Service number 90334
Born; Thursday August 19th 1915
Died: Thursday November 28th 1940
John was the elder son of Frederick James Dundas and his wife Sylvia Mary March Phillips of Blair Drummond, Perthshire. His father was a Colliery Director and the family lived at Dale Cottage, Cawthorne, Barnsley, Yorkshire in the 1930’s.
At the age of 12, John won a scholarship to Stowe. From there, he won an Exhibition to Oxford, matriculating in 1933. He graduated with First Class Honours in Modern History in 1936. A further award took him on to the Sorbonne and Heidelberg University.
He got a job as a journalist on the Yorkshire Post and was sent to Czechoslovakia at the time of the Munich crisis in 1938. As a specialist in foreign affairs, he reported on the meeting in Rome, between Neville Chamberlain and the Foreign Secretary, Lord Halifax, with Mussolini.
In the summer of 1938 when there was a rapid expansion of the armed forces, he joined the Auxiliary Air Force and was attached to 609 Squadron. When war broke out, he joined the Squadron and was based at Middle Wallop.
John was awarded, posthumously, a bar to the DFC, which he had been awarded in the previous month, for his actions during the Battle of Britain.
His name is on the Runnymede Memorial, Panel 4.
He is commemorated on the Cawthorne War Memorial
With acknowledgement to the Planetalk web forum
90334 Flight Lieutenant John Charles ‘Scruffy / Dogs’ Dundas, DFC and Bar
Born on 19th August 1915, the son of Frederick Dundas and Sylvia Phillips, John Dundas was a Yorkshire native related to Lord Halifax and the Marquis of Zetland (the Zetland fortunes being founded by businessman Sir John Dundas in the 18th century), Dundas was a cousin of Harald Peake, 609’s first Commanding Officer. Known to his friends as ‘Dogs’, aged 12 he won a scholarship to Stowe and a year later had six credits on his school certificate. He followed this by going to Christchurch College, Oxford aged 17, taking a First in Modern Greats which followed from a modern history examination. He then went to France to study at the Sorbonne before finishing his education at Heidelberg. Returning to England, he became a journalist on the Yorkshire Post. Critical of the pre-war Conservative government, in 1938 as a foreign correspondent specialising in European international affairs he travelled to Czechoslovakia during the Munich crisis reporting on the international response, before accompanying Neville Chamberlain and Lord Halifax on a trip to Rome to meet Mussolini.
Dundas joined 609 Squadron at Yeadon in May 1938 under S/Ldr Peake, his younger brother (later Group Captain Hugh ‘Cocky’ Dundas, DSO, DFC) joining 616 Squadron.
On 18th June 1939 Dundas was taking off when the engine cut and the aircraft crashed into the side of a house in Victoria Avenue, Yeadon. Neither Dundas nor his passenger, LAC Hunter (from Harrogate) were injured F/Sgt Cloves recorded: ‘It was left to Plt Off Dundas to provide us with a real pile up….The occasion was the first squadron formation take-off. The aircraft concerned, Hind 6848, happened to be the CO’s aircraft, but that was no deterrent. Human ballast was LAC Hunter. The taking up of position of the twelve aircraft took some considerable time and the old Kestrel Vs were ticking over and wondering if they would be required. The word ‘Go’ came, and bang went the throttles, and the squadron became almost airborne, but the engine in K6848 decided to cut at the crucial moment. P/O Dundas throttled back to nurse the engine, but decided he couldn’t clear the houses in Victoria Avenue so put the aircraft earthwards. It touched down, but was still doing some considerable speed; he applied brakes but owing to the dampness of the aerodrome surface, the wheels skidded and the aircraft carried on unperturbed. It burst through the aerodrome fence, chopped down a windsock, which fell on a boy on a pushbike, and conveniently turned on its nose in the back garden of one of the houses. The aircraft leaned nicely on a well-placed tree and gently rested its rudder on the house roof. A lady occupant of the house had hysterics; she was restored with the aid of brandy. The brandy was passed on to the pilot and passenger who didn’t really require it. It was then handed to some unidentified airman to look after; he did, by drinking the lot. He calmly handed over the empty bottle when the aforementioned lady had further hysterics and quietly vanished. Aircraft complete write-off. Very good photos in the local newspapers. Plt Off Dundas had a short flip at dual in the Hind trainer, then was sent off solo. He cleared the houses this time with plenty to spare.’ The cause was ascertained as being a mechanical defect after a board of inquiry.
