James Harry “Ginger” Lacey


James Harry “Ginger” Lacey was a distinguished British Royal Air Force (RAF) fighter pilot, best known for his service during World War II, particularly during the Battle of Britain. Here is a summary of his life and achievements:

Early Life and Career

  • Birth: Lacey was born on February 1, 1917, in Wetherby, West Yorkshire, England.
  • Pre-War Career: Before the war, Lacey worked as a laboratory assistant and joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve in 1937, training as a pilot.

World War II Service

  • Battle of France: Lacey was initially posted to France with No. 501 Squadron RAF. During the Battle of France, he gained his first combat experiences and victories.
  • Battle of Britain: Lacey became one of the most successful fighter pilots of the Battle of Britain, achieving 18 confirmed kills, making him one of the highest-scoring pilots of the battle. He flew Hurricanes during this period and was noted for his aggressive and fearless flying style.
  • Post-Battle of Britain: After the Battle of Britain, Lacey continued to serve with distinction. He was involved in operations over Malta and later served in Burma, fighting the Japanese as part of the RAF’s efforts in the Southeast Asian theatre.

Notable Achievements

  • Confirmed Kills: Lacey is credited with 28 confirmed kills, making him one of the RAF’s top aces of the war.
  • Awards: He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM) in September 1940 and the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) in 1941 for his bravery and skill in aerial combat.
  • Surviving Multiple Crashes: Lacey survived being shot down nine times, demonstrating remarkable resilience and dedication to his duty.

Post-War Life

  • Continued RAF Service: After World War II, Lacey continued to serve in the RAF until 1967, transitioning to various roles including flight instructor.
  • Civilian Life: Following his military career, he ran a business as a newsagent and later worked as a civil servant.
  • Death: Lacey passed away on May 30, 1989, in Bridlington, East Yorkshire, England.


  • Memorials and Honors: Lacey’s legacy as one of the finest fighter pilots of the RAF is commemorated in various ways, including exhibitions and memorials. His story continues to inspire and be studied as an example of extraordinary bravery and skill in aerial combat.

Ginger Lacey’s contributions to the RAF and his role in securing victory during critical battles of World War II cement his place as a legendary figure in military aviation history.

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