Allan Scott became an “ace” Spitfire pilot during the Siege of Malta in 1942. He had flown to the besieged island after taking off from the aircraft carrier Eagle and fought during the hectic “Second Blitz” when he shot down at least five enemy aircraft and damaged others. During Operation Pedestal, the crucial re-supply convoy, Scott provided support as the remnants, including the tanker Ohio, sailed into Valetta. He was awarded an immediate DFM. He returned to the UK to become an instructor at a fighter training unit before become a test and ferry pilot. He served post war and transferred to the air traffic control branch after his flying days were over. During the RAF 100 celebrations in 1918, he flew in a Spitfire and had hoped to do so again on his 100th birthday, but it was not to be.
Sir David Parry-Evans began his RAF career flying Shackletons in the maritime patrol and anti-submarine role. Initially fe flew with 205 Squadron based in Singapore before returning to the Anti-Submarine Development Unit. He spent two years on exchange duties with the US Navy and was later a flight commander on Shackletons at Kinloss. He later specialised in the air-to air refuelling role commanding a Victor squadron and then RAF Marham. A series of staff appointments led to him commanding No 1 Group, the RAF Staff College and then he became the Commander-in-Chief of RAF Germany and the Second Tactical AirForce. His final appointment was as the Air Member for Personnel. After retiring from the RAF, he was the Chief Commander of St John’s Ambulance. He was an avid supporter of Welsh rugby and a former chairman of the RAF Rugby Union.
Jack Simmonds, who has died aged 99, was a 20-year old Whitley pilot shot when he was shot down over Holland in July 1941. He spent the next four years as a POW and was involved in a number of escape attempts from the various camps he was incarcerated in. He eventually ended up Stalag Luft III where he assisted in the successful “Wooden Horse” escape. In late January 1945 he was in the column that was forced to march westwards on the “Long March” when severe weather conditions were experienced. He remained in the RAF post-war and served in Palestine when he survived the terrorist attack on the King David Hotel , which resulted in the loss of many lives. He converted to the Sunderland and landed his big flying boat on the River Thames near Tower Bridge. He later served in Cyprus.
Sir Michael Beavis gained worldwide fame when in 1960 he flew a Vulcan bomber non-stop from Lincolnshire to Sydney in Australia in a time of 20 hours 8 minutes. He made three rendezvous’ over Cyprus, Karachi and Singapore with Valiant tanker aircraft when fuel was transferred in flight to his Vulcan. This was a potent demonstration of the strategic value of air-to-air refuelling so graphically illustrated 21 years later during the Falkland’s War. A former fighter pilot, Beavis later commanded the first RAF VC 10 strategic transport squadron before embarking on a series of senior appointments in MoD, the RAF Staff College and later as C-in-C RAF Support Command. His final appointment was as Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Allied Forces Central Europe. He retired to Cyprus where he died on June 7.
Air Commodore Witts led the first bombing operation by four Tornados of the Dharhan detachment on the first night of Gulf War One in January 1991. He had joined the RAF in September 1968 and, after two tours as a pilot on Vulcans, he trained on the Buccaneer spending five years in Germany flying the low-level strike/attack bomber. After a staff appointed he took command in early 1990 of No 31 Squadron based RAF Bruggen in Germany. In early January 1991 he became the detachment commander at Dharhan with 22 Tornados, 33 crews and 400 ground personnel. In the early hours of January 16 he attacked the airfield at Mudaysis with the JP 233 airfield denial weapon dropped from very low level at night in the face of intense anti-aircraft fire. He went on to complete 14 operations and was awarded the DSO for his “Consummate courage and outstanding flying skills.” He later commanded RAF Northolt and his final posting was as air attache in Washington. He died aged 69.
George Calvert served in the Second World War as a wireless operator mechanic and after serving with the Desert Air Force he joined an RAF Servicing Commando, which landed in Sicily and advanced into Italy. He was later commissioned in the RAF Regiment and was seconded to the Aden Protectorate Levies. He commanded a section of armoured cars and in January 1957 was involved in heavy fighting on the Yemeni border near Beihan. He came under heavy fire and advanced on a rebel stronghold to allow his section commander to retreat safely before he was able to withdraw. He was awarded the Military Cross for “showing qualities of leadership and command of the highest order…”
Terry Clark has died aged 101 and his death now leaves just one survivor of “the Few’. Clark was an air gunner on 219 Squadron flying Blenheim night fighters during the Battle. The squadron re-equipped with the Beaufighter and Clark shared in the destruction of five enemy aircraft. After joining No 488 (RNZAF) Squadron operating the Mosquito he added another . He was awarded the DFM before working in the sector operations room at North Weald.
Wing Commander Donald Perrens was twice decorated for his work as a tactical reconnaissance Spitfire pilot in North Africa and Italy. A former Army officer who escaped from Dunkirk, Perrens first flew with 225 Squadron during the campaign in Algeria and Tunisia before joining 208 Squadron Italy. In January 1945 he took off to conduct an artillery shoot against a large ammunition near Bologna. He directed the gun battery and after 12 rounds the dump was destroyed. Despite coming under heavy anti-aircraft fire he remained overhead until the enemy gun was destroyed. The engine of his Spitfire failed and he glided back to Allied lines to make a crash landing. He was severely injured. He was awarded an immediate DSO. Post war he was a schoolmaster at Eastbourne College, commanded an RAuxAF fight control unit and was OC the College OTC.
This volume includes 91 obituaries of airmen and women published in the Daily Telegraph between 2007 and the end of 2017. Each entry has a photograph of the subject. With a focus on personnel from a number of air forces, including RAF, USAF, and the Commonwealth air forces, as well as some civilian aircrew, each one is a fascinating account of a distinguished life.
Those featured include senior RAF officers, Battle of Britain pilots, escapers and evaders and the courageous ladies who flew with the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA). Gallant Poles, Czechs and Frenchmen are covered in addition to Brigadier General Paul Tibbets who dropped the first atomic bomb and a number of USAF fighter “Aces”. Those engaged in aviation medicine, aero engineering and the RAF Regiment are recognised.
In his Foreword, Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard Johns, a former Chief of the Air Staff, concludes: “I have resisted the temptation to try to name names in this foreword with attribution of aeronautical achievements to individuals. It’s simply impossible to judge objectively their comparative value and it is for this reason that the book offers the reader many surprises that merit consideration and admiration in equal measure. Graham Pitchfork’s industry in compiling each and every one of the obituaries most certainly merits our congratulations and thanks”.
Jerzy Glowczewski was thought to be the last known Polish fighter pilot to fight with the RAF in the Second World War. With his step father, he fled from Poland after the German invasion and reached Romania where he remained for a year before having to flee again, this time to Palestine where he completed his education. He trained for the Carpathian Rifle Brigade before volunteering to be a pilot. After completing his training he flew Spitfires with No 308 (City of Krakow) Squadron. He joined in Normandy and by the end of the war had flown 100 missions and been awarded the Polish Cross of Valour three times. He retuned to Warsaw, became an eminent architect helping to restore the city. In the 1960s he worked in Egypt and settled in New York.