His next mishap occurred when ‘Fg Off Dundas in L1084 also making his final landing, made a perfect three pointer - two wheels and airscrew. A truly remarkable feat, only the airscrew being written off. There appeared to be some explanation like ‘I was landing uphill’.
Embodied with the rest of the Squadron in 1939, on the 11th June 1940 John formed part of the nine-strong Spitfire escort that flew with Churchill to France in his ill-fated attempt to convince the French to continue fighting. On 31st May 1940 he shot down a He111 and a Do17 over Dunkirk. On 13th July he destroyed a Bf110 over Portland Bill, claiming another on the 19th, and a third on 11th August, both also over Portland Bill. The following day he destroyed another off the Isle of Wight, and on the 13th destroyed one Ju.87 and damaged a second over Lyme Bay. On the 14th he claimed a Do.17 as Probable and shared in the Destruction of a He.111 over Romsey. On 15th September he shared the Destruction with P/O Tobin of a Do.17Z of 8/KG76 piloted by Feldwebel Heitsch which subsequently crashed at Castle Farm, Shoreham. Feldwebels Sauter, Heitsch and Pfeiffer survived but Feldwebel Schmidt died of his wounds. He destroyed a Bf.109 off the Isle of Wight on the 24th September and damaged another Do.17, and claimed a Bf.110/Do.17 Probable on the 25th off Bournemouth. On 26th September he destroyed a Bf.109 and damaged another off Southampton, and destroyed a Bf.110 off Portland the following day. He claimed another Bf.109 Probable near Warmwell on 7th October. Awarded the DFC, he destroyed another Bf.110 on the 15th.
In early November Dundas became B Flight Commander, and on the 27th claimed a Ju.88 probably destroyed. ‘A Ju.88 was reported by Operations to be going home down the coast. F/Lt J.C. Dundas, DFC on being refused permission to take a Section up to chase it, obtained sanction for practice flying and chased and caught it himself, sending it down (‘Probably Destroyed’) over Cherbourg. The enemy aircraft disappeared in smoke but Dundas did not wait to see it actually crash, being near an aerodrome that was well stocked with Me.109's.’ The following day, 28th November 1940, flying Spitfire X4586 over the Isle of Wight, he destroyed Bf.109 E-4 WNr 5344 from Stab./JG2 Richtofen, but was in turn shot down and killed almost immediately, two miles south of the Isle of Wight at 16:15 hours by his victims wingman, Leutnant Rudi Pflanz. His victim was JG2’s Commander, Major Helmut Wick, who had claimed 56 victories and was the highest scoring Luftwaffe pilot at the time. He had been awarded the Oak Leaves to his Knights Cross during the Battle of Britain, one of only three pilots thus rewarded Wick had just destroyed the Spitfire of P/O Baillon when he was attacked by Dundas and Sergeant Zygmunt Klein of 152 Squadron. ‘Interspersed with all this there were several Scrambles. The last of these was tragic. F/Lt Dundas was heard by the Controller (F/Lt Fieldsend) and by his CO to say over the R/T ‘I've finished an Me.109 - Whooppee!’ to which Robinson was heard to reply ‘Good show, John,’ after which nothing further was heard or seen of Dundas, although Robinson tried persistently to speak to him over the R/T.’ Both were shot down and killed moments later. Wick baled out just south of the Isle of Wight into the Channel, but his body was never recovered.
Dundas is credited with 13½ enemy aircraft Destroyed, and 4 Probably Destroyed.
