Air Vice-Marshal Robert Deacon-Elliott OBE, CB, DFC

Born Church Brampton, Northampton, England, he originally planned to become an accountant. He joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR) in 1938 and trained as pilot in his spare time. By 1939 he had completed his training and with the outbreak of war he was called up, commissioned and posted to 72 Squadron. He later rose through the ranks from Flight Lieutenant to Squadron Leader upwards to Wing Commander and eventually to Air Vice-Marshal. During the Battle of Britain he was shot down by a Messerschmitt 109, baled out and returned to action the same day, evening the score by downing a 109. During the four most critical days of the Battle of Britain he shot down at least one enemy aircraft a day.

On 15th August 1940 he and 10 colleagues intercepted a raid crossing the coast between Acklington and Blyth of around 100 enemy aircraft. Seven attacked the He 111 bombers whilst the other four attacked the escorting Me 110 fighters. [links here to the relevant part of timeline for 15th August 1940 – 12.45]. Flying at 20,000ft his oxygen supply failed, he passed out and his Spitfire, now housed in the Science Museum, went into a nose-dive. He came around at 1000ft, too low to bale out but managed to the pull the Spitfire out of the dive and land it back at RAF Acklington where his squadron was based. The Spitfire was written off but the Deac was still going.

At the end of August 1940 he went with 72 Squadron to reinforce 11 Group after the battering it had taken from Goering’s Eagle Offensive.

In 1941, when Fighter Command took the offensive, Deacon-Elliott took part in fighter sweeps across the Channel and into France after which he was rested for a while at Fighter Command HQ.

In October 1942 he joined 84 Group as part of 2nd Tactical Air Force to help prepare the group to support the Allied invasion of Normandy and the Allied advance through north-west Europe.

He flew fighters in Cyprus, stationed as Officer Commanding at RAF Nicosia, and during the 1950s he climbed the ranks with a spell at Army Staff College as directing member of staff, followed by station commands at Leconfield and Driffield.

Having been posted as an exchange to Air University of the United States Air Force at Maxwell Air Force Base he returned home in 1942 as 1st Commandant of the Officers and Aircrew Selection Centre at Biggin Hill.

He was Air Officer Commanding RAF Gibraltar and RAF Malta as well as Deputy Commander-in-Chief (Air) Allied Forces Mediterranean after which he became Acting Air Vice-Marshal on 21st November 1966.

Deacon-Elliott retired in 1968.

Air Vice-Marshal Robert Deacon-Elliott died on 5th June 1997.

Awards and Honours

Mentioned in Despatches – 24 September 1941

Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) – 17 October 1941

Mentioned in Despatches – 1st January 1946

Order of the British Empire (OBE) – 10th June 1954

Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) –  1st January 1967