Last year I was contacted by Sue Pengelly from Devon who is the daughter of Flying Officer James Christopher Minto (deceased) who served with 611 at Drem, Kenley, Redhill, Martlesham Heath and Biggin Hill from May 1942 until May 1943. Sue kindly allowed me to copy the photos and his log book.
He was born in Quetta, India in 1922, but lived in Roche near St Austell, Cornwall. He enlisted into the RAFVR in February 1941. He trained at No 17 EFTS at Peterborough, moving to No 9 Service Flying Training School at Hullavington, Wilts and converted onto the Spitfire at No 57 Operational Training Unit at Hawarden, Flints. His first flight with 611 was at Drem on 26 May 1942 undertaking formation practice, leading onto to dog fight practice, local flying and fighter tactics. The Squadron moved to Kenley, Kent in June and his first operational flight was on 5 June when 611 formed part of the Biggin Hill Wing and took part in the biggest Wing sweep of the war so far doing a Sector Reconnaissance and diversion over Abbeville, Le Croyto and St Valery at 20,000 ft. A total of 120 Spitfires; two enemy aircraft were shot down but not by 611. In his time with 611 he flew 195 hours and noted that 21 pilots from 611 Sqn were killed in action and three survived baling out. During his time with 611 he kept a superb photo collection, unfortunately not started until the Squadron was at Redhill but covered the period at Redhill (1 Aug 1942 - 25 Sept 1942) and Biggin Hill (25 Sept 1942 - 1 July 1943). Fortunately he also carefully noted who was who and where and when on the back of each photo. After leaving 611 Sqn he moved to Italy where he served with 145 Squadron, returned to the UK in 1944 to convert to Mustangs at Rednal, Shropshire after which he joined No 65 Sqn as a flight commander at Peterhead, Scotland and later Andrews Field, Essex. He moved to No 234 Sqn at Dyce flying Mustangs again moving to Bentwaters, Hawkinge and back to Bentwaters. In 1946 he converted to Meteors at No 1335 Conversion Unit at Molesworth and then operationally with No 234 Sqn at Bentwaters, Molesworth and Boxted. He was discharged from the RAF in 1946.
During his time with 611 he claimed two FW 190 damaged and his total score was 2 destroyed, 1 probable and 3 damaged. He was awarded the DFC whilst with No 65 Sqn and ended his career as a Flight Lieutenant.
Here are a selection of his photographs.