Cyril Stanley Bamberger, always known as “Bam” was born in Cheshire on May 4 1919. In 1934 he became an electrical engineering apprentice with Lever Brothers. Two years later he joined the ground staff of 610 (County of Chester) Squadron, Auxiliary Air Force, which was formed at Hendon on February 10 1936 and then operated Hawker Hind light bombers from Hooton Park, Ellesmere Port.
Bam was accepted for pilot training with the RAFVR 1938. He was called to full time service on the outbreak of war, completed his training and rejoined his former squadron, now with Spitfires, at Biggin Hill on July 27 1940, as a Sergeant pilot. Two days previously 610 had lost its CO, when Squadron Leader Tom Smith, crashed while attempting to land a damaged aircraft at Hawkinge, after combat with German fighters.
The new Co, Squadron Leader John Ellis, sent Bam to OTU (Operational Training Unit) for three weeks to gain Spitfire experience. On August 28, having returned to 610, Bam claimed at Bf 109 probably destroyed. With 610 moving north to Acklington at the end of August, Bam was posted to 41 Squadron at Hornchurch on September 17. On October 5, he gained his first confirmed combat victory, when, at about noon, north of Dungeness, he shot down a Bf 109 flown by Leutnant Alfred Zweis, who was reported missing.
In mid-October, as the Battle of Britain was coming to an end, Bam volunteered for Malta, where he joined 261 Squadron (Hurricanes) at Ta Kali. After Bam had destroyed two Ju 87s (“Stukas”), he moved to the newly re-formed 185 Squadron at Hal Far.
In June 1941, Bam was posted back to the UK, took a gunnery course, was commissioned in February 1942 and posted to Northern Ireland as a gunnery officer.
In March 1943 Flying Officer Bamberger volunteered for North Africa and returned to Malta and Hal Far to join 93 Squadron, equipped with Spitfires. On July 13 he destroyed a Ju 87 over Sicily. In August he joined 243 Squadron (Spitfires) in Sicily as a Flight Commander. A DFC was gazetted on September 28. He claimed one other enemy aircraft destroyed and two damaged before coming off operations in July 1944 for medical reasons. A bar to his DFC was announced on November 14 1944 and he received the award from King George VI at Buckingham Palace on July 3 1945.
Bam was released from the RAF in 1946 and returned to Lever Brothers, rejoining 610 Squadron at Hooton Park, which had been disbanded and re-formed with Spitfires. He became CO in 1950 and led the squadron’s conversion to Meteor jets. He was recalled to the RAF as a result of the Korean crisis, granted a permanent commission and eventually took up an intelligence post. He was one of the first pilots to fly the newly introduced Sycamore helicopters. And flew them in Aden on 84 Squadron
Squadron Leader Bamberger retired from the RAF on January 29 1959.
His service with 610 and 41 Squadrons in 1940 entitled him to the “immediate” award of the 1939-45 Star with Battle of Britain clasp.
After leaving the RAF he became managing director of a small packing materials company he had started in 1954. On retirement he had an antiques shop in Hampshire.
In his later years he was a strong supporter of a range of battle of Britain Charities. He was also vice-chair of the Bentley Priory Battle of Britain Trust. Bam believed passionately that the Priory had to be preserved for the Nation. In an interview for the Sunday Telegraph 2 weeks ago Bam recommitted himself to his dream of a museum and centre of education saying
'When we first heard the MOD was to sell Bentley Priory, all members of the Battle of Britain Fighter Association were shattered and , given the financial lead by one of Honorary Members, we decided to save Bentley Priory for the Nation.
Bentley Priory is the spiritual home of the Battle of Britain Fighter Association. Our first Annual Dinner, with Lord Dowding present, was held in that historic building in 1946. Ever since that date, we veterans have gathered there every year to remember our Battle of Britain fallen comrades and, as the years passed, the Few get fewer.
Bentley Priory is a Memorial for the Nation to those who served in the Battle of Britain in any capacity and, as such, has a national and international focus attracting interest from all over the world. I am pleased to be playing my part in the preservation of the significant parts of this great building.
Lord Nelson and the Victory saved England.
Lord Dowding and Bentley Priory saved the World.'
The Trustees of the Bentley Priory Battle of Britain Trust are deeply saddened at the loss of such a wonderful friend and colleague but determined that the Bentley Priory Tour, scheduled to open in April 2010 will be a fitting memorial to Bam and his brave Battle of Britain colleagues.
Bam’s widow, Heather, has asked that any donations in Bam’s memory should be given the Bentley Priory Battle of Britain Trust and sent to the Bentley Priory Battle of Britain Trust, Wendleberie, Moor Common, Lane End, Bucks, HP14 3HS.