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Basil 'Wonky' Way shot down in the Channel on 25 July after destroying an Me109 over Dover and Deal

Updated: Apr 7, 2022

Basil Hugh Way, of Hinton St George, Somerset was born in September 1917 in Newark, Nottinghamshire and educated at Malvern College. The addresses of his parents, recorded by the school, were Hinton St. George, Somerset and Merriott House, Merriott, Somerset. Way became a Prefect and Captain of the Shooting VIII. He played football for a successful house team. At cricket he was a slow bowler.

Way entered RAF College Cranwell in January 1937 as a Flight Cadet. Whilst there he won the Groves Memorial Prize as the best all-round pilot and represented the College at cricket. He graduated on 16th December 1938 with a Permanent Commission and then joined 54 Squadron at Hornchurch.

54 Squadron just before Dunkirk, Way is seated second from right.

Way was detached from 54 to the School of Air Navigation, Manston on 2nd January 1939 for a course in navigation. He re-joined 54 on 11th March 1939. He was posted from 54 to the Photographic Development Unit at Heston on 31st January 1940 but had re-joined 54 Squadron on 12th February.

He shared in destroying a He111 off the north Kent coast on February 13th 1940. He was appointed 'B' Flight Commander as an Acting Flight Lieutenant on the 28th February. In May he was appointed 'B' Flight Commander and on the 25th and 26th he probably destroyed two Me110s over Dunkirk.

Way shared a Do17 on 3rd July; claimed a Me109 destroyed and shared another on the 8th; two probable Me109s on the 24th; and another Me109 destroyed on the 25th. Immediately after this victory Way was shot down and killed, crashing into the Channel in Spitfire R6707.

Way was 22 years old. He is buried in Oostdunkerke Communal Cemetery, Belgium.

An obituary in the Malvernian described him as having a quiet manner and voice and a slow smile. It suggested that at school Way's 'heart was set on flying' and his time at Cranwell represented 'perhaps his happiest years'. In 2010 a Battle of Britain memorial plaque was unveiled at Malvern College which included Way’s name.

Photo and text courtesy of Battle of Britain Monument website

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