Another tragic casualty of was Pilot Officer Jack Royston Hamar DFC, who had earned his ‘gong’ as a successful fighter pilot flying Hurricanes during the Fall of France and first phase of the Battle of Britain with 151 Squadron.
On 24 July 1940, however, the weather was foul, but Air Vice-Marshal Park requested volunteers to intercept a German bomber threatening North Weald. Squadron Leader Teddy Donaldson and Jack – his usual wingman and best friend – took off without hesitation. Almost immediately recalled on account of the suspected intruder being identified as friendly, on finals to North Weald, Jack commenced a slow roll to the right – a showy manoeuvre the two pilots often performed upon landing, breaking away in opposite directions and slow-rolling before landing side-by-side. Owing to the weather, Donaldson had not considered the break-away landing on this occasion, and was horrified when he saw Jack start the roll – too low and slow. Donaldson screamed “Don’t! Don’t!” – too late. The Hurricane stalled, crashing inverted and killing the twenty-five-year old pilot from Knighton, Radnorshire, instantly.
Donaldson, who survived the war, retiring as an air commodore after a distinguished career, was devastated – and sent me a full account of the incident in 1989. That year, Andy Long and I visited Jack’s brother, Fred, in Knighton, who had a mountain of material concerning his brother’s life, some of which, including his mess uniform, we included in our 50thanniversary of the Battle of Britain exhibition at Tudor House Museum, Worcester. I was able to write-up and include the saga in ‘Through Peril to the Stars’ in 1993. Yet another fine young man gone but never forgotten.