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Flight Lieutenant Charles Palliser D.F.C.

Flight Lieutenant Charles Palliser D.F.C.

Born: January 11th 1919. West Hartlepool, England. Died: September 24th 2011. Melbourne, Australia. Age 92

Fl/Lt. “Charlie” Palliser shot down four enemy aircraft and shared in the destruction of seven others while flying Hurricanes during the Battle of Britain and, a year later, over Malta.
Palliser was a sergeant pilot when he joined No 249 Squadron on September 14 1940. The following day, which saw the fiercest fighting during the Battle of Britain, he shared in the destruction of a Dornier bomber south of London.

After a brief lull in the fighting, he was in action again on September 27, when he engaged a large force of Messerschmitt Bf 110 fighters south of Redhill.

He pursued a single aircraft and fired two bursts from his machine guns.

The enemy aircraft caught fire and dived into the sea.

Palliser then returned to the main fight and a second Bf 110 fell to his guns.

He damaged a third but ran out of ammunition.

On October 21 he damaged a Dornier bomber, but six days later had a narrow escape.

As he was taking off, the airfield at North Weald came under attack by bombers, and debris hit his aircraft, damaging the propeller.

With the Hurricane shaking violently, he managed to circle the airfield and land.

No 249 was scrambled during the late morning of November 7 to intercept bombers attacking a convoy in the Thames Estuary.

Palliser engaged the fighter escort and shot down a Bf 109.

A few days later his Hurricane was damaged during a dog fight; it quickly leaked fuel, but he managed to crash land in a field in Kent.

During the early part of 1941 Palliser shared in the destruction of two Bf 109s as the squadron went on the offensive, with patrols over northern France.

Shortly afterwards he was commissioned and the squadron was taken out of the front line to prepare for overseas service.

George Charles Calder Palliser (known as Charles) – educated at Brougham School before studying Mechanical Engineering at technical college.

He joined the RAFVR in June 1939 to train as a pilot and was called up on the outbreak of war.

In May 1941, No 249 Squadron left for Gibraltar, where it embarked on the aircraft carrier Ark Royal.

On May 21, 23 Hurricanes took off from the carrier and headed for Malta, some 500 miles away, arriving with their fuel almost exhausted.

Palliser was soon in action, and during early June shared in the destruction of two Italian bombers and a fighter.

In September the squadron received new Hurricanes, and for a few nights went on the offensive, Palliser bombing and strafing Comiso airfield in Sicily.

A few nights later he bombed the railway at Gela.

On December 19 the Luftwaffe made its long-expected appearance over Malta.

During an attack on Grand Harbour by Junker 88 bombers, Palliser attacked one of the enemy head on, shooting off a wing and watching the bomber dive into the sea.

Two days later he shared in the destruction of two more.

At the end of January, Palliser was awarded a DFC.

A month later he left Malta to be a flying instructor in South Africa, where he met his future wife .

After the war he was a flight commander at the Central Flying School, and in October 1946 he went to the RAF training unit in Southern Rhodesia.

A year later he retired from the RAF and received the Air Efficiency Award.

Palliser settled in South Africa, where he worked as a design draughtsman.

He joined Vickers Hydraulic Division, which represented the Sperry Rand Corporation, rising to managing director.

In 1967 he became chairman of Sperry Rand South Africa, and in 1974 was transferred to Australia as managing director of the Far East division.

He retired in 1984, and remained in Melbourne for the rest of his life.

A keen golfer, he was also active in his local bowls club .

Charles Palliser married, in 1943, Ruth Smith, she died in 2005, and he is survived by their daughter.


Reprinted with the kind permission of the Daily Telegraph obituaries column.
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Article prepared by Barry Howard.

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 • Last Modified: 01 January 2014, 00:00