James Harry “Ginger” Lacey, DFM & Bar

Posted in 501 Squadron RAF, air shows, Battle Of Britain, Battle of Britain pilots, Hawker Hurricane, Hawker Restorations, historic aviation, Hurricane V7479, World War Two on June 25th, 2017

James Harry “Ginger” Lacey, DFM & Bar

One of the most successful pilots of WW2 and a pilot on 501 Squadron was the highly acclaimed Ginger Lacey.

Flying throughout the Battle of Britain with No. 501 based at Gravesend or Croydon, Lacey became one of the highest scoring pilots of the battle. His first kill of the battle was on 20 July 1940, when he shot down a Bf 109E of Jagdgeschwader 27. He then claimed a destroyed Ju 87 and a “probable” Ju 87 on 12 August along with a damaged Bf 110 and damaged Do 17 on 15 August, a probable Bf 109 on 16 August. He destroyed a Ju 88, damaged a Dornier Do 17 on 24 August and shot down a Bf 109 of Jagdgeschwader 3 on 29 August. He bailed out unharmed after being hit by return fire from a Heinkel He 111 on 13 August.

On 23 August 1940, Lacey was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal after the destruction of 6 enemy aircraft.[7]

On 30 August 1940, during combat over the Thames Estuary, Lacey shot down a He 111 and damaged a Bf 110 before his Hurricane was badly hit from enemy fire. His engine stopped and he decided to glide the stricken aircraft back to the airfield at Gravesend instead of bailing out into the Estuary.

A highly successful August was completed when he destroyed a Bf 109 on 31 August.

On 2 September 1940, Lacey shot down two Bf 109s and damaged a Do 17. He then shot down another two Bf 109s on 5 September. During a heavy raid on 13 September, he engaged a formation of Kampfgeschwader 55 He 111s over London where he shot down one of the bombers that had just bombed Buckingham Palace. He then bailed out of his aircraft, sustaining slight injuries, as he could not find his airfield in the worsening visibility.

Returning to the action shortly thereafter, he shot down a He 111, three Bf 109s and damaged another on 15 September 1940, one of the heaviest days of fighting during the whole battle, which later became known as “Battle of Britain Day”. During the battle he attacked a formation of 12 Bf 109s, shooting down two before the other had noticed before escaping into cloud[8]

Two days later on 17 September, he was shot down over Ashford, Kent during a dogfight with Bf 109s and bailed out without injury. On 27 September, he destroyed a Bf 109 and damaged a Junkers Ju 88 on 30 September. During October he claimed a probable Bf 109 on 7 October, shot down a Bf 109 on 12 October, another on 26 October and on 30 October, he destroyed a Bf 109 before damaging another.

During the Battle of France and the Battle of Britain, Lacey had been shot down or forced to land due to combat no less than nine times.

On 26 November 1940, with 23 claims (18 made during the Battle of Britain) Lacey received a Bar to his Distinguished Flying Medal for his continued outstanding courage and bravery during the Battle of Britain. The citation in the London Gazette read:

James Harry “Ginger” Lacey, DFM & Bar

740042 Sergeant James Harry LACEY, D.F.M., Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No. 501 Squadron.

Sergeant Lacey has shown consistent efficiency and great courage. He has led his section on many occasions and his splendid qualities as a fighter pilot have enabled him to destroy at least 19 enemy aircraft.

 

Ginger Lacey sat in a Spitfire – He flew Hurricanes in 501 Squadron