Family delighted name will live on

HERBERT MACHON’S family have expressed their delighted to learn that the name of his wartime Spitfire Mk XVI, Guernsey’s Reply, would take to the skies on the RAF’s newest Poseidon aircraft.

The original Guernsey’s Reply. Flight Lieutenant Herbert Machon and his Spitfire. (Picture supplied by Nick Machon)
The original Guernsey’s Reply. Flight Lieutenant Herbert Machon and his Spitfire. (Picture supplied by Nick Machon)

His eldest son, Nick, who, like his father, was an editor of the Guernsey Press, said his father was evacuated to England at the start of the war, leaving behind his parents who would face five long years of Occupation.

‘He volunteered for the army, then transferred to the RAF in 1942, learned to fly in America, then taught many would-be pilots, survived two forced landings and flew many of the new American fighters,’ Mr Machon said.

‘Returning to the UK, Herbie was posted to 603 City of Edinburgh Squadron.

‘His logbook reveals a pilot’s diverse combat missions. Sent to Skebrae, Orkney, he flew in the frigid air eight miles high seeking German aircraft trying to photograph the home fleet at Scapa Flow, protected only by a fur-lined suit and pressurised oxygen.’

When Hitler attacked England with V1 flying bombs and V2 rockets, he led his flight of four Spitfires in dive-bombing attacks against the heavily defended Dutch launch sites, anti-aircraft fire streaming past their aircraft.

‘Herbie dive-bombed railways, bridges, the Shell Mex building in the Hague, heavy gun positions and a garage near Hague Station. He machine gunned trains.

‘On one attack, three squadron aircraft were hit by flak,’ Mr Machon said, remembering stories his father had told

him.

‘Despite this, his only injury was when his Spitfire was struck by an inexperienced pilot on a training flight over the North Sea. He crashed on land after bouncing off the sea, suffering cracked ribs, but was back in the air five days later.

‘And there were missions protecting hundreds of Lancasters in attacks on Hamburg, Nuremberg and the U-boat pens at Heligoland.’

The squadron stood down with the end of the war on 8 May 1945, but three days later Herbie was part of the escort for German Ju52s bringing VIPs for peace talks about Norway.

‘He was demobbed in 1947 and returned to Guernsey, but you can’t keep a good pilot on the ground,’ he said.

‘In May 1959 he was called by a former trainee pilot in America, now Captain L. Krazehovich and based at Wethersfield in England.

‘Would Herbie like to fly in a Super Sabre fighter? Herbie would, and went supersonic, which made his links with 201 Squadron and RAFA perfectly understandable.’

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