Spitfire Books
John Kilmartin signed cover
John Kilmartin

John Kilmartin

Battle of Britain Ace

Cover signed by John Kilmartin

  • Price: £ 45

Battle of Britain Memorial Flight 1987 Cover signed by

Wing Commander John ‘Killy’ Kilmartin DFC

1 Squadron, Battle of France
43 Squadron, Battle of Britain

Commanding Officer 602, 128 & 504 Squadrons
 Hornchurch Wing Leader
Wing Leader 136 Typhoon Wing in Normandy
CO 910 Thunderbolt Wing in Burma

Ace with 13+ victories

Certified copy 10 of 49 in Fine condition


Irishman, John “Killy” Kilmartin was the son of a forester and one of eight children. His father died when he was nine years old and he was shipped out to Australia under a scheme known as ‘Big Brother’.  As soon as he was old enough, he obtained a job on a cattle station in New South Wales, where he remained for nearly five years during the Great Depression of the Thirties, then joining an aunt in Shanghai, China. Here he worked as a clerk in the accounts department of the Shanghai Gas Works for over two years until he saw an advertisement for short service commission applicants in the RAF during 1936. Applying, he obtained a reply in about three months and set out in the Trans-Siberian railway in company with a group of Japanese sumo wrestlers heading for the Berlin Olympics.

He was taught to fly at a civilian school in Perthshire, Scotland, and was then accepted by the RAF in February 1937, completing his training at 6 Flying Training School, Nether Avon, and joining 43 Squadron late in the year. At the start of the war, he took the opportunity to join 1 Squadron in France at the start of November 1939, becoming involved in several of the unit’s early actions and then during the heavy fighting of the ‘Blitzkrieg’ of May 1940. On return to the UK at the end of the month, he was posted as an instructor to 5 Operational Training Unit until August, when he returned to 43 Squadron as a flight commander. Here he immediately claimed two further victories before the unit was withdrawn north to rest.

After a short posting to command 602 Squadron and helped to form 313 Squadron, the third Czech fighter squadron, he was posted out to West Africa, where he was to command 128 Squadron from March to August 1942. He returned to the UK late that year and was posted as a supernumerary to 504 Squadron, becoming commanding officer in January 1943. During 1944 he was given command of 136 Wing, which was equipped with Typhoons, taking this unit to Normandy after the invasion. After the unit was disbanded later in June, he went to Head Quarters of the 2nd TAF where he remained until the end of the European war. After that he served in Burma on Thunderbolts and commanded Medan airfield in Sumatra. He ended the war with a total of 13 awarded claims destroyed and 2 shared destroyed and 1 damaged.

After the war he was posted at several positions in NATO until July 1958, when he retired form the service. He settled in Devon and he ran a chicken farm for 15 years before going abroad to Europe for ten years. He eventually returned to Devon and died there in 1998.