Surrey’s Battle of Britain heroes: Richard Brooker and Geoffrey Page
- Credit: Archant
Malcolm Trigg looks back at another of Surrey’s young men who lost their lives in the Battle of Britain, 80 years ago this summer
Just three days into the Battle of Britain, Surrey-born Richard Brooker claimed his first enemy aircraft, a Ju87 dive bomber. It was to be the first of many kills during a distinguished career.
Brooker, known to his family as “Bill”, was born in Chessington on November 2, 1918, and flew with No 56, a Hurricane squadron, during the Battle of Britain, which began on 10 July, 1940 and was to last until October 31.
After claiming a Ju87 destroyed on July 13, he damaged a Messerschmitt Bf 109 on the 25, damaged a Dornier Do17 on August 16 and shared another on the 21, being shot down by return fire in the process and making a forced landing near Bramford in Suffolk.
After being appointed ‘A’ Flight Commander on September 1 as an Acting Flight Lieutenant, Brooker damaged a Do17 on September 30 and a week later claimed a Bf110 and a Do17, both probably destroyed.
During his time with No 56 Squadron, Brooker served alongside Pilot Officer Geoffrey Page, who became one of Sir Archibald McIndoe’s famous “guinea pigs” after being badly burned when his Hurricane burst into flames after being hit during an attack on a large formation of Do17 bombers.
After the war Page, by then a Wing Commander, spearheaded the campaign to erect the National Memorial to the Few, the tribute to the Allied aircrew who flew in the Battle of Britain.
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It was unveiled in 1993 by the late Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, at Capel-le-Ferne, on Kent’s famous white cliffs, and is maintained by the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust.
Brooker, meanwhile, was given command of No 1 Squadron in 1941 and later saw action in Singapore, Java and Australia before being posted back to the UK.
On April 16, 1945, while leading No 486 Squadron on a Wing operation, Brooker was shot down and killed.
He had already been awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and Bar and a Distinguished Service Order (DSO), and he was awarded a Bar to the DSO with effect from the day before his death. He was 26 years old.
Churchill’s Few are remembered at the Battle of Britain Memorial, Capel-le-Ferne in Kent. For more information see: battleofbritainmemorial.org