Biplane fighter aces


Squadron Leader Frederick William Charles ‘Freddie’ Shute, RAF no. 32020

Pre-war, Shute raced Bentleys at Brooklands.

He was married in 1935 with Sheila Macneal (who in 1944 was married a year with Peter Wickham).

In January 1940, Shute served as commanding officer of 152 Squadron. This unit had been formed in October 1939 with 603 Squadron’s old Gladiators. In January, it had moved to Acklington to re-equip with Spitfires, but while doing so continued to maintain a single operational flight of the biplanes.

At 10.40 on 3 February three Gladiators of Yellow Section 152 Squadron were scrambled from Acklington. Squadron Leader Shute (CO) leading Pilot Officer Jack Falkson and Sergeant Shepperd to intercept a I./KG 26 He 111 over Druridge Bay. Shute turned to port and made a quarter attack from 250 yards, moving to dead astern. Falkson repeated the manoeuvre, following which Shute again attacked from astern, closing to 50 yards. The bomber’s gunners returned fire, and it disappeared into cloud heading south, pouring dense black smoke and with the undercarriage hanging down.
Unseen by the attackers, the bomber crashed into Druridge Bay moments later. Leutnant Luther von Brüning and his crew all were being killed. 13 Group later confirmed the success to the squadron.

At 14:20 on 29 February, he took off with Gladiator II N5646 to investigate a coastguard report of a ditched Wellington aircraft in the North Sea. He was last heard over the radio reporting ”My engine has cut and I'm landing in the sea”.
Two Gladiators were launched to search for him at 16:20, while 13 Group asked Thornaby airfield to help search for him, but even had he managed to ditch safely his chances of survival in a cold, rough sea, were minimal. He was never found and is commemorated on the Runnymed Memorial.
He was an experienced pilot with 1541 flying hours and 31 hours on the Gladiator.

At the time of his death Shute was credited with 1 shared biplane victory.

Kill no. Date Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  03/02/40 1 He 111 (a) Shared destroyed Gladiator   Druridge Bay 152 Squadron

Biplane victories: 1 shared destroyed.
TOTAL: 1 shared destroyed.
(a) He 111 of I/KG26 shot down. Leutnant Luthar von Brüning and his crew were all killed.

Fighter Command War Diaries - September 1939 to September 1940 - John Foreman, 1997 Air Research Publications, Walton-on-Thames, ISBN 1-871187-34-6
Fledgling Eagles - Christopher Shores with John Foreman, Christian-Jaques Ehrengardt, Heinrich Weiss and Bjørn Olsen, 1991 Grub Street, London, ISBN 0-948817-42-9
Gloster Gladiator Home Page - Alexander Crawford
RAF Fighter Command losses: Volume 1 - Norman L. R. Franks, 1997 Midland Publishing Limited, ISBN 1-85780-055-9
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Additional information kindly provided by Laurent Rizzotti.

Last modified 27 April 2017