No 72 Squadron Association



On this page you will find obituaries of members of 72 Squadron who have recently passed away. Where possible a brief resume of their service with the Squadron is included.


Dave Evans passed away on 11 Jun 2018 after a battle with cancer. Dave served as a helicopter crewman and his first tour, starting in 1981, was with 72 Sqn at Aldergrove on Wessex.


'Scottie' Weir passed away in early October 2018. He served as a pilot with 72 Sqn on Wessex at Aldergrove. 


Owen Hardy passed away recently, and he flew in 72 squadron post war. He was a Spitfire Ace, first serving in the NZ 485 Squadron during the war. Owen Hardy served with 72 Sqn as a Spitfire pilot in Italy and Austria. He was a member of 72 Sqn Association for several years. Owen passed away aged 95 on 4 January 2018.


Vic Rainbow served with Sqn 1967-69 and 70-71 as a helicopter crewman. He passed away on 3 Nov 17.


John Sampson, crewman with 72 Sqn, died On Saturday 24th January. He went peacefully in Bangor hospital, following a heart attack, with his family close by. His family has requested that all his RAF friends are informed.

 John had a long and distinguished RAF career as a crewman and winchman. He operated on the Puma, Wessex and Griffin and was a QCI in both the SAR and SH roles. After finishing his flying at SARTU he continued to enjoy all that Anglesey had to offer and was a well known and liked member of the community. He was the consummate professional and will be sorely missed.



Keith served on 72 Squadron in 1952 and worked on Vampires and Meteors at RAF North Weald. Following this he was posted to RAF Ouston (possibly working on the Royal Auxiliary Air Force squadron based there). He was a keen supporter of the 72 Sqn Association and attended many of our reunions, though not in recent years (poor health). He was a very keen photographer and visited Norway often to walk, climb and take photos. He also took many photos at our reunions.



Our Association president and WW2 Spitfire pilot in N.Africa, Sicily and Italy has sadly passed away on 25th February 2018.

 Rodney Scrase joined 72 Sqn in January 1943 in North Africa. Prior to that he had been busy delivering Spitfires from Gibraltar to the airfields in N. Africa. On April 12th 1943 on his 17th operation he damaged a Messerschmitt Bf109G. On April 24th he damaged another Bf109.

 In May 1943 he brought back a damaged Spitfire after being his by exploding debris from an MTB they had attacked. He also claimed an SM79 destroyed and a Bf109 damaged on the ground whilst attacking an airfield.

 Greggs Farish, the squadron engineering officer wrote of Rodney: Even ‘Joe’ Scrase with his boyish ways, would fight like a demon when in a tight corner.  There seemed to be a certain absoluteness or concentration about it, besides the ability to shoot straight, to watch your own tail, to watch tactical enemy traps and not to follow a Hun down.”

 On July 12th 1943 Rodney had more success shooting down a Fiat G.50bis fighter. In September 1943 Rodney crashed his Spitfire as he recalls here:

 “One black mark was my hitting a tree on final approach at Cassala.  I had a 90-gallon overload tank and just did not allow sufficient height over the airfield boundary. The undercarriage collapsed and the propeller blades were broken off.  The aircraft MA520 ‘Sunshine’ was a ‘Gift of War’ with only a few hours flying time and was declared Cat 3.  Yes I did feel I had let the plane and its donor down.  For me – a bruised forehead and a bloody nose, but I was back flying the next day.”

 On 12th December 1943 Rodney Scrase scored another victory knocking down a Bf109 near Frosinone.  On January 27th 1944 more success to Rodney when 20-30 Bf109s and FW190s were sighted over the beachhead.  The Spitfires waded in and in the dogfight Rodney Scrase destroyed a FW190.  Rodney Scrase describes the encounter:

 “Flying as Black 1 I found and destroyed a FW190.  This was ten miles south west of Rome.  Following the early days after the ‘Shingles’ beach landing we did get some enemy reaction but it was very much in and out flights by enemy aircraft bombing or striking at our ships off the beach.  I was now serving a deputy flight commander.”

