Former aircraft apprentice John Clements became an expert on airborne radar systems. During the Second World War, he made over 300 flights in 19 different types of aircraft and tested 10 different radars. Initially he worked on air-to-surface radars for Coastal Command, then Airborne Interception Radars for night fighters and then the latest radar bombing aids. Despite his many flying hours, he was not awarded the radio observers brevet. His early post-war career took him to India and to Germany before he began work at the Radar Research Establishment at Malvern. In his more senior posts, he commanded the Radio Engineering Unit and became the Assistant Controller of the Defence Communication Network. He was the Air Officer Signals at HQ Support Command before retiring. He later worked for Marconi Defence Systems and was later closely involved in there acquisition of Hellfire missile. later known as Brimstone.

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Sir John began his RAF career as an aircraft apprentice, trained as a pilot and retired having served on the Air Force Board. He started flying Mosquito night fighters before converting to the Meteor. After an exchange appointment flying all-weather fighters with the USAF, he commanded a Hunter squadron, which soon converted to the Lightning. He commanded the Air Fighting Development Squadron at the Central Fighter Establishment before heading for Washington as the RAF Phantom Procurement Manager. In 1968 he took command of RAF Coningsby, the RAF’s first Phantom base. He later served at the RAF College Cranwell, in MoD and as Air Officer Commanding Training Units. In July 1981 he was made Air Member for Supply and Organisation before being appointed Controller Aircraft (CA) responsible for the procurement of all military aircraft and associated weapon systems. After retiring in 1986 he started a second career in the motor sports world becoming Chief Executive of RAC Motor Sports Association. He rebuilt numerous vintage cars and took part in the Brighton Run.

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Mark Hare was a pilot with No 1 Squadron RAF during the Falklands War. He was one of the first three pilots to fly non-stop to Ascension Island before sailing south to join the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes in the South Atlantic. During the conflict he flew 22 ground attack missions including attacks to support the Parachute Regiment at Goose Green. He destroyed an Argentinian Chinook helicopter on the ground. For his service he was mentioned in despatches. He later served with No 3 Squadron based in Germany when he was awarded the AFC. After leaving there RAF he flew with Monarch Airlines. He died aged 66.

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Sir Peter Harding in the cockpit of a P-51 Mustang during a visit to the USA in 1991

Sir Peter Harding, who has died aged 87, was the RAF’s Chief of Air Staff (CAS) before becoming the Chief of Defence Staff in 1992 Eighteen months later he resigned following a tabloid expose of his affair with the wife of a former Conservative MP.

Harding joined the RAF as a national serviceman and trained as a pilot before beginning a full career. He flew Canberra bombers, became a flying instructor and later converted to Wessex helicopters before taking command of 18 Squadron in Germany. He commanded the large base at Bruggen with three Phantom squadrons. He flew regularly and claimed that the Phantom was his favourite aircraft. He served in MoD in numerous appointments on defence policy and later served at NATO in a key appointment. He commanded No 11 (Fighter) Group and was Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff before becoming the C-in-C of Strike Command. He was appointed CAS in November 1988. He was widely admired for his presence, charisma, intellect and social manner. Following reports of his affair in the News of the World, he resigned.

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At Sunday’s Air Show at Duxford, publisher Grub Street launched my latest book, Buccaneer Boys 2, a follow up to Buccaneer Boys published in 2013. A warm, sunny day, with the sound of many Rolls Royce Merlins as a backdrop, this was an ideal occasion for the launch. The previous evening in Thetford, over 25 Buccaneer veterans were joined by a large crowd to promote the book in an event at the Guildhall arranged by Jane James of ‘Not Just Books Ltd’.

This second volume follows the same style as its predecessor with 26 chapters written by “The Boys”, which embrace the earliest days in Fleet Air Arm service, RAF operations in UK and Germany, the Gulf War and a breathtaking chapter by a South African Air Force pilot of his experience during an operation in the Bush Wars.

