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Scotch’s unknown flight ace

WORDS: Mr Paul Mishura

Scotch has long known and been proud of its World War I fighter ace Robert Little (‘13). However, a man about whom Scotch knew nothing until recently has a rightful claim to take his place as Scotch’s World War II fighter ace: Howard Clive Mayers.

Born at Sydney on 9 January 1910, he was enrolled as Clive Howard Mayers in the very new Scotch College Junior School at Hawthorn on 12 February 1918. Howard was the last of five Mayers brothers to enter Scotch in 1918. He left on 14 December 1918 to go to Geelong Grammar School along with all of his brothers.

Howard joined 601 Squadron on 3 August 1940 and was shot down 10 days later, suffering slight wounds as he baled out of his Hurricane P2690 into the sea. Fighting in the Battle of Britain, Howard claimed seven ‘victories’ to be the fourth best Australian pilot in that battle. On 1 October 1940 he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Six days later he was shot down again, suffering slight injuries as he made a forced landing near Portland.

Leaving his squadron in May 1941, Howard was posted to the Middle East, and in July 1941 was given command of 94 Squadron in Egypt. On 25 December 1941 he landed amid the enemy to pick up another pilot who had been shot down. A Bar was added to his DFC for this action on 13 February 1942. In January 1942 Howard was promoted to lead a Hurricane Wing, moving to 239 Wing in April 1942. He increased his total victories to 12 on 20 July 1942 when he shot down an MC202, after which he was forced to land his Kittyhawk in the Qattara Depression. Howard was never seen again, and it was believed he was captured and possibly killed when a ship carrying prisoners to Sicily was sunk by British fighters. Recommended for the DSO shortly before his death, it was posthumously gazetted on 28 July 1942.

Updated: Monday 24 June 2013