‘Bam’ Bamberger was an accomplished RAF pilot who flew during the Battle of Britain, the Defence of Malta and the Korean War and was awarded the DFC Bar and AE Bar medals.
Bam was also a passionate supporter of the creation of a Museum at Bentley Priory and was vice-chair for the newly founded Bentley Priory Battle of Britain Trust.
In 2008, a few weeks before his death, he gave an interview to the Sunday Telegraph about Bentley Priory’s importance:
”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 the 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 historical 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 have 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.”
Cyril Stanley Bamberger – always known as ‘Bam’ – was born in Cheshire on 4 May 1919. In 1934 he became an electrical engineering apprentice, and in 1936 he joined the ground staff of 610 Squadron, Auxiliary Air Force, which was formed at Hendon and he then operated Hawker Hind light bombers from Hooton Park, Ellesmere Port. Bam was accepted for pilot training in 1938.
Bam was called into full-time service during World War II and rejoined 610 Squadron, now on Spitfires, at Biggin Hill on 27 July 1940 as a Sergeant Pilot. Bam was sent to an Operational Training Unit for 3 weeks to gain Spitfire experience.
On 28 August Bam returned to 610 and claimed a Bf109 probably destroyed. Bam was then posted to 41 Squadron at Hornchurch on 17 September. On 5 October, he gained his first confirmed combat victory when he shot down a Bf 109.
In mid-October, as the Battle of Britain was coming to an end, Bam volunteered for Malta, where he joined 261 Squadron (Hurricanes). Bam destroyed 2 Ju 87s during his time with 261 Squadron and then moved to newly re-formed 185 Squadron at Hal Far.
Bam continued to fly during the rest of World War II, serving in North Africa and returning to Malta and Hal Far. After the war, Bam commanded 610 Squadron for their conversion from Spitfires to Meteors and served during the Korean War.
Bam died on 3 February 2008, at the age of 88, with his family around him.