Back To 1921-30







Hary Wings Day
1. Name
Harry Melville Arbuthnot DAY
2. Date Commissioned
September 1916
3. Date retired
1950. Died 2 December 1977
4. Rank
Group Captain RAF
5. Awarded wings
April 1925
6. Flying schools

RAF Netheravon No.1 FTS 16 June 1924
RAF Leuchars 9 January 1925

7. Aircraft types flown
Avro 504K. Sopwith Snipe, Fairey Flycatcher, Blenheim
8. Squadrons
403 Flight - Hermes
Flycatcher/Seaplane Flight - Tamar
408 Flight - Glorious
9. Aircraft Carriers
Hermes 1925-28
Glorious 1929-30
10. Senior Appointments

Royal Air Force:
Commanded C Flight 23 Squadron RAF Kenley
1938-39 CO Advanced Training Sqdn. Little Rissington
1939 CO 57 Sqdn. Blenheims
1947-48 Commanded RAF Netheravon
1949-50 Commanded RAF Netheravon


Awarded the Albert Medal on 9 November 1918 for the rescue of two wounded men trapped below deck after HMS Britannia was torpedoed off Gibraltar. The Albert Medal was converted to the GEORGE CROSS in 1971.
D.S.O. O.B.E. December 1945. "For inspiring leadership as a prisoner of war".
Legion of Merit - U.S.A.
La Croix du Combattant de l'Europe 1969
F.N.C.V. Resistance Medal - Belgium
War Medals - General Service etc. 1914/18, 1939/45
Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Medal

12. General

Wings Day was educated at Haileybury and was commissioned into the Royal Marines in 1916. After a period of general service during which he was awarded the Albert Medal as above, he transferred to the Fleet Air Arm in 1924 and was on the first RN and RM Course at Netheravon in company with 18 other Royal Marines Officers who were on overlapping consecutive courses.

Having qualified as a fighter pilot he served in Hermes in 403 Flight. During the trouble between North and South China in 1926, he opened KAI TAK airfield alongside the docks at Hong Kong with a guard of 1 RM Corporal and 4 Marines plus an RAF fitter and a rigger. Two Flycatcher fighters were on the airfield and two Fairey IIID floatplanes
were moored at the docks.

In 1929 he formed 408 Fighter Flight which was embarked in HMS Glorious in 1929-30.

In 1930 Wings Day transferred to the Royal Air Force as a Flight Lieutenant and quickly made his mark as leader of the synchronised aerobatic flight at the Hendon Air Display 1931. He also won the Sassoon Trophy in 1931 and 1932.

After service in the Middle East in various appointments he was in command of 57 Squadron (Blenheims) as a Wing Commander at the outbreak of World War II.

On 13 October 1939 whilst on a futile flight from Metz to recce rail traffic from Hanover to the Ruhr his Blenheim was attacked by three ME 109s and he was shot down. His crew was killed but Day was taken prisoner and incarcerated in Spagenberg Castle. Here he was joined by Capt. G.B.K. Griffiths, RM. Subsequently he was moved to Dulag Luft and then commenced his escape policy to harrass the Germans. In all, he escaped seven times and on one occasion was in the condemned cell at Sachsenhausen chained by an ankle to the floor. The full account is in Sidneys Smith's book, "Wings Day", a story of great courage and leadership exercised on personality and force of character rather than on rank. He was promoted to Group Captain and was awarded the D.S.O. and O.B.E., unprecedented for prisoner-of-war service. He also received the U.S.A. Legion of Merit.

He retired in 1950 but remained active, often in periods of ill-health, in ex-prisoner­of-war affairs and maintaining contact and renewing comradeship with those who survived. He also maintained a love and interest in the Royal Marines and he took a great deal of trouble to keep in touch with old friends. 'He was early a member of the RM Officers Dinner Club and a regular attender at functions. He was anexuberant man and he often arrived singing "Happy days are here again".

He died in Malta (aged 79) on 2 December 1977 and his decorations are now on display in the Medal Collection in the RM Museum.