An Airman of the Queen is written by Richard Robson. There was one night high over the Mediterranean. In the gaps between the clouds far below, the sea shone silver in the moonlight. All was quiet on the radio and intercom. Two hundred miles ahead, the lights of Malta sparkled like a tiny jewel... Many, many years later Richard "Robby" Robson sits in the Spanish sunshine with nothing more dramatic than topping up the dog's water bowl and reflects on livelier days. Too young for WWII combat and too early for fly-by-wire aviation, Robby nonetheless witnessed the perilous dawning of the jet age over a period during which 6 of his RAF College contemporaries perished. Would anyone else really want to read a first hand account of this largely neglected period of aviation history? Well "YES of course, but do get it done before your eyesight fails you altogether or your mind really begins to wonder", said his family and friends, so this book is their responsibility.
From Blue to Grey is a book about the RAF with a difference. It is an anthology of stories and anecdotes contributed by former cadets at the RAF College, Cranwell. The stories are entertaining and evocative, concerning the writers’ lives from their time as cadets, back in 1949 to 1951, during their subsequent service in the RAF, and after they had retired and moved into civilian life. The book is much more than a collection of reminiscences. It is a fascinating snap-shot of the history of the RAF, which has changed a great deal since the writers joined the RAF more than half century ago. Many of the stories in this book are of a world that will not return, of a time when the RAF still had many bases across the globe, of an RAF with operational commands with the evocative titles of Near East Air Force, Middle East Air Force, and Far East Air Force. The writers of this book had the good fortune to be in the RAF at a time of rapid technological change and to fly a great variety of types spanning the end of the age of the piston-engine fighter through the developing jet age to the 1970s. Their accounts of often hair-raising flying experiences are revealing and amusing. They are particularly interesting to those accustomed to flying the more sophisticated aircraft of today in a much more regulated environment. The book also gives us a glimpse of the social history of the UK in the post-war period though the eyes of those who lived and served through the withdrawal from Empire and changes from post-war austerity to modern Britain.
There I Was ... Memories of an Old Aviator is an autobiographical series of stories relating to the airborne carreer of Brian Meadly. After his lifetime in aviation, Brian Meadley has many thousands of flights in his log books. Most were routine, many were especially interesting or challenging, some were amusing or exciting, and a few were downright dangerous. These memories recall some of those episodes, incidents and accidents, and some of the other aviators involved in them, and will produce a smile here, a pause for thought there, and sometimes bring a tear to the eye.
Sleeve Notes was the name given to the Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust Bristol branch house magazine and my becoming Chairman in 1983 coincided with the appointment of a new editor. He asked me to write a series of articles based on the introductory talk which I had given to the branch AGM earlier in the year describing my career in the RAF. So with the help of my pilot’s flying log book, assorted photographs, some diary notes, a few papers, shared recollections with old colleagues and a brain not yet addled, I began to assemble my memories of cockpits and events from the past.
My duties as a serving officer took me east from Britain to Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand with the RAF and west across the Pacific Ocean to the Japanese archipelago with the United States Air Force, although I did not quite manage to reach “around the world” by visiting Hong Kong. Over the following twelve years Sleeve Notes contained various accounts about my career in and out of the cockpit with a focus on aircraft, engines and other matters associated with them. I had the privilege of flying at zero air speed in the Harrier and at Mach 2 in fighters with the Royal Air Force, the French Air Force and the United States Air Force. Because the majority of my flying was powered by engines from today's Rolls-Royce family, the Company suggested that these articles could be edited and used as the basis for this Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust book ‘From Schoolboy to Station Commander”.. Jock Heron
The personal account of 'Hank' Hancock, a New Zealander whose ambition to fly jet fighters gained him a cadetship at the longest established air academy in the world. Described by Cranwell's Librarian and Archivist as the definitive College history of the 1950s, this is much more than an autobiography.
History of Royal Air Force Cranwell by Group Captain E. B Haslam,
I began to write my autobiography in 2003 without any thought of producing a ‘best seller’. It was intended solely as a record of my life. Its readers would be my family, any helpers in the project, the libraries of those organisations to which I had belonged and only finally private purchasers. During my wife Maureen’s long and final illness, any thought that I might market the book commercially evaporated and I have decided that ALL proceeds from private sales will be donated in her memory, to an organisation close to her heart – Sunnyside Church in Berkhamsted.
