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RM Fighter Ace - Battle of Britain Pilot - Ronald Cuthbert Hay

Ronald Cuthbert Hay, DSO, DSC & Bar (4 October 1916 – 22 November 2001) was a British naval aviator and the only Royal Marine fighter ace.

Born in Perth, he joined the Royal Marines in 1935 and then served as an aviator with the Fleet Air Arm. In 1940 he joined 801 Naval Air Squadron flying the two seater Blackburn Skua on HMS Ark Royal for the Norwegian Campaign, claiming his first victory on his first operational flight which he later described in detail:

'We ran into a Heinkel He 111 bomber, Lieutenant Bill Church attacked from astern and the bomber dived to sea level. They exchanged fire, and when Bill pulled upwards to break off the attack, his aircraft was struck in the belly and crashed into the sea without any survivors. I had learned my first lesson in air fighting with a vengeance-never break away upwards. I therefore sat on the tail of the bomber and fired short bursts until it crashed into the sea'

He took part in operations covering the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from the Dunkirk beaches.

Hay was next transferred to the Fairey Fulmar equipped 808 Naval Air Squadron based at Wick, West Sussex. The squadron was one of only two Fleet Air Arm fighter squadrons that fought in the Battle of Britain under RAF Fighter Command control.

In 1944 Hay became wing leader of the 47th Naval Fighter Wing flying the Vought F4U Corsair aboard HMS Victorious in the Far East. He led the wing during many of the major British air attacks on the Japanese in Sumatra. By the end of the war he had claimed 4 aircraft destroyed solo and 9 shared destroyed.

Print by Philippe Mehard available here

After the war he transferred to the Royal Navy, reaching the rank of commander before retiring in 1966. Hay later worked in the Mediterranean for 12 years chartering boats and spent time renovating an old mill at Amesbury, near Stonehenge. He appeared in several television documentaries about the Second World War.

Distinguished Service Order DSO 01.05.1945 Operation Meridian [investiture 20.05.47] Distinguished Service Cross DSC 25.11.1941 Operations Style & Substance [investiture 14.04.42] Distinguished Service Cross DSC 31.07.1945 Operation Iceberg [investiture 20.05.47] RM

RM a Geo History



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