John Dunlop Urie

John Dunlop Urie

I have a (very distant) relative fought in the Battle of Britain. One of my mother’s cousins. I just put it together from family tree research I do sporadically and from a new book I got about pilots who fought in the battle. I'm a little gob smacked.

Battle of Britain portrait by
Cuthbert Julian Orde

SQUADRON LEADER JOHN DUNLOP URIE - b Glasgow Oct 12, 1915 Service Number 90164
Educated at Sedbergh School and Glasgow University

(602 “City of Glasgow” Auxiliary Airforce Squadron – these were squadrons attached to Universities in peacetime and activated during the war.)

He joined 602 Squadron, AAF in June 1935. Urie was called to full-time service on August 25 1939. He was detached from 602 to a naval escort vessel on November 10 1939. His date of return to 602 is not known. He shared in the destruction of a He-111 fifteen miles E of the Isle of May on December 22 1939. The enemy aircraft was on a mine-laying operation.

Urie was temporarily attached to RAF Turnhouse from 602 from April 1 to 13, for Controller duties. On April 24 1940 he was appointed ‘A’ Flight Commander. He destroyed a Ju-88 on July 9, ten miles E of Fifeness. On August 1 Urie tore a wing off Spitfire P 9461, landing at RAF Drem in heavy ground mist, unhurt.

The Shortest Serving Spitfire

On the morning of the 18th August 1940, Flight Lieutenant John Dunlop-Urie at RAF Westhampnett in West Sussex rushed to his aircraft in order to intercept an incoming German raid.  Finding his assigned plane undergoing maintenance, he ran instead to Supermarine Spitfire Mk. I serial number X4110 that had been freshly delivered to 602 Squadron. The squadron codes had not even been painted on the aircraft.  During the course of the combat, he damaged five Ju-87s before being caught from behind by a Messerschmitt Bf 109 that landed several hits with its 20mm cannon.  Fragments from the exploding shells injured both of Dunlop-Urie’s legs in spite of the fact that the closest hit was several feet away. 

He landed back at RAF Westhampnett minus flaps and with one burst tyre.

Damaged Spitfire

The damage from gunfire and the resulting heavy landing was so severe that the aircraft was deemed beyond repair and was struck off charge less than an hour after taking off on its first combat flight, making it apparently the shortest serving aircraft in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War.

He did not rejoin 602 until November 7 1940. On the 13th he shared in the destruction of a Ju-88. On the 14th Urie was posted to 55 OTU, Aston Down and on December 27 he went to RAF Gravesend, as Intelligence Officer.

In mid-1941 he was briefly with 54 Squadron and he later commanded 151 Wing in Russia.

In January 1942 Urie was on the aircraft carrier HMS INDOMITABLE, as RAF Officer-in Charge of organising reinforcing Hurricanes, to be flown off to Batavia.

He was released from the RAF in 1945 as a Wing Commander. He rejoined the AAF in 1946.

Of the 2,994 pilots who fought in the Battle of Britain he was one of only 999 who survived the war.