Frederick (Freddie) Webb was born in London in 1924 and grew up in the Croydon area.  From a young age he had a keen interest in flying, and was one of the earliest members of 66 Squadron (Selsdon) Air Defence Cadet Corps.

On leaving school he became a trainee draughtsman and joined the RAF aged 18 in 1942, having won a place on The University Short Course Scheme.  Successful aircrew candidates for such courses were considered suitable for commissioning and, in addition to a six month university course, were also required to join their University’s Air Squadron and to complete the Initial Training Wing course under its auspices.


Freddie Webb RAF

Pilot Officer F E Webb

On completion of the University course,  qualifying candidates were posted to Elementary Flying Training School  ( EFTS) and then, in Freddie’s case, for pilot training under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan in Canada.  He trained in Saskatchewan from early 1943 and described Canada as ‘a wizard place’ in a letter home to his brother.

He returned to the UK in August 1943 having gained his pilot’s wings, and was commissioned as a Pilot Officer on 6 August 1943.  Advanced pilot flying training was followed by a posting to 577 Squadron at Castle Bromwich in March 1944 on flying duties.

577 Sqn was an anti-aircraft co-operation squadron, which provided target practice and drogue towing for anti-aircraft gunners.  The squadron flew Hurricanes, Oxfords, and Spitfires and three of its pilots were killed during the war in flying accidents.

While posted to 577 Sqn, Freddie met his future wife, Phyllis, whom he married in 1945.


At the end of the war, Freddie stayed on in the RAF as a Flight Lieutenant and, in September 1945, he was posted to Coltishall for training as a Controller.  In November 1946, he was designated as a Sector Controller for Eastern Sector, which was a desk appointment as Sector Controllers were ground control staff responsible for directing fighter aircraft movement.  Further desk jobs followed at HQ Fighter Command along with promotion to Squadron Leader until, tragically, in July 1949 Freddie was killed in a road accident at the age of 25.  His service record notes him as on duty at the time of his death, and he was at that time taking part in Operation Foil, a 14 day defensive air exercise in which mock air attacks were made on RAF airfields and civilian targets.

Frederick E Webb RAF

Freddie left two young sons, and his elder son continued the family tradition by also serving in the RAF as fighter pilot.


Phylis Webb WAAF

Phyllis Webb WAAF

Freddie’s wife, Phyllis, was born in 1922 in Northern Ireland and married, firstly, an Indian Army officer in 1941.  On the Home Front she supported the war effort by service with the YMCA until her call up into the WAAF in 1942.

She trained and served as an airfield ambulance driver, and met her future second husband, Freddie, when they were both stationed at 577 Squadron.  She and Freddie married in 1945, and she was demobbed from the WAAF in 1946.  The family lived in the Redhill area, and Phyllis remained there after Freddie’s death bringing up their two sons.  She died in 2012.



In February 2016 Freddie and Phyllis’s son, Keith Webb, visited the Centre to deposit copied and original documentation relating to his parents’ wartime service.  The Centre is proud to preserve and store these documents, which include copies of both their service records, photographs, and newspaper cuttings.


Phyllis Webb, YMCA CertThe Second World War Experience Centre

May 2016  Acc 2016.0270 – 2016.0271