AIR CHIEF MARSHAL SIR PETER SQUIRE

The funeral took place last week for family and friends at Holy Trinity Church Gidleigh of Sir Peter Squire the courageous brilliant fighter pilot who lead the Red Arrows display team and fought during the Falklands War.

Peter Squire led his squadron of Harrier jets on ground attack operations during the war for which he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

In 1981 Squire assumed the command of No 1 Squadron based at RAF Wittering. Returning with his squadron of Harriers from Canada, using in-flight refuelling mid Atlantic, when his squadron was put on standby to fight in the South Atlantic. Five of his Harriers landed on HMS Hermes where they joined a Fleet Air Arm squadron of Sea Harriers.

The following day Squire and his squadron took off on the first of 23 bombing, rocketing and reconnaissance operations and acted as air cover during the Battle of Goose Green. During a low-level rocket attack on Stanley airfield with his wingman the two fighter jets came under intensive anti-aircraft fire, both jets were hit but managed get their planes back to Hermes.

On his final sortie he managed to drop laser-guided bomb on enemy positions, the first time it was used by an RAF aircraft. The following day the Argentinian forces surrendered.

The DFC was awarded to Sir Peter for valour and leadership as officer commanding the RAF Number 1 F Squadron during the Falklands War. The citation mentioned his ‘great courage’ and ‘steadiness under enemy fire’.

During the war Squire was forced to crash land at San Carlos Bay electing not to eject and hit the ground ‘very hard’ the aircraft was a right-off, but Squire walked away with a bump on his forehead. He nearly had to be awarded the DFC posthumously after an Argentine bullet ripped through his cockpit just missing his head as he bombed Mount Tumbledown.

Squire later took important appointments with the RAF becoming Chief of the Air Staff in April 2000. Sir Peter Squire was later promoted to Air Chief Marshal in 1996 and knighted in 1997.

Friends and family braved the snowy conditions to attend the service in Dartmoor village of Gidleigh where Sir Peter lived for many years. A memorial service is to take place in London later this year.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Peter Marshal GCB, DFC, AFC died aged 72.

Stuart Clarke

Author: Stuart Clarke

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