RAF hero who fought in ‘forgotten Battle of Britain’ turns 100

He was not technically one of Churchill’s “few”, but Sydney Mould did not want his exploits in the skies over Europe in that summer of 1940 to go unremembered.

Sydney Mould with a picture of one of the Blenheim bombers he used to fly. Picture: Tony Johnson
Sydney Mould with a picture of one of the Blenheim bombers he used to fly. Picture: Tony Johnson

He had just turned 20 and was already an RAF veteran of a year and a half when he was assigned to the Blenheim light bomber crews of 23 Squadron, strafing behind the German line and passing Luftwaffe bombers over the North Sea who were heading in the other direction, to drop their loads on England.

He seldom talked about the war and did not tell his family in East Yorkshire that he had written a memoir of those days. But after some 30 years and in time for his 100th birthday next Tuesday, his son, Andrew, discovered it.

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“It’s a forgotten chapter of the Battle of Britain, he said.

Sydney Mould pictured second from right during his RAF service.

“While our fighter pilots defended our country, it seems we continued to harass the enemy by taking the fight to them. As these were daylight raids, the losses were terrible – dad lost a lot of friends.

“But he and his comrades were not counted among ‘the few’ who won the Battle of Britain. He wasn’t awarded the campaign medal.”

His father said the war had taught him “patience and tolerance” – mostly from having to deal with RAF red tape.

“There was a lot of bull tied up with the Forces,” he told The Yorkshire Post. “I had just got in and settled into a routine when the war broke out. Up until that point you had been treated like gentlemen.

Sydney Mould right on the front row in December 1942 with the Ancillary Rovers football team.

“But I could tolerate it so I enjoyed my time in the service.”

After 1940 he spent four years of the war in North Africa, including at the Siege of Tobruk, and flew more than 140 missions as wireless operator and gunner – mostly in Bristol Blenheims. Pictures of the aircraft decorate the walls of the house in Hornsea he shares with his wife, Brenda.

Mr Mould, who has six children, three stepchildren, 20 grandchildren and 21 great grandchildren, recalls in his memoir that his love of flying began when his uncle Tom took him to an “air circus” display by the pioneer aviator Sir Alan Cobham at the old Hedon Aerodrome. He also writes that his mother was “shattered” when after presenting himself at the RAF recruiting depot in Hull, he received his call-up papers.

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