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Gp Capt Peter Gilpin RIP

30th September 1922 – 19th January 2013

Gp Capt Peter William Gilpin CBE DFC has died after a short illness, at the age of 90 and he is survived by his wife, Helen, and family.

Comm’d 19 Jun 42 Gp Capt 1 Jul 65 Ret’d 30 Sep 77

Beloved husband of Helen, adored father of Jan, Mike and James, much loved grandfather and great grandfather.

Funeral service is to take place at St John the Baptist Church, BURFORD at 2 p.m. on 30th January followed by private cremation. Family flowers only, please, but donations for RAF Benevolent Fund or Cancer Research [(enquiries to E Taylor & Son & Son 01993 842421]

[If you wish to contact Helen please email Chris for her address]

Peter Gilpin, unable to go to the RAF College because of the war’s arrival, studied Aeronautical Engineering at Southampton until joining the RAF and was trained in Arizona at Falcon Field, now the Falcon Field airport for Mesa. On return to UK Peter joined 253 Squadron, by then mainly at Hibaldstow and Friston, preparing for operations and the invasion of North Africa to where they deployed from Gibraltar with their Hurricane 11’s to Maison Blanche (French name for the same Arabic meaning, corrupted into Algiers). 253 arrived in Algeria a few days after the Allied landings. The squadron provided air cover for the Army and its supply lines during the Tunisian campaign and its aftermath, moving to Italy in October 1943. In February 1944, 253 arrived in Corsica to undertake escort and anti-shipping missions, returning to Italy in April for similar duties over Yugoslavia. It was at this stage Peter was shot down over Yugoslavia and had already been awarded his DFC. From March 1943 they had Spitfire V’s before the hurricanes finished in Sep43 with the arrival of their Spitfire iX’s. Peter remained as a POW until the end of the war. While at Hucknall and in the Mess at Watnall in 1946, Peter met Helen who served 4 years as a plotter and they were engaged and married within three weeks of meeting each other. 1947 saw him at Manchester UAS and then learning to become a QFI at Rissington and instructing at Dalcross before promotion and returning to South Cerney as a Sqn Ldr.

Peter after his OCU conversions took command of No. IV(AC) Sqn at Jever in August, 1953, still with its Vampire FB5’s and 9’s, and before the arrival of its Sabre F4’s in March 1954. He commanded throughout the Sabre era with IV Sqn until the Sabres’ departure in August 1955, again having the re-equipment, now with Hunter F Mk 4’s, in July 1955, five months before his departure and handover to Sqn Ldr J R (Ray) Chapman. How pleased IV (AC) Sqn was to have them both up as guests at Cottesmore, which I imagine was the 90th Anniversary, with the IV Sqn Hunter remaining there in front of the Sqn until the closing down of Cottesmore, now Kendrick Barracks, but with that Hunter about to become a symbolic and by now a much refurbished “F/GA Mk 9”, as a commemoration of No. 8 Sqn’s long past in the Middle East. 8 Sqn has been now for so long at Waddington with its Sentry AEW AWACS Boeing E-3A’s.

Staff College at Camberley followed, then Shinfield Park Flying Training HQ and becoming Chief Flying Instructor at CFS Little Rissington in 1958-60 followed by Gp Capt Plans in SEAF at Changi then JSSC staff at Latimer. He was promoted Gp Capt in 1965 and became Stn Cdr at RAF Oakington in 1968, on the staff at Camberley Staff College (at dates which are not known to me) and did a long stint as Gp Capt Intelligence at MOD(Air) before his September 1977 retirement to his long term home at delightful Burford in the Cotswolds. Once again our sincere thanks and shared condolences to Mrs Helen Gilpin and their extended family.

Thanks to Alan Pollock for passing on this sad news.

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