DSO, DFC (May 28th
1914 - December 11th 1996)
Wilfred Duncan-Smith was born on May 28th 1914 at Madras
in India where his father was serving in the British Army.
He was educated at Nairn and Morrisons Academy, Crieff, Scotland
before returning to India in 1933 to manage a tea plantation.
Duncan-Smith returned to Britain in 1936 and, after qualifying
as a mechanical engineer, became a salesman for Great Western
Motors in Reading. With war looking imminent Duncan-Smith
joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer reserve. In October 1940
Duncan-Smithy was posted to the Spitfire equipped 611 Squadron
and immediately demonstrated his mettle and aggression. During
the early part of 1941 611 squadron was flying offensive sweeps
over France from RAF Hornchurch.
In August 1941 Duncan-Smith was posted as a flight Commander
to 603 Squadron but was soon off active duty due to an attack
of Pneumonia. In January 1942 Duncan-Smith returned to active
service, once again joining the already famous “Hornchurch
Wing” which had recently been re-equipped with the Spitfire
IX. On August 19th 1942, Duncan-Smith was shot down over the
ill fated Dieppe landing and had to be rescued from the channel.
Shortly after this Duncan-Smith was promoted to Wing Commander
and spent much of the winter as an instructor at fighter Command’s
School of Tactics.
In 1943 Duncan-Smith accepted the command of a fighter Wing
based on Malta just in time to cover the Allied landings on
Sicily. Duncan-Smith went on to command the 244th Wing before
being promoted to Group Captain as commander of the 324th
Wing covering the advance through Italy and the liberation
of Southern France.
After the Second World War, Duncan-Smith took a permanent
commission in the RAF and served in a variety of posts in
the Far East. In 1950, during the Malayan emergency, he became
the last RAF pilot to fly an operational sortie in a Spitfire.
After a series of staff appointments Duncan-Smith retired
from the RAF in 1960 to take up a post with Triplex safety
glass with whom he was involved in the Concorde project. Duncan-Smith
retired in 1973 and wrote his memoirs of flying during World
War II “Spitfire into Battle” in 1981. He died
on December 11th 1996. His son Iain Duncan-Smith went on to
be leader of the Consevative Party.
Bishop. E. 2002. The Daily Telegraph Book of Airmen’s