John Groves Topham

RAF    A/C

DSO,  DFC  &  Bar

John Topham was born in Bradford, 18 March 1917.
He attended Stand Grammar School, manchester.
He joined the RAF on a short service commission in February 1939, when war looked imminent.
Acting P/O on Probation, Gazetted 18 April 1939.
He did his elementary flying at 6 E&RFTS, Sywell and
moved on to 11 FTS, Shawbury.
P/O on Probation, 28 November 1939.
Winged early in 1940, he was posted to 219 Sqn., Catterick.
P/O, Gazetted 27 February 1940.
In Sept., 219 began to convert to Beaufighters & Topham teamed up with Sgt. H W 'Wilber' Berridge in late 1940;  a night-fighting partnership that was to last over 3 years.
F/O, Gazetted 31 December 1940.
John Topham
In October 1943 he took command of 125 squadron at Exeter with Berridge as his navigator.
F/L (war sub), Gazetted 16 November 1943.
F/L, Gazetted 9 November 1945.
S/L, Gazetted 22 March 1946 & again 25 February 1947.
He retired 20 August 1968 as an Air Commodore.



Distinguished Flying Cross

Acting S/L John Groves TOPHAM (41882), No. 219 Squadron.

This officer has participated in operational flying over a long period. He is a skilful and keen night fighter pilot and, although he has frequently carried out his sorties in extremely unfavourable flying conditions, he has destroyed 2 Junkers 88's. Squadron Leader Topham has at all times set a worthy example. London Gazette February 27 1942


Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross

Air Ministry, July, 1942. ROYAL AIR FORCE.
The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the following awards in recognition of gallantry displayed in flying operations against the enemy: —

Acting S/L John Groves TOPHAM, D.F.C. (41882), No. 219 Squadron.

This officer has performed work of outstanding merit. A skilful pilot and a fine leader, Squadron Leader Topham has been tireless in his efforts to attain success. By his personal example he has been largely responsible for the high standard of morale existing in his squadron. Squadron Leader Topham has destroyed five enemy aircraft during sorties at night.


Distinguished Service Order

Acting W/C John Groves TOPHAM, D.F.C. & Bar (41882) R.A.F.O., 125 Sqn.

This officer has completed a large number of operational flying hours since being awarded a Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross. His knowledge of all aspects of night fighting tactics is profound and his example of courage and tenacity has impressed all. Fourteen enemy aircraft have fallen to his guns at night. - London Gazette August 29 1944.


Victories Include :

15/16 Aug 1940

13/14 Mar 1941
13/14 June 1941

25/26 Apr 1942
7/8 May 1942
8/9 June 1942
6/7 July 1942
25/26 July 1942
19/20 Sep 1942

26/27 Apr 1944
28/29 Apr 1944
27/28 May 1944
18/19 June 1944
one Ju88

one He111
one u/i e/a

one Do17
one He111 *
one Ju88
one Do217
two Do217s
one Do217

one Ju188
one Ju88
one Me410
two Ju88s




13 / 1 / 1

* Or Ju88

Score from Aces High [Shores & Williams]

DSO citation says 14 destroyed but its probably counting the probable


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On these pages I use Hugh Halliday's extensive research which includes info from numerous sources; newspaper articles via the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation (CMCC); the Google News Archives; the London Gazette Archives and other sources both published and private.

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