Nettleton, John Dering

Date of birth:
June 28th, 1917 (Nongoma/Natal, South Africa)
Date of death:
July 13th, 1943 (Bay of Biscay)
Mentioned on:
Air Forces Memorial Runnymede
Grave: 118.


John Dering Nettlton was born June 28th, 1917 in Nongomam, the son of John Hennah Nettleton and Ethel Nettleton. After his education at Western Province Preparatory School in Cape Town, he served as a Naval Cadet and received his training aboard the trainingvessel General Botha. Following this, he served 18 months in the South African Merchant Marine before taking up Civil Engineering. He was employed in various locations.
December 1938 he enrolled in the RAF and served in 207, 98, 185 and ultimately in 44 Squadron flying the Handley Page Hampden. In July 1941 he was appointed Squadron Leader of 44 (Rhodesian) Squadron and transferred to the Avro Lancaster.
Nettleton lost his life on July 13th, 1943 during an attack on Turin in Italy when his Lancaster, ED331, KM-Z was shot down over the Gulf of Biscaye by a German nightfighter.

?: Acting Pilot Officer;
September 3rd, 1939: Pilot Officer on probation;
October 6th, 1939: Pilot Officer;
September 3rd, 1940: Flying Officer;
?: Acting Flight Lieutenant;
September 3rd, 1941: Flight Lieutenant (war subs.);
?: Acting Squadron Leader;
June 2nd, 1943: Squadron Leader (war subs.).

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Second World War (1939-1945)
Acting Flight Lieutenant
Awarded on:
September 24th, 1941
LG 35284/5572.
Mentioned in Despatches
Second World War (1939-1945)
Acting Squadron Leader
No. 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron, Royal Air Force
Awarded on:
April 28th, 1942
"Squadron Leader Nettleton was the leader of one of two formations of six Lancaster heavy bombers detailed to deliver a low-level attack in daylight on the diesel engine factory at Augsburg in Southern Germany on April 17th, 1942. The enterprise was daring, the target of high military importance. To reach it and get back, some 1,000 miles had to be flown over hostile territory.
Soon after crossing into enemy territory his formation was engaged by 25 to 30 fighters. A running fight ensued. His rear guns went out' of action. One by one the aircraft of his formation were shot down until in the end only his own and one other remained. The fighters were shaken off but the target was still far distant. There was formidable resistance to be faced.
With great spirit and almost defenceless, he held his two remaining aircraft on their perilous course and after a long and arduous flight, mostly at only 50 feet above the ground, he brought them to Augsburg. Here anti-aircraft fire of great intensity and accuracy was encountered. The two aircraft came low over the roof tops. Though fired at from point blank range, they stayed the course to drop their bombs true on the target. The second aircraft, hit by flak, burst into flames and crash-landed. The leading aircraft aircraft, though riddled with holes, flew safely back to base, the only one of the six to return.
Squadron Leader Nettleton, who has successfully undertaken many other hazardous operations, displayed unflinching determination as well as leadership and valour of the highest order."
LG 35539/1851.
Victoria Cross (VC)
Second World War (1939-1945)
Acting Squadron Leader
Awarded on:
June 11th, 1942
LG 35586/2519.
Mentioned in Despatches


  • Photo 1: Tom MacNeill
  • Photo: Tom MacNeill
  • - The London Gazette of 10th October 1939, Issue34704
    - The London Gazette of 12th November 1940, Issue 34989
    - Supplement to The London Gazette of 23rd September 1941, Issue 35284, dated 24th September 1941
    - The London Gazette of 14th October 1941, Issue 35309
    - Third Supplement to The London Gazette of 24th April 1942, Issue 35539, dated 24th April 1942
    - Second Supplment to The London Gazette of 5th June 1942, Issue 35586, dated 11th June 1942
    - Fourth Supplement to The London Gazette of 27th July 1943, Issue 36113, dated 30th July 1943
    - CWGC