The son of a World War I fighter ace, Bobby Oxspring was one of the RAF’s most celebrated World War II Spitfire pilots.
Already a veteran of the Battle of Britain with nine combat victories, on the morning of October 25th 1940 Oxspring was leading a patrol of Spitfires over Kent when he was vectored to intercept an enemy raid approaching North Foreland.
“I counted six Messerschmitt 109 Es in loose line abreast. I put the flight in line astern and ordered an attack. We peeled down in the bounce and I homed in on the leader. I was just getting into maximum range of about 500 yards when they saw us and my target bunted down in a steep dive. I stuck with my 109 and slowly got more into shooting range.’
“I was considering whether to open fire or get in closer when all hell broke loose. Something smashed into the fuselage behind me, the stick felt loose in my hand and the Spit violently rounded out of the dive and soared viciously in an upward zoom.’ Oxspring had been hit by the wingman of the Me109 he was attacking.’
“The resulting G forces blacked me out and I was helplessly pinned down in the seat. The Gs eased off and I saw I was inverted with the aircraft pitching down again into another dive. I confess that near panic took over and I started actions for bailing out.’
“I reached for the canopy opening bar, but once again the aircraft hit the base of the dive and hurtled into another climb and I blacked out once more. Again I came to in a near inverted attitude and I strove frantically to open the canopy but without success.’
“Finally with one big heave it shot back and I tried to stand up. I stuck my head into the slipstream, but found myself tied to the aircraft by my RT lead and oxygen tube so I leant back down and ripped my helmet off. As I did so my desire to part company with dear old X4170 was enhanced as I saw flames spreading along the cockpit floor between the rudder bars. It was obviously time to depart. The Spit was starting to dive again as I strove to get upright and as my shoulders cleared the cockpit I was plucked out into space.”
Oxspring returned to combat with 66 Squadron and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on November 8th 1940. In 1941 and 1942 Oxspring was awarded 2 Bars to his DFC for service over France and North Africa.
Returning to Britain, Oxspring was promoted Wing Leader. He took part in the Normandy invasion and Arnhem. He destroyed V1 rockets over London and Kent, and flew escort to the Bomber Command daylight offensive on Germany in 1944/5. Awarded a permanent commission at the end of the war, Bobby Oxspring retired from the RAF in 1968 with the rank of Group Captain.
The cufflinks are made from fragments of the Spitfire’s Merlin engine recovered from the crash site by aviation archaeologists.