remembers his wartime and post-war life…
In March 1943 I left Hawker, Slough, having volunteered for the Army
for the duration of the war. After primary training I went to Stow
College, Glasgow, for a mechanical engineering course and was then
selected for the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME). I
volunteered for overseas service and was attached to an infantry
battalion anti-tank platoon. After a short cruise across the Channel to
land on Gold Beach, Normandy, I toured through France, Belgium, Holland
and Germany. The invasion of Japan was cancelled so I spent eighteen
months in Palestine and Egypt helping the formation of Israel.
In 1947 I was allowed back into ‘civy street’ and started at
Hawkers, Canbury Park Road, working on Sea Fury rudders and ailerons.
My head of department was Tom Bray, ex-manager of the Slough factory.
Moved to the Richmond Road factory, I did a bit of work on the Sea Hawk
and then the Hunter. Some of the methods used on the Hunter wing
assemblies were somewhat unusual but had to get passed by AID (the
Government Aeronautical Inspection Directorate).
After a few years of evenings at college I transferred to the Loft Department and then the Drawing Office working on the P.1127. I was fortunate at this time, 1963, to be presented with my Longines watch by Sir Sydney Camm and to be photographed with the man who helped save Britain.
Leaving Hawker I gained interesting experience of larger aircraft on
the design of Lockheed C-5A wings in the UK and then at Boeing in
Seattle on the prototype 747. Returning to England I worked at BAC
Weybridge on the VC10, the 3-11 and Concorde. I then had a spell as
Development Engineer on aircraft furnishings, mainly on the bonding of
titanium. After designing parts for Concorde I had a change moving into
the design of major reheat furnaces. Accuracy was not so important here
with ½ inch steel plate and 12 ft diameter piping.
After a while I decided I preferred aircraft work and took up a
position with Hawker Siddeley Dynamics at Hatfield working on the Short
Range Air-to-Air Missile (SRAAM). Still with Dynamics, but at
Stevenage, I worked on space shuttles and submarine launched undersea
guided weapons. As my children’s schooling was now important I
transferred back to Richmond Road working for Digger Fairey on the
Harrier, and later the AV-8B, responsible for centre and rear fuselages.
I have, on the whole, enjoyed my mainly aircraft career but was
disappointed that I never flew in a Harrier. Several of my friends over
the years had their own aircraft or were able to use club machines
which enabled me to have some enjoyable flying in small aircraft. I did
manage three superb flights on Concorde; one on the 20th anniversary of
the first flight with Brian Trubshaw on the flight deck explaining what
he had done twenty years before, and a return flight to Toronto for a
It’s a shame that ‘Weybridge’ and ‘Kingston’ are no more. My initial
experience at Hawker and then with other firms stood me in good stead
over the years from 1938 to 1989 after which I did a couple of years
contract work before retiring by the sea near Bournemouth. I celebrated
my 80th birthday with flights in a hot air balloon and a Tiger Moth.