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Derek Roxberry RIP

From Martin Beard:

Just to let you know that Derek passed away in March. For his 90th birthday he was taken to RAF Valley where he was hosted for a day by the mess which he thoroughly enjoyed. He was invited to sit in a Hawk that had been repaired but refused because he said that once he was in, then he would want to fly!

Derek Keith Roxberry. Squadron Leader. RAF Retired.
1926 – 2024.

Derek entered the RAF in 1944 part of Queens University Belfast Air Squadron and completed flying training at 19 FTS Cranwell in June 1946 followed by Mosquito fighter/bomber operational training at Middleton St. George, joining 4 Squadron at Gütersloh in mid 1947. After three years with 4 Squadron (and weapons and PAI courses at Central Gunnery School) he completed flying instructor training at CFS and instructor duties at 22 FTS training Royal Navy pilots.

He returned to the staff of CGS and was selected for an exchange posting for two years to the USAF Fighter Weapons School at Nellis AFB in Nevada. It was here that he ejected from a burning jet over the Nevada desert, in the days before health and safety protocols he was back in another plane the same day. Derek then went to Empire Test Pilot School in 1955 and then ‘A’ Fighter Test Squadron, A&AEE, from 1956 until 1959. This was followed by a posting to the Air Ministry for two and a half years responsible for the introduction of Lightning Training, and then after a year at Staff College was given a role on the organisation staff at Transport Command which clearly was not his favourite posting! He then joined the directing staff at the Junior Command and Staff school for a three year period after which he moved to the Far East as staff officer to the Director of Service Intelligence for a short time, before a further three year posting as Air Staff Instructor and Head of War Studies at RAF College, Cranwell.

Derek finished his career with a role in MOD(PE) responsible for fast jet cockpit installations.

RAFG Harrier Force History

Tim Brandt writes: Some of you may know me as I was a JEngO on IV(AC) Sqn at Gutersloh from 1983-1986. About a year ago, and probably rather foolishly, I started to write a history of the Cold War RAFG Harrier Force. My aim is to document the story of the Harrier Force from the arrival of the Harrier at Wildenrath, until the departure of the last GR3 from Gutersloh in January 1991. The skeleton of the book will be a month-by month-account of the HF, drawn mostly from the F540s for the squadrons, Wildenrath and Gutersloh, with added details from many of the published memoirs and accounts, other records and as many other (printable) anecdotes as I can gather. To this skeleton I’m adding chapters on RAFG, the development of the Harrier, the RAF’s planning and preparation for the HF, the pilots, the Harrier’s roles and weapons, its engineering, ground defence, logistics, Army support (GLOs, Signallers and Sappers, etc).

Sir Richard Johns has been very supportive, as have been many pilots, engineers, suppliers, Rocks and others who have contributed memories and photos of theit time on the HF. The current incarnations of 3(F), IV(AC) and 20 Sqns have also been very helpful although, sadly, the IV(AC) Sqn diaries for most of the period are missing. The National Archives have contributed over 13,000 pages of documents, so far.  I estimate that the book is now about 80 percent complete.

I’m going public now to see if anyone else would like to contribute either anecdotes or photos of the Harrier Force in the 1970s, 1980s or 1990. I would be particularly interested in contacts from the RIC, as there is relatively little information on it, especially up until the early 80s. I do have some specific questions, and I’ll be starting to post these in the hope that someone will be able to help.  

Thank you in advance,
Tim Brandt

Derek Roxberry – Mosquito Pilot

From Martin Beard: Derek was on IV from 1947 to 1950 and is still doing well at 98 years old! He would like to fill in the missing names from this Mosquito picture – can anybody help?

Ed: These look like Mosquito FB VI, probably at Celle around 1949.

Dave Walker – Memorial Service

From the Pegasus Club:
Air Marshal (Ret’d) Dr David Walker CB CBE AFC PhD

A Memorial Service will be held on Thursday 5 October 2023 at 2pm at St Clement Danes Church, Strand, London WC2R 1DH.

Dress: Serving personnel, Full Ceremonial Day Dress (No1 SD with medals), swords not required; retired military personnel may opt for same, or lounge suit with medals; all others lounge suit, ladies equivalent, medals may be worn.

For the purpose of numbers, all those wishing to attend the Service are kindly requested to email:

by 9 September 2023.

Dave Walker RIP

Dave Walker - Falklands 1983
Dave Walker – Falklands 1983

Received the sad news yesterday of the death of Dave Walker (WAK). Dave achieved fame as a first tourist on the Harrier GR3/T4 at RAF Gütersloh and later went on to become an Air Marshal.

Jet Provost T Mk3 Flight Reference Cards

Does anybody have a copy of the JP3 FRCs? Mike Walker, who runs, is after a copy. Please scan/photo the FRCs and mail to mikeawalker (at) if you can help.

