Surrey’s Battle of Britain heroes: Stuart Boyd Parnall

PUBLISHED: 10:27 17 March 2020 | UPDATED: 10:27 17 March 2020

Black and white retro image of Lancaster bombers from Battle of Britain in World War Two

Black and white retro image of Lancaster bombers from Battle of Britain in World War Two

Matt Gibson

2020 marks the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. In the second instalment of this new series, Malcom Triggs remembers the Surrey heroes who kept this country safe from invasion in the summer of 1940

There is a popular misconception that ‘the Few’ were not just brave and resourceful but also almost exclusively young.

While this has added to the glamour associated with the fewer-than 3,000 RAF airmen who kept this country safe from a Nazi invasion in the summer of 1940, it does not paint the whole picture.

Stuart Boyd ParnallStuart Boyd Parnall

Some were indeed in their late teens, with Hurricane pilot Martyn Aurel King the youngest for whom the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust has proof of a date of birth. He was shot down on 16 August, roughly two months short of his 19th birthday.

Others, though, were older. One air gunner was born in 1889, 51 years before the Battle began on July 10, 1940, at least three pilots were children during Victoria’s reign and many more were in their thirties.

One Surrey pilot who was well out of his teens was Stuart Boyd Parnall, who was born on July 4, 1910 in Kingston-upon-Thames.Parnall joined No 607 Squadron, Auxiliary Air Force (AAF), in early 1939 and was called to full-time service on August 24.

Once trained, he converted to Hurricanes and joined No 263 Squadron the following April.

He embarked for Norway on the carrier HMS Glorious on May 11 1940 and destroyed a He111 on May 26.

After German warships sank HMS Glorious on June 8, Parnall is thought to have returned in one of the evacuation ships before rejoining No 607 Squadron and probably destroying a Bf110 on August 15.

On September 9 1940, Parnall was shot down and killed over Mayfield, Sussex, his Hurricane crashing at Lime Trees Farm, Goudhurst, Kent.

Aged 30, he was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium, Hendon, where his name appears on a bronze panel.

Parnall’s brother, Squadron Leader James Boyd Parnall, who had also served in the AAF before the war, had been killed a few months earlier, on May 14, when his Hurricane crashed at Chaussee-Notre-Dame-Louvignies in Belgium, after combat with Bf109s. He was 34.

The only brothers to die in the Battle of Britain were Patrick Philip Woods-Scawen, who died on September 1. 1940, and Charles Anthony Woods-Scawen, who was killed a day later.

Patrick, whose body was found in the Kenley area, is buried in St Mary’s churchyard, Caterham-on-the-Hill.

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

Latest from the Surrey