View Full Version : AC. Al Deere

08-20-2005, 02:25 PM
Any of you New Zealanders know anything about Al Deere?, he was a hero of mine when I was a kid. A battle of Britain pilot who famously survived numerous crashes and scored over 10 kills I think. Everything about him on the net seems to be about his autobiography, which although I could buy, I doubt it would tell me what I want to know which is:
Is he still alive and where (if so) is he?

08-20-2005, 02:32 PM
He died in the 90's I'm afraid. Born in Aukland, raised on a farm....Made his own way to Britain, became an ace over Dunkirk...his Spit was KL-B with Kiwi emblem on cockpit door... retired as an Air Commodore in the late 60's...hold on, I'll go to my bookshelf. He's got a write up in Osprey Spitfire Aces.... Back soon.

08-20-2005, 02:53 PM
Apologies in advance for typo's - my speed typing is cr@p.

Flg Off (Air Commodore) Alan Christopher Deere.

Born in Auckland...Deere travelled to Britain to join the RAF in 1937. Posted to 54 Sqn. (Gladiators). Converted to Spitfires in 1939. By the close of operations over Dunkirk, Deere was credited with 7 a/c destroyed and 2 shared.Awarded DFC. Crash landing near Dunkirk, Deere made his way to the beaches and was evacuated by sea.

By the end of August 1940, his tally stood at 13 destroyed, 2 shared, 3 probable & 1 damaged. Awarded bar to DFC.

Served a rest tour as a fighter controller and was back flying Vb's in August 1941.

His final tally was 17 destroyed, 2 shared, 4 probable, 7 damaged & 1 shared damaged.

Retired in 1967. Died 1995.

(source Osprey - Spitfire MkI/II Aces).

He is regularly mentioned and quoted in "Fighter Boys".(His MkI Spit has been modelled by many manufacturers - I'm lucky enough to have 1/35th scale Corgi).

Hope it helped. Give me a shout if you want any more info - I'm sure I've got it knocking around here somewhere.

08-20-2005, 03:35 PM
'Nine Lives'.

It will tell you all you need to know about the man, and his generation.

08-20-2005, 03:58 PM
Thanks for the replies. Sad to hear he is no longer with us. Guess I've got to get that autobiography now. Thanks.

08-20-2005, 05:01 PM

From the New Zealand Fighter Pilots Museum (http://www.nzfpm.co.nz/aces/deere.htm):

Alan Deere, possibly the best known of all New Zealand fighter pilots, was born in Auckland on December 12 1917. He joined the RAF in October 1937 and was posted to 54 Squadron in September 1938. From the outbreak of war until mid-May 1940 the Squadron, based in England, carried out only defensive duties.

On 23 May 1940 Deere took part in a daring rescue operation. He and Pilot Officer Allen escorted their flight commander, James Leathart, to France where he was to land a Miles Master trainer and pick up the CO of 74 Squadron who had made a forced landing on the airfield at Calais-Marck. The pick-up was made, with Allen watching from 8000 feet and Deere circling at low level. An approaching formation of Bf 109's was spotted by Allen as the Master taxied out for take-off. As a strafing Bf 109 pulled out of its dive, presenting a perfect target, Deere fired a short burst and the aircraft stalled and then crashed into the sea. Deere, climbing to help Allen, crossed the path of two 109's, one of which turned towards him. Deere also turned, firing at the second one, which rolled over and dived away. Pursuing the first one, he caught up at treetop height and pursued him, firing off his remaining ammunition before the German headed for home.

Diving towards the coast Deere called up Allen and was relieved to hear him answer. In the interim the Master had taken off and headed for Hornchurch. In the action three Bf 109's had been shot down and three others severely damaged.

During four days - 23 to 29 May - Deere shot down three Bf 109's and three Bf 110's and in June was decorated with the DFC by the King at a special ceremony at Hornchurch. Leathart and Allen were decorated at the same time. During the Battle of Britain Deere destroyed seven more enemy fighters and one bomber and was awarded a Bar to the DFC. In December 1940 he was sent for a rest and in January 1941 became an Operations Room Controller. He returned to operations on 7 May 1941, joining 602 Squadron in Scotland as a Flight Commander.

On the 10th he was scrambled to investigate a Bf 110 flying westwards. He did not sight the enemy aircraft but after landing was told it had crashed near Glasgow. The pilot was later revealed to be Rudolf Hess.

Deere took command of 602 Squadron on August 1 1941 and on that day destroyed a Bf 109, his first victory for eleven months. When his second operational tour ended in January 1942 Deere went to the USA to lecture on fighter tactics but was restless for a return to operations. He achieved this in May 1942, when he took command of 403 Squadron, leading it until August before being posted to staff duties.During a temporary attachment to 611 Squadron in February 1943 Deere destroyed an FW 190. Some days later he was appointed Wing Leader at Biggin Hill. He flew 121 sorties during his six months' leadership and increased his personal score to twenty-two confirmed victories, ten probables and eighteen damaged. Awarded the DSO, Deere also holds the Croix de Guerre and the DFC (US). He was awarded an OBE in May 1945 and retired from the RAF in December 1977, with the rank of Air Commodore.Deere wrote of his experiences and his many escapes from death in his classic book, 'Nine Lives', published in 1959.


08-20-2005, 05:08 PM
Thanks to any Kiwis who're listening for your contribution during Britain's scariest moment for a long time. Talking to my Grandmum one thing she tried (but failed) not to emphasise was how scared to death everyone was back then of the Germans getting over the channel. Folk like Al Deere and every other Kiwi who left home to make a difference really helped us and lots of other folk out out when we needed it. Thanks.

08-20-2005, 05:15 PM
A rather splendid chap who gave up on his Kiwi...a good man http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

08-20-2005, 05:27 PM
Great guy. God bless. Thanks to you kiwis.

08-21-2005, 10:41 AM
Thank you. It was nothing, real;ly. We are all like that.

Just kidding - I am stoked to have a real hero like Al Deere coming from NZ. I remember as a kid building a Hasegawa 1/72 scale Spit and finding out that it was Al Deere's bird.

Reading Fighter Boys give you a real sense of the involvement of the Commonwealth and Polish fighters in the BoB. I hope to do them proud come release date.

Yay us!


08-21-2005, 12:11 PM
Now that you guys haven't got an airforce anymore any time you want to borrow ours just let us know and we'll be on down, we owe you one. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

08-21-2005, 05:15 PM
Hmmm, its ironic that the RNZAF's official emblem is a small flightless bird. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/cry.gif
Kinda depressing really.

08-21-2005, 05:28 PM
So's mine!