Drake, Billy

    Date of birth:
    December 20th, 1917 (London, United Kingdom)
    Date of death:
    August 28th, 2011
    Nationality:
    British (1801-present, Kingdom)

    Biography

    Service number 39095.

    Billy Drake was born in London of an English father and Australian mother and educated in Switzerland on December the 20th 1917. He joined the RAF on a short service commission in July 1936. He was posted to 6 FTS, Netheravon on September the 19th and with training completed, he joined No 1 Squadron at Tangmere on May the 22nd 1937, flying Furies then Hurricanes and first saw action over France in the Spring of 1940. On 20 April 1940, during the Battle of France, Drake scored his first kill, a Messerschmitt Bf 109. Subsequent victories over France included a Dornier Do 17 and Heinkel He 111. While attacking another Dornier, Drake was shot down by a Messerschmitt Bf 110. He baled out, wounded with shell splinters in the back, was taken to a French hospital and later flown back to an RAF hospital in England.
    On 20 June 1940, Drake was posted as a flying instructor to No. 6 Operational Training Unit, at RAF Sutton Bridge. He returned to operational duty, with No. 213 Squadron RAF, on 2 October 1940 at RAF Tangmere. Three weeks later, he was appointed commander of No. 421 Flight (later part of No. 91 Squadron RAF) on Spitfires, flying low-level reconnaissance patrols over the Channel and the French coast. He claimed a further two kills and two probables (all Do 17s and Ju 88s).
    As a Squadron Leader he was sent to Hastings, Sierra Leone, West Africa to command 128 Squadron. 1942 saw his commanding 112 squadron in North Africa. After that, he was posted to Malta as Wing Commander. Back in the UK he now was flying Typhoons in the lead up to D-Day. With Pete Brothers he was sent to the States to attend the US Staff School at Fort Leavenworth. In his flying career he accounted for more than 24 enemy aircraft. He took part in the first Battle of Britain fly past in September 1945.
    After the war he continued in the RAF, serving in Japan, Malaya, Singapore, Switzerland and his final posting as Group Captain RAF Chivenor, Devon. Retired in July 1963. Going to Portugal where he ran a bar and restaurant and dealing in real estate.
    Christopher Shores wrote, contributed by Drake 'Billy Drake, Fighter Leader: The Autobiography of Group Captain B.Drake DSO, DFC and Bar, US DFC'.

    Promotions:
    September 7ht, 1936: Pilot Officer (probation)
    July 13th 1937: Pilot Officer
    xxxx: Flying Officer
    September 3th, 1940: Flight Lieutenant
    September 1st, 1941: Squadron Leader (temp)
    June 24 th 1943: Squadron Leader (war sub)
    January 1st, 1953: Wing Commander
    July 1st, 1963: Group Captain (retirement)

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    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Rank:
    Flight Lieutenant
    Awarded on:
    January 7th, 1941
    Action:
    "In October, 1940, this officer carried out a reconnaissance which proved of great value.He has at all times displayed fine qualities of leadership and perseverance. He has destroyed at least four enemy aircraft."
    Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)
    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Rank:
    Acting Squadron Leader
    Unit:
    No.112 Squadron, Royal Air Force
    Awarded on:
    July 28th, 1942
    Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)
    Action:
    Citation:
    "Squadron Leader Drake is a skilful pilot and a fine leader. He has displayed great energy and has led his squadron on every sortie in the latest battle of Libya. One day in June, 1942, an attack was made against Gazala aerodrome which resulted in a number of enemy aircraft being destroyed or damaged on the ground. Squadron Leader Drake has personally scored hits on enemy transport vehicles and on a heavy tank. In addition he has destroyed at least 5 enemy aircraft and damaged a number of others in air combats."
    Details:
    Second DFC awarded as a bar for on the ribbon of the first DFC.
    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Rank:
    Squadron Leader
    Unit:
    No. 112 Squadron, Royal Air Force
    Awarded on:
    December 4th, 1942
    Distinguished Service Order (DSO)
    Action:
    "Since being awarded a Bar to his Distinguished Flying Cross, Squadron Leader Drake has continued to display the utmost courage and determination in operations against the enemy. In September 1942, he led his wing with great determination, against a formation of enemy divebombers escorted by fighters. In the ensuing combat 4 bombers and i fighter were destroyed. On a number of other occasions this officer has
    led bombing and low-level machine gun attacks with devastating results. His leadership and magnificent fighting spirit have been an inspiration to all."
    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Rank:
    Acting Wing Commander
    Unit:
    Royal Air Force
    Awarded on:
    October 22nd, 1943
    Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)

    Sources

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