As is well known, the cost per copy of producing a limited print run is much greater than the cost of printing enough for the mass market. So initially, I have only ordered a limited number of copies of ‘Touchdown’ for private sale – more can be ordered if needs be. On this basis the initial cost would be £60 for its 583 pages and 108 photographs.
Out of print but often available on Ebay or Amazon Market Place
Enquiries to Larry Lamb at:
T 020 3214 9188
Fred Hoskins (54C) Richard Robson (54B) & Brian Meadley (54B)
Available direct from the publisher
Air Commodore George C. Lamb: Asst. Comdt. April 1964-May 1965
Cadets at the Royal Air Force College training to be pilots were required to write a thesis, and my study was titled, ‘The History of Strategic Thought’. On my graduation in April 1953, I was awarded the Royal United Service Institute Award for the thesis. I was trained to fly on piston-engined aircraft and on graduation was trained to fly jet aircraft, specifically the Meteor, the first RAF jet-powered aircraft. I then flew the Canberra followed by the first ‘V’ bomber, the Valiant. Following a period as a staff officer returned to flying and commanded 27 Squadron flying the Vulcan Mk 2. I was seconded to the US Air Force and served at the Headquarters of Strategic Air Command, where the Western world nuclear deterrent was planned. I returned to the United Kingdom and served at the Headquarters of Strike Command with responsibility for producing the RAF nuclear plans.
On 6 August and 8 August 1945, the world changed forever with the release of two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. In January 1947, the United States informed the British Government that they would not provide technical data for the production of nuclear weapons. It was therefore decided that Britain would produce its own bombs. In July 1944, the first operational jet aircraft, the Meteor, entered service in the RAF and the Government decided to develop jet-powered aircraft capable of dropping nuclear weapons, resulting in the development of the 'V' bombers: Valiant, Vulcan and Victor. As a result of the deteriorating relationship with Russia, the United States, as part of NATO, worked with the UK and co-operated in nuclear operational planning with US bomber aircraft based in the UK. Later, as a result of the development of nuclear power, submarines were fitted with nuclear weapons which resulted in the deterrent role passing from the RAF to the Royal Navy. However, the Cold War provided a unique role and responsibility for the RAF.My Target was Leningrad - V Force: Preserving our Democracy is unique in that it is a human story, not just a list of technical facts and bomber data. With many previously unpublished photographs from the author's private collection, this is the chilling story of what really happened and how close the world came to World War III and a nuclear apocalypse. Unlike other military historians, author Philip Goodall not only flew the mighty V bombers in action, but was also tasked to drop the bomb on Leningrad.
AFTER THE COLLEGE
Richard Robson 54B
A fast-moving fictional novel about an Argentine fighter pilot, whose brother was killed in the attack by a British submarine on the Battleship Belgrano. He resolves to avenge his brother's death by attacking the British Royal Family whilst they are at sea.
Philip Goodall 54A
Brian Meadley 54B
Jock Heron 71B
Chris Coville 91C
Out of print but often available on Ebay or Amazon Market Place
'Hank; Hancock 60A
Contact! is an enthralling set of recollections from ex-RAF captain Bob Tuxford. The book follows his twenty-year career within the RAF and describes highlights of active service across the world, including an accompanied exchange tour in the US Air Force and participation in the Falklands war. The title, a nod to the crucial response during air-to-air refuelling, underlines the important role that Bob carried out during his career as a captain of Victor K1s in 214 Squadron in the 1970s. This experience led to him playing a vital role in the first Black Buck mission during the Falklands campaign by being the last Victor tanker to refuel the Vulcan piloted by Martin Withers before bombing commenced on that fateful night in 1982. For this, he was awarded the Air Force Cross for gallantry. In the latter years of his career, Bob made the transition to test piloting and became a senior test pilot at the Aircraft and Armament Experimental Establishment, Boscombe Down. This book is not just for aviation enthusiasts, but for those wanting a greater insight into the importance of the work carried out by tanker squadrons within the RAF during the Cold War.
