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Sgt Ronnie Fokes - a Battle of Britain ace

Ronald Henry Fokes, of Hillingdon, Middlesex, was born on 5th December 1912 and joined the RAFVR in April 1937 as an Airman u/t Pilot.

He carried out his training at 5 E&RFTS Hanworth. On 6th March 1939 he was given the chance of a period of full-time training with the regular RAF serving with 151 Squadron at North Weald. He went to 87 Squadron at Debden on 24th March and was with them until 7th August 1939 when he returned to the RAFVR and continued his flying at 10 E&RFTS Yatesbury.

Called up on 1st September 1939 Fokes was posted to 4 ITW, Bexhill on 14th December and on 15th January 1940 he joined 92 Squadron at Croydon. Over Dunkirk on 2nd June 1940 Fokes claimed a He111 destroyed and possibly two more and, on 4th July, he shared in the destruction of another.

His success with 92 Squadron continued even further during the Battle of Britain. Sgt Fokes shared a Do17 on 10th September; damaged another on the 15th; probably destroyed a Ju88 on the 24th; probably destroyed a Me109 on the 30th; destroyed a He111 and two Me109s on the 15th; destroyed a Me109 on the 26th; shared a Ju88 on 9th November; destroyed another Me109 on the 15th; and got a probable Me109 on the 17th.

For all these achievements, Fokes was awarded the DFM (gazetted 15th November 1940) and he was commissioned in late November.

He destroyed Me109's on 5th and 12th December, damaged a Do17 on 23rd January 1941, shared a Ju87 on 5th February and destroyed a Me109 on 26th April. Fokes was posted to 53 OTU, Heston on 1st May 1941 as an instructor.

He was given command of 257 Squadron at Warmwell on 2nd July 1943. He went on a Fighter Leaders' Course at Milfield on 21st February 1944 and returned to 257, then at Tangmere, on 11th March. He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 10th March 1944).

Flying in Typhoon MN372 FM-A on 12th June 1944, Fokes was hit by flak while strafing enemy vehicles at low level about 16 miles south of Caen. He baled out but was too low for his parachute to deploy fully and he was killed. Initially buried at the village of Soulangy, he was moved to the war cemetery established at Banneville-la-Campagne in 1945.

On 5th June 2010 a memorial to Fokes was unveiled at the church in Soulangy.

Photos and text courtesy of Battle of Britain Monument website

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