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Fighting High Books

Sticky Murphy - Lover of Life


Second World War Clandestine Lysander and Intruder Mosquito pilot Wing Commander Alan Michael ‘Sticky’ Murphy DSO and Bar, DFC, Croix de Guerre

by James H. Coley

Hardback - 240pp - 234 x 156mm. Approx 30 black and white photographs.

World Rights - Fighting High Ltd. ISBN - 978-1-9998128-4-3.

Those who knew Wing Commander Alan Michael ‘Sticky’ Murphy remember a man who was an inspiration both on and off duty. Indeed, it motivated James H. Coley, who served as a navigator in No. 23 Squadron, to write a book dedicated to his commanding officer’s memory and honour.

In 1941 Sticky joined the ‘cloak and dagger’ 1419 (Special Duties) Flight, pioneering short take off and landings dropping agents into occupied Europe. It was extremely hazardous and daring work. On one flight his Lysander was ambushed by Germans, with Sticky having to fly home seriously wounded, and his exploits on a mission to rescue a comrade, John Nesbitt-Dufort, would earn him the award of the Distinguished Service Order. Such feats made him a legend in the secret and clandestine circles in which he moved, a time Sticky recalled as ‘The greatest fun ever.’

In 1943 Sticky converted to Mosquitoes, and was posted to Malta and No. 23 Squadron. Night after night Sticky led the way, following the Squadron motto ‘Semper Aggressus – Always on the attack’, which he was more inclined to translate as ‘Right lads! After the bastards!’. Sticky soon took command of No 23 Squadron, and became loved for his humanity, daring leadership, and natural charm to all. In 1944 Sticky returned to the United Kingdom and Bomber Command’s No. 100 Group, carrying out dangerous intruder operations against German night fighter bases, and it was on one such operation that Sticky flew his final fateful sortie.

It was said that those who knew Sticky never forgot his infectious laugh, his joy of living, and indomitable personality. Let there be no doubt that in any Valhalla of warriors, Sticky Murphy sits beside his contemporaries on equal terms and with a smile.

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