Wing Commander Arthur Gill – British Dive Bomber Ace

Wing Commander Arthur Gill

From Instructor to Bomber Ace: The Rise of Arthur Gill, RAF Dive Bomber Pilot

While British RAF personnel are more renowned for their fighter pilot or bomber crew roles, Wing Commander Arthur Gill defied expectations. He became arguably Britain’s best dive bomber pilot of WWII, though his achievements remain largely unknown.

Early Life and Wartime Service

Born in 1916, Gill joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve in 1937. After training, he served as an instructor in South Africa before deploying to the Middle East. He then joined 84 Squadron, flying Bristol Blenheim bombers against enemy forces in North Africa.

A Survivor’s Story: From the Middle East to the Far East

Following the Japanese attacks on Southeast Asia, Gill’s squadron was rushed to the region. He witnessed the fall of Singapore and the devastation in Sumatra, where his aircraft was wrecked. Despite the chaos, Gill displayed exceptional leadership, coordinating equipment destruction and the evacuation of ground personnel. He was the sole surviving officer from 84 Squadron to reach India.

Rebuilding and Leading the Charge in Burma

After a period of reorganisation, Gill’s unit transitioned to the American-built Vultee Vengence dive bomber. He impressed high-ranking officials with his skills and led the squadron’s first Burma operation in 1944. Gill’s exceptional accuracy and daring attacks, often just yards ahead of Allied troops, proved invaluable in supporting ground forces throughout the Burma campaign.


A Legacy of Valour and Leadership

Over 100 sorties later, Gill received numerous commendations from army commanders and his superiors. He played a pivotal role in disrupting enemy supply lines and bolstering Allied efforts. Though disappointed by the limited recognition for his squadron, particularly the ground crew, Gill continued his exemplary service after the war.

A Life of Dedication and Recognition

Gill remained in the RAF for over 34 years, receiving the OBE for his work and retiring in 1971. Widely admired by his colleagues, he even enjoyed a surprise visit from his current squadron on his 100th birthday in 2016.

Wing Commander Arthur Gill: A Hero Remembered

Wing Commander Arthur Gill’s story exemplifies courage, leadership and unwavering dedication. His remarkable wartime service, particularly in Burma, deserves recognition as a testament to the lesser-known heroes of the RAF.

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