Spitfire versatility: three pilots’ diverse combat experiences

Through the experiences of a trio of pilots, Air Cdre Graham Pitchfork highlighted the versatility of an amazing fighter in the February 2013 issue of FlyPast

Two Distinguished Flying Crosses pay testament to ‘Bam’ Bamberger’s operational career. He was a fighter pilot throughout World War Two, seeing service during the Battle of Britain, over Malta and later over Sicily and Italy.

In 1936 he joined his local Auxiliary Air Force Squadron, 610 (County of Chester), as ground crew. Two years later he started pilot training, which he completed after being called up at the outbreak of the war.

He re-joined 610 at Biggin Hill, Kent, in August 1940 when, to use his own words: “I started a steep learning curve to survival; I frightened and damaged a few Messerschmitt 109s and scared myself.” He was credited with a ‘probable’ over Dover on August 28. In mid-September the unit was withdrawn for a rest and Bamberger transferred to 41 Squadron. By the end of the month he had been credited with shooting down a Bf 109 over Maidstone.

After the Battle of Britain, Bamberger volunteered for service overseas. He embarked on the carrier Argus in mid-October 1940 with a group of fighter pilots who were the first reinforcements for the besieged island of Malta. He had just one hour’s experience on the Hawker Hurricane, the type which would be used in his new posting.

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