This is AVM Graham Williams autobiography of life in the RAF from 1955 to 1991. It is structured around the Hawker Hunter, it being the first operational aircraft the author flew in 1958 and the last in 1985. It includes operational tours on 54 Sqn, 145 Sqn (229 OCU), 8 Sqn in Aden during the Radfan campaign, a year at the Empire Test Pilots' School followed by four years on the Fighter Test Sqn at the Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment, including the 1969 Transatlantic Air Race in a Harrier, command of one of the first operational Harrier Sqns in Germany and the delights of off-base operations, a ground tour on the staff at the Royal College of Defence Studies in Belgrave Square, command of a RAF Germany base with four nuclear capable Jaguar squadrons, a ground tour as Gp Capt Operations in Germany followed by a short tour as CO Experimental Flying at Farnborough and a final flying tour as Commandant of A&AEE. The epilogue covers the final five years of service in MOD including the demise of the Nimrod AEW, the birth of the Typhoon and a final year as Commandant General of the RAF Regiment.
Graham Williams 71B
email@example.com or tel 01332 240340
Bloody Biscay is the story of the Luftwaffe’s only long range maritime fighter unit – V Gruppe/Kampfgeschwader 40 (V/KG 40) and its battles against the RAF, the US Army Air Force (USAAF) and the US Navy (USN) from July 1942 to August 1944 above the Bay of Biscay. Using personal accounts from both German and Allied survivors, Bloody Biscay relates the initial tribulations of the unit, the height of its success in spring and summer 1943, its battles against overwhelming odds and its eventual annihilation over the Normandy beaches in June 1944.
The book contains comprehensive appendices detailing the unit’s commanding officers, known aircrew, all of its known ‘kills’ matched to Allied losses and its combat losses. It also describes the attack in which the famous British actor Leslie Howard perished and so clarifies the facts surrounding one of the most enduring mysteries of the 2nd World War
Chris Goss IOT 41
Bob Tuxford 97A
tTom Eeles seved in the RAF for 44 years and totaled over 8000 hours of flying in twenty-eight different aircraft types. Tom entered RAF College Cranwell in 1961, he gained his RAF wings in 1963. His first posting was to No 16 squadron flying the Canberra. Its role as a light bomber squadron was primarily nuclear strike, with a secondary role of conventional ground attack by day and night. 16 Squadron was deployed to Kuantan, Malaya. In July 1966 and on loan to the Senior Service, Tom reported to RNAS Lossiemouth for a swept wing conversion course on the Hunter before starting the Buccaneer Operational Flying Course. After 65 hours in the Buccaneer he was posted to 801 NAS, HMS Victorious. In 1969 he joined 736 Naval Air Squadron which was responsible for training courses for RAF aircrew converting to the Buccaneer. He moved to 12 Squadron based at RAF Honington. Their task was to provide a maritime strike/attack capability and a nuclear strike capability in support of the UK National Plan. 1975 saw a move to 79 Squadron flying the Hunter.After a spell at the RAF Staff College, Tom became staff officer responsible for all aspects of fast jet advanced flying training on the Hawk at Valley and multi engine advanced flying training at Finningley. In 1983, selected to command 237 OCU, again flying the Buccaneer at Lossiemouth. B
Tom Eeeles 83B
This gem of a memoir was first published in hardback in November 2006. Two printings sold out in a year to critical acclaim. Born in Hatfield but raised in Eire and educated at Eton and Cranwell, 1940 found Tim Vigors flying Spitfires and seeing frantic and distinguished service over Dunkirk and then during the dangerous days of The Battle of Britain, when he became an ace. Transferred to the Far East in January 1941 as a flight commander on 10th December he led a flight of Buffaloes to cover the sinking Prince of Wales and Repulse. Dramatically shot down, burnt and attacked on his parachute, he was evacuated to Java, and from there to India. And this is where his hand-written account ends. Throughout, the author describes his experiences in an honest, refreshing way. It is a fascinating and valuable record, one which is now regarded as a classic.
