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
ROBERT SCOTT WEIR
'Scottie' Weir passed away in early October
2018. He served as a pilot with 72 Sqn on
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
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
had a long and distinguished RAF career as a crewman and winchman. He operated
on the Puma,
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
Our Association president and WW2 Spitfire pilot in
Rodney Scrase joined 72 Sqn in January 1943
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:
as Black 1 I found and destroyed a FW190.
This was ten miles south west of
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 BM McCAUL
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:
Tarwid was born in
An idyllic childhood one might think, but one that changed very rapidly with the outbreak of WW2.
In 1953 Alek took part
in Operation Beecher's Brook, flying Sabres from Goose Bay Labrador to the
Whirlwinds. He was
soon sent off to the jungles of
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
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.
JOHN PATRICK SYDES
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.
Brodie, one of the editors of the
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
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.
A man believed to be
Author Max Lambert, who wrote the 2011 book , 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
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
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
Postwar, he flew with British European Airways (now
British Airways) for more than 30 years before returning to
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
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 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, 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, 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
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.
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, the wife of 72 Sqn Pilot during the 1950's Henry Stally, passed away before Christmas.
WW2 Spitfire pilot with the Squadron in N.Africa, Sicily and Italy, left us just before the New Year.