John Francis Durham Elkington – known as ‘Tim’ was born in Edgbaston on 23rd December 1920.
He joined the RAF in September 1939 and carried out flying training at 9 EFTS at Ansty from October 1939 to April 1940. He then had 3 months flying Hawker Harts and Hinds at Cranwell.
Commissioned on the 14th July 1940, Tim joined No.1 Squadron at Northolt the following day on Hurricanes. He had success on 15th August where he shot down a Me109 around Harwich.
The following day Tim was vectored towards Portsmouth flying as top weaver above the squadron. Heading to engage a large formation of German aircraft heading for Portsmouth Tim’s Hurricane P3137 was hit by a cannon shell in the starboard fuel tank. Bursting into flames he baled out around 10,000 with some shrapnel wounds. During his descent, Tim passed out and had he landed in the sea would have likely drowned. However Flt Sgt Berry followed him and with his slipstream, amazingly blew Tim Elkington on to land at West Wittering. Sadly Tim never got to thank Fred Berry who was killed on the 1st September 1940.
Tim rejoined No. 1 Squadron after his recovery, then at Wittering, in 12 Group, on 1st October 1940 and first flew again the following day. He claimed a Ju88 on the 9th and shared in the destruction of a Do17 on the 27th.
In April 1941 Tim was posted to 55 OTU at Usworth as an instructor and later Ouston. He joined 601 Squadron in late May at Manston.
In late July he joined 134 Squadron, then forming at Leconfield for service in Russia. The squadron embarked on HMS Argus on 12th August and on 7th September it flew off the carrier to the airfield at Vaenga, near Murmansk. During September and early October 134 took part in bomber escorts and airfield defence. In mid-October it began training Russian pilots on Hurricanes, which were handed over at the end of the month. Whilst in Russia Tim shared in the destruction of another Ju88.
In mid-November 1941 the squadron pilots began the journey home, making their way in three minesweepers to Archangel, sailing from there in HMS Berwick on 1st December.
134 reformed at Eglinton in January 1942 and Tim joined the MSFU at Speke in April, remaining with it until August, when he rejoined No. 1 Squadron at Acklington. He was posted to 539 Squadron there in September, a Turbinlite Havoc unit.
When 539 was disbanded on 25th January 1943, Elkington was posted to the newly-formed 197 Squadron at Drem, equipped with Typhoons. He was warned for overseas in September 1943 and in December joined 67 Squadron at Alipore, India.
With his tour completed he went to the ADFU at Amarda Road in February 1944. He returned to the UK for a course at CFE Tangmere in May 1945 and went back to India in July.
He returned to the UK on 27th October 1946 and had a long post-war career in the RAF, retiring on the 23rd December 1975 at the rank of Wing Commander.
I met Tim predominantly at signing events over the years, first in 2016 and last saw him at Westminster Abbey in 2017 for the annual Battle of Britain Memorial Service. Sadly Tim passed away aged 98 in early 2019. He has been another wonderful ambassador for a special generation and I’m honoured to have met another hero.