Wing Commander John Buchanan, from Southsea, was one of Portsmouth’s most highly decorated senior officers of the Second World War. Born in 1918 and a former pupil of Portsmouth Grammar School, Buchanan was commissioned into the Royal Air Force as a Pilot Officer in May 1937.
Flying Wellington Bombers with 37 Squadron at the start of the war, he few on operations over Belgium and France in 1940. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on 30 July 1940 for gallantry and devotion to duty in the execution of air operations. In January 1944 he was also awarded a Croix de Guerre by the Belgian Government, for operations in 1940. Later in 1940 he was posted to 14 Squadron in the Sudan, who were flying Blenheims. With 14 Squadron he also served in Egypt and Iraq.
Then after transferring to the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean, he flew Beaufighters in the anti-shipping role. In 1943 he was awarded a Distinguished Service Order. This officer has participated in a very large number of sorties, involving bombing attacks against many countries occupied by the enemy. He arrived in Malta in November, 1942, and, within the next 14 days, led his squadron in 6 bombing attacks on enemy shipping. During these operations, Wing Commander Buchanan destroyed 6 enemy aircraft in combat. He is a magnificent leader whose great skill and fine fighting qualities have been of incalculable value.
By 1944 he was the Commanding Officer of 227 Squadron. He was only 24. On 16 February 1944 he was shot down off the coast of Greece while leading a section of four Beaufighters against a dredger sixty miles south of Athens. Buchanan and his Navigator managed to get into a Dinghy dropped by another aircraft, but although Buchanan seemed unharmed, he went quiet and died.
Wing Commander Buchanan is buried in El Alamein War Cemetery in Egypt. He is also remembered on the Portsmouth Grammar School Memorial.