Born in Dunmanway, Co. Cork, Group Captain Francis Victor Beamish “was one of a small band of near-legendary figures in the RAF.” Beamish entered the RAF in the early 1920s as a flight cadet. Over the years he established an outstanding record as pilot and leader.
In 1933, adversity struck when Beamish was forced to leave the RAF because of a near-fatal bout with turberculosis. Battling back, Beamish was readmitted to the RAF in 1937. In the Battle of Britain, Beamish flew an incredible 126 fighter sorties, many of them solo and totaling more than any of the much younger men under his command. Decorated three times for his courage, Beamish disappeared during air combat in 1942, near Calais, presumed lost over the Channel. He was 39 years of age.
The acclaimed biography Wings Aflame: The Biography of Group Captain Victor Beamish DSO and Bar DFC AFC (1999) is still available at Amazon.
Beamish’s three brothers George, Charles and Cecil all served with distinction in the RAF. All four brothers were accomplished sportsmen and RAF officers.