 On 14th February 1944 he destroyed another Bf109. Rodney was posted from the Squadron, tour expired, on March 7th 1944 and later served with No 1 Sqn in NW Europe.

 Rodney took up the mantle of No 72 Sqn Association President and served us well in that capacity for many years. He is survived by his wife Sue and will be sadly missed.


Mrs McCaul, wife of Mike McCaul, the WW2 squadron intelligence man, who kept up a membership of the Assoc after the passing of her husband, has also passed away recently.


Andy Lorimer served with 72 Sqn as a crewman in the early 1990's at Aldergrove and sadly passed away in April.


We have also been notified of a number of 72 Sqn ground crew who have passed away recently:




Aleksander Stanislaw Tarwid was born in Gostynin, Poland in 1921, the only child of Stanislaw and Zofia Tarwid, both graduates of St Petersburg University. Stanislaw eventually became the Chairman of Polish Railways. Alek grew up amongst an extended family of aunts and cousins. He spent his summers in the countryside, riding his uncle's horses, holidaying by the Black Sea or travelling widely. In winter, at Zakopane in the High Tatra Mountains, he became a proficient slalom skier. He was a junior swimming champion in Warsaw, a keen basketball player, footballer and tennis player. Stanislaw was such a bad driver, Zofia insisted they employ a chauffeur so from the age of twelve Alek drove to collect his father whilst the chauffeur sat smoking, with his feet on the dashboard.

An idyllic childhood one might think, but one that changed very rapidly with the outbreak of WW2.

 Alek and his mother were evacuated east to Lwow, away from the Germans, where he was a sixth-former by day and a member of the resistance by night, smuggling guns out to the partisans in the forests. However the Russians also invaded. Stansilaw was arrested, spent 6 months in solitary confinement in the notorious Butyrki prison in Moscow, before being sent to a gulag on the White Sea Canal. Alek and his mother were then deported by cattle truck to a gulag near Chelyabinsk, where Alek was put to work in a coal mine under terrible conditions – a daily march of 4 kilometres then 12 hour shifts on his knees in water. Many died during that winter. He buried some of them. Somehow, Alek and his parents survived and were released when Hitler attacked the Soviet Union. Perhaps that is why, later, Alek acted as though he was invincible.

 Sent to the arctic port of Murmansk with released Polish troops and pilots, he joined the arctic convoy on HMS Trinidad en route for Scotland. Six months later, after completing his matriculation at the Polish school in Glasgow, Alek joined the Polish Air Force, in which he served for the rest of the war.

 After the war Alek transferred to the RAF and was posted to Newton outside Nottingham. There, in 1947, he attended a wedding and met Katie Forrest, who was later to become his beloved wife of 65 years. Alek flew Tiger Moths, Yorks, Oxfords and Harvards, and finally Mark XVI spitfires.

 In the early 50's he was a member of the 66 squadron aerobatic team at Linton-on-Ouse. With jet technology very much in its infancy, flying Meteors was a risky business, never mind daring aerobatics.

In 1953 Alek took part in Operation Beecher's Brook, flying Sabres from Goose Bay Labrador to the UK via Iceland. Meteors gave way to Hawker Hunters, and Alek joined 19 Squadron to fly the Marks 6, 7 and 8. He was then posted to 208 Squadron in Nairobi, before the Squadron relocated to Aden in 1961 to be closer to where it was operating in what was to be the first Iraq-Kuwait war. In addition to flying sorties against the invaders Alek did a stint with the Bedouin. Out in the desert half a mile from the border, armed with a revolver, binoculars and a radio, he was calling in the coordinates for the squadron to fly in and attack the enemy tanks as they crossed the border.

 In 1962, Alek converted to helicopters, joining 225 Squadron at Odiham, flying

Whirlwinds. He was soon sent off to the jungles of Sarawak to join the fight against Indonesian insurgents. It was here he honed his low flying skills over the treetops of the Borneo jungle.

 After a further spell on Whirlwind Mark 10s with 225, he joined the newly reformed 72 Squadron flying Wessex Mk 2 choppers, again at Odiham. My sister and I can remember the helicopters flying over the quarters in formation. - Something Alek particularly enjoyed and which certainly looked impressive.

