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From Sapper to Spitfire Spy (Hardback)

The WWII Biography of David Greville-Heygate DFC

WWII Aviation World War Two Aviation Spitfires & Hurricanes

By David Greville-Heygate, Sally-Anne Greville-Heygate
Imprint: Pen & Sword Aviation
Pages: 294
ISBN: 9781473843882
Published: 7th September 2015

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David Greville-Heygate was one of the few men who served in both the army and the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, but it was in the sky that he really earned his stripes. Stalking the skies flying photo-reconnaissance missions with No. 16 Squadron over Northern France, he was to win the illustrious and highly coveted Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC). Another highlight saw him in action in the skies above the French coastline in preparation for the D-Day landings, taking photographs that would provide the allies with essential intelligence upon which to base their plans. Based in Holland in December 1944, David flew armed recces with No.168 Squadron then transferred to No.2 Squadron where he reported on troop movements behind German lines. During the course of a dynamic and eventful career, he flew a wide variety of iconic wartime aircraft including Lysanders, Mustangs, Typhoons and Spitfires in England, the Netherlands and Germany.

Although there have been many stories about the Battle of Britain there has been less published about the life of a photo reconnaissance pilot during this time. David's thrilling exploits in the sky and the part he played within the context of the wider war are enlivened here to great effect by his daughter, Sally-Anne Greville Heygate, herself a professional photographer. Using snippets from diary entries, letters, logbooks, squadron records and other documents, she has managed to construct an engaging history of a talented photo-reconnaissance pilot and the war in which he fought.

Called up by the army in August 1939 David Greville-Heygate operated a searchlight until commissioned at Sandhurst. Posted to the Loyals in Portsmouth he had ‘a bit of a row’ with his Brigadier and labelled an Army Rebel. After training as an Army Co-operation pilot he flew No. 16 Squadron Lysanders and Mustangs. Photographs he took of Northern France were used to plan the D-Day landings.

Later, declared unfit for high flying, David worked as an instructor until December 1944 when he was posted to Holland to fly Typhoons with No.168 Squadron. A lucky break saw him transfer to No.2 Squadron and for the rest of the war David flew photo-recce Spitfires recording German troop movements.

Raf Commands

As featured in

Salisbury Journal

As featured in

Southern Daily Echo

As featured in

Harborough Mail

As featured in

Davizes Gazette & Herald

'Sally-Anne Greville-Haygate has written a fascinating account of her father David's wartime experiences.'

Wiltshire Life Magazine

This is an utterly fascinating story of an extraordinary man. The role of the photo reconnaissance pilots is often forgotten, but operating behind enemy lines with no protection but the speed of the aircraft and their own flying skill, these men were certainly very real heroes. This is a wonderful testimony to a very courageous man.

James Holland, Author & Historian

Using snippets from diary entries, letters, logbooks, squadron records, and other documents, the author has managed to construct an engaging history of a talented photo-reconnaissance pilot and the war in which fought.

Pennant May 2016

As featured in

Dorset Life

Good coverage of a pilot in a more unusual role.

Aeroplane Monthly, August 2016

As featured in

Wiltshire Times

'Without doubt this book is an excellent read. ...and I would recommend it as a superb book full of pictures and personal accounts of a very brave man.'

Sussex Views Magazine

About David Greville-Heygate

David Greville-Heygate was one of the few men who served in both the army and the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, but it was in the sky that he really earned his stripes. Stalking the skies flying photo-reconnaissance missions with No. 16 Squadron over Northern France, he was to win the illustrious and highly coveted Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC). Another highlight saw him in action in the skies above the French coastline in preparation for the D-Day landings, taking photographs that would provide the allies with essential intelligence upon which to base their plans. Based in Holland in December 1944, David flew armed recces with No.168 Squadron then transferred to No.2 Squadron where he reported on troop movements behind German lines. During the course of a dynamic and eventful career, he flew a wide variety of iconic wartime aircraft including Lysanders, Mustangs, Typhoons and Spitfires in England, the Netherlands and Germany.

Although there have been many stories about the Battle of Britain there has been less published about the life of a photo reconnaissance pilot during this time. David's thrilling exploits in the sky and the part he played within the context of the wider war are enlivened here to great effect by his daughter, Sally-Anne Greville Heygate, herself a professional photographer. Using snippets from diary entries, letters, logbooks, squadron records and other documents, she has managed to construct an engaging history of a talented photo-reconnaissance pilot and the war in which he fought.


 Sally-Anne Greville-Heygate

About Sally-Anne Greville-Heygate

Sally-Anne Greville-Heygate is the daughter of David Greville-Heygat. She is a professional photographer, using snippets from diary entries, letters, logbooks, squadron records and other documents, she has managed to construct an engaging history of a talented photo-reconnaissance pilot and the war in which he fought.

Perfect Partner

Ben Bennions DFC Battle of Britain Fighter Ace (Hardback)

'Ben' Bennions enlisted in the pre-war RAF in 1929, serving first as an 'erk' before being selected for pilot training. His first posting saw him serving in the Middle- East with 41 Squadron, returning to the UK and Catterick, where the squadron was still stationed at the declaration of war. Patrols and scrambles were common throughout the early months of the conflict, but it was in May 1940, that 41 Squadron first saw the enemy in any number, providing air cover for the retreating BEF. Bennions recorded his first combat victory on 28 July – he was to damage or destroy 20 plus enemy aircraft…

By Nick Thomas

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