Pilot reunited with Greek Spitfire

At the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar, work is gathering pace on restoration of the Hellenic Air Force’s Spitfire IXc MJ755 by the Spitfire Company (Biggin Hill). The machine spent many years on display in the Hellenic Air Force Museum at Dekelia Air Base, just north of Athens, and is destined to become the only airworthy Spitfire in Greece.

An attendee at a veterans’ day at the hangar during July was 96-year-old ex-RAF Flt Lt George Dunne DFC, who — following service as a Handley Page Halifax pilot with No 76 Squadron, a spell flying Mosquitos with No 608 (North Riding) Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force, and time with the RAF Meteorological Flight — was in the Middle East at the end of the war, where he volunteered to fly former RAF Spitfires to their new owners, the then Royal Hellenic Air Force. Robin Brooks, the PR manager at the Heritage Hangar says, “Bringing his logbook up to the hangar on the day we found that George had actually flown MJ755 to Greece. Such a coincidence did not go unrecognised and George has since become somewhat of a celebrity in the hangar, expressing that he would like to be present at every important stage of the restoration. Most certainly he will be present when MJ755 finally takes to the air once again.”

George Dunne DFC at his home in Brighton recently. ROBIN BROOKS
A roundel not previously seen in a British restoration shop: Hellenic Air Force Spitfire IX MJ755 at Biggin Hill in early August. ROBIN BROOKS

MJ755 was one of a number of Spitfires transferred to Greece at the war’s end. After joining 335 Mira (Squadron) at Sedes during April 1947, the fighter was subsequently relegated to training duties. A full overhaul in 1950 saw two cameras being fitted for the purpose of reconnaissance missions. The Spitfire made its final flight on 8 September 1953, after which it took on gate guardian duties at Tatoi Air Base. The aircraft arrived at Biggin Hill during 2017. With the fuselage recently sprayed in Greek colours, work is now concentrating on fitting out the hydraulics and electrics, together with preparing the wings and tailplane assembly for further spraying. It is intended that the aircraft will be ready to test-fly early in 2020.