 A posting to Singapore next – helicopter operations Far East Air Force – during which he took a helicopter detachment to help when East Pakistan was hit by a devastating cyclone in 1970. Then back to Odiham and part of the 72 Squadron detachment to Northern Ireland which, we have been assured by his former comrades, involved some pretty hairy – and very low – flying.

 Approaching retirement age, his last tour would be flying a desk at Odiham. On the squadron notice board was a request for Flight Lieutenants and below to volunteer for a spell on loan to the Sultan of Oman's Air Force. Alek sent in a request, arguing that although he was a Squadron Leader and somewhat over the desired age limit, his corporal was perfectly capable of doing all the paperwork without him.

 Alek was awarded 3 Omani medals, including the Sultan's Distinguished Service Medal and an MBE on his return to the UK. It has been said that in his day, my Father was indisputably the greatest helicopter pilot in all of NATO.

 After Oman Alek returned to Alton, where he and Katie enjoyed a long and happy retirement. No more detachments, no more wars, no more flying but he did take up driving them around the British Isles and bought himself a BMW coupe for his 80th birthday.

 I'd like to thank all of his former colleagues from his Air Force years, who have been in touch and so many of whom are here today as we bid farewell to a very special flying ace who showed great courage and determination throughout the various stages of his long and eventful life.


Despite his arthritic knees and declining health Alek steeled himself to keep going and looked after himself (with Helen's support and some domestic help) until May of this year when he had several falls. He was then briefly in hospital and realised returning home was difficult and probably unsafe. Thankfully Brendon House found a place for him immediately and he was able to move in with all his possessions around him, to be cared for and have few responsibilities. He was looking well and felt stronger when suddenly on 16th July he developed a kidney infection that swiftly turned to sepsis. The A&E department called Glenn and Helen that afternoon and they went to Basingstoke

Hospital. It was for less than 48 hours. The staff were kind and gentle, and allowed them to stay on the ward. Alek died on the Tuesday morning at 6.30am. It was a dignified passing, without pain or distress and Alek, although very weak, knew they were there. Alek was 95 and would have been 96 this October. Alek is survived by his two children, Helen and Alistair, three grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.

 Alistair Tarwid


 JP Sydes passed away on 14th Oct 2016 at the age of 90 after a short illness. He served with 72 Sqn from 1956 - 1961. He had a military funeral with a guard of honour from the Parachute Regiment with whom he served in WW2. JP is survived by his wife Hazel.


 Joan Pocock, wife of 72 Sqn pilot Sgt (later F/Sgt) Maurice Pocock, and honorary member of the Association passed away on 29th November 2016 aged 97. Her grandson said she always remembered 72 Sqn and that he received her 72 Sqn pin badge on her passing.



Graham had been gravely ill leading to a lung transplant at Easter time last year. Being a major operation Graham struggled to make a good recovery and ultimately had to be re-admitted to hospital in November to combat an infection that had refused to go away. Ultimately he lost his battle with the infection at the end of January.

Graham, together with his wife Christine, was a 'Friend of 72' and attended Linton over the last few years.


 Frank served with the Squadron on Spitfires in 1946. His wife Gloria informed us that Frank died on 1st March 2017.  He was taken in 4 days previously with pneumonia and failed to respond.  He has been so poorly over the last 7 months and became very frail.  He had had enough of all the various afflictions he was suffering. The end was peaceful and our 2 children were with me all the time during the vigil which was a comfort.


 The Association was recently informed that Amos Smith, ground crew with 72 Sqn in 1941 and a long time Assoc member passed away some time ago.


 Malcolm Brodie, one of the editors of the Belfast telegraph, an honorary member of the Assoc and keen publicist of 72 Sqn, and the Association in its formative years, has passed away.


