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 Here he immediately claimed two further victories before the unit was withdrawn north to rest.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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