Episode 113 – John Wall

Guest: John Wall

Hosts: Dave Homewood

Recorded: 27th of July 2016

Duration:  1 hour 43  minutes 6  seconds

In this episode Dave Homewood chats with Mr. John Wall, of Hamilton. Born in London in 1923, John fell in love with the Supermarine Spitfire at the age of 16 and determined he’d join the Royal Air Force to fly them. He was enlisted at 17 years old, and following initial training in Britain, he was sent to the USA to learn to fly at a British-owned American-run flying school in Texas. There he trained on Boeing-Stearman PT-18A Kaydets (aka the Stearman), and then he progressed on to North American AT-6 Texans.

He then returned to Britain for a short time where he flew Miles Masters at Wrexham and Ternhill, before being posted to Ishmailia in Egypt where he finally got onto fighters, the Hawker Hurricane and then his dream machine, the Spitfire, at an Operational Training Unit.

Following this final phase of training he became a courier pilot for a Royal Air Force Photo Reconnaissance Unit in Italy, flying films and photos around the units, flying a Hurricane and a Fairchild Argus.

Some months later he was posted again, this time to No. 32 Squadron, on Spitfires. He was part of the Balkans Air Force, based in Italy but regularly crossing the Adriatic Sea to attack German targets in Yugoslavia and perform convoy escorts, etc.

Then the squadron was moved into Greece to support the Allied invasion of that country and John’s squadron was involved in the pushing out of the Germans from Athens. Then they moved north to Salonika, but the winter snow curtailed Spitfire flying and the squadron was soon issued a pair of Austers to fly in support of the Army’s push.

Next No. 32 Squadron headed south again, this time to Palestine, where they were given the task of carrying out coastal patrols in an effort to prevent the illegal Jewish immigrant boat people landing in the British-ruled Arab country. WWII ended while John was there. He remained there till mid-1946 when he was finally demobbed. John moved to New Zealand in the early 1970’s.

John Wall with a model of a No. 32 Squadron Spitfire he built (Dave Homewood)

john wall-2nd left%2c 32 sqn Araxos greece 1944
No. 32 Squadron pilots in Italy with a Spitfire Mk. VB. John is second from left

john wall%2c 32 sqn Spitfire IXs arrive%2c Araxos greece 1944 8
No. 32 Squadron Spitfire Mk. VB’s in Italy

john wall-2nd right%2c Araxos greece 1944 1
No. 32 Squadron pilots in Italy walk past their Spitfire Mk. VB’s. John is second from right

john wall-2nd left%2c Araxos greece%2c local women mend runway 1944 4
No. 32 Squadron pilots watch ladies filling bomb craters on the airfieldat Araxos in Greece. John is second from left

Ardmore Wingwalk John 15.1.16 (2)
John with Doug Brooker’s Ardmore-based Spitfire. (Ian Bisset)

Note: The Music is Sir William Walton’s “Spitfire Prelude and Fugue”

My sincere thanks to John Wal, Liz Needhaml and Ian Bisset

1 comment to Episode 113 – John Wall

  • ian bisset

    Fantastic tribute Dave to a fine old airman, great to hear your story John and magic to have you as a friend, your generation has inspired us all.

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