Wing Commander William Gordon Oldbury DFC


Group Captain William Oldbury


Name: William Gordon Oldbury
Service No. 37708 RAFO
Born: 01.05.1912
Retired: 16.03.1962
Distinguished Flying Cross as per LG 11.02.1944
Awarded a Mention in Dispatches (as A/W/Cdr) as per LG 1/1/46
Awarded OBE as per LG 1/6/53
Citations :
None Found
Promotions (Pre-war- war-time)
Acting Pilot Officer on probation 30.03.1936
Confirmed Rank  Pilot Officer 27.01.1937
Flying Officer 27.07.1938
Flight Lieutenant 27.07.1940
Temporary Squadron Leader 01.091941
Transferred to Reserve and called up 27.01.1942
Squadron Leader 05.1.1942
Temporary Wing Commander 01.07.1943
Promotions (Post War)
Appointed to Commission as Squadron Leader permanent 09.06.1947 Sen. 01.01.1941
Wing Commander 01.11.1947.  Sen. 01.10.46
Group Captain 01.01.1955
Known Posting  (pre-war and war-time)
Artwork Reserve Training School, Perth. 27.01.1936
No.2 FTS “D” Flight  08.05.936
No.2 ATS “A” Flight 12.09.1936
No.38 (Bomber) Squadron 10.01.1937
No.39 Squadron of Navigation, RAF Manston 24.03.1938
No.6 FTS 01.06.1938
I have not been able to locate any information on Oldbury’s career between these dates.
No.1651 Conversion Unit July 1943
No.620 Squadron (S/Ldr) 09.07.1943 (flight commander)
No.218 Squadron (W/Cdr) 27.07.1943

HQ Bomber Command 09.03.1944
No.13 Intermediate Course of the Army Staff College, Camberley March 1944
 Operations flown ;

No.620 Squadron
Aircraft Short Stirling Mk.III
Base  RAF Chedburgh
Date Serial Code Target Comments
24.07.1943 BK801 QS-X Hamburg 2nd pilot to P/O G MacDonald
Operation Gamorra 
25.07.1943 BK690 QS-E Nectarines I (mining) Duty carried out 
No.218 (Gold Coast) Squadron 
Aircraft Short Stirling Mk.III
Base RAF Downham Market
Date Serial Code Target Comments
06.08.1943 BF522 HA-N Deodars (Mining) Duty carried out (W/O Deans 2nd pilot)
10.08.1943 BF452 HA-O Nuremburg Duty carried out
12.08.1943 BF522 HA-N Turin Duty carried out
17.08.1943 BF522 HA-N Peenemunde Duty Not Carried Out (R/T u/s)
08.09.1943 EJ104 HA-G Boulogne Duty carried out (G/Cpt H H Downs)
16.09.1943 EH923 HA-E Modane Duty carried out
23.09.1943 EF124 HA-K Mannheim Duty carried out
04.11.1943 EF504 HA-P Krauts (Mining) Duty carried out (G/Cpt E Vintress)
Attacked by Night Fighter

Wing Commander Oldbury 2nd right seated with from L-R
Squadron Leader Prior – squadron adjutant – Squadron Leader Ryall

It would appear that Gordon Oldbury had a point to prove when he assumed command of the squadron vice W/Cdr Don Saville DFC. Four operations in less than 10 days was for a squadron commander almost unheard of, nevertheless it was in  Gordon Oldbury’s character to make his own mark on the squadron given the shock at losing W/Cdr Saville. On his posting from No.620 Squadron based at RAF Chedburgh he was accompanied by Squadron Leader Frederick Austin who like Oldbury was pre-war trained. Frederick Austin had cut his teeth with No.149 (East India) Squadron between April – June 1943 before assuming flight commander duties with No.620 Squadron. His stay was short-lived as he was posted along with W/Cdr Oldbury to No.218 Squadron to assume command of the Squadron’s “C” Flight. Within little over a month Squadron Leader Austin would help form a new squadron, the nucleus of which was formed from “C” Flight. This new squadron was No.623 Squadron. He completed his tour and was awarded a well-deserved DFC.

There is little doubt that Wing Commander Oldbury took command of a squadron brimming with experience but still shocked by the loss of Wing Commander Saville DSO DFC.  This was the legacy of Don Saville, Gordon Oldbury like his predecessor lead from the front and by example, it was needed. Gordon was ably assisted in his new role by his flight commanders all highly regarded and equally liked and respected.


Two Telegrams received on announcement of W/Cdr Oldbury’s DFC.
Top : via Group Captain H H Downs Station Commander RAF Downham Market.
Lower: Unknown but “Have ordered extra barrel” says it all!!

There is some confusion regarding Wing Commander Oldbury during the winter of 1943/44. For the best part of two months all squadron documents are signed by Squadron Leader Ian Ryall “B” Flight commander. In January 1944 the squadron ORB records that “the present commanding officer was discharged from hospital on 30.01.1944”.  From this I can only deduce that they are referring to Wing Commander Oldbury.

  If you can supply any additional information please contact me, thank you.