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Kilmartin, John Ignatius

    Date of birth:
    July 8th, 1913 (Dundalk, Eireland)
    Service number:
    Irish (1919-present, Republic)


    John "Killy" Kilmartin was the son of a forrester and one of eight children. His father died when he was nine years old and he was shipped out to Australia under a scheme known as 'Big Brother'. As soon as he was old enough, he obtained a job on a cattle station in New South Wales, where he remained for nearly five years during the Great Depression of the Thirties., then joining an aunt in Shanghai, China. Here he worked as a clerk in the accounts department of the Shanhai Gas Works for over two years until he saw an advertisement for short service commission applicants in the RAF during 1936. Applying, he obtained a reply in about three months and set out in the Trans-Siberian railway in company withe a group of Japanese sumo wrestlers heading for the Berlin Olympics. He was tought to fly at a civilian school in Perthshire, Scotland, and was then accepted by the RAF in February 1937, completing his training at No. 6 Flying Training School, Netheravon, and joining No. 43 Squadron late in the year. At the start of the war, he took the opportunity to join No. 1 Squadron in France at the start of November 1939, becoming involved in several of the unit's early actions and then during the heavy fighting of the 'Blitzkrieg' of May 1940. On return to the UK at the end of the month, he was posted as an instructor to No. 5 Operational Training Unit until August, when he returned to No. 43 Squadron as a flight commander. Here he immediately claimed two further victories before the unit was withdrawn north to rest. After a short posting to command No. 602 Squadron and helped to form No. 313 Squadron, the third Czech fighter squadron, he was posted out to West Africa, wher he was to command No. 128 Squadron from March to August 1942. He returned to the UK late that year and was posted as a supernumerary to No. 504 Squadron, becoming commanding officer in January 1943. During 1944 he was given command of No. 136 Wing, which was equippped with Typhoons, taking this unit to Normandy after the invasion. After the unit was disbanded later in June, he went to Head Quarters of the 2nd TAF where he remained until the end of the European war. After that he served in Burma on Thunderbolts and commanded Medan airfield in Sumatra. He ended the war with a total of 12 or 13 awarded claims destroyed qnd 2 shared destroyed and 1 damaged.
    After the war he was posted at several positions in NATO until July 1958, when he retired form the service. He got married and settled in Devon where he ran a chicken farm for 15 years before selling this and going abroad to various parts of Europe for then years. He then returned to Devon.

    June 15th, 1937: Acting Pilot Officer on probation (seniority May 31st, 1937);
    April 5th, 1938: Pilot Officer;
    November 5th, 1939: Flying Officer;
    ?: Acting Flight Lieutenant;
    November 5th, 1940: Flight Lieutenant
    December 16th, 1941: Temporary Squadron Leader;
    January 8th, 1944: Squadron Leader (war subs.);
    ?: Acting Wing Commander;
    September 1st, 1945: Squadron Leader (permanent, seniority January 1st, 1945);
    January 1st, 1953: Wing Commander.

    1937: No. 43 Squadron;
    November 1939: No. 1 Squadron;
    August 1940: Flight Commander No. 43 Squadron;
    April 1941: Commanding Officer No. 602 Squadron;
    ?: No. 128 Squadron;
    June 4th, 1941 - June 25th, 1941: Flight Commander "A" Flight, No. 313 Squadron;
    July 8th, 1958: Retirment.

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    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Acting Flight Lieutenant
    No. 43 (The Fighting Cocks) Squadron, Royal Air Force
    Awarded on:
    October 8th, 1940
    "Flying Officer Kilmartin has destroyed twelve enemy aircraft. His dash and determination, with clear thinking, combine to make him a magnificent leader."
    Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Acting Wing Commander
    Reserve of Air Force Officers
    Awarded on:
    January 1st, 1945
    Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)
    Military Division


    • Photo 1: Tom McNeill
    • Photo: Tom MacNeill
    • - BIRTLES, P, Hurricane squadrons of World War II in focus, Red Kite / Air Research, 2003.
      - SHORES, CH. & WILLIAMS, C., Aces High, Grub Street, London, 1994.
      - The London Gazette of 15th June 1937, Issue 34408
      - The London Gazette of 19th April 1938, Issue 34503
      - The London Gazette of 21st November 1939, Issue 34738
      - The London Gazette of 8th October 1940, Issue 34964
      - The London Gazette of 12th November 1940, Issue 34989
      - The London Gazette of 16th December 1941, Issue 35383
      - Third Supplement to The London Gazette of 21st March 1944, Issue 36438, dated 24th March 1944
      - Supplement to The London Gazette of 29th December 1944, Issue 36866, dated 1st December 1945
      - Second Supplement to The London Gazette of 9th November 1945, Issue 37345, dated 13th November 1945
      - Second Supplement to The London Gazette of 23rd May 1947, Issue 37965, dated 27th May 1947
      - Eighth Supplement to The London Gazette of 30th December 1952, Issue 39739, dated 1st January 1953
      - Second Supplement to The London Gazette of 11th July 1958, Issue 41444, dated 15th July 1958
      - The Battle of Britain