Biplane fighter aces

The Commonwealth

Squadron Leader John Evelyn Scoular AFC, RAF no. 37756

John Scoular at the time he was commanding officer of 250 Squadron in the Western Desert.

John Scoular was born in 1911 and he was a pre-war airman, joining 73 Squadron in March 1937 as a Flight Lieutenant.

When war came, he went with the squadron to France as 'B' Flight commander. He achieved notable success during the May 1940 fighting.

On 23 November 1939, a Do 17 Z from Stab/KG 2 on a photo-reconnaissance mission over Mourmelon and Suippes was attacked by Curtiss H-75As of GC I/5 over Fléville and was believed to have been hit by Capitaine Jean Accart but managed to escape. It was then caught by Hurricanes of 73 Squadron to the south of Jarny. It was shot down in flames by Flying Officer Scoular and Sergeant John Winn and crashed on the railway line between Audun-le-Roman and Trieux, at Saucy-le-Haut at 13:10. The aircraft was also attacked by Sergeant Campbell.
Flying Officer Scoular reported:

"Having taken off on sight of seven enemy aircraft, I proceeded to climb towards VERDUN, but at 24,000 feet I could see no sign of them, I then patrolled the aerodrome at 21,000 feet, when I noticed Anti-Aircraft bursts South West. I sighted an enemy aircraft between VERDUN and ST. MICHAEL, flying South West. Accompanied by Sergeant WINN I attacked the enemy, and after two attacks the machine dived and crashed, bursting into flames.
The machine is thought to be a JUNKERS 88, and the position is approximately between SPONVILLE and XONVILLE, South of
Scoular later visited the crash site at a place he mentioned as "Hageville" and ascertained that the enemy aircraft was a Dornier D 17 Z.
Oberleutnant Alfred Winter and his crew of three (Unteroffizier Paul Meyer, Unteroffizier Edmund Puhl and Unteroffizier Hans Czekay) had taken off from Kitzingen and were all KIA.

At 11:30 on 10 May, ‘B’ Flight was of on a sortie. During this mission he claimed two Ju 88 (possible from KG 51) shot down, one of which was apparently seen to fall in flames, although no Ju 88s were recorded as being lost.

Shortly after 14:35 on 11 May, ten 73 Squadron Hurricanes were involved in combat with a formation of 30 He 111 Hs of II./KG 53 plus an escort of Bf 110 Cs of I./ZG 2 near Mourmelon, together with Hurricanes from 501 Squadron. During this combat Scoular claimed a Ju 88. A little later the Bf 110s were involved in combat with 1 Squadron’s ‘B’ Flight and they claimed three of the German fighters. 73 Squadron claimed five of the raiders and 501 Squadron claimed four. II./KG 53 lost three bombers and I./ZG 2 lost two Bf 110s.

At 06:00 on 13 May a flight of Hurricanes took off from Reims-Champagne to intercept He 111 Ps of KG 55 and Bf 110 Cs coming towards Reims. Scoular claimed one the Heinkels after having put both the engines of the enemy bomber out of action.

Five Hurricanes of 73 Squadron scrambled at 11:45 on 14 May, in pursuit of bombers reported attacking a convoy on the Givet-Namur Road. They however became involved in combat with German fighters and Scoular claimed a Bf 110 (possibly from III./ZG 26) after having silenced the rear gunner and forced it to retire.

On a sortie at 18:20 on 15 May Squadron Leader J. W. C. More and Scoular shared in the destruction of a He 111. This was He 111 A1+LK of 2./KG 53 which crashed Grandpré, south-east of Vouziers. The pilot Oberleutant Walter Klue and one other were killed, while the remaining three members of the crew were captured.

On the morning on 16 May he claimed a damaged He 111 near Châlons-sur-Marne before 73 Squadron moved to Villeneuve.

On a sortie at 11:00 on 19 May Scoular claimed a He 111 which he saw dive with the tail falling to pieces. He also saw black objects, tied together, strung out astern. The Heinkel crashed near Berry-au-Bac. Later he got in three good bursts at another He 111. The German bomber went down out of control near Reims. One of the Heinkels were credited to him as a shared with Sergeant Alf Marshall. The aircraft attacked by 73 Squadron were probably Ju 88s of I and II./KG 51 although it is possible that some of the pilots may have encountered stray Heinkels from III./KG 27 previously attacked by 1 Squadron. RAF claimed four bombers and one probable in this combat, while I and II./KG 51 lost three Ju 88s and got one damaged.

