IMG_20190407_105154969 copyFrank Griffin was decorated twice as a Pathfinder pilot in Bomber Command.  Initially he trained as an air observer and flew anti-submarine patrols over the Atlantic and North Sea.  After training as a pilot he flew Lancasters and attacked Berlin numerous times.  In December 1943 his aircraft was badly damaged but he carried on to the target and returned safely.  He was awarded the DFC.  With 103 Squadron he attacked the Ruhr and targets in north France prior to D-Day.  He was awarded the DSO – the citation concluding “he was a fearless and determined captain”.  He joined British South American Airways after the war and searched for the Avro Tudor Star Tiger, which was lost in the Bermuda Triangle with the wartime commander Air Marshal Sir Arthur Coningham on board.  Griffin was 99 when he died in March.

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This month’s magazine Britain at War features a long and lavishly illustrated article  that relates the brief and gallant life of the RAF’s first fighter ‘ace’ (five victories) in World War Two.  New Zealander ‘Cobber’ Kain was a Hurricane pilot serving with No. 73 Squadron, which moved to France in September 1939 as apart of the Advanced Air Striking Force.  Kain’s first success came on 8 November when he shot down a Dornier 17 reconnaissance aircraft.  By the time the German’s invaded the Low Countries and France on 10 May 1940, Kain had already achieved ‘ace’ status.  In the fierce fighting that followed, his score mounted to at least seventeen.  Exhausted, he was ordered home and on 7 June he took off from a landing strip and turned to make a farewell flypast.  He had completed two slow rolls when he crashed and was killed.  At the time of his death he was the RAF’s most successful fighter pilot.  He was twenty-one years old.


Air Commandant Felicity Hill, Director Women’s Royal Air Force (DWRAF), 1966.Dame Felicity Hill was the first female to hold the rank of Air Commodore after members of the WRAF assumed RAF ranks.  She started her service in 1939 and spent her early years as an instructor at the new-entry depot.  After being commissioned she served on numerous stations before being attached to the Polish section of the Directorate of Allied Air Forces Liaison.  After the war she re-enlisted into the permanent women’s element of the RAF.  She served overseas including the HQ of the Far East Air Force in Singapore.  She held senior appointments and rose to become Director WRAF in May 1966.  She retired in 1969 when she was appointed DBE.  She was aged 103 when she died.

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Les - Oman cropped copyAir Vice-Marshal Les Phipps was a fighter pilot who flew most of the post-war jets.  He was a pilot attack instructor and he served at the Central Fighter Establishment and later commanded a Lightning squadron.  He gained a great deal of experience overseas serving in Jordan, Malta, Borneo and Oman seeing action in the latter two.  He commanded the Sultan of Oman’s Air Force during the Dhofar campaign and he also spent a year attached to the Royal Saudi Air Force.  After a series of senior RAF appointments, he retired to work in the British aircraft industry.  He was awarded the AFC and was appointed CB .

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Trowern copyFred Trowern was a very experienced fighter ground attack pilot who played an important role during the Falkland’s War of 1982.  He was the air staff officer appointed to the Land Force Commander (Maj Gen J. Moore RM).  On arrival in the islands he transferred to HMS Fearless in San Carlos Water, ‘ bomb alley’, and advised on the use of RAF assets and on offensive support operations in particular.  He went ashore to Goose Green and finished in Stanley at the time of the Argentinian surrender.  He was appointed OBE.

Earlier in his career, he was one of four RAF pilots who evaluated the Kestrel vertical take off and landing fighter that became the Harrier.  He saw service in Aden flying Hunters and later commanded Jaguar units

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Miller FINNINGLEY copyAir Commodore ‘Dusty’ Miller was awarded the DFC after completing a tour of operations flying the Beaufighter on anti-shipping patrols in the Adriatic.  Based on the east coast of Italy, he attacked barges and re-supply vessels as they endeavoured to support the retreating German army.  After the war, Miller flew fighters and was one of the first pilots to use an ejector seat when he baled out of a Meteor.  As a wing commander he joined the V-Force and commanded a Valiant squadron before becoming the station commander at Finningley.  He retired in 1969 to go into the building industry.

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Jack LyonA bomber air observer shot down in June 1941, Jack Lyon was one of the last survivors to take part in the Great Escape from Stalag Luft III in March 1944.  He had been a ‘stooge’ monitoring the movements of the German ‘ferrets’ who sought to discover escape plans.  Lyon was given a place for the final escape and was allocated No. 89.  He was waiting and preparing to enter the tunnel entrance in Hut 104 when a shot rang out signalling the escape attempt had been discovered.  With others who were waiting he hastily destroyed any papers, equipment and escape material.  His death occurred a few days before the 75th Anniversary of the breakout, which cost the lives of 50 of the 76 who escaped.

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Also see this LINK which outlines the story through previously published Daily Telegraph obituaries