Item description for STAPME: The Biography of Squadron Leader Basil Gerald Stapleton DFC, Dutch Flying Cross by David M. S. Ross...
Gerald Stapleton was born in Durban, South Africa in 1920. In January 1939 he took up a short service commission in the RAF and eventually joined 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron in December 1939, prior to becoming one of the outstanding fighter pilots of the Battle of Britain, accounting for nearly twenty enemy aircraft destroyed, probably destroyed or damaged. Indeed all his scores were achieved on Spitfires during this Battle and he was revered as one of Richard Hillary's contemporaries in whose book The Last Enemy, he features.
Nicknamed 'Stapme' after a phrase used in his favourite cartoon 'Just Jake', in February 1942 he became flight commander of 257 Squadron, then joined 2 ADF at Colerne the following year before becoming a gunnery instructor at RAF Kenley and Central Gunnery School, Catfoss. He returned to ops in August 1944 to command 247 Squadron on Typhoons. He received the Dutch Flying Cross for his part in the Arnhem operations. Forced to land inside German lines in December 1944, he spent the rest of the war in Stalag Luft I on the Baltic coast. Postwar he joined BOAC, then returned to South Africa but has now retired to England where he is a very popular figure at numerous air shows during the year.
Without doubt he was one of the real 'characters' to survive the war and to many the quintessential image of a Battle of Britain fighter pilot. Stapme tells his full story, warts and all, to historian David Ross, whose first book Richard Hillary received acclaim. The book is further augmented by hitherto unpublished photographs, from both the author's and Stapme's collection and a jacket painting by Nicolas Trudgian.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.75" Width: 6.5" Height: 9.75" Weight: 1.2 lbs.
Publisher Grub Street
ISBN 1902304985 ISBN13 9781902304984
Availability 0 units.
More About David M. S. Ross
David Ross is a freelance journalist, writing for, among others, the Daily Express, New Scientist, The Guardian, and Private Eye.
Reviews - What do customers think about STAPME: The Biography of Squadron Leader Basil Gerald Stapleton DFC, Dutch Flying Cross?
The Immortal Image Of The Battle Of Britain Fighter Pilot Apr 3, 2005
This book is the life story of Squadron Leader Basil Gerald Stapleton or 'Stapme' as better known by his peers. Stapme fits the typical 'Boys Own' image of the RAF fighter pilot ie with handle bar moustache, courage and determination. (although Stapme would be the first to admitt he was only doing his duty.
The first part of the book covers Stapmes experiences early in the war and during the Battle of Britain with Spitfire 603 squadron. In fact the book reads like the war diary of 603 squadron, showing the pace and ferocity at which the battle was fought. Strangely, Stapme does not appear to be affected by the fear and exhaustion as experienced by many of the other pilots. It was during the Battle of Britain that Stapme shot down Franz von Werra (the one German pilot who escaped captivity to return to Germany).
After the Battle of Britain Stapme volunteered for Merchant Ship Fighter Unit protecting convoys but saw little or no action. In 1942 he was posted to 257 Squadron undergoing flying training exercises to increase pilots skills and included air tests of aircraft and systems, night flying, camera gun practice and dogfighting.
1944 saw Stapme flying Typhoons for 247 Squadron as their commanding officer. Once again the book reads like the war diary of 247 squadron, showing the dangers yet important role played by the ground attack aircraft and pilots. The book shows there was good communication and cooperation between the ground forces and ground attack Tactical Airforce, that was instrumental in the ulimate defeat of Germany. It was in one of these nerve-racking ground attacks that Stapme's Typhoon received damage from his own exploding ordnance and was forced to land and was taken prisoner. The book also briefly covers his time in captivity and his post war careers with BOAC, Dunlop, and tour guide in Botswana.
All in all this book is a good read, showing the type and character of man that fought throughout World War II with the RAF. Stapme is one of those men who has become the immortal image of the Battle of Britain fighter pilot.