George Lott joined the RAF as a Halton apprentice in 1922, trained as a pilot in 1927 and was commissioned in 1933. By 1939 he had risen to squadron leader rank and took over command of No 43 Squadron (the ‘Fighting Cocks’) four days after war was declared on 7 September 1939. He led the squadron with distinction during the spring of 1940 and destroyed two enemy aircraft. He was awarded the DFC at the end of May 1940.
On 9 July 1940, flying from RAF Tangmere and with Pilot Officer Carey and Sergeant Mills, Lott met head-on six German Bf 110s off Littlehampton, Sussex. Lott was wounded when a cannon shell exploded on his armoured windscreen. Blinded in his right eye and suffering intense pain and with his Hurricane on fire he decided to attempt a return to base. However, three miles short of Tangmere, the increasing flames forced him to bail out at the low level of seven hundred feet. His parachute opened and his Hurricane crashed on Fontwell racecourse and was completely burnt out with only the tail wheel recognisable. This was given by the squadron’s Engineering Officer to a local policeman who had been guarding the wrecked Hurricane – he said it was just what he needed for his wheel barrow.
Lott’s injury meant that he remained non-operational for the remainder of the war. He later commanded the flying training programme provided by the seven British Flying Training Schools (BFTS) in the USA. George Lott retired from the RAF with the rank of air vice marshal. He died on 31 December 1989 and is buried in St Andrew’s churchyard, Tangmere.
GEORGE LOTT’S CATERPILLAR TIE (AWARDED TO THOSE SAVED BY PARACHUTE) AND HIS No 4 BFTS (MESA, ARIZONA) TIE ARE DISPLAYED IN THE MUSEUM’S TANGMERE HALL.