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Old 4th March 2011, 07:59
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Wing Commander W E V 'Bill' Malins DFC

Wing Commander William Edward Vernon MALINS Distinguished Flying Cross
1915 - 2011

Wing Commander William Edward Vernon ‘Bill’ Malins DFC passed away on Tuesday 1 March 2011 following a short illness aged 95.

He was born at Lords Farm, Bicester, Oxfordshire in September 1915. He grew up on the family farm, enjoying his youth in the country and the farming life that would be such a force in his life. Towards the end of the 1920s he saw some of the first RAF aircraft coming in to land at the rebuilt RAF station at Bicester and being impressed by these flying machines he dreamed that maybe one day he might get to fly one of them. Completing his education he joined Morris Motors, first in their accounting department then as a shipping clerk in their overseas sales department. His interest in aviation continued and in 1936 he applied for a short service commission with the Royal Air Force. Selected for a short service commission as a pilot, he commenced his flying training with the RAF in April 1938. He completed his flying training by the end of 1938 and was commissioned as a Pilot Officer in the RAF. In January 1939 he was posted to the School of Army Co-operation at Old Sarum, having stated his preference and been selected for duty as a pilot with an Army Co-operation Squadron. He was then posted to No.IV(AC) Squadron RAF based at RAF Odiham flying Westland Lysanders in the early summer of 1939.

At the outbreak of war with Germany in September 1939, along with the rest of No.IV(AC) Squadron he was deployed to an airfield at Monchy-Lagache in France, with an advanced airfield at Lille-Ronchin. From there he flew during the Phoney War period, acquainting himself with the countryside for future operational flying in that part of northern France and southern Belgium. With the German’s invasion of the Low Countries and France in May 1940, along with the other pilots and aircrew of No.IV(AC) Squadron he was immediately in action. He flew a number of low level tactical reconnaissance sorties locating the forward elements of the invading German forces, in which a number of times his Lysander was hit by light flak. But in every instance he returned safely to base to bring back the required information.

It was during these sorties his actions were recognised with a recommendation for an award of the Distinguished Flying Cross. His citation read: “Early on the morning of 13th May, this officer was on reconnaissance in the neighbourhood of Tirlemont. Under heavy fire he descended to 50 feet to ascertain the nationality of the hostile troops. Pilot Officer Malins has distinguished himself on several occasions by his excellent reconnaissance over the enemy.”

With the fall of France and the reformation of No.IV(AC) Squadron back in England, he was then promoted to the rank of Flying Officer and made an acting Flight Lieutenant and acting Flight Commander with the Squadron, having proven himself in France. He then flew anti-invasion patrols off the southern English coast and participated in the many Army exercise conducted at that time. In 1941 he continued to fly Lysanders and when they were introduced into service, the Curtiss P-40 Tomahawk in support of Army exercises in the UK. In early 1942 No.IV(AC) Squadron re-equipped with the new North American Mustang Mk.I, an aircraft that Bill soon came to love to fly.

In March 1942 he married his fiancé Daphne Dickins and in early July 1942 he was promoted to the rank of Squadron Leader and posted to No.268 Squadron RAF as their Squadron Leader Air Operations. There he teamed up with Wing Commander AF Anderson DSO DFC who was the Officer Commanding of the Squadron, and started a service relationship and friendship that would last many years. Whilst with No.268 Squadron he flew many operational sorties and led the Squadron’s aircraft on some of its more notable operations, low level tactical reconnaissance and offensive sorties over the Netherlands, Belgium and France at that time.

In May 1943 he was posted to the Combined Operations Planning Staff for Operation Husky, the Allied invasion of Sicily and was on the Combined Operation HQ and RAF Control Ship HMS Hilary during the invasion. He was one of, if not the first, RAF officers to go ashore on Sicily after the landing to confirm if the airfield at Pachino had been cleared and could be used by Allied aircraft.

He returned to England in August 1943 to take command of No.231 Squadron RAF, then flying N.A. Mustang Mk.I aircraft, He served in early 1944 in the Air Ministry section responsible for the training of tactical reconnaissance pilots and planning for the Allied Invasion of Europe. After D-Day he returned to more frontline service being promoted to the rank of Wing Commander and posted as the Senior Wing Operations Officer for No.35 Reconnaissance Wing which was in support of the Canadian Army Group in Europe, where he stayed as the Wing progressed through France, Belgium, the Netherlands and finally into Germany. In that time he flew N.A. Mustang Mk.IA and Mk.II aircraft, Supermarine Spitfire PR.XI and PR.XIX and Spitfire FR.XIVE aircraft.

After VE-Day he remained with the Wing as they flew Victory Flypasts over major cities, before being posted to take charge of the German advanced aeronautical research centre at Volkenrode. A period followed with the RAF Directorate of Accident Prevention, including travelling via every RAF overseas station from the UK via the Middle East and Far East to Australia and back by Dakota, with an air safety display. He then had various stints in Air Ministry and RAF Base Command roles before leaving the RAF in the early 1950's to return to his beloved farm life on the family farm near Bicester. Throughout his RAF career he always returned to the family farm when on leave, finding it the perfect break from service life.

There with his family he saw out the remainder of his days, happily on the land, developing and growing his family’s farm holdings. His wife Daphne died in 2006.

In December 2010, with the assistance of his grand daughter Victoria Williams, he had published his memoirs “Coming in to Land – the memoirs of Wing Commander Bill Malins, DFC”, published by Memoirs Books, UK. This has left a lasting record if his life and RAF service career.

Bill Malins passed peacefully with family members in attendance.

REST IN PEACE

I had the great pleasure to meet Wing Commander Bill Malins DFC face to face in early September 2010 when my family and I were visiting the UK. I had been corresponding with Bill for many years in my role as Historian for No.268 Squadron RAF, and had the opportunity to spend a most memorable evening with Bill and three generations of his family at his 400 year old family farm near Bicester in England. At the time just a fortnight shy of his 95th birthday, Bill was quick to relate many a tale of his time flying with the RAF, the other pilot's he flew with and the aircraft that they flew. After all these years, he still has a great affection for the N.A. Mustang Mk.I aircraft that he flew for much of his wartime flying.
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Colin Ford
Canberra
Australia
No.268 Squadron Royal Air Force 1940-1946
Historian by Appointment
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