Dennis David shot down over 8 enemy aircraft during the Battle of Britain and achieved a total of 20 confirmed victories to make him one of Great Britain's leading aces. Commissioned in the Royal Air Force in 1938, the 19-year-old Welshman earned his wings that August. His first post was to Hurricanes with 87 Squadron. As part of the British Expeditionary Force, his squadron deployed to France in September 1939. On 10 May 1940, the German blitzkrieg swept into France. On that day, Pilot Officer David observed Luftwaffe aircraft bombing the airfield at Senon, France, and initiated an attack, which resulted in his first aerial victory, a Dornier 17.
By the time his squadron withdrew to England on 30 May, he had destroyed at least 10 more enemy aircraft. Based at RAF Exeter during the height of the Battle of Britain, David continued his impressive string of victories through the desperate days of August and September 1940, including action during the climactic air battle of 15 September. In November 1940, he joined 152 Squadron and flew Spitfires. During 1941-1943, David flew Hurricanes with operational flying training units and rose to the rank of wing commander. In July 1943, he was posted to command 89 Squadron, a nightfighter unit equipped with the Beaufighter.
Based in the Western Desert, his squadron flew intercept and intruder missions. Following action in the Middle East and Mediterranean, 89 Squadron moved to Ceylon in 1944. While in the Far East, he participated in the liberation of Burma as Air Corps Liaison Officer to General Sir A.F.P. Christison of the XV Indian Corps. Then in January 1945, while flying a light liaison aircraft over the key island of Akyab on the Arakan coast, he discovered the Japanese had departed. David landed to confirm his observation and thus earned the title "The RAF officer who captured Akyab." Following the war, he was assigned to the Middle East.
In 1949, he took command of 324 Wing, flying Vampires--the first jets to operate in the Middle East. In 1955, he was selected as Honorary Aide to Viscount Trenchard until the " Father of the RAF" died in 1956. David was then appointed as Her Majesty's Air Attaché in Budapest. While behind the Iron Curtain, he witnessed many of the atrocities committed during the repression of the Hungarian uprising. More importantly, he assisted over 400 people to escape. For his actions, Grand Duke Arpad of Hapsburg, the exiled, hereditary Royal Ruler of Hungary, in 1981 inducted David into the Knightly Order of Vitez--only the eighth non-Hungarian to be so honored. Group Captain David retired from the RAF in 1967 and has been active with Battle of Britain Veterans, projects to aid Free Hungary, RAF charities, and burn victims.
On 15 August 1940, the Luftwaffe launched 1,786 bombers and fighters against England, the most sorties of any single day during the Battle of Britain. The RAF mounted a furious defense, which included two intercept missions by Pilot Officer Dennis David. Flying an 87 Squadron Hurricane out of RAF Exeter, David was credited with downing a Junkers 87 and a Messerschmitt 110 by himself and assisting in the destruction of a second Me-110.