129 squadron reformed on the 16th of June 1941. Desmond arrived to join it at Leconfield near Hull in Yorkshire on the 26th July 1941 along with Canadians Norm Peat, Ray Sherk and “Jimmy” Whalen who had known each other since they had met and trained together on the same O.T.U.
During his advanced flying training while out flying solo in a Harvard trainer,
Jimmy decided to fly low underneath the Ottawa-
On 3rd August Desmond flew a solo flying exercise. Leconfield lies almost on a straight
line running east-
On August 10th, Desmond practiced feint attacks with a camera gun and that afternoon went up to practice dogfighting skills with Jimmy Whalen. These exercises, included ‘tailchasing’ manoeuvres whereby the No.2 has to hang on to the tail of his leader (No.1) who tries all sorts of rolls, loops and turns to try and shake his opponent off. Jimmy’s skills and confidence with the Spitfire impressed Desmond who wrote “he takes some holding and often I can’t”. 129 squadron became fully operational on the 21st August 1941. A week later, the squadron received orders to move to Westhampnett (Goodwood) a satellite airfield of Tangmere near the Sussex coast. However, on the 27th of August, Desmond was posted to 54 squadron, based at Hornchurch in Essex.
August 1941, RAF Leconfield. Three of 129 Squadron’s pilots pose for the camera with
a Spitfire Mk 1A. Left-