Sqn Ldr R.P.R. Powell

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My father, Kenneth Dickson, had an elder brother - born in 1880 - and one of his great friends was a remarkable man who was a famous big-game hunter and explorer - Basil Powell.

One of his sons was named Reginald Peter but from an early age he was known apparently to all the family as 'Rooty' although Peter was perhaps his name in RAF circles.

He entered the RAF College, Cranwell in 1934 and he gained his wings in 1936 after winning the prestigious 'R.M. Groves Memorial Trophy' for the best pilot of his year and he immediately joined 111 Squadron at RAF Northolt. He was with them on their visit to Paris in 1938, an event recorded in a photo in his Christmas card to us.

For myself-just 11 - in Sep 1939 and those of my age, the war really could not mean much to us. Basil came to stay with us for a long time and he and father were stalwarts of the newly-formed Home Guard on the coast near Christchurch. Of course I knew Rooty was flying and when he came down on leave to see us, I hadn't realised that he was already a holder of the DFC and had survived the Battle of Britain.

Being an avid collector of cuttings from newspapers - now fascinating to look back on - I pasted in a fine account following his action in shooting down a Heinkel and seeing a crew member in a dinghy and reporting the position to Coastal Command, billed as 'How We Rescued a German Airman'.

In the 'Illustrated London News' of 4th Dec 1941, a picture shows him as CO of the second 'Eagle Squadron'. Their pilots were all volunteers from the US who later transferred to the USAAF when the US joined the Allied war effort.

He remained in the RAF and I met him at the RAF Staff College, Bracknell in 1960 when he was a senior director as a Group Captain but I hardly expected him to remember a callow youth of 20 years before!

I did not know his family at all but I know he died in January 1970.

Added by: Leonard Dickson on 8th April 2013.


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Picture of Sqn Ldr R.P.R. Powell
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