Category Archives: Obituaries


Wellington - Gibbs' crew 1945 copyNew Zealand-born AVM Gibbs flew Dakota transport aircraft during the North African campaign and later in Italy and to the Yugoslav partisans.  During the Allied invasion of Sicily he flew a diversionary raid to drop dummy paratroopers and flares over the beach head.  Once established in southern Italy, he made the first daylight landing in Yugoslavia when he took Fitzroy Maclean and some of his men to Bosnia.  He later converted to the Martin Marauder bomber and flew with Coastal Command after his return to England. After the war he served in Pakistan and Sudan and enjoyed a long post-war career flying Venom, Hunter and Lightning jets.  He commanded the Lightning base at RAF Wattisham before serving in RAF Germany as the air officer in charge of administration.  He retired to New Zealand and died on October 3 aged 97.

In the photograph he is second from the left with his Wellington crew.

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MeagherJohnny Meagher had a distinguished war record as a bomber pilot flying Wellingtons and Lancasters.  He completed fifty operations and was twice awarded the DFC and also received an immediate DFM for his part in the daylight low-level attack against the Schneider factory at Le Creusot.  After the war he joined BOAC and had an equally distinguished career, which included captaining some Royal Flights, for which he was appointed CVO, introducing the Bristol Britannia into service and finally managing the VC 10 fleet.  He died aged 97 on September 21.

The photograph shows him at Buckingham Palace with his family after receiving the DFC and DFM.

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imgMaurice+HaroldMaurice Webb was a Mosquito navigator who attacked shipping in the Bay of Biscay and off the Norwegian coast.  He and his pilot were forced to bale out over Brittany after their aircraft was damaged by anti-aircraft fire whilst attacking a ship.  He was sheltered by a farmer and the following day he met up with US troops and returned to England.  He was awarded an immediate DFM.  He continued flying operations and attacked a U-boat near Bergen which was damaged and sunk the following day by a Liberator.

The photograph shows Webb (right) with his pilot Hal Corbin.

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helicopter Major002Major Chris Crouch led a flight of Scout helicopters supporting a troop of SAS soldiers involved in a fierce engagement against dissidents in Aden.  Throughout a long day, Crouch controlled his helicopters as they carried out reconnaissance sorties and redeployed troops to surround the enemy group.  His helicopter was hit on three separate occasions by small arms fire.  He was awarded a DFC.  During an earlier tour in the Malayan Emergency, he flew Auster AOP aircraft and was twice mentioned in despatches.

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PAH copyAir Commodore Hughes led a number of attacks by Coastal Commands’s Beaufighter strike aircraft  against enemy convoys  sailing along the coasts of Norway and the Netherlands carrying essential raw materials for German industry.  On his 27th operation he led a torpedo attack against a large merchant ship off the island of Borkum.  The ship caught fire but as he turned away from a second attack using his cannons, his aircraft hit the cable of a balloon flying from an escort vessel.  Despite the damage to his aircraft he managed to return to base.  He was awarded an immediate DFC.  On 8 August 1944 he led his flight in the anti-flak role in support of a torpedo attack by other Beaufighter squadrons.  After the attack, his aircraft caught fire and he baled out at a perilously low height.  He paddled ashore in Norway but was captured.  He had a long and successful peacetime career in the RAF.  He died in Scotland aged 99.

Beau ditchThis photo shows Hughes (left centre) about to land in the sea in his parachute as his Beaufighter crashes off the Norwegian cost.

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Don in LancasterDon Briggs had a flying career that spanned over 60 years.  He started RAF life as an aircraft apprentice but later became a flight engineer on Lancasters in the Pathfinder Force.  He completed 60 operations and was awarded the DFC.  After the war he trained as a pilot and flew all three V-bombers.  He was the second pilot on the third and final testing of the British hydrogen bomb during Operation Grapple at Christmas Island.  He spent five years as an instructor on the Vulcan and after retiring from the RAF he trained future airline pilots at Oxford.  He retired from flying when he was 84 years old.

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_93919337_pilotMary Ellis, who has died aged 101, was one of the pioneering women who became famous as one of the ‘Spitfire Girls’ who flew with the wartime Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA).  She joined in 1941 and by the end of the war she was a first officer and had flown 1,000 aircraft which amounted to 72 different types.  After the war she moved to the Isle of Wight and was managing director of Sandown Airport for 20 years, the first woman to hold such a position.  She flew in a Spitfire on her 100th birthday and attended the film Spitfire just two weeks before she died on July 24.

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