The book is published by Grub Street


‘Benny’ Goodman, a pilot who flew on 617 (Dambuster) Squadron has died aged 100.He and his novice crew joined the special duties squadron in August 1944. On their fourth operation, they deployed to Lossiemouth with a force of Lancasters and onOctober 24 they took off to attack the Tirpitz with 12,000lb Tallboy bombs. Cloud and a smoke screen hindered the attack but Goodman dropped his bomb. Over the next few months he attacked targets with the Tallboy and these included U-boat and E-boat pens, the synthetic oil plant at Politz on the Baltic, and the viaduct at Bielefeld. On March 19 1945 he dropped a 22,000lb ‘Grand Slam’ bomb on the Arnsberg viaduct. His final war operation was to Hitler’s Eagle Nest at Berchtesgaden. He remained in the RAF post-war and flew Hastings and later the Canberra in the photo-reconnaissance role. He maintained a civil licence until he was 93 years old.

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Air Marshal Sir Roderick Goodall, known throughout his RAF career as “Rocky”, was 74 years old when he died in June. He had a distinguished career as a fighter pilot flying Hunters in Bahrain before converting to the Harrier, serving two tours in Germany. He was twice awarded the AFC. He returned to Germany in command of 16 Squadron flying Tornados from Laarbruch before being appointed the station commander at Bruggen where he had four Tornado squadrons under command. After Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in August 1990 he was tasked to establish a base for Tornados and Jaguars on the old RAF airfield at Muharraq in Bahrein. He held senior appointments in MoD, at the Principle Joint Force HQ at Northwood and finally a NATO appointment as Chief of Staff of Component Command Air North at Ramstein in Germany.

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Goodall at the dispersal he created at Bahrein


Walmsley in his Spitfire XIV

Harold Walmsley was one of the last surviving Spitfire “Aces” with 11 confirmed victories. He began flying Spitfires with 611 Squadron in September 1942. During the final months of the war in Europe, he flew from airfields in Belgium and the Netherlands with 130 Squadron flying the superior Spitfire Mk XIV. During fierce dogfights with Focke Wulf 190s in the final weeks of the war, he shot down nine aircraft including seven in a two-week period in April. He was twice awarded the DFC. He served post war as a flying instructor before commanding 67 Squadron in Germany when it operated the Sabre. He later commanded RAF Boulmer and served in Singapore.

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Photographed at Laarbruch in front of a Buccaneer

Sir John “Kip” Kemball began his flying career as a National Service pilot before accepting a permanent commission. He became a flying instructor before joining 8 Squadron in Aden flying the Hunter on operations in support of ground forces. He was the first RAF pilot to log 1,000 hours flight time on the Phantom when he was an instructor at Coningsby. He commanded 54 Squadron with Jaguars before becoming the station commander at Laarbruch in Germany where he flew the Buccaneer and the Jaguar. He was Commandant of the Central Flying School and served in the Defence Intelligence Staff where he became the Deputy Chief of Defence Intelligence. As the COS and Deputy Commander at HQ Strike Command, he became the COS at the British Primary War HQ during the Gulf War of 1991 where his calm, tolerant and tactful manner was tested, but attracted the admiration of his C-in-C and army and navy colleagues. In retirement he was Deputy Lieutenant of Suffolk and held numerous appointments in the county community.

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Freddie Nicoll trained as a pilot in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) before converting to the Hurricane in the Middle East and going to 208 Squadron at an advanced landing ground in the Western Desert. After the Battle of Alamein, the squadron moved to Iraq and then Palestine before Nicoll joined 6 Squadron equipped with rocket-firing Hurricanes. Flying from airfields in Italy, he attacked supply shipping in the Adriatic and off the Yugoslavian coast. He flew from the airstrip on the island of Vis off the Croatian coast and his attacks and leadership were recognised by the award of the DFC. After 55 operations he was rested ands flew target-towing Spitfires and Vengeance aircraft before returning to civilian life as a quantity surveyor.

To read full obituary click HERE