Wng Cmdr R D Yule 1953
Wing Commander R D Yule DSO DFC
Killed in a Flying accident
11th September 1953 age 33
The son of a dental surgeon, Robert Yule was born in Invercargill on January 29 1920.
In early 1938 he won a scholarship to RAF College, Cranwell, and began the course there in April. The outbreak of war caused the normal syllabus to be shortened and Yule joined 145 Squadron, a newly reformed fighter unit on Blenheims, in September 1939.
In March 1940 the unit received its first Hurricanes and during May its pilots found themselves ferrying Hurricanes to France and assisting the Squadrons there.
Yule took part in 145’s first action of the war on 18 May. On patrol over Brussels twelve He III’s were intercepted in broken cloud. When the German bombers emerged from cover the Hurricanes attacked, Yule shooting one down. Four days later he destroyed a Ju 87.
The squadron flew daily patrols during the evacuation from Dunkirk and Yule claimed a Bf 110 destroyed on 1 June 1940. His next victory was a month later when he shared in the destruction of a Do 17 near Brighton.
During the Battle of Britain Yule destroyed a Ju88 and damaged three more, probably destroyed a Bf 110 and shared in the destruction of two Do 17’s. On October 25 he was himself shot down by Bf 109's in a combat over Kent and was admitted to hospital with leg wounds after making a forced landing which completely wrote off his Hurricane.
He rejoined 145 Squadron in mid-February 1941 but a month later was posted away to be an instructor. Yule helped instruct some American pilots, very much under secrecy because the USA was still neutral.
In early November 1941 he returned to operations with 501 Squadron and remained with the unit for seven months and many operational sorties. He was awarded the DFC in April 1942 and was promoted to Squadron Leader in June to take command of 66 Squadron, (a Spitfire unit).
On 15 July 1942 whilst leading a squadron sweep over the Cherbourg area Yule engaged in combat with two FW 190's. He destroyed one, which exploded and crashed into the sea, and the other was last seen flying inland with its engine smoking. On 19 August he led the squadron twice over Dieppe during the Combined Operations raid.
With his tour completed, Yule was posted to staff duties in mid-November 1942 and awarded a Bar to his DFC. He was promoted to Wing Commander in early August 1943 to lead the Detling Wing. Yule claimed his final victory on 6 January 1944 - another FW 190. After leading the Wing on many operational sorties he was posted away in early March and awarded the DSO.
Yule now went on to planning duties, involving fighter wings of the 2nd Tactical Air Force in the coming invasion. He continued with these duties into 1945 and at war’s end was on a RAF Staff College course.
While rehearsing for the Battle of Britain flypast over London on 11 September 1953, Yule collided with another jet aircraft. Faced with a densely-populated area, Yule steered his aircraft towards Woolwich Arsenal and crash-landed between rows of buildings.
Some workers were injured and Yule was killed. His selfless action undoubtedly saved many lives.