Pips war

Chris & Phil Piper are researching and writing about their father’s (Flt Lt ‘Pip’ Piper) wartime experience flying Spitfire Mk VIII’s with 273 Squadron in India and Burma over the period July 1944-August 1945.  They are basing their research on a number of sources including Pip’s logbook; some memoires written by him in the 1980’s; the Operational Record Books (ORBs) of the squadron from May 1944-August 1945; and, perhaps most unusual of all, an 89 page ‘Squadron Secret Diary (SSD)’ which was covertly written up by squadron members.

273 was an RAF squadron, but included many nationalities – as well as British pilots, there were also those from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, and also (right at the end of the war) Burma.  The squadron operated out of a number of airstrips across British India (Chittagong, Cox’s Bazaar), and well as Burma itself (Maunghnama, Ramree Island, and then Mingaladon, just outside of Rangoon).  The squadron’s main role was supporting elements of the British XIV Army as it battled down the coastal Arakan region.  The title of the book is ‘Pip’s War & the Forgotten Exploits of a Burma Spitfire Squadron’.

The squadron was disbanded in 1946, but in order to preserve its memory, a 50 year campaign commenced, waged primarily by Jane Pelling, one of the pilot’s sister, to have the squadron shield or crest officially recognised.  Squadron members had submitted their own design to the Air Ministry at the end of the 1944, this being based around a black widow spider, superimposed on a Burmese fylfot.  The latter looks remarkably like a swastika, and the suggested design, perhaps understandably, was rejected by the powers to be.  In 1996, this decision was eventually reversed after it had been debated in the House of Lords. The shield now proudly is embedded next to No. 1 squadron’s crest in the floor at St Clement Danes Church in the Strand.  The black widow remains, but the fylfot was removed….

Enclosed below are the links to a number of key documents:

An overview of 273 squadron’s wartime campaign.

Download

A summary of Pip’s logbook over the period May 1944-August 1945

Download

A summary of the key pilots names and other squadron characters mentioned in the ORBs & SSD

Download

A summary of squadron characters; other RAF and Royal Indian Air Force (RIAF) squadrons, as well as Allied and Japanese aircraft, mentioned

Download

The squadron crest (including the fylfot !)

Download

Finally we’re including a Review of a 2016 publication entitled ‘Air Battle for Burma:  Allied Pilot’s Fight for Supremacy’ by the Australian author, Bryn Evans. This review, written by Chris in early 2017, was commissioned by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in Victoria, Australia. Please contact the author at bryn.evans@ozemail.com if you’d like a signed first edition copy of this book.

Download