Pat Hughes

 

 

 

Pat Hughes was credited with 14 downed enemy aircraft, plus other shared planes, making him the highest scoring Non-British Fighter Pilot in the Battle of Britain.

Pat Hughes, was born in Cooma on 19th September 1917, he had submitted to both the Air Force and the Navy. After being selected for both services he chose the Air Force and began his training as a Cadet Pilot at RAAF Point Cook in Victoria. After graduation, he was selected with a number of others to transfer to the RAF under a special Short Service Commission Scheme. They sailed for England on 9 January 1937. After two years training as a fighter pilot he was a member of 64 Squadron, RAF at Church Fenton when hostilities began in 1939. Pat was promoted to Acting Flight Lieutenant in November 1939 as a Flight Commander to the newly formed 234 Squadron at RAF Leconfield in East Yorkshire. Initially, they were equipped with Fairey Battles, Bristol Blenheims and Gloster Gauntlets, but in March 1940 they were re-equipped with Spitfires. In June 1940, 234 squadron was transferred to Cornwall. The Battle of Britain began in July 1940, and Pat was credited with the first confirmed kill for the squadron with the shooting down of a Ju 88 near Lands End. One of the duties of 234 Squadron was to provide air cover for 10 Squadron (RAAF) based at Mount Batten. In August, 234 Squadron was transferred to Middle Wallop in Hampshire. During the next two months with the Battle of Britain at its height, Pat was the driving force behind the achievements of 234 Squadron. His close-in and aggressive tactics were responsible for many of 234's successes.

 

 

In one of the most costly engagements of the Battle of Britain, on the 15th of August, Pat scored a double with two Messerschmitt 110ís. He scored double successes again, on 18th and 26th August, for which he was awarded his DFC. During the first, huge daylight raid on London on the  7th of  September, 234 Squadron ran into a force of 60 German aircraft consisting of Do 17ís and escorting Bf 109ís. Pat was leading his Section in Spitfire X4009 and dived to attack the bombers. The official report states that after attacking a bomber from close range, a large section of the bomber broke away and appeared to hit the Spitfire, which crashed in the village of Bessels Green. Pat's body, thrown clear of his aircraft, came down into a garden in the nearby village of Sundridge.  One fact that came to light, a great deal later, was that Pat is credited with shooting down a very well-known German airman indeed, none other than Oberleutnant Franz von Werra, the famous "One That Got Away". This was the German Luftwaffe prisoner who escaped from British POW camps several times, only to be recaptured every time. After an escapade in which he very nearly nicked a Spitfire to fly home in, and along with other notorious German escapees, von Werra was shipped off to Canada - our version of Colditz, and finally made his successful escape from a moving train at night into the snow and thence to cross the frozen St Lawrence River in a stolen dinghy to freedom in the US . . just a few months before America came into the war. He was repatriated to Germany to continue his flying career, only to lose his life in Russia on the Eastern Front. Pat was credited with 14 downed enemy aircraft, plus other shared planes, making him the highest scoring Non-British Fighter Pilot in the Battle of Britain.

 

 

Oberleutnant Franz von Werra, the famous "One That Got Away".

 

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