Johnny Checketts

Served with 611 at Biggin Hill from January to July 1943. He stayed at Biggin Hill in July to take over 485 Sqn whilst 611 withdrew to Matlaske for a rest. He was a native of New Zealand and a book on his life was written in 1986 and has now been revised and updated and reprinted under the name JOHNNY CHECKETTS: THE ROAD TO BIGGIN HILL by Vincent Orange. Published by Grub Street Publishing is has the ISBN no 1-904943-79-9. Grub Street are at 4 Rainham Close, London SW11 6SS and it is priced at 16.00. It is a hard back with dust cover, 192 pages, 23 monochrome photos and a good index. It traces his whole life with the period with 611 covered in one chapter - Six. The narrative is lively and authoritative but has a slightly unusual flow which is a little disconcerting at first. There are two annoying errors which keep occurring and one would have expected a re-print to have seen these corrected. Fighter Ace and fellow New Zealander Al Deere is mentions in many places but always referred to as 'Alan' and not 'Al' which is the name he was universally known by. The other is the constant referrals to RAF 'missions'. This word applied to USAAC/USAAF operations whilst the RAF flew 'sorties' and 'operations' but NEVER a mission.

Apart from that it is well worth buying or borrowing from the library to get more insight into 611 whilst at Biggin Hill and to further understand the glorious past of 611 Squadron.

Johnny died peacefully at his home in Christchurch, New Zealand on 21 April 2006, aged 94.

The book is available via mail order from Amazon, Midland Counties Publications or can be ordered form any reputable book shop

Armstrong, Minto, Harris, Biggin Hill 8th Dec 1942