Hawker Hurricane, MkI, Sgt. James "Ginger" Lacey, Battle of Britain


James “Ginger” Lacey was headed for a different direction in life before Great Britain and Nazi Germany went to war. He was working as an apprentice pharmacist when he decided to fight for his country. Joining the RAF in January of 1937 he quickly moved to the role of an instructor. With war brewing on the continent, he was soon called up to 501 Squadron and began flying the Hawker Hurricane.
His unit was quickly sent to France in May of 1940 and he began to rack up “kills” against the Luftwaffe. Gaining 5 victories (“Ace” status) in a matter of less than a month’s time.
With 501 Sqdn. transferred back to England he continued his score and by the end of the “Battle of Britain” in November, 1940 he had added to his tally for a then total of 24 making him one of the top two Aces of the conflict thus far.
Lacy was promoted numerous times and gained more victories until he became posted to India to lead squadron in transition. He flew Blenheims, Hurricanes, Thunderbolts and eventually Spitfires. His last victory was over a Japanese Nakajima Ki43 “Oscar’, having dispatched it with only nine 20mm rounds. His complete tally was 28 enemy aircraft destroyed, five probables and nine damaged.
Ginger Lacey was one of a very few pilots who flew from the opening to the closing of the war.
He remained in the RAF until 1967 when he retired. He passed away in 1989 at the age of 72 years.
Original artwork by Robert Coker

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