Saturday, January 26, 2013

Pilot Officer John Livingstone Boyd, DFM - No. 185 Squadron

The Times of Malta June 23, 2011 - Born and raised in Queensland, Tony, as his mother chose to call him, enrolled in the Royal Australian Air Force and after training on Tiger Moths in Australia and Harvards in Canada went to England where, between July and August 1941, he flew Miles Masters with No. 59 Operational Training Unit. He joined No. 135 Squadron, based at Honiley, Warwickshire, flying Hawker Hurricanes Mk.IIa. In October 1941, he volunteered for service in Malta and was transferred to No. 242 Squadron which, together with No. 605, flew 24 Hurricanes off the decks of HMS Ark Royal and HMS Argus to Malta on October 11. On January 22, Mr Boyd scored his first success by heavily damaging a Junkers Ju 88. His log book entries for February 1942 show he flew Hurricanes belonging to Nos. 249, 126, 242, 185 and 605 squadrons. His first “kill”, a Messerschmitt Bf 109G, was confirmed on February 23. In April, he moved to No. 185 Squadron at ─Žal-Far, still flying Hurricanes, even though Spitfires had arrived in Malta in March. On April 20, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal. He shot down a Junkers Ju 88 on May 8, 1942. By that time, Mr Boyd was itching to get his hands on a Spitfire. Operation Bowery brought 64 Spitfires to Malta on May 9 and a few of these were earmarked for highly-skilled Hurricane pilots like Mr Boyd. His log book entry after his first Spitfire flight reads: “It’s excellent at high altitude, a real wizard machine.”In the morning of May 14, 1942 he flew Spitfire Vc BR349, coded 3-C, and shot down a Messerschmitt Bf 109G. Shortly after midday, he took off again to confront a flight of Macchi C.202s. One of the Italian fighters turned onto his tail and he was hit. Mr Boyd’s Spitfire began to slowly spin down and crashed just outside the perimeter of Luqa airfield. The following day, the Australian pilot was due to terminate his Malta tour and return to England for a rest period. Instead, his remains were laid to eternal rest at the Capuchin Military Cemetery in Kalkara.
(Photo: Megan MacDonald and Richard J. Caruana discussing details from Pilot Officer Tony Boyd’s personal flying log book at the Malta Aviation Museum, Ta’ Qali, with the Hawker Hurricane in the background) The Coffs Coast Advocate May 15, 2011 - Pilot in training Megan MacDonald gained incredible insights into her great uncle during filming for the Channel Nine series In Their Footsteps. The mum of three from Gayndah in central Queensland spent two weeks travelling through Australia and Europe to retrace Tony Boyd’s eventful, if short, life. The charismatic RAAF fighter pilot was part of the large-scale air fights in the Siege of Malta, a brutal two-year military campaign during WWII which earned the Mediterranean Island the titled of “the most bombed place on Earth”. Boyd died in action at the age of just 22, but MacDonald learned his extraordinary efforts in the sky were significant. “I don’t want to sound corny, but a lot of men and women made sacrifices and a lot of them lost their lives,” she said. “I’m not saying he won the war on this own, but (it shows) just the difference that one man can make - the morale to his squadron, his flying ability. To be able to pass that on not only to my family and my children but also it’s going on national TV so other people will know his story as well.” Incredibly, Boyd had the same amount of flying hours as his great niece when he was sent off to fight against the Italians and the notorious German Luftwaffe. “I’ve got under 20 hours and he went to war with the same experience,” she said. “You’re still trying to work out holding (the plane) straight and level, let alone flying into combat and being shot at and trying to do tactical manoeuvres. Obviously he was talented, but it’s hard to comprehend.” MacDonald’s trip to Europe included flying in a dual Spitfire plane in England and a Tiger Moth in Malta – two experiences which have further solidified her love of flying. “I’m not yet a solo pilot so to have flown in a Spitfire and taken the controls is, ah, what words do you use to describe that?” Memorable and significant, just like the life of Pilot Officer Tony Boyd.

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