Category Archives: Obituaries


Mead OBE, DFMKen Mead flew gliders on D-Day and at Arnhem where he was wounded and captured.  After the war he qualified as an AOP pilot flying Austers.  He saw service during the Malayan Emergency when he carried out reconnaissance sorties, target marking and leaflet dropping.  He was awarded the DFM. He converted to helicopters and played a key role in the rescue of school children lost on Dartmoor in 1961.  After qualifying as a flying instructor he spent many years as a standards officer before becoming a senior examinations officer on Lynx and Gazelle helicopters.  He amassed 7,830 hours flying time, and was appointed OBE.

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ElkingtonTim Elkington was 19 years old when he fought in the Battle of Britain as a Hurricane pilot with No. 1 Squadron.  He shot down one aircraft, probably a second and damaged a third before he was wounded.  He was one of the pilots of 151 Wing that went to Russia to provide protection for the Arctic Convoys and the port of Murmansk.  He was a Hurricat pilot on CAM ships and later flew Typhoons in the air defence role.  After operations in Burma he helped form the Air Fighting Development Unit in India.  Post war he flew Shackletons during Operation Grapple – the UK’s H-Bomb test at Christmas Island and was an instructor at CFS.  He died aged 98.

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sutherland 617 copy 2Fred Sutherland was one of the last two surviving airmen who took part in the Dam Buster raid in May 1943.  An air gunner in the RCAF, Sutherland flew with Pilot Officer Les Knight.  They had completed a tour of operations on 50 Squadron when they volunteered to join a new squadron for a ‘special mission’.  The squadron became 617 Squadron.  Sutherland and his crew attacked the Eder Dam and it was their bomb that breached the dam.  In September, the crew flew on the disastrous raid to breach the Dortmund-Ems Canal.  In bad weather, their Lancaster hit some trees and the crew baled out (Knight was killed).  Sutherland avoided capture and with the help of the escape lines he finally crossed the Pyrenees and reached Gibraltar.  He returned to Canada as an instructor.

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skingsley copySir Anthony Skingsley held a series of influential post in the RAF and in NATO.  After an early flying career centred on the Canberra and later the Victor, he commanded RAF Laarbruch in Germany before a series of key appointments in MoD where he was responsible for planning and costing the future RAF programme.  Then began a number of increasingly important appointments, first at SHAPE and then as the Commander in Chief in RAF Germany with the dual role of Commander Second Allied Tactical Air Force (2 ATAF).  His final appointment was as Deputy Commander in Chief, Allied Forces Central Europe at a time of great international political change following the collapse of the Soviet Union.  His warm personality, linguistic skills and sharp intellect made him a very popular and effective commander.

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harry irons copyHarry Irons tried to enlist into the RAF when he was 16 years old but was unsuccessful.  Adopting his mother’s maiden name, and claiming he was almost 18, his second attempt succeeded and he joined up and later trained as an air gunner.  He completed more than 60 bombing operations, first on Lancasters and then on the Halifax.  At the end of the war he was awarded the DFC. In later life he became a devoted campaigner for a Bomber Command Memorial that was eventually dedicated in 2012.  He advised on the accuracy of the seven members of aircrew depicted on the memorial.  The photograph shows him at the memorial in Green Park.

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img_1082 copyJoan was on duty in the operations room of HQ No. 11 Group, Fighter Command at RAF Uxbridge when the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, visited at the height of the Battle of Britain.   She was one of ten WAAFs surrounding the plotting table maintaining the plot of incoming enemy raids on 15 September 1940.  During the afternoon, the Luftwaffe launched a mass raid against London and the AOC, Sir Keith Park, scrambled all his squadrons.  Churchill asked  how many reserves there were, to which Park made his famous reply. “There are none”.  Joan later served at RAF Tangmere and watched as the D-Day convoys sailed with her fiancé, Lieutenant Tom Fanshawe DSC, in command of a leading corvette.  After the war she accompanied her husband during his long career in the Royal Navy.  She flew an aerobatic sortie on her 97th birthday.

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IMG_6912 2 copyJohn M’Kenzie-Hall spent much of his RAF flying career in the helicopter world.  He served during the Malayan Emergency and carried troops to remote jungle clearings.  He flew throughout the brief Suez campaign of 1956 and landed Royal Marines on the Egyptian beaches.  For seven years he was in charge if the small helicopter contingent of the Queen’s Flight.  On one occasion, with HRH Prince Philip on board, the side window in the cockpit came loose and threatened to break away and strike the tail rotor, with potentially catastrophic results.  Despite great discomfort and incurring a long-lasting injury, he managed to hold on to the offending window until the helicopter landed.. He was appointed MVO.

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