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David Scott-Malden - a Classics scholar and fighter pilot

Francis David Stephen Scott-Malden was born on 26th December 1919 at Portslade, Sussex, the son of a school master at Windlesham House Preparatory School. He was educated at Winchester College as a Goddard Scholar and won the Ashburton Shield at Bisley before going on to Kings College, Cambridge where he read Classics and won the Sir William Browne Medal for Greek Verse in 1939.

He joined the University Air Squadron in November 1938 and transferred to the RAFVR on 14th June 1939 as an Airman u/t Pilot. Scott-Malden was called to full-time service and commissioned on 3rd October 1939. On 1st January 1940 he was posted to RAF College FTS Cranwell and after completing his flying training he went to No. 1 School of Army Co-operation at Old Sarum for a course in late May 1940.

The course had hardly began when the chief instructor announced that he had 'a severe disappointment' to communicate:

'Gentlemen' he said 'you are to be transferred immediately to fighters'. Scott-Malden joined in 'the wild whoop as the classroom emptied, leaving the chief instructor standing alone beside the blackboard'.

On 10th June Scott-Malden arrived at 5 OTU Aston Down and after converting to Spitfires joined 611 Squadron at Digby on 23rd June.

He said at the time 'Twelve months before Dunkirk I was receiving Cambridge's Gold Medal for Greek Verse - an unusual qualification for a fighter pilot. A well trained mind is an asset, but in the skies of Britain in 1940 to be too academic was not a recipe for survival. I was lucky to come through. Many of my university friends did not'.

On 4th October 1940 he went to 603 Squadron at Hornchurch. He probably destroyed a Me109 on the 12th, damaged two CR42s on 23rd November and shared a Do17 on the 29th.

Scott-Malden became a Flight Commander in May 1941. On the 11th he took ‘A’ Flight to Drem for a night-flying course.

On the 28th he probably destroyed a Me109 and damaged another, on 7th, 14th, 21st June and 8th and 12th July he damaged Me109s, on 17th, 19th and 26th August he destroyed Me109s and on 18th September he probably destroyed another.

Scott-Malden was awarded the DFC (gazetted 19th August 1941) and in late September he was promoted and given command of 54 Squadron at Hornchurch.

His portrait was made by Eric Kennington in 1941 (below).

He retired on 25th September 1966 as an Air Vice-Marshal. He joined the Ministry of Transport as an administrator before finally retiring to Norfolk in 1978.

He died on 1st March 2000 in Cambridge.

Photos and text courtesy of Battle of Britain Monument website

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