Tim Vigors 1-39 B
This delightful memoir of Mike Williams life and times will stir many memories. Cranwellians of the late 1950s and early 60s engaged in their jet conversion to Vampires will recall a good looking and sympathetic instructor who had the time and sense to make this testing time a pleasure rather than a trial. Mike stood out then as a man with charm and style. Throughout his career, Mike retained that charm and easy going approach which made him so popular in the Royal Air Force, with the other services and in the civilian world. But behind that aura lay a great professionalism and strength of character, so necessary for a test pilot, the operations floor at the Ministry of Defence and Station Commander at the Central Flying School. Without that inner core of steel, it is unlikely he would have continued to fly after the loss of one eye, and in the process become something of a legend. Looking through his Record of Service, from 1954 Initial Training at Kirton Lindsey to his retirement as Deputy Commandant at Cranwell 1984, one is struck by the number of bases no longer in being with the RAF. Kirton Lindsey, Middleton St George, Chivenor, Stradishall, Waterbeach, Little Rissington, Aden, Manby-all of them in their day lively, important stations and ones which had a profound influence on the many young men and women who spent time there. The ghosts of those days peep out from the pages of this book. They bear witness to just how great the changes have been to the RAF and how much smaller it is today. It would be easy to suggest that the era Mike Williams describes was more fun, more varied and more interesting than the essentially UK based service of today despite the fact that the RAF has been almost permanently on operations abroad since 1991. In reality, the world has changed and the armed services have had to change with it. But young men and women still join the military for much the same reason as did Mike, and they still get the satisfaction from achievements in the air and on the ground as did he. What I hope those of the modern generation who read this book will learn is that professionalism can accommodate graciousness and charm, a life outside the service without in any way compromising excellence.
Mike Williams Deputy Commandant 1984
MacDonell s service career began in the 1930s. Shortly before the war he became a Squadron Leader and worked at the Air Ministry during the Phoney War. When hostilities commenced he became CO of No 64 Squadron, carrying out convoy support operations and eventually fighting in the Battle of Britain. Awarded a DFC, he was given command of a squadron at Leconfield to train urgently required pilots. Eventually he was shot down over the English Channel and rescued by a U-boat, this resulted in a lengthy period as a PoW in camps throughout enemy occupied Europe and Germany. During this period he was involved with the famous Wooden Horse escape and was eventually freed by advancing Russian troops.Upon his return to the UK he was promoted Wing Commander and worked on the Cabinet Office staff before moving to Headquarters Flying Training Command. He was then appointed Chief Flying Instructor at Cranwell before successfully applying for the post of British Air Attache in Moscow.
Donald MacDonell 9-32B
We Seek the Highest has been the motto of the thousands of Officer Cadets who, over ten decades, have passed through the rigorous training regime at the Royal Air Force College, Cranwell, Lincolnshire. The words embody the College ethos: to strive to reach the tough standards demanded by the RAF, in the air and on the ground.
This book tells the 100-year story from the point of view of the Officer Cadets themselves. The College was founded in 1919 – some eighteen months after the birth of the RAF itself – with the aim of providing a cadre of disciplined, highly-trained officers, ready to lead the service through the uncertain post-war and post-Empire times to come. Since then, it has responded continuously to the UK’s political, economic and military requirements.
The RAF Officer Cadets’ world has thus been one of change. The author documents these changes from 1919 to today, overlaying the historical and social scene with the candidly related airborne and ground-based exploits of three-score ex-cadets.
The core narrative is based on the three years at Cranwell of 81 Entry of Flight Cadets, who graduated in July 1962 with thirty-seven jet pilots and eight navigators, having launched a curriculum-changing experiment in degree-level studies.
With a Foreword from an Air Chief Marshal former cadet, 130 illustrations, and a full index, the whole offers a cadets’ tribute to a world-famous military academy on its centenary.
