90334 Flight Lieutenant John Charles Dundas, DFC and Bar – 609 Squadron
Born on 19th August 1915, the son of Frederick Dundas and Sylvia Phillips, John Dundas was a Yorkshire native related to Lord Halifax and the Marquis of Zetland (the Zetland fortunes being founded by businessman Sir John Dundas in the 18th century). Known to his friends as ‘Dogs’, aged 12 he won a scholarship to Stowe and a year later had six credits on his school certificate. He followed this by going to Christchurch College, Oxford aged 17, taking a First in Modern Greats which followed from a modern history examination. He then went to France to study at the Sorbonne before finishing his education at Heidelberg. Returning to England, he became a journalist on the Yorkshire Post. In 1938, as a foreign correspondent specialising in European international affairs, he travelled to Czechoslovakia during the Munich crisis reporting on the international response, before accompanying Neville Chamberlain and Lord Halifax on a trip to Rome to meet Mussolini.
Dundas joined 609 (West Riding) Squadron at Yeadon in May 1938 as an Auxiliary pilot, his younger brother (later Group Captain Hugh ‘Cocky’ Dundas, DSO, DFC) joining 616 (South Yorkshire) Squadron.
On 18th June 1939 Dundas was taking off when the engine cut and the aircraft crashed into the side of a house in Victoria Avenue, Yeadon. Neither Dundas nor his passenger, LAC Hunter (from Harrogate) were injured. The occasion was the first squadron formation take-
His next mishap occurred when Fg Off Dundas in L1084 was making his final landing, a perfect three pointer -
Embodied with the rest of the Squadron in 1939, on the 11th June 1940 John formed part of the nine-
In early November Dundas became B Flight Commander, and on the 27th claimed a Ju.88 probably destroyed. ‘A Ju.88 was reported by Operations to be going home down the coast. F/Lt J.C. Dundas, DFC on being refused permission to take a Section up to chase it, obtained sanction for practice flying and chased and caught it himself, sending it down (‘Probably Destroyed’) over Cherbourg. The enemy aircraft disappeared in smoke but Dundas did not wait to see it actually crash, being near an aerodrome that was well stocked with Me.109's.’ The following day, 28th November 1940, flying Spitfire X4586 over the Isle of Wight, he destroyed a n Me109 from JG2 Richthofen, but was in turn shot down and killed almost immediately, two miles south of the Isle of Wight at 16:15 hours by his victim’s wingman, Leutnant Rudi Pflanz. His victim was JG2’s Commander, Major Helmut Wick, who had claimed 56 victories and was the highest scoring Luftwaffe pilot at the time. He had been awarded the Oak Leaves to his Knights Cross during the Battle of Britain, one of only three pilots thus rewarded. Wick had just destroyed the Spitfire of P/O Paul Baillon when he was attacked by Dundas and Sergeant Zygmunt Klein of 152 Squadron. Dundas was heard to say over the R/T ‘I've finished an Me.109 -
Dundas is credited with 13½ enemy aircraft Destroyed, and 4 Probables.
Dundas, the last of the original Auxiliary Officers from 609, was described by Sqn Ldr Robinson as ‘an excellent pilot, if a little overconfident, and had to be watched’, the Squadron diary recording: ‘His courageous example and breezy personality are sorely missed.’
He was posthumously awarded the Bar to the DFC.
He is remembered on Panel 4 of the Runnymede Memorial.