Glenn Edge RIP

Very sad to hear that Glenn passed away at the beginning of November after a long battle with cancer. Commiserations to Carol and the family.

Apologies for the lateness of this news – I am currently in Cape Verde with extremely poor internet access.

Gill W., Carol E. and Glenn E.

Chris Burwell’s New Book

From Chris:

Although I never served on IV(AC) Sqn, I did get a Combat Ready Certificate (Attack & Recce) from the Sqn to take part in the Taceval in 1979!
Members of the Association may be interested to know that Grub Street Publishers in London have just released a book on my career in aviation which, amongst other things, covers my training on 233 OCU, a tour on 1(F) Sqn (including the Taceval in the field with IV(AC) Sqn), a Flt Cdr tour on 3(F) Sqn, two detachments commanding the Harrier detachment at Stanley, and Bos’s tour back on 1(F) Sqn. The book is called ‘Nine Lives the Compelling Memoir of a Cold War Harrier Pilot‘.

Please feel free to publicise this on your Association website if you think your members would be interested. I can provide a flyer for the book signing events if you wish to use this – just let me know.
Many thanks.
Chris Burwell

David Ashley RIP

From the Daily Telegraph 9 May 2022:

David Ashley, who has died aged 49 as the result of a flying accident, flew Harrier aircraft on operations over Iraq and Afghanistan before becoming a flying instructor on contract with British Aerospace.

On March 16, Ashley and his Italian co-pilot were carrying out a post-production test flight on a Leonardo M-346 advanced jet trainer aircraft when they were forced to eject over Monte Legnone in the Italian Alps near the town of Lecco. The Italian pilot suffered minor injuries but Ashley did not survive. It was his first flight in the Italian aircraft.

The son of a former RAF pilot, David Alexander Ashley was born on September 14 1972 at Leicester and was educated at Roundhay High School, Leeds. Aged 17, he was awarded a flying scholarship before joining the RAF in August 1992.

After gaining his commission, he trained as a navigator and joined 43 Squadron based at Leuchars in Scotland where it operated the Tornado F 3 in the air defence role.

Ashley began training as a pilot in August 1997, finishing top of his class on the Hawk advanced jet trainer before converting to the Harrier. He joined No 4 Squadron equipped with the Harrier GR 7 and based in Rutland.

During his four years with the squadron, he saw operational service in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. In February 2003 he deployed with his squadron to Al Jaber in Kuwait.

Before the conflict broke out, he was detached as the British air liaison officer to a joint USAF/US Army tactical headquarters where he spent the next two months advising the commanders on the capabilities and tasking of the RAF’s Harrier force.

After the defeat of Saddam Hussein, Ashley was one of the first Britons to enter Baghdad.

After returning from Iraq, he flew in numerous international exercises in Alaska, Poland and Norway. He also qualified in September 2004 to fly from the aircraft carrier Invincible. He was a member of the squadron’s formation aerobatic team “Fours Four”.

After training to be a weapons and air tactics instructor, Ashley was posted to No 3 Squadron, operating the upgraded Harrier GR 9. In July 2005 he deployed to Kandahar in Afghanistan where he flew operations in support of British ground forces in Helmand. He returned for a second deployment later in the year.

He later recalled recognising his responsibility when he heard the urgency in the voice of the ground controller over his radio as he was being directed on to targets threatening the troops he was supporting.

In 2008 he took up an exchange appointment with the Royal Canadian Air Force based at Cold Lake in Alberta. He joined No 410 Squadron to fly the CF-18 Hornet as an instructor in air-to-air, and air-to-ground weapons and in combat tactics. His operational experience was of great value and he was able to recommend new developments in tactical weapons training.

He was often called upon to act in an ambassadorial role and was particularly honoured to join the Canadian Prime Minister’s representative and to deliver a brief appreciation at the funeral of the then oldest surviving First World War veteran.

In 2010 he elected to leave the RAF and moved to British Aerospace as a fighter pilot instructor. He joined the company’s training programme in Saudi Arabia teaching pilots of the Royal Saudi Air Force. Based at King Faisal Air Base, he instructed on the British Aerospace Hawk advanced trainer.

After five years in Saudi Arabia, Ashley decided to try his hand in the civilian aviation world in 2017, but a year as a second pilot with a UK airline was sufficient. He missed the action of military flying and he returned to the Middle East, this time to Qatar as a flying instructor with the Qatar Air Force.

In July 2019 he and his student were forced to eject from a Pilatus PC-21 advanced trainer aircraft following a mid-air collision with a second PC-21. He suffered severe injuries to his back, legs and face and took many months to recover.

His legendary fitness and determination overcame his immobility and he was able to resume his many outdoor pursuits, including daily sea swimming. In particular, he excelled at triathlon and during 2021 he achieved a number of notable successes in preparation for future Iron Man competitions. In a recent radio interview, he commented; “activity keeps me sane.”

