Make your own free website on Tripod.com


Alexander Hugh Ormonde Butler was born 29th September 1920 at Coimbatore, India. He was the only child of Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Hazelwood Butler (44th Merwara Infantry) and his wife Sakunthala Narasiah. Colonel Butler retired from the Army 1921 but the family remained in India until June 1927, when they moved to London. Colonel Butler died 1933.

Alexander was educated at Wellington College 1934-38. On leaving he applied to R.A.F. Cranwell to become a pilot. But he was turned down for not being ‘of pure European descent’. Devestated at this rejection, he took a job in the City. But his thirst for adventure lingered and would find an unexpected outlet.

When the Soviet Union attacked Finland in the Winter of 1939 the League of Nations authorised its members to give what aid they could to the Finns. British volunteers began to contact the Finnish Legation in London offering to fight for Finland. The British Government, for the only time in history, issued a warrant allowing a foreign nation to enlist British citizens into their army. The Finnish Aid Bureau was given responsibility for recruitment and a committe of retired British officers established to interview volunteers.

Alexander applied and on
8th March 1940 he became Volunteer No. 973. He took an oath to the Finnish Government and signed the Agreement of Service, which stated that he would serve in the British Contingent of the International Volunteer Force in Finland. The next day he left London with the draft of 145 men under Captain D.H. Blew-Jones. He boarded the ss Meteor at Leith, Scotland on 10th March and travelled to Sweden via Bergen and Oslo. On 18th March 1940 the draft crossed the Finnish border at Tornio and arrived in Lapua on 20th March. 

31st May 1940 the Volunteer Contingent was officially disbanded. 19th June the volunteers moved to Jyväskylä and 7th September to Korpilahti. 18th October 1940 Butler left with 5 other members for the British Legation, Helsinki. There he is believed to have obtained work as a language teacher. On 28th March 1941 he was living in Luotsikatu, Helsinki.

18th June 1941 Butler returned to Korpilahti and 2 days later he went to Iloniemi where they helped make wooden sections for army huts.  30th June 1941 the volunteers left Finland, moving by train to Malung in Sweden. 22nd April 1942 Butler took off from Bromma airport, Stockholm on the diplomatic plane for Leuchars in Fife, Scotland.

Back in Britain, Butler again applied to join the Royal Air Force. This time he was successful and after completing flying training he was posted as a Sergeant to 137 Squadron. Later he was promoted to Pilot Officer. Interestingly, a picture of Butler in his R.A.F. uniform shows him wearing the Winter War Medal ribbon. At the time of the photograph Britain was officially at war with Finland! 20th September 1944 he was killed when his Typhoon exploded while returning from a mission over the Arnhem area:

Squadron Log: “Sgt. Butler (INDIA) did not return to base, his a/c being seen to burst into flames and crash on the way out.” In the appendix was a note: “We lost a good pilot in Sgt. Butler. His a/c blew up in mid-air. We shall miss Hugh Butler.”

He was buried at Leopoldsburg War Cemetery, Limburg, Belgium. His gravestone bears the inscription:

PILOT OFFICER
A.H.O. BUTLER
PILOT
ROYAL AIR FORCE
20TH SEPTEMBER 1944 AGE 23
ONLY CHILD OF MRS S BUTLER AND LATE LT COL A.H. BUTLER
OF HAZELWOOD COIMBATORE S INDIA
THY WILL BE DONE

His medals were sent to his mother. She had also served, as an Air Raid Patrol Warden in London. She lived at the same address until her death on 7 July 1960.