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Here is a photo from the family album of the Gates family, kindly provided by Mr. Ashley Gates. The caption “the last Spitfire in Exeter being shipped out” was intriguing. Also, I must confess that it took a while for me to see that there is a Spitfire in this picture, so if you have missed it, too, take a second look!
Here is the Gates family story explaining the picture.
“My grandfather Walter Penberthy worked at Exeter airport during the war. My mother told me that this photo shows the last Spitfire shipped out of Exeter airport after the war. Mr. Penberthy is standing first to the left, with his hands on his hips.
My grandfather did work with Spitfires but not at the airport itself. The engineering work was sent out to garages which had been previously used for car repairs. My grandad worked on the site of the ATS garage at Posloe Bridge in Exeter. I’m not sure which other garages were used for this purpose, but apparently also Eveleigh’s and Pikes were engaged in the scheme.
My granddad’s work was to collect the Spitifre subassemblies for repair and deliver them back to Exeter airport after they were repaired. The complete aircraft we reassembled at the airfield.
As far as the celebration is concerned, My mother thinks it was just a personal thing among the staff. The aircraft might be on its way to the scrapyard. The photo is probably circa 1945/46. ”
On a final note, the Spitfire fuselage seems to belong to a Spitfire Mk. IX/XVI. The squadron codes JX seem to indicate an ex-No. 1 Squadron machine.