208 Sqn Gloster Meteors – Photo-recce in the Middle East

Graham Pitchfork recounts the career of a Meteor pilot and the recce sorties he undertook in the Middle East

When Sgt Bert Horton joined 208 Squadron in 1949 at Fayid in the Canal Zone in Egypt, the unit was still equipped with the Spitfire FR.XVIII. It had flown in the Middle East since the early 1920s, operating in the tactical reconnaissance role, and had served with distinction during campaigns with the Desert Air Force and in Italy. Immediately post-war it served in Palestine before moving to Egypt.

In August 1950 a two-seat Meteor T.7 arrived on the squadron – so, unlike Dennis Barry’s cursory training on the Meteor in 1944, Horton and his colleagues had the benefit of carrying out their initial conversion to the twin-engined jet in the dual control variant. By January 1951 the first Meteor FR.9s started to arrive and, by March, the venerable Spitfire was phased out.

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