had passed I was posted away from fulltime operations to a series of less hazardous jobs in India, Middle East, and finally reached UK at the end of the war.

Notes on Aircraft flown in Combat, 1939-45

Almost without exception my entire operational flying was undertaken in Hurricanes. Although other aircraft may have attracted more glamour and boasted higher speeds, the Hurricane ploughed into every task that it was given and still came back for more.

Built like the Forth Bridge, it could take enormous punishment and almost always get you home. On one occasion in the Battle of Britain, I had my entire rudder and all but a tiny portion of one elevator blown off together with a hole in the port wing a man could have fallen through. Although its unusual silhouette attracted some local A.A. in the circuit, the Hurricane landed quite normally even though it needed a long rest.

PETER TOWNSEND and FRANK CAREY ENSEMBLE (RAF: Battle of Britain: Hurricane:)


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