When returning from France he instructed at 6 OTU from 24 June 1940 as a Flight Lieutenant.
In July he was awarded a DFC for his success in France.

He was then posted to the Middle East, where he took command of 'K' Flight when it was formed in November with Gladiators.

On 9 December, ‘K’ Flight at Port Sudan despatched six Gladiators Mk.IIs and one Mk.I, accompanied by a Wellesley carrying a fitter and a rigger, to Heliopolis to reinforce 112 Squadron during the upcoming Operation Compass. Flying Officer Oliver Green and Flying Officer R. B. Whittington of this Flight arrived at Sidi Hanaish from Heliopolis on 12 December while Flight Lieutenant Scoular and Sergeant E. N. Woodward arrived on 16 December. At this later date, Flying Officer Jack Hamlyn had already been detached to 112 Squadron, flying his first known sortie on 13 December.

In February 1941, he led ‘K’ Flight to East Africa, moving up to the front on 13 February.

On 22 February 1941 ‘K’ flight saw its first action since its return to operations when Scoular on an early patrol over Mersa Taclai in Gladiator N5828 saw some Blenheims passing and escorted these to Massawa. There he spotted a lone S.79 in flight, and shot it down. There is no Italian record of this loss and it may in fact have been a transport Savoia.

In April the flight formed the nucleus of 250 Squadron, re-equipped with Tomahawks and he was promoted Squadron Leader to command. He was to lead the unit in the Western Desert during the Battleaxe and Brevity offensives, where he made further claims.

During the XIII Corps’ Operation Battleaxe offensive, which begun on 14 June 1941, the 250 Squadron flew standing patrols over the battlefield.
At 15:00 on 16 June eight aircraft from 250 Squadron encountered five Bf 109s at 22,000 feet over Bardia. Squadron Leader Scoular (AK416) and Flight Lieutenant R. F. ‘Dickie’ Martin (AK419) each damaged one.
This was 250 Squadrons first combat over the Desert.
The German reports identified the Tomahawks as ‘Brewsters’.

On 25 June, ten Tomahawks of 250 Squadron escorted bombers to Gazala, the formation not meeting any opposition. However, between Bardia and Tobruk on the outward journey, Squadron Leader Scoular encountered engine trouble. He headed for the coast to land, and actually had his wheels down when at 1,000 feet he was attacked by a Fiat G.50. Retracting rapidly, he shot this down at 15:05, and then managed to fly back to base, feeding petrol to the faltering engine with his hand pump.
No trace of this engagement can be found in Italian records.

At 14:00 on 23 August ten Tomahawks of 250 Squadron flew a patrol north of Sidi Barrani. They spotted three Ju 88s, one of which was shot down by Squadron Leader Scoular.

Few details of his subsequent career are available, but it is believed that he became involved in some form of test flying after leaving 250 Squadron in September 1941, for he was later to receive an AFC.

He was Mentioned in Despatches on 1 January 1945.

Scoular ended the war with 1 biplane victory and a total of 15 and 1 shared destroyed.

He left the RAF as a Wing Commander, subsequently joining Rolls-Royce.