Laurie Frampton passed away at the beginning of September 2016, age 95 after a short time in a care home.  He died peacefully in his sleep after having been in very poor health for a while now.  Laurie served with the Squadron in WW2 and flew one of the first Spitfires into Algeria during Operation Torch. Whilst in North Africa he belly landed one Spitfire, force landed another and shared in the shooting down of a Junkers Ju88 and probably destroyed a Messerschmitt Bf109. He left the squadron in Malta at the end of his first tour and returned to 72 Sqn in Italy later where he blew himself up with his own faulty bomb! he survived badly inured to become a POW. The Sqn are sending representation to his funeral on 16 Sep 2016 and the Sqn Historian, Erik Mannings, is also attending.


I am sorry to report the death of Des Gorham in August 2012 aged 88.  Des was born in 1924 and joined the RAF in October 1942 aged 18.  He was sent to the Transvaal in South Africa to train at Witbank on Tiger Moths and afterwards he completed his wings course on the Harvard at Blomspot on 12 May 1943.  He finished his training in Egypt on Hurricanes and Spitfires before joining 72 Sqn at Rimini in Italy ? under canvas with the rest of the unit.  He flew numerous ground attack missions in his Spitfire Mk IX including some of the very first using napalm.  On 12 April 1944 he recorded in his logbook the following comments after a sortie: ?Used Blaze bombs on Santerno Banks ? Frizzled Fritz.?  Not exactly a PC comment, but relevant in its day.  Normal targets were the road and railway network in Northern Italy and support of the ground forces against gun emplacements with the odd escort mission for Allied bombers and a few weather recce sorties.  The Sqn moved from Rimini to Ravenna and now had proper buildings to live in but Des was taken ill and spent 8th May 45 (VE Day) in hospital in Naples.  He re-joined the Sqn at Klagenfurt in Austria and flew on ?show of force? sorties along the Yugoslavian borders to deter Marshall Tito?s forces from trying to get some territorial gains.  He returned to the UK in 1946 and left the RAF and entered medical school where he qualified as a GP and worked in this role until he was 60 when he went into the insurance world until he retired.  He was a lively Association Member when he attended the reunions and once tried a barrel-roll in his electric buggy at North Weald which resulted in another trip to hospital!  His funeral was at the RC Cathedral in Portsmouth on 24th August 2012.


Ken Boyd was well known to the members of the Northern Ireland military helicopter community and could be found ?popping up? just about anywhere a helicopter could be found to take photos. He sadly passed away on 13 September whilst awaiting a liver transplant at Addenbrookes hospital.


Jimmy Corbin, probably the last surviving 72 Sqn Spitfire pilot to have flown in the Battle of Britain, although with 92 Sqn then, passed away in December.  He served with the Sqn during the North African campaign and was a well known veteran.  He was one of the ?Ten little Fighter Boys? whose story was told after the Battle and his own book was called ?Last of the Ten Fighter Boys?


Ken McGowan passed away on 8 Dec 12. Ken served on the Sqn on Javelins from 1959-1961.

 Flight Lieutenant Bernard Walter Brown, December 6, 1917 - January 23, 2017


A man believed to be New Zealand's last Battle of Britain veteran has died in Tauranga, just a few weeks after his 99th birthday. Bernard Brown, known as Bernie, died of pneumonia on January 23.

Author Max Lambert, who wrote the 2011 book Day After Day: New Zealanders in Fighter Command, said Mr Brown flew briefly with Royal Air Force fighter Squadrons 610 and 72 before being shot down by a Messerschmitt at the height of the battle and was slightly wounded.


Mr Brown was born in Stratford in December 1917 and was working there as a postman when he applied for a Short Service Commission in the Royal Air Force in 1938. He was accepted and sailed for Britain late that year. After graduation he was posted to an army co-operation unit flying Lysanders and operated over the front lines in France, spotting the enemy before Dunkirk.

Mr Brown then volunteered for pilot-short Fighter Command and went through the abrupt conversion to Spitfires. In Mr Lambert's book, Mr Brown said an instructor told him: "Here's the book of [Spitfire] pilot notes, learn it and get up there and fly it. Mr Brown first served briefly with 610 at Biggin Hill but because the squadron was being transferred to Scotland for rest, newcomer Mr Brown was posted to 72 Squadron.