During his period of recuperation, he and his wife expanded their property development company, Ashley Property Group, based in Poole, with an increasing number of international clients.

He trained as a civilian flying instructor and was intending to compete in aerobatic competitions. In late 2021 he accepted a contract from the Italian defence giant Leonardo to be an instructor on the company’s jet trainer.

Ashley was considered by his colleagues to be a bold, enthusiastic and highly motivated leader and flying instructor. One said of him: “He was someone who epitomised the mantra of live your life to the maximum.”

David Ashley married his wife Heather in 2004. She and their two sons survive him.

David Ashley, born September 14 1972, died March 16 2022

The Falklands Remembered – Old Sarum

From Hugh Sillet:

The Falklands Remembered Tuesday 14 June 2022.
The Directors and Members wish to recognise and reflect with respect on the sacrifices and challenges which were part of the the Conflict. To achieve that a brief and formal Ceremony to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of The End of The Falklands War will take place at The Collection on Tuesday 14 June between 11:15 and 15:30. Refreshments will be provided. If a representative from your Association would like to attend this event please let me know and I can send a formal invitation. 
With best wishes, 
Hugh Sillett, Special Events Manager,
The Boscombe Down Aviation Collection, Old Sarum Airfield, Salisbury. Tel:01722- 323636

Around the World in 800 Days

Karen and I are about to embark on the trip of a lifetime, around the world on a yacht! The yacht is an Oyster 56 named Mistral of Portsmouth.

Some people at the beer call asked us about it. I won’t be posting about it again on this website, so if you wish to follow our progress (or lack of it), please check the Mistral blog.

The route starts and ends in the Caribbean so we’ll be sailing across the Atlantic in November.

Then, in January 2023 we set off from St Lucia to the Panama Canal and beyond.

Wish us luck!

IV (AC) Sqn Over the Years Slide Show

Here’s a copy of the slideshow I made for the final beer call in April 2022.

Fourfax – The Final Beer Call

Harrier GR3 Heritage Centre

Well at least we went out in style!

Phil Willsher kindly arranged for the RAF Wittering Heritage Centre to be open before the Beer Call and twenty or so members took advantage to see the bona jets, briefing rooms and course photographs. After that over eighty members and guests attended the Burghley Golf Club for our final beer call. Drinks and a sausage bap were free – the bar was given a limit of £2000 and asked to warn us when we passed £1500.

After last orders we received the final bill: a little over £1000! So more to go to charity.

The bad news is that I had such a good time that I completely forgot to take any photos once I left the Heritage Centre. So please, if you have any photos from the event, send them to me at the usual address.

RAF Wittering Heritage Centre Open on the 22nd

From Phil Willsher:

To coincide with the IV (AC) reunion on 22 April 2022, I will be opening the Harrier Heritage Centre at RAF Wittering on Friday 22 April at 17.00. The visit will be for approximately two hours.
Any member and their guests attending the reunion are welcome to visit, but please notify me no later than 18 April by email ( so I can arrange clearance for you.
I will need full names of all visitors along with make, colour and registration of vehicles.

If you have never paid the Centre a visit, please try and make it you won’t be disappointed.

4 Sqn Final Beer Call – Selected Responses

Thanks so much for the update and invitation… damn! Now that travel has lightened up I would have loved to make the trip and spend time with 4 Squadron. We have to improve our transatlantic communication!
We are hosting a Harrier Reunion in New Bern NC the weekend of 23 April and I am committed. Too bad… I’m sure your beer will be much better:)
Take lots of pics and please pass my warm regards to Boss McKeon, Steve Cheeseman and all 4 Squadron members.
Best, Bul

Thanks for the email Chris but I will not be attending as it is our 44th wedding anniversary on that date and we will be on a cruise ship on our way back to Southampton. I am really disappointed to miss the final beer call; it would have been good to see many old friends and “chew the fat”.
All the best, Brian L

Hi Godber,
Despite our borders finally being opened we won’t be able to make the reunion. Say hi to everyone for us and hope you all have a great night.
Cheers, Killer

Hi Chris-
Great to hear from you! I am glad to see the guys are getting together and would so love to join you but I cannot travel in April. I hope it is a memorable occasion and well attended.  Looking forward to some good photos from the event. I think of all “the chaps” often with enormous affection.  Please pass along my fond regards. I hope I have another trip to UK in me but regret not this time.   
All Best, Smokey M

Hi Chris and thanks for the update and info re the beer call. 
Sadly I am unable to attend as I am still in NZ hiding from the plague!! Been here now for 2.5 years but plan to return mid May for about 5 months. Missing the final fourfax do!
Many thanks for all your great work over the years and please pass on my best wishes to all the mates. We are all in good shape and look forward to meeting up with some of the team over the Pegasus weekend in June. 
With best regards, Whitney G

Continue reading 4 Sqn Final Beer Call — Selected Responses