Surrey’s Battle of Britain heroes: Distinguished Flying Cross winner Glyn Ashfield

PUBLISHED: 13:36 10 July 2020 | UPDATED: 13:39 10 July 2020

Glyn Ashfield

Glyn Ashfield

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Malcolm Triggs tells the story of Glyn Ashfield and the Battle of Britain’s first successful interception leading to the destruction of an enemy aircraft at night

A headstone in St Peter’s churchyard, Limpsfield, pays tribute to a Battle of Britain airman who helped make history during the 1940 conflict that saw the Royal Air Force defeat the Luftwaffe and prevent a Nazi invasion of this country.

Glyn Ashfield was the captain of a Bristol Blenheim equipped with new airborne interception equipment, and was flying with the Fighter Interception Unit (FIU) on the night of July 23, just under a fortnight into the Battle of Britain.

After taking off from Tangmere with Sergeant RH Leyland (radar operator) and Pilot Officer GE Morris (observer), the Blenheim shot down a Dornier Do17 off the Sussex coast. It was the unit’s first successful interception leading to the destruction of an enemy aircraft at night.

Ashfield, who was promoted to Acting Flight Lieutenant on September 8 that year, received a mention in despatches in January 1941 for his work with the FIU.

Ashfield is one of The Few remembered at the Battle of Britiain MemorialAshfield is one of The Few remembered at the Battle of Britiain Memorial

In March he received the Air Force Cross, an award that marks “an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying, though not in active operations against the enemy”.

After joining the RAF as an Aircraft Apprentice in September 1928, while still in his teens, Ashfield had had a number of postings before joining No 29 Squadron at Ambala, India, in 1932.

While there, he successfully applied for pilot training, joining No 30 Squadron in Iraq in 1935 as a Sergeant-Pilot.

Returning to the UK in August 1937, he joined No 79 Squadron at Biggin Hill, was granted a permanent commission two years later and spent time as an instructor before joining the FIU in April 1940.

In February 1942 Ashfield joined No 157 Squadron, which was in the process of being equipped with Mosquitos, as senior flight commander.

He went on to win the Distinguished Flying Cross but was killed on December 12, 1942 when the Mosquito he was flying struck a tree during an Army co-operation exercise. He was 30.

The headstone in St Peter’s Churchyard contains the inscriptions: “In cherished memory of my husband” and “His life a beautiful memory”.

His widow, Ruby Ashfield, lived in Oxted.

Churchill’s Few are remembered at the Battle of Britain Memorial, Capel-le-Ferne in Kent. For more information see battleofbritainmemorial.org

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