Thursday, December 20, 2012

W/Cdr Robert Stanford Tuck DSO DFC** 1916-1987

Robert Roland Stanford Tuck was born on July 1st 1916 at Catford, London. After leaving St. Dunstan’s College, Reading in 1932 he became a sea cadet before joining the RAF in 1935 with a posting to 3 FTS (Flight Training School) at Grantham. Tuck then joined 65 Squadron in September 1935 until May 1940 when he was posted to 92 Squadron, based at Croydon, as a Flight Commander

During combat on May 23rd 1940, over Dunkirk, Tuck claimed three Bf110’s destroyed and a Bf109. The following day he shot down two Do17’s, on May 25th he shared a Do17 and on June 2nd he shot down a Bf109, a He111 and damaged two more Bf109’s. Due to his bravery Tuck was awarded the DFC on June 11th and received it from King George VI at Hornchurch on June 28th

His combat successes continued with a shared Do17 on July 8th, a damaged Ju88 on July 25th, a shared Ju88 on August 13th and two destroyed Ju88’s the following day. On August 18th Tuck attacked a group of Ju88’s over Kent where he shot one down and damaged another. During the exchange his Spitfire was hit by return fire and he baled out just east of Tunbridge Wells where he was slightly injured from the landing

Tuck was again involved in another incident on August 25th when his Spitfire was badly damaged during combat with a Do17, which he destroyed, 15 miles off the coast. The aircraft had a dead engine but he glided it back to make a forced landing

On September 11th, during the height of the Battle of Britain, Tuck was posted to command 257 Squadron based at Debden. Leading the Hurricanes into combat on the 15th he shot down a Bf110 and a probable Bf109. On September 23rd he claimed a Bf109, October 4th a Ju88, October 12th a Bf109, October 25th a Bf109 and two more damaged. His last two victories of the Battle were on October 28th where he claimed two “probable” damaged Bf109’s

He received a Bar to his DFC on October 25th

During December he shot down a Do17 on the 12th, a Bf109 on the 19th and a Do17 on the 29th. In January 1941 Tuck was awarded the DSO and continued his “scores” in March with a Do17 on the 2nd and another on the 19th. On April 9th, during the night, he shot down a Ju88 and claimed another on April 27th after he had received a second Bar to his DFC on the 11th. Two more victories followed during night operations on May 11th when he shot down a Ju88 and probably another

Tuck was involved in a dogfight with Bf109’s, on June 21st, where he claimed two and damaged another before he himself was shot down into the Channel. After spending nearly two hours adrift in a dinghy, he was picked up by a barge and taken to Gravesend, Kent.

In July, 1941, he was appointed Wing Leader at Duxford and claimed two victories over Bf109’s, on the 7th and 8th with another Bf109 probably damaged

After a brief trip to America, with several other RAF Fighter Command pilots, he returned to a posting at Biggin Hill as Wing Leader. It was during this posting that saw Tuck’s last aerial combat of the war. On January 28th, 1942, while on a low-level mission over northern France, his Spitfire was hit by enemy flak near Boulogne and he was forced to crash land

He was captured by German troops and spent the next three years in several POW (prisoner of war) camps until he made a successful escape on February 1st 1945. After spending some time fighting alongside the advancing Russian troops as an infantry officer he found his way to the British Embassy in Moscow. He eventually boarded a ship from Russia to Southampton, England

With the war now over, he received his final decoration, a DFC (US Air Force) on June 14th 1946, before he finally retired from the RAF and active service on May 13th 1949 as a Wing Commander.