Today GForces is currently flying its flag at half mast and will for the rest of the week as a mark of respect to Flight Lieutenant James Corbin, who has sadly passed away. The GForces site was named after ‘Jimmy’, in recognition of his heroic efforts as a fighter pilot in the skies above during World War II.
Jimmy was always a guest of honour at GForces and we were delighted that he was able to officially open the new GForces facility, together with two of his former RAF comrades, in 2007.
Born and bred in Maidstone, Jimmy was an airman through-and-through, learning to fly after joining the RAF Volunteer Reserve in 1938, at Rochester Airport. With just 20 hours of flight time in his log-book he was called into action as war broke out, graduating into Spitfires after stints at several flying schools.
He was one of ‘the few’ who flew in combat throughout the Battle of Britain, first with 66 Squadron at Coltishall then briefly with 610 Squadron based near Newcastle, before returning to 66 Squadron and his native Kent. He saw considerable action in the skies above his home county, citing the fact that he didn’t want to see the enemy over-run his home town – which he could see from his cockpit as he flew in action – as a major driving force.
In one particular dogfight, he recalled being ‘jumped’ by around 30 German fighters yet managing to elude their guns. While undertaking offensive missions strafing German airfields in France he was hit by flack, but managed to nurse his damaged Spitfire back to England to resume combat missions. In the latter stages of the conflict, he was posted to Gibraltar and supported Operation Torch in Algiers after a year-long spell as a gunnery instructor.
After the war, Jimmy returned to teaching engineering – his career before war broke out – and settled in Bearsted with his wife and three children.
Although we greatly regret Jimmy’s passing, it reminds us of those who fought – and continue to fight – on our behalf. At GForces we have always been extremely proud of working in a building that bears his name. The news of Flight Lieutenant Corbin’s death simply enhances this sense of pride.