Dundas, the last of the original Auxiliary Officers from 609, was described by S/Ldr Robinson as ‘an excellent pilot, if a little overconfident, and had to be watched’, the Squadron diary recording: ‘His courageous example and breezy personality are sorely missed.’ It also records that from 31st May to 28th November 1940, Dundas had accounted for 6 Me.110's; 2 Me.109's; 2 He.111's; 1 Ju.87; 1 Do.17; 1 Do.17Z; ½ Ju.88, Destroyed, total 13½; 2 Me.110's, 1 He.111; 1 Ju.87; 1 Do.17 and 2 Do.17Z Damaged, total. 2 Me.110's, 1 Do.17 and 1 Ju.88, Probable, total 4. A grand total of 24½ in all.
He was posthumously awarded the Bar to the DFC.
He is remembered on Panel 4 of the Runnymede Memorial
From the Operations Records Book
28th. This was a very full and on the whole a sad day for the Squadron. During the morning the CO had arranged for a visit of Staff Officers and 150 Cadets from R.MC, Camberley, and the morning and afternoon were devoted to tours of the aerodrome, Dispersal point, and Middle Wallop Station, followed by Rugby, Soccer and Hockey matches, during which time packing up was in progress for a move to Warmwell which had been notified only the previous evening. Interspersed with all this there were several Scrambles. The last of these was tragic. F/Lt Dundas was heard by the Controller (F/Lt Fieldsend) and by his CO to say over the R/T "I've finished an Me.109 - Whooppee!” to which Robinson was heard to reply "Good show, John," after which nothing further was heard or seen of Dundas, although Robinson tried persistently to speak to him over the R/T. P/O Baillon also failed to return. There were no other claims or casualties except to Zurakowski's machine, which had a shell hole through the port mainplane. No. 152 Squadron was also engaged at the same time and place, and it is considered possible that either one of their pilots, Sgt Klein (Poland) or Dundas may have been responsible for bringing down the German Ace - Major Wick who was reported in the German press to have been Killed in Action at the time off the Isle of Wight and that his friend had immediately disposed of the British pilot who brought down Major Wick’s Messerschmitt. On the other hand there is much "Wishful thinking" that Dundas may have gone in for another cross-channel Hun-hunt and landed safely on the wrong side of the water, but so far there has been no evidence to support this hope.
F/Lt John Charles Dundas the last of the "A" Officers to leave the Squadron, joined it at Yeadon in May 1938, and was one of the more brilliant of the younger journalists of the "Yorkshire Post,” and specialised in European international affairs after taking a First in Modern Greats which followed from a modern history examination at Ch.Ch., Oxford, from Stowe. From 31st May to 28th November, 1940, he accounted for the following E/A: 6 Me.110's; 2 Me.109's; 2 He.111's; 1 Ju.87; 1 Do.17; 1 Do.17Z; ½ Ju.88, Total 13½ E/A Destroyed; 2 Me.110's, 1 He.111; 1 Ju.87; 1 Do.17 and 2 Do.17Z: Total 7 E/A Damaged. 2 Me.110's, 1 Do.17 and 1 Ju.88, Total 4 E/A Probable. Grand Total 24½ D/A all in.
His courageous example and breezy personality are sorely missed
From Tich Cloves Diary
28th Nov. News had been received during the night that the squadron would move to Warmwell the following day. In between packing up our equipment, the squadron was kept scrambling all day. Add to this 150 Sandhurst cadets being shown how why and wherefore, a slight idea of the near chaos everybody got into can be imagined. The last scramble added to our troubles, the squadron getting mixed up with a hell of a lot of ME109’s. Flt Lt Dundas X4586 was seen to destroy an ME109 and was seen no more; Plt Off Baillon R6631 also failed to return. Plt Off Ogilvie X4590 arrived back with a shell hole through the rear of the fuselage and tail plane. Plt Off Zurakowski X4165 had a shell hole through his port mainplane. Which left us with the bare 12 aircraft with which to move to Warmwell.