GROUP-CAPTAIN George Powel-Shedden, who has died aged 78, fought with distinction as a fighter pilot in two of the RAF's most critical battles of the Second World War.
During the Battle of Britain he served as a flight commander in Group Captain Douglas Bader's 242 Squadron, and the next summer fought against even greater odds in the defence of Malta.
Though somewhat bulky for a Hurricane cockpit, and handicapped by a pronounced stutter, Powel-Shedden was recommended to Bader as "a very good type".
"Stutters! Stutters!" Bader exploded. "That's no damn good to me. What's going to happen over the radio in a fight?"
Told that Powel-Shedden was a Cranwell man, though, Bader changed his mind. "Just the chap," he agreed. "Send him along."
Powel-Shedden joined the squadron early in June 1940, and soon displayed great flying skills, operational brilliance and a sense of discipline which was useful in steadying the Canadian pilots.
As the battle raged across southern England from July to September, Bader wheeled his controversial Duxford Big Wing of five fighter squadrons in defence of London. Powel-Shedden shot down at least four enemy aircraft.
As fighting subsided at the end of the Battle's greatest day (Sept 15) there was consternation at Duxford as the wing counted its victories and losses: Powel-Shedden was missing.
It transpired that he had shot down a Dornier bomber and was chasing another when an Me 109 came out of the cloud behind him and set his Hurricane on fire. While baling out he hit the tail and dislocated a shoulder.
George ffolliott Powel-Shedden was born at Cowes on April 1 1916 and educated at Wellington College, where he became a sergeant in the Officers' Training Corps.
He entered the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, but then switched to the RAF College, Cranwell, where he was commissioned in 1936.
The next year he was posted to 47, a Vickers Vincent squadron based at Khartoum. In 1939 he was transferred to 33, a fighter squadron equipped with Gloster Gladiator biplanes for policing Palestine.
After the Battle of Britain Powel-Shedden was sent to 258, another Hurricane squadron, as a flight commander; the next April he received his first command, that of 615, County of Surrey, an Auxiliary Air Force Hurricane squadron.
In July 1941 he was posted to the embattled island of Malta, where he formed the Malta Night Fighter Unit, a handful of Hurricanes working with searchlight and anti-aircraft gun crews.
After adding two more kills to his score Powel-Shedden was awarded the DSO; the citation noted his "sterling work in the night defence of Malta", his "great and energetic organising ability", and his "courage and initiative in the air".
In January 1944, after further courses and staff appointments, he resumed operational flying with 96, a Mosquito squadron, and then took command of 29, a Mosquito squadron specialising in low-level night-intruder missions before and after D-Day.
He was given a Bar to his DSO for his leadership during many perilous missions with 100 Bomber Support Group. He was then appointed to command a succession of Mosquito intruder stations as group captain.
In 1952 he received command of RAF, Jever, in Germany, and from 1954 to 1957 served on the operational staff at Naples, before concluding his service career at the Air Ministry.
Powel-Shedden retired in 1961 to join the Stock Exchange and to farm in Buckinghamshire.
He was twice married, and had a son and a daughter.
Stories contributed from those who served under him at RAF Jever:
Erne Lack said that Inge the wife of his friend Hans Appell, who lives in Schortens, knows a chap Hans Böhringer who was the hairdresser at the airfield when I was there, so of course we toddled off to see him and had the most incredible chat together. Hans knows all the same wild stories that we know, how we pilots got sunburnt bathing in the nude on Sylt, how Group Captain George Ffoulkes Powel-Shedden stuttered and how his wife Dianne used to tell him (Hans) how nervous she was when her husband was going out to fly Because he stuttered he would 'twitch' with his hand on the handbrake during landing - and he burst both tyres on touchdown!
Eric Pigdon's Notes 23 Nov04. Powel-Shedden, Gp Capt, Stn Cdr. Is mentioned in Battle of Britain books. Big strong hands fearsome at arm wrestling and schooner races. Had a stutter. On rare occasions came to fly with 93 a pilot was detailed to go with him to start the Sabre. He would not turn finals to land until he had completed his down wind call - he would by then be on his way to Bremen and ATC would give him steers to get him back to base. A good and well liked Station Boss.
Ken Senar told me 8Apr05 that "Grp. Capt. Powel-Shedden, 'Fo-Fo', died late in 1994. His obituary appeared in the Daily Telegraph, dated 10/11/94 [above.] It was he who gave me the nickname 'Pod' in the bar on the night of my arrival at Jever. Pod 'Papa Oscar Delta' was my unofficial call-sign when I was a GCI controller at Borgentreich/Auenhausen. I used it to identify myself over the R/T to 93 Sqn pilots when I was controlling them. The Russian monitoring stations must have wondered what was going on!
Ron Gray: Reference Gp. Capt. Powel-Shedden. He really was a lovely chap. When he left on posting out, 4 Squadron provided a noisy departure at the camp. An invention by Sqn. Ldr. Williamson which I was told defended the squadron on exercise from the attacking Rock Apes was made up from a 3" rocket tube with a base plate welded on. Tin cans were filled with a thunder flash surrounded horrible things even glass I was told. A thunderflash was then popped down the tube and then three seconds later the tin flash was struck and tin sent down tube. On that exercise I understand that 4 Sqn were not over run. However I digress. We used Verey Pistol cartridges in the tin and gave a colourful send off from the camp. This was followed by a series of flights which tracked his car over Germany and to the Dutch border. I can remember last seeing the car somewhere in Holland. At the Summer Ball 1954 his mother was a guest, and it was shortly after my autobahn incident and P-S insisted I met her. She was a delightful lady and we gossiped for some considerable time. I had no dancing skills and was relieved when she declined my invitation saying she was happy to watch the young ones.