BEAUFIGHTER BOYS

ScanBeaufighter Boys was launched on 13 July at the Flying Legends Air Show at Duxford.    This book is a departure from the Cold War for Grub Street’s ‘Boys Series’.  I researched this book twenty years ago for a different project when Beaufighter aircrew gave freely of their stories, which ranged from complete memoirs to brief anecdotes together with many unique photographs.  The book traces the various roles of Beaufighter squadrons operating in all theatres of World War Two operations.  From UK bases, through NW Europe, North Africa, Malta and the Mediterranean, to the Far East and the SW Pacific.  Three chapters are devoted to the operations of the RAAF and the numerous chapters outline the experiences of crew from the RCAF, the RNZAF in addition to RAF crews.

I was full of admiration for the all the ‘Beaufighter Boys’ I met and who helped with this project and it is to them that the book is dedicated.

To order this book click HERE

DAILY TELEGRAPH – OBITUARY AIR MARSHAL JOHN ‘WIN’ HARRIS

IMG_0055 copyAir Marshal Sir John Harris, known throughout the RAF as ‘Win’, was an expert in anti-submarine warfare and one of his officers described him as ‘champion of the maritime air force’. His career began flying Shackletons in Gibraltar and, after an exchange tour with the United States Navy flying the P-3 Orion, he began his long association with the Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft, first as a squadron commander and then as station commander at RAF Kinloss. After appointments in MoD and in NATO, he served as the Commandant General of the RAF Regiment.  His final appointment was as Air Officer Commanding No 18 (Maritime) Group before retiring. He died on July 2 aged 81.

To read the full obituary click HERE

DAILY TELEGRAPH – OBITUARY AIR COMMODORE CHARLES CLARKE

IMG_6671 copyCharles Clarke was a Lancaster bomb-aimer shot down in February 1944.  By early March he had reached Stalag Luft III a few weeks before the mass break out that saw 76 men escape through a tunnel.  All bar three were recaptured and 50 were murdered by the Gestapo.  Throughout his life he worked hard to commemorate their memory and returned to the remains of the camp on a number of occasions, the most recent just three months before he died on May 7.  After the war he had a long career as a supply officer seeing service overseas including the withdrawal from Aden in 1967.  He donated much of his retirement to RAF charities including the Bomber Command Association, the RAF POW’s Association and the RAF Benevolent Fund.

In the photograph he is in the back row second from the right.

To read the full obituary click HERE

ROYAL MAIL – HARRIER 50TH ANNIVERSARY

Harrier RM 1The Royal Mail have issued a series of four stamps to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Harrier Jump Jet.  The stamps form part of a an issue celebrating British Engineering.  The Harrier issue includes a medallion and an insert describing the development and operational use of the iconic jet, which is lavishly illustrated with photographs and a timeline highlighting the milestones in the aircraft’s service with the RAF ands the Fleet Air Arm.  I was pleased to be invited  for the second time (see RAF 100) to provide all the narrative.

Harrier RMFor further details click HERE and click on Engineering

DAILY TELEGRAPH – OBITUARY LIEUTENANT COLONEL RICHARD COLE

merlin_140672619_e60591fd-5582-41d6-a918-2b631ce4a735-jumboRichard Cole, who has died aged 103, was the last survivor of the 80 US airmen known as the “Doolittle Raiders” who carried out the first bombing raid against Japan in the Second World War.  Cole was the co-pilot to James Doolittle, the leader of the raid.  Sixteen Mitchell bombers were loaded on the US aircraft carrier Hornet and they were launched from the 600-foot flight deck when they were 650 miles from the Japanese coast.  They bombed Tokyo before heading for Nationalist China.  Cole and his crew baled out after crossing the Chinese coast and eventually were returned to Allied lines.  He later flew transport aircraft in support of the campaign in Burma, served in Korea and retired in 1967.  He was awarded the DFC and two clusters.  In 2016 he attended the naming ceremony of the USAF’s latest bomber called ‘The Raider’.

In the photograph Cole is second from the right with Doolittle second from the left

To read full obituary click HERE

DAILY TELEGRAPH – OBITUARY SQUADRON LEADER BRYAN COLSTON

Image (29).jpgBryan Colston and his colleagues on 225 Squadron moved to North Africa in November 1942 as part of Operation Torch, the Allied landings in Algeria.  Equipped initially with Hurricanes, Spitfires began to arrive in early 1943 and these were assigned to Colston’s flight.  Flying from advanced airstrips in the fighter reconnaissance role, the squadron supported the British 1st Army as it advanced towards Tunis.  Colston carried out many reconnaissance and low level strafing sorties, which resulted in the award of the DFC.  He supported the liberation of Tunis and later flew over the island of Pantelleria Island and dropped a message instructing the garrison to surrender.  Invalided home with typhoid fever he later instructed navigation and fighter reconnaissance tactics at a Spitfire OTU.

To read full obituary click HERE

BRITAIN AT WAR – BOMBER COMMAND’S FIRST VICTORIA CROSS

LearoydThis article in the May issue outlines the career of Wing Commander ‘Babe’ Learoyd who was Bomber Command’s first VC.  A pre-war regular pilot, he flew an operational sortie in his Hampden bomber of 49 Squadron on the morning that war was declared.  There was little activity during the “Phoney War” but operations intensified after the German occupation of the Low Countries and France in May/June 1940.  A target of special importance was the Dortmund-Ems Canal, used for the build-up of shipping and barges for the planned invasion of Britain.  On the night of August 11/12 a force of Hampdens attacked a key aqueduct, which was heavily defended.  Two of the five aircraft were shot down.  Learoyd was the last to attack and had witnessed the earlier attacks.  Despite the intense opposition he bombed successfully from 150 feet.  He then nursed home his badly damaged aircraft and waited until daylight to make a safe landing.  He was awarded the VC.  He later commanded a Lancaster squadron and left the RAF at the end of the war.  He died in January 1996.