Newchurch Village > History > Newchurch in WWII > Pilots who flew from Newchurch

Pilots who flew from Newchurch

Wing Commander Roland Beamont


Wing Commander Roland Beamont, DSO, DFC, and Bar, a flying ace ‘Bee’ Beamont arrived at the Newchurch ALG in April 1944. Squadrons 3, 56 and 486 were under his command, flying Spitfires, Typhoons and Tempests.

In early June, after shooting down an enemy aircraft over France, his Tempest was damaged and he was forced to get his aircraft back to Newchurch. When the wing was transferred to combat the new menace of the flying bombs later in June, Beamont was responsible for personally destroying 31.

After the war he had a long and distinguished career as a test pilot, and died in December 2001 at the age of 81.

Wing Commander R P Beamont

Wing Commander R P Beamont, wing leader of No. 150 Wing, leaning against a Hawker Tempest Mark V of No. 3  Squadron RAF at Newchurch Advanced Landing Ground, Kent. IWM HU92120

Sqn Ldr Joe Berry
501 Sqn (FIU) RAF


Joe Berry was posted to Newchurch in June 1944 with the Fighter Interception Unit to join the battle against the V1's. He was the top scoring V1 Ace.

His story is told by his cousin Graham Berry.


Joe made this recording about intercepting the V1 at the BBC on 8th September 1944.


Photo provided by Graham Berry 

Flt Lt John Harry "Jack" Stafford
486 Sqn RAF


"Jack" Stafford  joined the RNZAF in March 1942, arrived in England in January 1943 and after type training, his first operation posting was to 486 Sqn at Tangmere flying Typhoons.

After a brief spell as a test pilot in April 1944 he was back with 486 Sqn at Newchurch. In his story he describes life at Newchurch and  chasing down the V1's.


Photo provided by Andy Bennison

Sqn Ldr Harvey Nelson Sweetman DFC
486 Sqn RAF


Harvey Sweetman was from New Zealand and joined the RNZAF in April 1940. He was a flight Commander with 486 Sqn when they were posted to Newchurch in April 1944 to destroy V1's as part of 150 wing.

He died in January 2015 and his obituary here tells his story.


Photo from the New Zealand Fighter Pilots Museum

Sqn Ldr Arthur "Spike" Umbers
3(F) Sqn RAF


Arthur "Spike" Umbers joined the RNZAF in November 1940.

In early 1944 Umbers was posted to 3 Squadron, and the unit coverted to tempests in April and began defensive duties against V-1s in mid-June from Newchurch. Umbers destroyed his first on 16 June and by the end of the campaign in early September he had destroyed 28 V-1s, making him the sixth highest scoring "diver" pilot. He was awarded a Bar to the DFC. In a radio interview recorded in 1944 he tells about his experience shooting down V1's


Flt Lt Bob Barckley                                                                              3 Sqn RAF



Robert “Bob” Edward Barckley (RAF No. 138650) joined the RAF to train as a pilot in December 1940. After gaining his wings, he joined the No 3 Squadron.

He was shot down in his Typhoon on June 2 1943 over Belgium, after evading capture he successfully returned to Sqn 3 in August 1943 where he continued flying the Typhoon. He was posted to Newchurch in April 1944

Bob Barckley was awarded a DFC on 3rd November 1944 and was credited with destroying 12 ½ V1s between 18 June and 29 August 

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Flt Lt Ted Sparrow
3 (F) Sqn RAF


Ted Sparrow was a 3 Sqn pilot at Newchurch in 1944. 

Click below to read his full biography and his pilot log books from his time at Newchurch

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In a letter written in 2015 he tells of his time at Newchurch and the story of when he was shot down over Holland.


Photo from "A Soldier in the Cockpit" used with the permission of Stackpole Books

Fg Off George Andrew "Lefty" Whitman
3 (F) Sqn RAF


Lefty Whitman was an American who joined the Canadian Airforce in 1941 and was posted to England with No 3 Sqn. While at Newchurch he was visited by two US Army military policemen and accused of dodging US Army conscription!

He tells a very entertaining story of his time at Newchurch including the little- known visit of The King & Queen and Prime Minister, Churchill accompanied by Ernest Hemmingway, John Steinbeck, Ernie Pyle and Edward G. Robinson

Photo from "A Soldier in the Cockpit" used with the permission of Stackpole Books

FSgt Morris Rose
3 (F) Sqn RAF


Born in Glasgow, Morris Rose volunteered in 1941, trained in the USA and started active duty in February 1943. In March 1944 he was posted to No.3 Squadron, coming to Newchurch the following month. He shot down the first V1 in daylight. 


