Frank Reginald Carey entered the RAF in 1927 as a fifteen year old apprentice (a ‘Halton Brat’) and was first employed as a ground crew fitter and metal rigger with No 43 Squadron at RAF Tangmere. In 1935 he was selected for pilot training and was posted back to Tangmere’s No 43 Squadron as a Sergeant Pilot. A very able pilot, Carey was selected for the squadron’s Hawker Fury aerobatic team and was still with the squadron at Tangmere when it re-equipped with the Hawker Hurricane in1939.
During the first winter of the Second World War, Carey, now based with No 43 Squadron at Acklington, shared in the destruction of three He 111 bombers. Commissioned a Pilot Officer, he was posted to No 3 Squadron in France where, during the Blitzkrieg, he destroyed eleven enemy aircraft before being shot down himself by a Do 17’s rear gunner. However, Carey was able to make an emergency landing and returned to England in mid June. He was awarded a DFC and Bar to add to an earlier DFM.
Carey rejoined No 43 Squadron at Tangmere and during the Battle of Britain destroyed a further six enemy aircraft before being shot down on 18 August 1940. Fortunately, he was able to make an emergency landing at Pulborough, Sussex. After a spell in hospital and as a flight commander with No 245 Squadron, he was posted to take command of No 135 Squadron as it sailed for Rangoon, Burma. On 27 February 1942, Carey was promoted to Wing Commander to lead the No 267 Wing. However, after destroying seven Japanese aircraft he contracted malaria. He recovered, was awarded a third DFC and was then tasked with the aerial defence of Calcutta. Early in 1943, Carey successfully formed an air fighting training unit at Orissa, south-west of Calcutta for pilots unfamiliar with local conditions and Japanese tactics.
In November 1944, Carey was given command of an OTU in Egypt with the rank of Group Captain and awarded the AFC. After the war ended, he returned to England, was granted a permanent commission and was posted to teach tactics at the Central Fighter Establishment at Tangmere. Later in his career he led a 2nd Tactical Air Force Wing in Germany and was appointed air adviser to the British High Commission in Australia. Group Captain Frank Carey was appointed CBE in 1960, retired from the RAF two years later and died, aged 92, in December 2004.
FRANK CAREY’S REPLICA MEDALS, HAT, FLYING SCARF AND BATTLE OF BRITAIN TIE ARE DISPLAYED IN A
CABINET IN THE MUSEUM’S BATTLE OF BRITAIN HALL.