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Don Kingaby - the Me109 specialist

Donald Ernest Kingaby, a clergyman's son, was born on 7th January 1920 in Islington, London and was educated at Kings School, Ely. He afterwards worked for the Ocean Accident and Guarantee Corporation Ltd in their Cambridge branch.

He joined the RAFVR in April 1939 as an Airman u/t Pilot. Called up on 1st September 1939, he was at 15 FTS Lossiemouth on No. 6 Course which ran from 29th December 1939 to 10th June 1940. He then went to 5 OTU Aston Down and, after converting to Spitfires, joined 266 Squadron at Wittering on 24th June. Kingaby damaged two Ju88s and a Me110 on 12th August. He was wounded in the hand on the 18th and did not fly operationally again before being posted to 92 Squadron at Biggin Hill on 25th September 1940.

Sgt Kingaby proved highly successful against 109s whilst with 92 squadron. He damaged Me109s on 27th and 30th September; shot down a Me109 and probably another on 12th October; destroyed another on the 15th; shared a Me110 on the 20th; destroyed a Do17 on the 24th; damaged a Me109 on the 25th; destroyed one on 1st November; shot down three and probably another on the 15th; and destroyed one on 1st December.

Kingaby was awarded the DFM (gazetted 6th December 1940) and was described in the newspapers as ‘the 109 specialist’. Between 14th February and 3rd October 1941 he destroyed eight Me109's, probably another four and damaged two. Kingaby was awarded a Bar to the DFM (gazetted 29th July 1941) and a Second Bar to the DFM (gazetted 11th November 1941), the only man to be so honoured during the war.

In early November 1941 Kingaby went to 58 OTU Grangemouth as an instructor. Commissioned in November, he returned to operations in March 1942 with a posting to 111 Squadron at Debden. Kingaby moved to 64 Squadron at Hornchurch in April.

On 2nd June he damaged a Fw190, on 30th July destroyed another and on 17th August he damaged another. Kingaby was posted to 122 Squadron at Hornchurch in early August as a Flight Commander and on the 19th, south of Dieppe, he destroyed a Do217.

Kingaby took command of the squadron in November, destroyed a Me109 on 20th January 1943, shot down a Fw190 and damaged another on the 21st and shot down another on 8th March.

He was awarded the DSO (gazetted 9th March 1943) and promoted to Acting Wing Commander in April, to lead the Hornchurch Wing.

In September 1943 Kingaby was posted to a staff job at HQ Fighter Command.

In April 1944 he was posted to lead a Spitfire Wing, which would provide low-level cover for the invasion forces. He claimed his final victory on 30th June 1944, when he shared in the destruction of a Me109.

In July 1944 Kingaby was given command of the Advanced Gunnery School at Catfoss and remained there until the end of the war. In addition to his British awards, Kingaby received the C de G (Belg) in October 1944 and the DFC (US) (gazetted 15th May 1945).

He was granted a permanent commission after the war, was awarded the AFC (gazetted 5th June 1952) and retired from the RAF on 29th September 1958 as a Squadron Leader, retaining the rank of Wing Commander.

He died on 31st December 1990 in Westfield, Massachusetts, USA where he and his wife had moved to be near their daughters. His ashes were interred at Bromley Hill cemetery, Bromley, Kent and in 1993 his widow unveiled a memorial to him in the chapel there (below).

There is a related print (below) 'Clifftop Chase' by the noted aviation artist Geoff Nutkins

Photos and text courtesy of Battle of Britain Monument website

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