Saturday, 8 September 2012

Air Vice-Marshal F.D. 'Hawk Eyes' Hughes

Back when I blogged about Spink's  Bentley Priory Battle of Britain Trust Appeal Charity Auction.  I discussed 'Cat's Eyes' Cunningham, and used the following illustration.

Not 'Cat's Eyes' Cuningham's medal group

Well, of course, it's not Cunningham's group.  In the words of Spink (their punctuation, I assure you!) it is
The Important and Outstanding C.B., C.B.E., Second War D.S.O., D.F.C. and Two Bars, Post-War A.F.C. Group of Ten to Air Vice-Marshal F. D. 'Hawk Eyes' Hughes, Royal Air Force, Who Claimed His First Victories in Defiants During the Battle of Britain, and Added to His Score in Beaufighters in the Mediterranean and as a Squadron C.O. in Mosquitos Over North-West Europe; He Finished With A Personal Score of 18 Victories.
As a Native of the Emerald Isle He Was Second Only to 'Paddy' Finucane in Confirmed Victories, and was Right On The Tail of John 'Cat's Eyes' Cunningham As The Highest-Scoring Night Fighter Ace of the Second World War.
Frederick Desmond Hughes was born on 6 June 1919 in Belfast.  He was studying at Pembroke College, Cambridge, and a member of the University Air Squadron when he was called up in September 1939.  By the end of the war he was a Wing Commander, in command of 604 (County of Middlesex) Sqn, and was offered a permanent commission.  He retired in 1974 as an Air Vice-Marshal and died on 11 January 1992.

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross
Flying Officer Frederick Desmond HUGHES (74706), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No.264 Squadron.
Flying Officer Hughes and Sergeant Gash as pilot and air gunner respectively have participated in numerous engagements against the enemy, both by day and night. During these flights four enemy aircraft have been destroyed, of which two were shot down at night.
London Gazette – 18 April 1941

Citation for the award of the Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross
Acting Squadron Leader Frederick Desmond HUGHES, DFC (74706), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No. 600 Squadron.
As pilot and observer respectively, Squadron Leader Hughes and Flying Officer Dixon have flown together on many night sorties in operations in North Africa. During these flights they have destroyed 3 enemy aircraft. Squadron Leader Hughes and Flying Officer Dixon have displayed great skill and keenness, setting a praiseworthy example.
London Gazette – 13 April 1943
Citation for the award of the Second Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross
“Acting Squadron Leader Frederick Desmond HUGHES, DFC (74706), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No.600 Squadron.
Squadron Leader Hughes is a brilliant night fighter whose determined efforts have met with further successes. Since being awarded a bar to 'the Distinguished Flying Cross he has destroyed 7 enemy aircraft. His total victories number at least 16, of which 13 have been destroyed at night. Squadron Leader Hughes is a highly efficient flight commander and his meritorious, work has been reflected in the efforts of his flight which has earned notable successes.
London Gazette - 28 September 1943

Hughes was awarded the DSO in 1945 and the AFC in 1954 he was appointed CBE in 1962 and CB in 1972.


  1. Could you tell me where abouts in donaghadee Desmond Hughes was born ? Thankyou

    1. Thank you. Do you happen to know what the identification markings of Wing Commander FD Hughes DH Mosquito MkXIII NF were

    2. The impression he was born in Donaghadee is incorrect; the error has been repeated from time to time. His own memoirs (p.3) say he was born at home on June 6th, 1919 in Myrtlefield Park, Belfast. He spent much of his youth in the new family home, built ca. 1931, in Donaghadee.

    3. Thank you for the correction.


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