Scoular died in August 1986, aged 75.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  23/11/39 13:10 ½ Do 17 (a) Shared destroyed Hurricane I ’Z’ Hageville, S Conflans 73 Squadron
  22/12/39   1 He 111 Damaged Hurricane I ’S’ Verdun-St Michael 73 Squadron
1 23/04/40   1 Bf 110 (b) Destroyed Hurricane I ’P’ Senon-Reims 73 Squadron
2 10/05/40 11:30- 1 Ju 88 (c) Destroyed Hurricane I ’P’ Reims 73 Squadron
3 10/05/40 11:30- 1 Ju 88 (c) Destroyed Hurricane I ’P’ Senon 73 Squadron
4 11/05/40   1 Ju 88 (d) Destroyed Hurricane I ’P’ Mourmelon 73 Squadron
5 13/05/40   1 He 111 (e) Destroyed Hurricane I N2721/’W’ Reims area 73 Squadron
6 14/05/40   1 Bf 110 (f) Destroyed Hurricane I ’C’ Namur area 73 Squadron
  15/05/40 18:20 1/2 He 111 (g) Shared destroyed Hurricane I ’H’ Grandpré 73 Squadron
  16/05/40 a.m. 1 He 111 Damaged Hurricane I ’H’ Châlons-sur-Marne 73 Squadron
7 19/05/40 11:00 1 He 111 (h) Destroyed Hurricane I ’S’ Reims and Berry-au-Bac 73 Squadron
  19/05/40 11:00 1/2 He 111 (h) Shared destroyed Hurricane I ’S’ Reims and Berry-au-Bac 73 Squadron
8 25/05/40   1 Do 17 Destroyed Hurricane I ’S’ near Vieux 73 Squadron
9 26/05/40   1 Bf 109E Destroyed Hurricane I ’S’ Sedan 73 Squadron
  26/05/40   1 Bf 109E Unconfirmed Hurricane I ’S’ Sedan 73 Squadron
10 31/05/40   1 Ju 87 Destroyed Hurricane I ’S’ Soissons 73 Squadron
11 31/05/40   1 Ju 87 Destroyed Hurricane I ’S’ Soissons 73 Squadron
  06/06/40   1/8 Do 17 (i) Shared destroyed Hurricane I ’S’ Reims 73 Squadron
12 22/02/41   1 S.79 (j) Destroyed Gladiator II N5828 Mersa Taklai, Asmara area ’K’ Flt.
  16/06/41   1 Bf 109 Damaged Tomahawk IIb AK416 Bardi-Sollum 250 Squadron
13 25/06/41 15:05 1 G.50 (k) Destroyed Tomahawk IIb AK416 Gambut 250 Squadron
14 23/08/41   1 Ju 88 Destroyed Tomahawk IIb AK555 16m off Taifa Rocks, NW Matrun 250 Squadron

Biplane victories: 1 destroyed.
TOTAL: 14 and 3 shared destroyed, 1 unconfirmed destroyed, 3 damaged.
(a) Do 17 Z of Stab/KG 2, crashed at Saucy-le-Haut. The crew was KIA.
(b) May have been a Do 17 Z of III./KG 2, crashed in France.
(c) Possibly Ju 88s from KG 51 of which none were lost.
(d) He 111 Hs of II./KG 53 and Bf 110 Cs of I./ZG 2 were involved in this action. RAF claimed four bombers and eight fighters but only three He 111s and two Bf 110s were in fact lost.
(e) Claimed in combat with He 111 Ps of KG 55.
(f) Possibly Bf 110 of III./ZG 26.
(g) He 111 A1+LK of 2./KG 53 flown by Oberleutnant Walter Klaue and crashed Grandpré, SE Vouziers. Klue and one other were killed, while the remaining three members of the crew were captured.
(h) Believed to be Ju 88s of I and II./KG 51. 4 and 1 probable claimed by RAF; 3 shot down and 1 damaged in fact.
(i) Shared with eight, not included in total.
(j) There is no Italian record of this loss, and it may in fact have been a transport Savoia.
(k) No trace of this engagement can be found in Italian records.

Aces High - Christopher Shores, 1994, Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-898697-00-0
Aces High Volume 2 - Christopher Shores, 1999, Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-902304-03-9
A History of the Mediterranean Air War 1940-1945: Volume One – Christopher Shores and Giovanni Massimello with Russell Guest, 2012 Grub Street, London, ISBN 978-1908117076
Deutsche Luftwaffe Losses & Claims -series - Michael Balss
Fighters over the Desert - Christopher Shores and Hans Ring, 1969 Neville Spearman Limited, London
Fledgling Eagles - Christopher Shores with John Foreman, Christian-Jaques Ehrengardt, Heinrich Weiss and Bjørn Olsen, 1991 Grub Street, London, ISBN 0-948817-42-9
Royal Air Force Aircraft L1000-N9999 - James J. Halley, 1993 Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd, Kent, ISBN 0-85130-208-4
The Battle of France Then and Now – Peter D. Cornwell, 2008 After the Battle, ISBN 9-781870-067652
Tomahawk and Kittyhawk Aces of the RAF and Commonwealth - Andrew Thomas, 2002 Osprey Publishing, London, ISBN 1-84176-083-8
Twelve Days In May - Brian Cull and Bruce Lander with Heinrich Weiss, 1999, Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-902304-12-8

Last modified 07 December 2023