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Squadron Leader Peter Hearne (DFC, Fighter Pilot)

Tacolneston
Veteran of the Regiment
Tacolneston
Veteran of the Regiment
Joined: November 2nd, 2003, 1:04 am

February 14th, 2018, 5:24 pm #1

From The Daily Telegraph 14 February.
 
Squadron Leader Peter Hearne, who has died aged 98, flew Spitfire and Mustang fighters during the Second World War and was credited with destroying at least five enemy aircraft and damaging others.
 
The son of an officer in the Indian Police, Peter Joseph Hearne was born in Allahabad, India, on February 7 1919. Aged nine he was sent to school in Belgium and did not see his parents again until he was 18. He completed his education at St John’s College, Southsea, then trained as an engineer at the Royal Small Arms Factory, Enfield.
 
He joined the RAF in February 1941 and trained as a pilot in Canada. After converting to fighters he joined No 65 Squadron in April 1942 to fly Spitfires. During the early months of 1943 he escorted bombers as they attacked targets in northern France.
 
He engaged Focke Wulf 190 fighters and was credited with damaging several. In January 1944 he started to fly the Mustang on bomber escort duties before spending six months as an instructor on a fighter training unit.
 
He returned to operations with No 65 in October as a flight commander and on November 2 1944 shot down a Focke Wulf 190 near Minden in Germany. On December 12 he was again escorting a bomber force when he engaged a number of Messerschmitt Bf 109s and shot one down, probably destroyed a second and damaged a third. In January he was promoted to squadron leader and took command of No 19 Squadron.
 
In February 1945 No 19 Squadron was sent to Peterhead in north Scotland to escort Beaufighter and Mosquito formations attacking shipping in Norwegian and Danish waters. The squadron was equipped with the long-range US-built Mustang fighter.
 
After two successful operations escorting a force of Mosquitos to the Kattegat, Hearne led his squadron on March 12 as they protected 44 Mosquitos on a shipping sweep south of Oslo.
 
As it passed to the south of Norway, it was attacked by Messerschmitt Bf 109s. A fierce dogfight developed. Hearne manoeuvred behind one and achieved hits on the enemy fighter’s wing and engine; it dived into the sea.
 
Over the next few weeks Hearne escorted other formations. On April 11 he was at the head of 10 of his Mustangs supporting Beaufighters when he observed a large force of Bf 109s.
 
In the fight that followed he shot one down, seeing it crash into the sea. Three days later, he was involved in another similar operation when he again destroyed a Bf 109.
 
Hearne and his pilots continued to escort the Mosquitos and Beaufighters as they maintained their attacks against shipping and surfaced U-boats until the last day of the war. Shortly afterwards, Hearne was awarded the DFC for “always displaying the greatest keenness for operations and his high degree of courage”
 
 
 
 
Full obituary with photograph.
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