John Dundas joined squadron 609 in the summer of 1938 during a period
of rapid expansion of all the armed forces.
He was academically gifted,
starting with a scholarship to Stowe at the age of 12 followed a year later
with six credits on his school certificate. A further scholarship was won
at the age of 17 to Christchurch, Oxford , culminating in a first in modern
history. Aftr this breathtaking achievement, he won an award which took
him to the Sorbonne and Heidelberg universities.
John was an aristrocrat, intellectual, athelete, humourist and a
journalist on the staff on the Yorkshire Post. He was sent to Czechoslovakia
at the time of the Munich crisis in 1938 to report on the international
response, as he was regarded as a specialist in foreign affairs. Later
he accompanied the then Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and Lord Halifax,
the Foreign Minister of State, to Rome to meet Premiere Benito Mussolini.
Squadron Leader Michael Lister-Robinson spoke of John Dundas as "an
excellent pilot, if a little overconfident, and had to be watched". On
27th of November 1940, a report came through to squadron operations that
a Ju88 was returning to France, crossing the coast not far from Middle
Wallop, where the squadron was based. John immediately asked permission
to chase it but was refused. He then asked if he could lead a training
flight and permission was agreed. As soon as he was airborne, he peeled
off the formation and headed straight for the coast at full boost. He managed
to catch up with the Ju88 over the Cherbourg peninsula and finished it
off. Alone and almost directly above an airfield well stocked with Me109's,
he hightailed it back home. The following day his escapades ended when
he lost his life. As befitted his life, his departure was observed by a
chorus of staff officers and cadets from Sandhurst. The Squadron diary
records: "Flight Lieutenant Dundas was heard by the Controller (Flight Lieutenant
Fieldsend) and by his CO to say over the RT "Whoopee! I've got a 109" to
which Robinson was heard to reply "Good show, John" - after which nothing
more was seen or heard of Dundas although Robinson tried persistently to
talk to him"
Later that day, it is reported that the Luftwaffe High Command appealed
to the Air Ministry for infomation about the fate of one of their top three
fighter commanders, a Major Helmut Wick. It was soon established that Major
Wick was flying the Me109 which had been shot down by Flt Lt Dundas, soon
after which the German no2 and no3 destroyed Johns' aircraft, and also
shot down his wingman, Plt Off Baillon. Major Helmut Wick, who had claimed
the second highest German total (after Adolf Galland) of 56 victories,
was John Dundas' thirteenth victim, and he was posthumously awarded a bar
to the DFC already won the previous month.