Roger Annett (81C)
Roger Annett (81C)
Also by Roger Annett
Lifeline in Helmand tells the story of the Royal Air Force tactical transport force operating in one of the most dangerous regions in the Afghanistan campaign - Helmand province. The Chinook helicopters of 1310 Flight fly heavy-lift and trooping missions to remote Forward Operating Bases and in direct support of Deliberate Ground Operations. They are complemented by the mass air-drop capability of the Hercules transports of 904 Expeditionary Air Wing, RAF. The book follows 'C' Flight of 27 Squadron from RAF Odiham as it prepares for another three-month deployment to Helmand manning 1310 Flight, under the command of NATO, within the International Security Assistance Force, ISAF. The narrative joins 'C' Flight on winter-flying training in the Scottish Highlands, before following them to the battleground on the Airbridge transports from RAF Brize Norton. It then tracks them through their operational tour. There are first-hand accounts from air and ground crews, client Royal Marine Commandos and in-theatre helicopter support units, as well as from Hercules pilots on detachment from RAF Lyneham, and men of 47 Air Despatch Squadron. There are detailed depictions of sorties in support of ground operations, and of life-saving casualty evacuation missions with teams of medics and nurses. The author describes the tortuous historical background to today's conflict, and eye-witnesses contribute their personal viewpoints on the campaign together with many dramatic photographs from the front line. The whole adds up to a fitting tribute to elite British units facing the horrors and deprivations of war in a far-off corner of a troubled land.
Also by Chris Goss
Even for the British candidates, that training leading to a Commission in the Royal Air Force was only available to a select few, and so this was bound to be dealing with the mainly unknown. Soon after his acceptance by a local Selection Board, Ola embarks on a series of personal experiences that took him overseas to Europe for the first time, and a life in a Temperate country with quite different customs, and weather.
He has little time to adjust to his new way of life, and to attend a proper Selection Board before arriving at the College to start his training, and life as a Flight Cadet that would last over a period of three years. The reader is made to feel every bit of this military and exciting journey involving so many special programmes that would turn those young men into fully trained pilot officers on Passing Out.
Winston Forde 82B
Philip Goodall 54A
LIFE AT THE COLLEGE
Roger is now able to supply signed copies at £24 each, £2 of which will go straight to the RAF Benevolent Fund, together with a further donation from the author’s net proceeds.
To assist in the latter, postage and packing would be chargeable at £4.50. Orders to firstname.lastname@example.org would be speedily processed.
The very first job I ever had was as a helper and DJ on a mobile roller skating rink in 1983. That lasted less than a year and was followed by a myriad of other jobs. I was a potter, a taxi driver, a truck driver, a picker in a cold store, a gardener and a milkman. I also spent a significant part of each year just travelling and enjoying myself. Financially, I rarely had any money other than that required to get from one week to the next and frequently lived at home with my parents where I stayed on a ‘will work for food basis’.
At nearly 30 years of age I was faced with unemployment, a mortgage and an expanding family. After picking winkles on the beach for cash and working as a creel fisherman's helper I signed up to join the RAF following a chance encounter in Inverness. Over the next fifteen years I was generally happy with service life and got to live in some fantastic places; however, as I got towards the end of my time the frustrations with the sheer waste of resources and the level of bureaucracy in the military grew. When I vented these frustrations I noticed my civilian friends found it hard to believe some of the stories I told them about military life and my military friends found it hard to believe my stories of home life. With this in mind and little else to occupy my days, I decided to keep a diary for one year. This is the result. It’s a mix of life in the RAF, life at home with three teenagers and all my mixed up weird and often humorous thoughts and views on anything and everything. What my friends call ‘the world according to Mikey’.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard Johns was commissioned at the RAF College Cranwell in 1959 after completing flying training on Piston Provost and Meteor aircraft. Following nine years service as an operational fast-jet pilot flying Javelins and Hunters he became a qualified flying instructor during which time he taught The Prince of Wales to wings standard. Returning to the front line he commanded a Harrier squadron and later the Harrier Force in Germany. A succession of national and NATO senior posts followed culminating in his appointment as Chief of the Air Staff and ADC to the Queen. On retirement in April 2000, he became Constable and Governor of Windsor Castle. A past chairman of the Board of Trustees of the RAF Museum, he is now president of the RAF Historical Society. His illustrious career gave him the privilege of a rare, if not singular, perspective of the RAF, its sister services and national defence matters, witnessing a steady decline in the combat power of the UK’s armed forces as financial management took precedence over identifying strategic priorities and maintaining the vital skill-sets of service personnel. His views are forensic and forthright, balanced and thought-provoking and this autobiography should be essential reading for anyone interested in the development of Allied air power over the last fifty years and its contribution to operations in the Middle East and the Balkans.
Sir Richard Johns 76B