Biggin Hill ground crew John Swan has died aged 95

We were saddened to hear that  ex Biggin Hill ground crew John Swan passed away last month aged 95. Stationed at Biggin Hill from 1943, he serviced aircraft with 611 Squadron alongside his identical twin brother Fred. The job involved cleaning up aircraft and checking they started up correctly. Once they had helped a pilot take off it was a nervous wait to see if they would come back. Station Commander Sailor Malan praised the Biggin Hill ground crew in 1943, ‘The pilots have always received magnificent support from ground personnel, whether their duties have been concerned with the direct servicing of aircraft at dispersals, the dirty and arduous work in the workshops, the supply of equipment for pilots, their clothing, their cooking or their living conditions. You are absolutely vital to the successful continuation and termination of this grim war.’

The ‘Spitfire Twins’ caused a great deal of confusion on the airfield! We were lucky enough to interview John in preparation for the Museum. Here he is talking about his experiences:

 

John and Fred Swan servicing a Spitfire (John is on the left).