THIS year marks the 80th anniversary of The Battle of Britain, which saw Britain repel Hitler’s attempt to invade Britain (Operation Sea Lion), and led to Winston Churchill making one of his most famous speeches including the quote “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few”.

The Few as they became known were all those – not just from Britain – who came under Fighter Command and who saw off repeated attacks from the German Luftwaffe at great cost to themselves.

Among the Few was Ronald Yeaman Tucker, who lived at Leadgate near Alston.

Ronald was born in Morpeth in 1922.

His father died when Ronald was just 11 and he and his mother Jane came to live with his mother’s family at the Old School House in Leadgate. Jane had served in Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps during the First World War and had found work as a grocers assistant in Alston while Ronald attended Samuel King’s School in the town.

Ronald had always had an interest in aviation and in 1939 he joined the RAF as a Boy Entrant. He volunteered for air duties and remustered as an airman u/t Air Gunner. After completing his training he was posted to 219 Squadron at Catterick.

The squadron was a night fighter unit with the role of protecting coastal shipping. 219 Squadron flew Bristol Blenheim aircraft and in the early stages of the war the Gunners often complained about their lack of protection in the turret and the poor fire power of the Blenheim.

While flying in Bristol Blenheim L1168 as a member of Pilot Officer Ken Wordsell’s crew on 3rd July 1940, Ronald was involved in a ‘friendly fire’ incident.

It was one of three aircraft which were patrolling over the North Sea coast near Hartlepool when they came under attack from two Supermarine Spitfires.

The Spitfires, probably from 72 Squadron who were in the air at the same time had been instructed to intercept aircraft while flying near the Farne Islands off the Northumberland coast.

But in the poor weather conditions they mistook Ronald’s aircraft for one of the Luftwaffe and opened fire hitting Ronald’s aircraft twice, hitting both the starboard engine and the fuel tank.

Despite the damage the aircraft managed to land safely at Catterick about an hour later.

That was Ronald’s last operational flight with 219 Squadron, he left and joined 235 Squadron at Bircham Newton, King’s Lynn. The 235 Squadron was a fighter squadron and from February that year the squadron was used for fighter – reconnaissance duties.

Just six days after joining the squadron, Ronald took off as part of the crew of Blenheim N3541 which left, from RAF Bircham Newton for convoy escort duties.

They failed to return to base and it is believed the aircraft crashed into the North Sea off East Anglia due to poor weather conditions.

All three men on board were lost, pilot officer Robert Lawson Patterson (26), Sgt Lawrence Hugh Murrell Reece (26), and Ronald who was only 18 years old.

Ronald is remembered on the Battle of Britain Memorial Wall, the Runnymede Memorial, the Alston War Memorial and on the Roll of Honour at Samuel King’s School, Alston.