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'Bob' Constable Maxwell

Michael Hugh 'Bob' Constable Maxwell was born at Beauly, Invernessshire on 3rd June 1917, the seventh son and youngest of thirteen children. His father was a son of Lord Herries and his mother from the Lovat family. An elder brother had flown in the RFC in WW1.

He was educated at Ampleforth College, Yorkshire and went on to Hertford College, Oxford, where he read Modern History. He was a member of the University Air Squadron as well as being a commissioned officer in the 4th Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders, a Territorial unit. In the years preceding the war, Constable Maxwell attended both Army and UAS camps. In March 1939 he had applied for a Permanent Commission in the RAF as a University Entrant. On 28th August he heard that he had been accepted.

Called up at the outbreak of war, he spent a month as an army officer but then resigned his commission and reported to 9 FTS Hullavington on 10th October 1939. Constable Maxwell completed his training and was posted to 7 BGS at Stormy Down in March 1940 for a gunnery course, after which he joined 56 Squadron at North Weald on 20th April.

On 27th May 1940 when operating from Manston in Hurricane P3478, he shared a He111 but was hit by Belgian flak. He baled out and landed near the flak battery. The CO, Prince Charles of the Belgians, apologised for shooting him down and ordered a staff car to take Constable Maxwell to Ostend where he boarded a trawler for England. The trawler evaded a torpedo attack and landed him at Deal. Back with 56 Squadron, Constable Maxwell was bounced by Me109s over Le Tréport on 8th June and was wounded in the leg and foot by cannon shell splinters. A tyre burst on landing at North Weald and the aircraft slewed round. He was admitted to Epping Hospital.

On 28th August 1940 he claimed a probable Me109; on 27th September he shot down a Do17 and shared a Me110; and on the 30th he made a crash-landing on Chesil Bank after being in combat with Do17s and Me110s over Portland. His Hurricane, L1764, was a write-off but Constable Maxwell was unhurt. On 7th October he probably destroyed a Me109 but was fired on by a Spitfire as he returned.

Constable Maxwell retired on 3rd June 1964 as a Wing Commander and joined Robert Stuart, the family business which contracted to the aircraft industry. He died in August 2000 leaving a wife and two sons.

Photos and text courtesy of Battle of Britain Monument website

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