11th August 1940 601 Squadron Hurricane I R4092 F/O. Demetriadi
Date: 11th August 1940 (Sunday)
Unit: No. 601 Squadron (The Millionaires' Squadron (1). 11 Group
Type: Hurricane I
Base: RAF Tangmere, Sussex
Location: English Channel
Pilot: F/O. Richard Stephen Demetriadi 90145 RAF (A) Age 21. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Weather conditions: Fair in morning, cloudy for most of the day
At about 10:30 hrs, a large formation comprising fifty-four Ju 88s from I and III/KG 54 and twenty Heinkel He 111s of KG 27, escorted by sixty-one Bf 110s from I and II/ZG 2 and about thirty Bf 109s of III/JG 2, approached the Royal Navy base at Portland and Weymouth. Hurricanes from 601 squadron were scrambled to intercept As well as others).
In the ensuing combat, eighteen German aircraft were destroyed for the loss of seventeen British fighters. Two oil storage tanks at Portland were bombed and set on fire. Several ships were also damaged.
601 squadron were particularly hard hit losing 4 pilots. The others:
P/O. William Gordon Dickie 80541 RAFVR Age 24. Missing - believed killed flying Hurricane I L2057.
F/O. James Gillan 37675 RAF Age 26. Missing - believed killed flying Hurricane I P3783.
P/O. Julian Langley Smithers 90540 RAFVR Age 24. killed flying Hurricane I P3885.
F/O. Richard Stephen Demetriadi was shot down off Portland, his body later washed up in France.
(1) Formed at RAF Northolt on 14th October 1925 when a group of wealthy aristocratic young men, all of whom were amateur aviators, decided to form themselves into a Reserve Squadron of the RAF after a meeting in White's Club, London. The original officers were picked by the first commanding officer, Lord Edward Grosvenor, youngest son of Hugh Grosvenor, 1st Duke of Westminster. Grosvenor tested potential recruits by plying them with alcohol to see if they would behave inappropriately. Grosvenor wanted officers "of sufficient presence not to be overawed by him and of sufficient means not to be excluded from his favourite pastimes, eating, drinking and Whites".
The Squadron was initially known as "the millionaires squadron", a name tag gained because of a reputation for filling their ranks with the very 'well-heeled'. Most of these affluent young pilots had little regard for the rigid discipline of the regular service; they lined their uniform tunics with bright red silk and wore blue ties rather than the regulation black. They played polo on brand-new Brough Superior motor cycles, drove fast sports cars (the squadron car park was said to resemble a Concours d'Elegance) and most of the pilots owned their own private aircraft. (courtesy Tom Moulson, squadron historian)
Burial and personal details:
F/O. Richard Stephen Demetriadi. Cayeux-Sur-Mer Communal Cemetery. Plot 1. Grave 7. Also remembered at St. Martin Churchyard, Westmenston, Sussex. Born 16th August 1918. in Chelsea. Son of Sir Stephen Demetriadi, K.B.E., and of Lady Gulielma Norah Mabel Demetriadi (née Bates), of Westmeston, Sussex. Attached to the King's Estate at Sandringham. Ditchling Beacon owned by Sir Stephen Demetriadi, is the highest spot on The South Downs and a significant part of it was donated to the National Trust as a permanent memorial to his son. Grave inscription: 'Never In The Field Of Human Conflict Was So Much Owed By So Many To So Few'.
P/O. William Gordon Dickie. Runnymede Memorial, panel 8. Son of William Bruce Dickie (died 25th March 1951 in Dundee) and Euphemia Dickie, of Dundee. Scotland.
F/O. James Gillan. Runnymede Memorial, Panel 5. Born on the 24th January 1914. Son of William Murphy (died 20th September 1925, age 43) and Mary Taylor Gillan (née Scorgie, later Scullion - died 28th December 1957. aged 75), of Aberdeen. Scotland.
P/O. Julian Langley Smithers. Sainte Marie Cemetery. Divn. 67 Row R. Grave 5. Son of Langley and Mabel Lily Smithers, of South Kensington, London. His brother Alfred John Langley Smithers also died on service. Grave inscription: 'The Battle Of Britain" "And How Can Man Die Better Than Facing Fearful Odds'.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of these B of B pilots with thanks to weather online, sources shown below.