Gerald Stapleton





Gerald 'Stapme' Stapleton

Gerald 'Stapme' Stapleton was born in Durban South Africa in 1920, in January of 1939 he took up a short service commission in the RAF and joined Sqn number 603 in December of the same year. Stapme as he was nicknamed (after one of his favourite cartoon characters) would  became one of the most outstanding fighter pilots during The Battle Of Britain. Accounting for nearly 20 enemy aircraft destroyed or probable's.



On April the 22nd 1940 he baled out of his Spitfire at night after his undercarriage jammed. On the 3rd of July 1940 he shared a Ju 88, on the 20th shared a Do 17, on the 29th of August  he got two probable Bf 109s and on the 31st probably another. On the 3rd of September he claimed a Bf 109 and a Do 17 destroyed, and another Bf 109 probably destroyed, on the 7th he made a forced-landing after combat with enemy fighters over South London. On September the 11th he probably destroyed a Bf 110 and damaged a Bf 109, on the 15th destroyed a Do 17 and damaged another Bf 109, on the 17th he got a probable Bf 109, on the 30th and October 15 he destroyed two more, probably destroyed another two on the 17th and 20th and had his final victory on the 11th of November , another Bf 109. He was awarded the DFC (15.11.40). He later served with Nos 2 and 4 Aircraft Delivery Flight, the MSFU and was a Flight Commander with 257 Squadron. In September 1943 he was posted to Kenley as Sector Gunnery Instructor. On the 25th of July 1944 he joined 83 GSU and on the 26th of  August  he was given command of 247 Squadron in France. On  the 23rd of December  1944 he was strafing a train when the locomotive exploded and pieces of debris punctured the radiator of his Typhoon. He headed for the Allied lines but had to make a forced-landing before reaching them and was taken POW. He spent the rest of the War as a prisoner at the infamous Stalag Luft 1 on the Baltic coast.

Stapme pictured here on the wing of a Hurricane


The one that got away, Werra became a national hero on his return to Germay and Hilter granted him the Iron cross.

Perhaps Stapme's most famous victory, was none other than the famous Luftwaffe Ace Franz Von Werra, Von Werra was captured and imprisoned in England. He twice attempted to escape, on the 7th of  October and the 20th of  December, but was recaptured both times. After his second failed escape attempt, von Werra was sent to a prison camp in Canada. He managed to escape on the 21st of January 1941 and made his way through the USA, Mexico, South America and Spain to reach Germany on the18th of  April. Von Werra was the only German prisoner of war held by the British to successfully escape and return to his homeland. Oberleutnant von Werra was awarded the Ritterkreuz on the  14th of  December 1940 for eight aerial victories and five aircraft destroyed on the ground.