Group Captain John Merifield joined the RAF in 1939, having cut short his studies at Oxford University.

By spring 1940 he had completed his pilot training and was posted to the School of Army Cooperation at Old Sarum. During his time here he flew Lysanders, best known for their exceptional short-field performance, which allowed missions transporting Special Operations Executives (SOEs) to and from occupied Europe.

Merifield was then posted to the Photo Reconnaissance Unit (PRU) at RAF Benson. Having completed 160 missions in the Mosquito and taken the first photograph of a V1 rocket on a launch ramp, he was regarded as one of the best PR pilots of WWII.

Later in his career, Merifield flew F-86 Sabre combat missions in Korea with the USAF, and served as Station Commander at RAF Khormaksar in Aden, Yemen.

He died in 1961 while on a Whirlwind helicopter conversion course at RAF Upavon. His aircraft suffered catastrophic failure and crashed, killing both Merifield and his instructor.

Image below: © IWM

Aerial reconnaissance view of the V1 launching ramps at the Luftwaffe Test Installation, Peenemunde West, Usedom Island, Germany, showing a Fiesler Fi 103 flying bomb positioned on its ramp (arrowed). This was the photograph from which Flight Officer Constance Babington-Smith, a photographic interpreter at the Allied Central Interpretation Unit, RAF Medmenham, Buckinghamshire, confirmed the existence of the V1. The sortie was carried out by a Mosquito of No. 540 Squadron flown by Squadron Leader J R H Merifield and his navigator Flying Officer W N Whalley.