James 'Ginger' Lacey was born in
Wetherby, Yorkshire, England, on 1st February, 1917. After being educated
at King James Grammar School in Knaresborough, he worked as a dispenser
before joining the RAF Volunteer Reserve in 1937. He also worked as a
flying instructor with the Yorkshire Aeroplane Club.
On the outbreak of the Second World War Lacey joined the Royal Air Force.
A member of the 501 Squadron he served in France until Dunkirk in June
During the Battle of Britain Lacey, flying his Hawker Hurricane, became
the RAF's leading flying ace with 18 victories. This included shooting
down a Heinkel He111 that bombed Buckingham Palace on 13th September,
Promoted to Flight Lieutenant, Lacey converted to flying a Spitfire while
in the 501 Squadron. In November 1942 he was appointed chief instructor of
the Special Attack Instructors' School.
In March 1943, Lacey was posted to India before returning to Europe in
November 1944. Soon afterwards he took command of 17 Squadron where he
scored his final victory. This took his total to 28 destroyed and nine
After the Second World War Lacey remained in the Royal Air Force where he
reached the rank of Squadron Leader. After retiring from the RAF in March
1967 Lacey ran an air freight business. James 'Ginger' Lacey died on 30th