FlypastEPSON scanner imageWith the conclusion of the long-running series relating the stories of the airmen holders of the Victoria Cross, a new series Above and Beyond has started in the September issue of FlyPast.  This first article provides the background to the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Distinguished Flying Medal.  It highlights the creation and the development of the criteria for the award of the two decorations for gallantry in the air.  The article is illustrated by examples of both immediate and non-immediate awards and includes the first award of the DFC to a female and the only post-war award of the DFC and two Bars.

Each monthly issue of FlyPast will focus on one individual and describe the events that led to the award of the decorations.


Dad in uniform with CBAVM Michael Robinson was a Cold War bomber pilot who commanded a V-Bomber squadron, which provided part of the UK’s strategic nuclear deterrent and part of Britain’s contribution to NATO’s retaliatory strike plan.  Robinson had been trained in the first post-war entry at the RAF College Cranwell before seeing service in the Far East and in Germany.  During his command of No.100 Squadron, equipped with the Victor 2, he took an aircraft to New Zealand for the RNZAF International Air Display.  His later appointments included staff tours at MoD, HQ Strike Command and as the Senior Air Staff Officer at HQ 1 (Bomber) Group.  He was also the Assistant Commandant at the RAF College.

To read full obituary click HERE


Freddie Aden 1 copyThe death of Sir Frederick Sowrey aged 96 brings to an end the RAF services of a remarkable family whose members had served for an unbroken period of 65 years.  The son of WW 1 fighter ‘ace’ and the destroyer of a Zeppelin over Essex, Group Captain Frederick Sowrey DSO, MC, AFC, Sowrey joined the RAF in 1940 and saw service throughout the Second World War before concentrating on fighter operations flying the Meteor and then commanding a Javelin squadron.  He commanded the RAF transport base at Abingdon and was the senior air staff officer who planned the UK withdrawal from Aden in 1967.  His senior appointments included responsibility for RAF training, commandant of the National Defence College and the UK representative at CENTO.  He was an avid motor racer and drove in the London to Brighton rally in his 1901 Darracq Tonneau.  He founded the RAF Historical Society and was its dynamic president.

To read full obituary click HERE

For the history of the Sowrey familiy’s RAF service see Book section on this site.


RustinWing Commander Rustin was one of the RAF’s leading test pilots whose 17 years of testing experimental aircraft and the RAF’s front-line fighters was recognised by him being awarded the Air Force Cross and Bar.  After a period as a fighter pilot, Rustin completed the course at the Empire Test Pilot’s School where he was awarded the McKenna Trophy for the best all-round student on his course.  He served at the Royal Aircraft Establishment’s three major test centres at Farnborough, Bedford and Boscombe Down.  After leaving the RAF he flew classic jets on the airshow circuit and qualified as an airship captain.

To read the full obituary click HERE


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


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


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