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Robert Francis Thomas Doe
10 March 1920 – 21 February 2010 (aged 89)
Place of birth Reigate, Surrey, England, UK
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Air Force
Ensign of the Indian Air Force.svg Indian Air Force
Years of service 1939 – 1966
Rank Wing Commander
Battles/wars Battle of Britain
Burma Campaign
Awards DSO (India)
DFC* United Kingdom

Wing Commander Robert Francis Thomas "Bob" Doe, DSO (India), DFC & Bar (10 March 1920 – 21 February 2010) was a flying ace of the Royal Air Force during the Battle of Britain in World War II and served with honour with the Indian Air Force during the Burma campaign.

Robert Francis Thomas Doe was born in Reigate, Surrey, on 10 March 1920. After leaving school he started work as an office boy for the News of the World. Doe joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in March 1938 and made his first solo flight on 4 June 1938.

After applying for a short service commission, Doe joined the Royal Air Force in January 1939 (service number 41908).[1] Doe trained with 15 E&RFTS (Elementary & Reserve Flying Training School) at RAF Redhill, Surrey and combat training with 6 Flying Training School at RAF Little Rissington.

Doe was posted on 6 November 1939 to No. 234 Squadron, a Spitfire Squadron at RAF Leconfield alongside Australian Pat Hughes. Doe would serve with No. 234 squadron for most of the Battle of Britain. Doe claimed his first victory on 15 August 1940 when he shot down two Messerschmitt Bf 110s followed by a Messerschmitt Bf 109 and a probable Dornier Do 18 on 16 August, a Bf 109 destroyed and another Bf 109 damaged on 18 August, a share of a Junkers Ju 88 on 21 August and shot down a Bf 109 on 26 August 1940. In September, he added to his tally with No. 234 Squadron with three Bf 109s on 4 September, a Bf 109 on 5 September, damaged three Dornier Do 17s and a Bf 109 shot down on 6 September and destroyed a Heinkel He 111 on 7 September.

On 27 September 1940, Doe was posted to No. 238 Squadron based at RAF Middle Wallop in Wiltshire, claiming his first victory for the squadron on 30 September, shooting down an He 111 aircraft. In October, Doe shot down a Bf 109 on the 1st and a Ju88 on 7 October, the last of his 14 and 2 shared aerial victories of the battle and of the war.

On 10 October, in combat over Warmwell, Dorset at 12:00 with some Bf 109s, his plane was critically damaged and he was wounded in the leg and shoulder. Doe bailed out, landing on Brownsea Island while his Hawker Hurricane crashed near Corfe Castle viaduct on what is now part of the Swanage Railway. Admitted to Poole Hospital on the 22 October 1940, Doe was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and received a Bar a month later on 26 November. Doe rejoined No. 238 Squadron in December 1940.

In January 1941, while flying a night sortie, the oil in the oil cooler of his aircraft froze. As a result of his engine seizing he landed heavily at Warmwell on the snow covered runway, breaking his harness and resultantly smashing his face against the reflector sight, almost severing his nose and breaking his arm. Doe was taken to Park Prewett Hospital where he underwent twenty-two operations by pioneering New Zealand plastic surgeon, Harold Gillies.

On 15 May 1941, he was posted as a Flight Commander to No. 66 Squadron and then joined No. 130 Squadron on 18 August. The series of operations in a two month period and the need to bring through fresh pilots who could be trained by experienced hands effectively meant Doe's career as a front line fighter pilot was over for the time being. On 22 October 1941 Doe was posted to 57 O.T.U. (Operational Training Unit) as an instructor. On 9 June 1943 Doe went to the Fighter Leaders School at RAF Millfield and then joined No. 118 Squadron at RAF Coltishall in July. In August 1943, he joined No. 613 Squadron.

In October 1943, Doe was posted to Burma as the activities on the Western Front changed from defence to attack in preparation for Operation Overlord and the invasion of Normandy; while in the East, the Japanese Army was still advancing on key British Empire assets, including India.

In December 1943 Doe was tasked with forming No. 10 Squadron of the Indian Air Force, commanding it throughout the Burma Campaign until April 1945 when he joined the Indian Army Staff College in Quetta, and then from August the planning staff at Delhi. On 2 October 1945, Doe received the Indian Distinguished Service Order, one of only two men to be honoured with this award.

In September 1946 he returned to the UK and held a number of staff positions and commands before retiring on 1 April 1966 with the rank of Wing Commander.[2]

After retirement he opened a garage business.[3] Bob Doe passed away on 21 February 2010, aged 89.


We do not want to be remembered as heroes, we only ask to be remembered for what we did....that's all.
—W/C Robert "Bob" Doe British 234 & 238 Squadrons Fighter Command[4]
If you believe in yourself and believe in what you are doing then you are twice as strong as if you don't. That is what I believe and I certainly believed in my right to defend my land.
—Wing Commander Bob Doe. RAF pilot (in National Geographic Featurette document of Lord of The Rings The Return of The King film by Peter Jackson).
I wasn't fighting for the King, I was fighting for me Mum — I didn't want them over here.
—Wing Commander Bob Doe BBC Documentary series: Finest Hour

Combat record

Date Service Flying Kills Probables Notes
15 August 1940 Royal Air Force 2 * Messerschmitt Bf 110
16 August 1940 Royal Air Force 1 * Messerschmitt Bf 109 1 * Dornier Do 18
18 August 1940 Royal Air Force 1.5 * Messerschmitt Bf 109
21 August 1940 Royal Air Force 0.5 * Junkers Ju 88
26 August 1940 Royal Air Force 1 * Messerschmitt Bf 109
4 September 1940 Royal Air Force 3 * Messerschmitt Bf 109
5 September 1940 Royal Air Force 1 * Messerschmitt Bf 109
6 September 1940 Royal Air Force 1 * Messerschmitt Bf 109
1.5 * Dornier Do 17
7 September 1940 Royal Air Force 1 * Heinkel He 111
30 September 1940 Royal Air Force 1 * Heinkel He 111
1 October 1940 Royal Air Force 1 * Messerschmitt Bf 109
7 October 1940 Royal Air Force 1 * Junkers Ju 88
TOTALS 14 kills, 2 shared 1 probable, 5 damaged


External links

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