Mr Lambert said Mr Brown's stay with 72 was short. Attacked from above and out of the sun, he was shot down by a Messerschmitt Me 109 on September 23, 1940 on his second patrol with the squadron.

"A cannon shell came through the side of my aircraft, hit me in the left leg and exploded on the throttle box ... I had no control ... so I thought, 'out you go'," Mr Brown was quoted as saying. Mr Brown landed by parachute in a marshy field on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent and could not stand up - his leg was bloodied. He was quickly picked up and taken to hospital. Recovered, the New Zealander was certified unfit to fly fighters in combat again because of his wound's effect. He instructed for a year in Rhodesia then saw out the war piloting for RAF Transport and Ferry Commands.

Postwar, he flew with British European Airways (now British Airways) for more than 30 years before returning to New Zealand and buying an orchard in Matua. He married his wife, Elizabeth, a BEA flight attendant, in 1965. Mrs Brown said her husband was a "very, very practical person" who was very easy to live with. "We had a very happy life. After moving to New Zealand, we always lived in Tauranga although we moved around often after selling the orchard. "After the orchard, we retired and always had big gardens, that kept us occupied."

Mrs Brown said her husband was a real handyman who always repaired everything himself. "He would always repair his own cars. He was a very practical person." Mr Brown is survived by his wife, his son and his daughter. He also has a grandchild, who is based in England. A New Zealand Defence Force spokeswoman said Mr Brown was believed to be the last Battle of Britain veteran from New Zealand, but was not able to confirm this with a historian during the long weekend.




Jim Rosser

We were advised in January 2012 that Jim Rosser, who served with 72 Sqn during the Wessex and Puma era passed away some time in 2009.


Irvine ‘Rio’ Wright

In December 2011 we received notification of the passing of Irvine Wright. Known to all as ‘Rio’ he served with the squadron during WW2 throughout N Africa, Sicily and Italy. He passed away in June 2011.


 Irvine Wright standing at rear left behind Jack Lancaster.

Ron Mitchell

Ron Mitchell served with the squadron in the early 1950’s during the Vampire period. He was a keen cyclist and thought nothing of cycling 50-60 miles to get home on a weekend pass then cycle back again. He also represented the squadron shooting at Bisley. As an Association member he was responsible for the printing and distribution on the newsletter for several years. He passed away in December 2011.

 Ron Mitchell at Bisley for a shooting competition in the early 1950's during his National Service.


Toni Barton

'Toni' Barton, wife to Jim Barton, our reunion coordinator and association lynchpin, sadly passed away in July 2011. Her funeral will take place at Ruislip crematorium on Tues 19 July. Toni attended many reunions through the years and was a great friend to many in the association.

 Jack Lancaster

Jack Lancaster, who served with the Squadron from 1940-1946, through the Battle of Britain, North Africa, Malta, Sicily, Italy and Austria sadly passed away today, Friday 20 May 2011.Jack was a staunch supporter of both No 72 (R) Sqn and the Association and attended every reunion and event held by both since the formation of the Association in 1993.  he is survived by his wife Nora and his family.

Details of the funeral arrangements will be posted when they become available.

 Jack Lancaster (on right) with WW2 72 Sqn pilots Rodney Scrase and Tom Hughes at Linton on Ouse in 2010.

 KC 'Red' Weller

 Red trained at No 6 BFTS in USA before joining No 72 Sqn and following service in North Africa 
and Italy was posted to  No 1 Sqn in 1944-45. He passed away in April 2011

 Paul Green

 Another loss to the Squadron in January.  The reaper seems to have 72 Sqn in his sights at the moment.  Paul Green, a well known and popular ground engineer with the squadron in Northern Ireland has passed away.

 Frank James

 72 Sqn Pilot Frank James, who served with the squadron in the 1950's has passed away. 


Frank James in centre of photo.



 I am sorry to report the recent passing of two of our members.

Joan Stally

 Joan Stally, the wife of 72 Sqn Pilot during the 1950's Henry Stally, passed away before Christmas.

Tom Hughes

WW2 Spitfire pilot with the Squadron in N.Africa, Sicily and Italy, left us just before the New Year.  






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