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Dmitry Yudo aka Overlord, jack of all trades
David Lister aka Listy, Freelancer and Volunteer

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Short Service Spit

John Dunlop-Urie was born in October 1915 in Glasgow, where he grew up. He worked in his father’s bakery. In 1935 aged 20 he joined No 602 'City of Glasgow' Squadron. This was an auxiliary squadron, so part of the RAF Reserve. At the time Dunlop-Urie joined the squadron was flying Hawker Harts. Just before the outbreak of war, in August John Dunlop-Urie, along with 602 squadron was moved to active status and became a full time RAF fighter pilot. By now 602 Squadron was equipped with Mk.I Spitfires, and was part of 13 Group covering the North of the United Kingdom. Near the Isle of May on 22nd December 1939 Flight Lieutenant Dunlop-Urie and Hector MacLean shot down a HE-111 that was on a mine laying mission.
John Dunlop-Urie
Until the middle of 1940 602 Squadron remained as part of 13 Group. By August 1940 it had been transferred to 11 Group, and into the face of the German onslaught. On the 18th the Luftwaffe decided to unleash the largest strike of Stuka's to date. Just over 100 of the gull winged dive bombers headed for the south coast. Above them loitered about 150 ME-109's. In response 34 Spitfires and 31 Hurricanes were scrambled to intercept, 602 Squadron was one of the units scrambled.
 Fl Lt Dunlop-Urie raced towards his plane. However, it was unavailable and undergoing maintenance. As the sound of Merlins revving up filled the air and drowned out the scramble bell, Fl Lt Dunlop-Urie cast about for a plane he could use.

Parked in a corner, was a brand new Spitfire Mk.I that had been delivered just two hours ago. It had officially been signed onto the Squadrons roll for just a few minutes, barely long enough to let the ground crew arm and fuel her. Fl Lt Dunlop-Urie commandeered the aircraft and shortly was thundering into the sky with the rest of his squadron.

The perfectly clear blue sky was soon filled with dark specs ahead, the Hurricanes had managed to make contact with the Stuka's. Stuka's with a fighter on their tail would dive, this was an extremely difficult target for the British pilots as any attempt to follow the Stuka would leave them over shooting, as they would be unable to reduce their speed due to lacking air brakes. Fl Lt Dunlop-Urie made five passes on Stuka's, each time they would stagger in to a dive and as far as he could tell he had missed. He had expended all his ammunition in these passes and achieved nothing, so he set course for home.
Behind him the Stuka's dropped their bombs and turned for home as well. However, now they were at very low altitude and unable to dive any more. Instead they had to rely on their own guns for defence. In a gaggle they flew towards France, if one Stuka found itself with a British fighter behind him, he would accelerate to the lead of the formation, this would place the fighter in a perfect spot for his colleagues to shoot at the British plane. A large part of the Me-109 force was nowhere to be seen, they had gotten distracted shooting at barrage balloons nearby.

As he headed to his base at Westhampnett Airfield, Fl Lt Dunlop-Urie glanced in his rear view mirror and saw another plane behind him, on his first glance he thought it was another Spitfire heading back to base. Seconds later the nose and wing roots began to flash. It was one of the missing ME-109's. The rounds hit Fl Lt Dunlop-Urie's plane causing significant damage and lightly wounding him. The ME-109 then broke off its attack and headed away, possibly low on ammo due to the previous actions.
At Westhampnett Fl Lt Dunlop-Urie stated to bring his plane into land. It was more of a controlled crash, the planes back had been broken, it was missing one wheel and had no flaps. It was written off, in total this Spitfire had been with the Squadron for around 25 minutes and claimed the title of shortest serving Spitfire.
The impacts on Dunlop-Urie's spitfire.
The reverse side showing the shrapnel penetrations.
Fl Lt Dunlop-Urie recovered quickly and was able to keep fighting in the Battle of Britain. In 1941 he commanded 151 Wing when it was based in Russia. He was demobbed from the RAF in 1945 as a Wing Commander, and a year later re-joined the RAF Auxiliary.