In 1935, Eric Seabourne joined No 601 Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force, as an air gunner. Three years later he joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve for pilot training and in August commenced his training at Redhill Aerodrome flying DH 60s, Magisters, Harts and Audaxes. After being called to full time service, he was posted to No 9 Flying Training School, RAF Hullavington for further training where he had a crash in a Hawker Audax aircraft and was presented with the broken propeller tip mounted on a wooden shield. Later, having successfully completed his training, he briefly joined No 151 Squadron at RAF Martlesham Heath before being posted to the recently reformed No 238 Squadron at RAF Tangmere. On 20 June, the squadron left Tangmere for RAF Middle Wallop where Seabourne went solo on a Hurricane. After only seven hours experience on type he was declared operational.
On 13 July, Seabourne shared in destroying a Bf 110 and damaged two more in his first encounter with the Luftwaffe. On 8 August, he shot down a Bf 109 and five days later destroyed two more before being shot down himself. Seabourne’s cockpit hood jammed but after turning his aircraft on its back he was able to escape and parachuted into the sea off the Isle of Wight. He was picked up by a Royal Navy destroyer and after receiving treatment for his burns at the RN Hospital Haslar underwent plastic surgery by Harold Gillies at the Park Prewett Hospital, Basingstoke. After recovering from his injuries, he later served in Air Sea Rescue squadrons and after the war remained in the RAF until December 1960.
ERIC SEABOURNE’S AUDAX BROKEN PROPELLER BLADE CAN BE SEEN IN THE MUSEUM’S BATTLE OF BRITAIN HALL