Still, John


He was the only son of John Still (A1893-96) and Winifred Mary Still, nee Evans.    His father had served at Gallipoli in 1915 and had been wounded and taken prisoner.  Incarcerated in the notorious Afion Kara Hisar camp, he wrote a fascinating account of his captivity and a volume of war poetry (Poems in Captivity). The Stills were a family of long Wykehamist standing: John Still’s grandfather (also John Still) had been in Commoners under Moberly from 1859, and there is a marble in Seventh Chamber to an ancestor, “Nath. Tryon Still, Aulae Prae. 1798”.

John Still came into Mr. Robinson’s House in May 1933 and left in December 1935. He left the school early, being not much of a scholar, and spent some time in  Wales farming and in 1937 went out to Southern Rhodesia. There he joined the RAFVR in 1938, as Leading Aircraftsman 779026. He soon became known as a good pilot, and  after the completion of his training, he was sent to Egypt in 1940.  He was commissioned as Pilot Officer 80129 on November 11th 1940 (with seniority from November 9th).

Still was posted to 80 Squadron, which he joined  in late February 1941.  The first mention of Still in 80 Squadron’s Operational Record Book (National Archives AIR 27/669) comes on February 24th 1941. Whilst other pilots flew bomber escort missions that day, Still took off at 1040 for a “practice” flight which lasted until 1135. He flew three more times that day, always in the same aircraft, Gloster Gladiator II N5776.

He seems to have spent most of the next month acclimatising to the Gladiator aircraft and going up for frequent test flights, presumably to get him battle ready as quickly as possible.

His squadron converted shortly afterwards to the Hawker Hurricane.   A monoplane, instead of a biplane like the Gladiator, the Hurricane carried twice the number of guns and flew a hundred miles per hour faster and Still spend some time on practice flights.

On April 15th the Luftwaffe made heavy bombing raids on the airfields at Larissa, Kalambaka, Paramythia and Niamata; fourteen Hurricanes and at least ten Blenheims were destroyed and 80 Squadron scrambled six Hurricanes to intercept twenty-five Ju88s over Athens, shooting down six and claiming another ‘probable’. Still claimed one shot down – though this remains unconfirmed.

On April 20th 1941 at 0945, two Hurricanes were sent by 80 Squadron to protect shipping in Khalkis harbour; the two aircraft were flown by Still and Sergeant Bennett.  However, three enemy Bf109Es intercepted them over Lamia, and Major Wolfgang Schellmann shot down Still’s Hurricane (V7748) near Tanagra.  Still was killed, aged twenty. He was posted missing, presumed killed, and has no known grave.   He is commemorated, for reasons not entirely clear, on column 241 of the Alamein Memorial.

 

 

 

 

War: World War 2

  • Surname: Still
  • Forenames or initials: John
  • House: H
  • Years in School: 1933-1935
  • Rank: Pilot Officer
  • Regiment: RAF Volunteer Reserve
  • Date of Birth: 16th August 1919
  • Date of Death: 20th April 1941
  • How Died: Killed in Action
  • Location in War Cloister: Inner A2
  • Decoration: NA
  • Burial Site: Unknown but commemorated on Column 241 of the Alamein Memorial