In a radio interview recorded in 1944 he tells about his experience shooting down V1's


Photo provided by Mrs Jennifer Rose

More Pilots including.
Flt Lt Malcolm "Eddy" Edwards 3(F) Sqn RAF


There are more stories of pilots who flew from Newchurch on the Hawker Tempest Page.


Amongst these, there is a particularly well researched page on Flt Lt Malcolm "Eddy" Edwards 3(F) Squadron RAF with pictures, operation reports, log book entries and citations compiled by his grandson James Atkinson.


Flying Officer Robert 'Bob' Cole
3 Sqn RAF

 Robert_Cole.pngFlying Officer Robert "Bob" Cole (RAF No. 1822716) was trained to fly in USA 1942, at Eagle Field, California. He returned to UK to fly Typhoon IBs with No. 3 Squadron until late February 1944, when the unit converted to Tempest Mk. Vs. He shared his first V-1 with Wing Commander Roland Beamont on 16 June 1944.

On the continent during the autumn he shot down an Messerschmitt 262, receiving a DFC shortly afterwards, which was gazetted on 1 December 1944.
On 26 November, during a sweep in the Münster-Rheine area he strafed Rheine airfield, destroying a Bf109, but during a second pass his aircraft was shot down by Flak. He baled out, spending the remaining months of the war in Stalag Luft 1.
"Bob" Cole passed away in November 2008 aged 86.


Flt Lt James "Jim" H. McCaw DFC
486 Sqn RAF


Jim McCaw was from New Zealand and joined the RNZAF in September 1941. He joined 486 Squadron in August 1942 and flew Hurricanes, Typhoons and Tempests.

He died on 16 December 1996.


Jim_Mccaw_board.jpgThe board about Jim McCaw located in Queenstown airport, New Zealand


Fg Off Ron Pottinger 3(F) Sqn RAF

Ron Pottinger was a pilot with 3 squadron, he was stationed at Newchurch and piloted the 7.5 ton Hawker Typhoon fighter.  He has written a book A Soldier in the Cockpit, From Rifles to Typhoons in WWII.  This was also published under the title "A View From The Office".

"This is the story of the small part I played in World War II from 1939 to 1945, as I saw it and remember it now.  It has not been written by someone much decorated or of high rank, with insight into higher strategy or reasoning, but by an ordinary working class chap pitch-forked out of an ordinary life into an environment – or rather environments – completely foreign to him, but to which he had to adapt; a chap who fell in line as ordered and did what was asked of him without quibble or hesitation."

Click here to read an extract from the book covering his time at Newchurch.

Reproduced with the permission of Ron Pottinger and Stackpole Books.


3 Squadron informal group picture taken at dispersal at Oak Farm
Back Row: Flg Off Kenneth Slade-Betts, Flt Lt Ted Sparrow B Flt Cdr, Flt Lt Spike Umbers A Flt Cdr, Flg Off Clap Clapperton, Flg Off Don Butcher
Front Row: Flg Off Tom McCullogh, W.O Frank Reid, F. Sgt Johhnie Foster, Rocky the Dog

Taken at Newchurch outside "The Gotsum Inn", the place the pilots decorated with trophies collected from their evenings out, in nearby pubs and hotels.

Back row, left to right: Johnnie Foster, Doug Worley.
Front row, left to right: "Spike" Umbers, Ted Sparrow, Bob Cole, Joe Hindley, "Mac" Mackerras, "Scratch" Adcock, Unknown, Chas Tidy, Ken Hughes.

If you can identify the unknown pilot in this photograph, please email the webmaster 

W.O Frank Reid

Pictured in the centre of the front row in the photo on the left is W.O Frank Reid, who was shot down and killed on 1st October 1944 during the Tempest Wing's move from Grimbergen Aerodrome near Brussels in Belguim to Volkel Aerodrome in Holland.  Frank was in the process of preparing to land at Volkel with the rest of the Squadron when his aircraft was hit by enemy Ground Fire from the opposing troops, who were still situated within a mile of the aerodrome.  That opposing enemy ground fire was directed at the Aerodrome and the Allied aircraft for about another ten days or so day and night until they were forced to surrender or withdraw from under the Allied Forces constant pressure.

Of the eight Pilots in this picture only three survived to welcome the Declaration of Peace, when it finally arrived.

Flt Lt Ted Sparrow, Writing in 2015

Australian Pilots serving with 56 Sqn at Newchurch 25th July 1944. 
Photograph from 
Australian War Memorial UK1638

 Left to right: 420315 Pilot Officer (PO) K. Watts, 413935 Flying Officer L J Henderson, 410130 PO A. S. Miller.


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