Air Vice-Marshal ‘Larry’ Lamb had two distinguished careers, first as an RAF pilot and senior officer and also as an international rugby referee and sports administrator. He joined the RAF in the later years of the Second World War and became a flying instructor and examiner before converting to the Hastings transport aircraft and flying on the Berlin Airlift. He later flew Javelin night fighters before becoming the Deputy Commander Air in Borneo during Indonesian Confrontation. He managed his limited helicopter and transport aircraft resources skilfully and was appointed CBE. After serving at RAF College Cranwell, the National Air Traffic Service and at HQ 18 (Maritime) Group he retired and became the chief executive of the Badminton Association of England. Throughout his RAF career he was heavily involved in rugby, became an international referee, controlling 14 full internationals, served on the Rugby Football Union and chaired numerous committees. He also served on the Princes Trust. He died aged 99.
Thomas Dobie flew Wellington bombers with Coastal Command operating off the coasts of Holland and France attacking coastal convoys. He later flew Dakotas in Burma before resuming his interrupted medical studies at Leeds University. Whilst at Leeds, he joined 609 (West Riding) Squadron of the Auxiliary Air Force and flew Mosquitos and Meteors. After gaining his degree he re-joined the RAF in the Medical Branch and specialised in aviation medicine. He pioneered experiments to cure motion sickness in aircrew and commanded the RAF Aviation Medical Centre where all aircrew destined to fly high performance aircraft attended for training and fitment of specialised flying clothing for high-altitude flying. After retiring from the RAF he continued to work in the aviation medicine field and became Professor and Director of the National Biodynamics Laboratory in New Orleans, USA.
Reg Jordan was just 21 years old when he had completed a tour of operations in Burma flying very long range bombing operations in Liberators and he had been awarded a DFC. He joined 356 Squadron based near Calcutta in September 1944 and embarked on a series of bombing missions over Burma and a Siam (Thailand), some in excess of fourteen hours. Despite adverse weather he made numerous attempts tp bomb some targets and a number of occasions, he was so short off fuel on return that he had to make emergency diversions to and land at forward airfields. After the war, he he held a series of appointments as a flying instructor culminating in commanding the standardisation flight at the Central Flying School. He was assessed as ‘exceptional’. After serving in the Plans division at HQ RAF Germany, he retired and worked in the aircraft industry.
Kazimierz Szmid was one of the last surviving Polish paratroopers who had fought during the Battle of Arnhem. His regiment, part of the 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade, were dropped near Driel on the south side of the River Rhine after two days of frustrating delay due to bad weather. In the event, the British troops defending the bridge had to withdraw and the Poles, without adequate river crossing equipment, could only hold defensive positions to assist the survivors to escape across the river from the north.
Szmid and his family had been forced from their homes by Soviet troops in February 1940, herded into cattle trucks and deported to Siberia under extreme weather conditions where they were forced to work in the forests. The family became split and in due course managed to leave Russia into Persia where Szmid joined General Anders Army before training in England as a parachutist. His father had died in Russia but the rest of his family were reunited after the war and settled in England.
Sydney Grimes had completed over 25 operations on Lancasters when he was posted to 617 Squadron. His first operation was against the battleship Tirpitz, but cloud cover thwarted a successful attack. On 12 November 1944 a further attempt was made. Flying from airfields in north Scotland, 37 Lancaster of IX and 617 Squadrons sank ‘The Beast” with Tallboy bombs. Grimes eventual completed 41 operations ands was mentioned-in despatches.
Earlier in the war, Grimes flew with 106 Squadron and attacked targets in Germany, Poland and Italy.. He flew twice during the Battle of Hamburg. His was one of only two crews to complete a tour operations during his time on the squadron. He died aged 100 and current members of 617 Squadron visited him on his birthday.
‘Stocky’ Edwards was the last surviving Canadian fighter ‘ace’ of the Second World War and the third most successful Canadian fighter pilot. He was credited with destroying at least nineteen aircraft in the air and nine on the ground. Initially, he served in the Middle East flying the P-40 Kittyhawk, an aircraft with an inferior performance to its main adversary, the Messerschmitt Bf 109, yet all Edwards victims were fighters. He was awarded the DFC and the DFM. After a rest tour, he returned to operations in Italy flying the Spitfire and shot down three more enemy fighters during the operations over the Anzio beachhead. After returning to England, he commanded a Spitfire XIV Wing and made three more claims before the end of the war. He was awarded a Bar to his DFC. At war’s end, he was just 24 years old.
He remained in the RCAF and commanded the first Sabre jet fighter squadron, a Sabre Wing in France and served in air defence appointments in North America. He died aged 100.
Coxell was serving as a policeman in a reserved occupation when he volunteered to join the RAF as a pilot. After training in the USA, he joined 297 Squadron and flew the Albermarle in the airborne support role. He dropped men of the Airborne Division on the night of D-Day and later that evening towed a Horse glider with reinforcements. During the Arnhem battle, he towed another Horse and dropped supplies. He also dropped supplies and agents to the Resistance in France and Norway before taking part in the third great airborne operation, the the crossing of the River Rhine, Operation Varsity when he towed a Horse, this time flying a Halifax. He served post-war as a flying instructor and on exchange to the Royal Malayan Air Force. After leaving the RAF, he had a long career with the Channel Island based Aurigny Air Services.
Trinidadian Esmond Farfan joined the RAF in September 1941 and, after training as a pilot in Canada, he joined 12 Squadron to fly the Lancaster. On his 4th operation, he flew on the ill-fated raid to attack Nuremburg when Bomber Command suffered its heaviest losses with 96 bombers failing to return. Farfan was attacked by a night-fighter but managed to escape.
From April 1944, he attacked railways and marshalling yards in the lead up to D-Day. He also attacked the large ammunition dump at Mailly-le Comp when, due to poor radio communications, the orbiting bombers suffered heavy casualties. On the evening of D-Day he bombed the gun battery overlooking Utah beach. He later attacked the V-1 launch and storage sites in the Pas de Calais. After 30 operations, he was awarded the DFC.
He returned to Trinidad and was a senior captain with British West Indian Airlines, retiring after 33 years service. He died aged 99.
Given the codename ‘Monique’, she was one of a number of young Belgians who risked their lives to assist Allied airmen shot down behind enemy lines. Working for the Belgian-run ‘Comet’ Line, she escorted evaders across the Franco-Belgian border, took others to Paris by train and assisted over 100 before the ‘Comet’ Line was betrayed. She avoided capture by the Gestapo by travelling down the Comet route to the Spanish border and across the Pyrenees into Spain. In England, she trained as a parachutist but before she could land in Belgium, her country was liberated. She was appointed MBE and received the US Medal of Freedom .
AVM Sir Erik Bennett was an experienced fighter pilot, having served in the Middle East and the UK, before he served on a loan posting to the Royal Jordanian Air Force where he helped establish the fledgling air force and became a special advisor to King Hussein. After two years in Singapore and commanding an RAF early warning radar station, in 1974 he became the Commander of the Sultan of Oman’s Air Force (later Royal Air Force of Oman), a post he held for 16 years. He masterminded the development of the small force he inherited into one of the most effective air forces in the region. He became a close confidant and adviser to Sultan Qaboos and after relinquishing his post as commander, he remained in the Oman and ran the Sultan’s office in London, which provided a special link with politics, government and Buckingham Palace. One correspondent described him as “one of Oman’s (and Britain’s) best-kept secrets: a key figure in a group of elderly former military and intelligence officers who help the Sultan to run his rich, strategically vital country at the mouth of the Gulf.”