Twelve years since The Daily Telegraph Airmen’s Obituaries Book Two was published, Air Commodore Graham Pitchfork, has compiled ninety-one obituaries of outstanding aviators. With a focus on personnel from a range of air forces, including the RAF, USAF, RCAF, RNZAF and SAAF, there are a number of fascinating and distinguishable lives to read about.
Those featured include MRAF Sir Michael Beetham, the longest-serving Chief of Air Staff in the RAF (apart from its founder Lord Trenchard); Brigadier General Paul Tibbets who commanded the USAAF bomber Enola Gay, which dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 and Wing Commander ‘Dal’ Russel, a highly decorated wartime Canadian fighter pilot, whose logbook recorded kills in the Battle of Britain and the Normandy invasion. There is also Lettice Curtis, the first woman qualified to fly a four-engine bomber and who by the end of the Second World War had flown over 400 heavy bombers, 150 Mosquitos and hundreds of Hurricanes and Spitfires as part of her role in the Air Transport Auxiliary. Civilian tales include the story of courageous Captain Jim Futcher whose VC-10 was hijacked by Palestinian terrorists in November 1974.
As seen in previous editions, Book Three commemorates the lives of an exceptional group of individuals and reminds the reader of the talent and experience we have lost from the world of aviation.
Praise for the first two airmen’s obituaries books:
‘Written with wit, insight, compassion and humour, this is a richly unpredictable medley of colourful personalities.’ Philip Ziegler
‘On reading the lives in these pages it is clear what an enormous wealth of talent and experience has been lost from our society.’ Aviation News
‘It [Book Two] is an invaluable, fascinating and absorbing read. Highly recommended.’
About the author: Air Commodore Graham Pitchfork spent thirty-six years in the RAF, as a navigator, and commanded 208 Squadron. He was director of Air Warfare, and before retiring was director of Military Intelligence at the MoD. He is the author of several successful aviation books, particularly Buccaneer Boys and Beaufighter Boys for Grub Street. In 2012 Graham received both the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators Awards and the Air Power Association Award of the CP Robertson Memorial Trophy for services to aviation writing. He has written over 600 air force obituaries for the Daily Telegraph in the last sixteen years.