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Daughter’s tribute to Battle of Britain hero

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: November 26, 2010

Group Captain Byron Duckenfield

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A BATTLE of Britain pilot who survived two crashes and a Japanese prisoner of war camp has died in Burton aged 93.

Group Captain Byron Duckenfield, who had lived at Bretby Park for 36 years, lost his last fight at Queen’s Hospital after a short illness.

His daughter, Janet Overton, said: “I feel he’s had such a good long life that I can’t be sad. He was not able to do what he wanted to do at the end.

“It was a happy ending for him because he would have suffered and he could not have coped with that.

“He was a very private person and very intelligent. He spoke Japanese and wrote it fluently. He was brilliant at languages.

“He was wonderful and I was so proud of him. I will love him forever.”

Mr Duckenfield, who was known as Ron, was born on April 15, 1917, in Sheffield. Brother to Peggy, he was educated in the steel city before working as a milkman and then joining the RAF.

After an emergency landing in Derby towards the end of his training at No 10 Flying Training School, Ternhill, near Market Drayton, the fledgling pilot was sent to serve with No 32 Squadron in RAF Fighter Command, arriving at Biggin Hill on August 8, 1936.

Mr Duckenfield took part in tests which eventually led to the formation of a coastal chain of radar stations, before leaving the squadron and its Hurricanes to join No 74 Squadron, which was equipped with Spitfires.

His was soon posted to 501 Squadron and after just six days cheated death when on board a Bristol Bombay transport aircraft which crashed in France, killing three squadron members and the crew, and injuring six others.

Soon back in his Hurricane cockpit, Mr Duckenfield clashed with German Dornier Do 215s, claiming one as a ‘probable’ and shooting another down before later tangling with the Luftwaffe’s finest fighter aircraft, the Messerschmitt 109.

Later posted to RAF Northolt to serve as a test pilot at the Air Fighting Development Unit, he was awarded the Air Force Cross before taking command of No 66 Squadron and then No 615 Squadron.

Mr Duckenfield spent two-and-a-half years in Rangoon jail as a prisoner of the Japanese after being forced to land his aircraft in a shallow creek.

Following a 33-year RAF career which saw him work in Singapore, Cyprus and Japan, the father-of-two worked in marketing for Rolls-Royce in Japan from 1969 until 1982 before retiring to Bretby Park, where he enjoyed walking, reading and crosswords.

Married twice, latterly to Virgie Misa, who survives him, the war hero will be remembered at a funeral at 1.30pm on Tuesday, December 14, at Bretby Crematorium.

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  • Burton Mail  |  December 27 2010, 2:32PM

    Our condolences with deepest Sympathy to virgie & and the family for the loss of our friend Ron Duckenfield.\ When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

  • Burton Mail  |  November 30 2010, 8:38PM

    Group Captain Duckenfield, Your bravery in defending this country in its darkest hour will never be forgotte, Thank you sir and may you rest in peace. Adrian Cork