Dennis David




Dennis 'Hurricane' William David

One of  the highest-scoring RAF pilots of the first half of the Second World War, Dennis David notched up the astonishing total of 11 combat victories in May 1940, before the Battle of Britain had even begun. His Hurricane squadron, No 87, had been posted to France in the early days of the war, as part of the Air Component of the British Expeditionary Force. There, throughout the 'Phoney War' months, September 1939 to April 1940, it saw little of the enemy apart from the odd reconnaissance machine. All this was to change with dramatic suddenness on the 10th of  May 1940, when the full fury of the German Blitzkrieg burst on the frontiers of Holland, Belgium and France. David was in action from the opening hours of the German invasion, performing with incredible coolness against Luftwaffe pilots, many of whom had honed their combat techniques in the Spanish Civil War.


 For the pilots of No 87 there was to be little respite once they had regrouped in England after the end of the Battle of France. David continued to fly during the Battle of Britain, for which 87 Squadron was moved to Exeter, where it saw heavy fighting and took a severe toll of the enemy. David continued his remarkable run of combat victories. He shot down two aircraft on the 11th of August, a Ju88 and a Messerschmitt 109. He was credited with two more, a Ju87 "Stuka" and a Messerschmitt 110 twin-engined fighter, besides having a half share in another Me110 on the 15th of August; this was the day of Germany's heaviest losses in the air, and was ever after referred to in Luftwaffe circles as as der schwarze Donnerstag - "Black Thursday". No 87 played its part in repelling the 1,786 sorties that were launched at Britain that day. David's third "two-kill" day was the 25th of August, when he shot down another Ju88 and a Messerschmitt 109.  In October, he was posted as a flight commander to 213 Squadron, another Hurricane squadron, also based at Exeter. David's final kill was on the 19th of October  when he shot down a Ju88 to bring his score to 20. In November he was posted to No 152, a Spitfire squadron. Thereafter he spent two years training pilots, many of whom were Poles, Free French, Norwegians, Dutch, Belgians and Americans who had joined the RAF. In 1943 he was sent to the Western Desert to command 89 Squadron, equipped with night-fighting Beaufighters. He was then ordered to take the squadron to Ceylon. In 1944 he was promoted to group captain and posted to the Burma theatre. There, in the early days of 1945, a colossal air and naval bombardment was being prepared as the precursor of a full-scale attack on Akyab Island, which was known to be occupied by three Japanese battalions. In a final recconnaissance before this attack was launched, David and an artillery spotting officer flew over Akyab and noticed a complete absence of Japanese aircraft on the airfield there. David and the artillery officer promptly landed at Akyab, where the headman told them that the Japanese had gone. Thus, the assault, which would probably have killed innocent villagers, was called off. David and the officer had, effectively, "captured" Akyab themselves!!

BF 109 E shot down over Kent, the pilot of this aircraft was Lt Von Wera, the only Luftwaffe pilot to escape back to Germany









David remained in the Far East after the war, and was in charge of Allied air operations in Java. Subsequent postings included the command of RAF Tangmere, from where he had flown during the Battle of Britain, and Chief of Air Plans at Naples. |Dennis David scored 20 confirmed victories during World War II but many believe his final tally to be as high as 27.