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Frank Whitley

From Paul Nuth:


Looking for a contact from the Squadron Association who maybe able to help me. 

Frank was an aviator with RAF No 4 Squadron throughout WW2, primarily with Spitfires, service with expeditionary forces in France, Battle of Britain. He was shot down, got back to UK via French Resistance and got back to active flying service. 

Frank Whitley passed away on Monday 5th November a few days before his 98th birthday. 
DOB 11 09 1920
RAF No. 4 Squadon 1939 to 1945. 
Coastal (Yorkshire) 

Frank’s funeral is on the 21st November at Gregory Minster, Kirdale. 

As with many who experienced the horrors of WW2 Frank did not discuss the detail with his family. 

The family would be greatly appreciate someone to attend the funeral and have the Last Post played. 

Frank lived with his wife (still alive at age 96) independently in central Harrogate. After the war he did become a very success businessman in the wool industry. 

Kind Regards 

My name Paul Nuth (Lt Cdr RN Rtd). Frank’s son (Tim) is a close friend hence my involvement. 

C-130 Crew in the Falklands

Here’s a photo I noticed on Twitter: Al Holman with his Herc crew in the Falklands in 1982-83.

Harrier GR1 XV784 ‘D’

This jet, as a GR3, had my name on it from 1980 to 1985. This photo was probably taken at Wildenrath in 1974-75 when it was a GR1. Thanks to Ian Black for the photo.

Sqn News – July 2018

9-ship practice for the RAF 100 flypast

RAF Valley (or the yellow Savannah that RAF Valley (or that it has become) and heatwave don’t tend to go together in a sentence very often, but it does make for a very enjoyable workplace.
It has been a fantastically busy couple of months since our last communication, with strange absences of the majority of our student body at times. Some would say this makes the Squadron a paradise, a truly magical place to work, where air warning paperwork is non-existent and even Fit Lt Walker manages a once a day smile. Others prefer a daily dose of student horror as the red pen moves ever closer to the debrie?ng board, and the rest of us just miss having someone around to clean out the coffee machine on a daily basis.

Read more…

Latter days at Wildenrath. Early days at Gutersoh – View from the RIC

by Geoff Quick

Before reading this little essay I do recommend that you read Al Holman’s account from the Pilots’ perspective. We were contemporaries on IV ( AC) over the move up from Wildenrath and the first couple of years at “Gut”, that is from 1976 until the latter part of 1978. I ask for forgiveness from those of a similar vintage for which this is all “boring old hat”, but respectfully submit that all of us have now retired and indeed some of us are passing on.

We have a generation carrying the IV Squadron banner today to whom all this will probably appear to have been a laughingly archaic, blatantly inefficient and logistically insane circus. As ever, we tried to do our best with what was available, some of which was actually quite good for its day. None of what we demonstrably achieved could have been possible without an all-round effort to repeatedly throw the Squadron in to obtain and extract that which was demanded to meet the tasking.

And that basic requirement hasn’t changed.

As a very Junior Officer Photographic Interpreter I arrived at Wildenrath in April ’76, to an introductory surprise bollocking at the RIC for allegedly being a week late ( but who was it who booked the seat on the trooper? ) I then settled down to adapting to Harrier Force ways. Fortunately I had done my first tour on 41(F) Sqn. ( Phantom) RIC : this had also included two roulements in Northern Ireland, during which time I had gained some practical junior command experience. Nevertheless, I had a great deal to learn.

To kick off, It might be helpful if I explain a few of the Photo. Int. acronyms of the time. The term “RIC” itself originally referred to a Reconnaissance Interpretation Centre. Tactical ( or First Phase) Photographic Interpreters were initially prohibited from making any personal assessments beyond counting ,measuring and identifying. Indeed, the RIC predecessors were the “MFPU”s or Mobile Field Processing Units –often called “Muffpussies” with unofficial cat emblems. Fortunately, because some RICs were multi-sensor in operation, we were spared being dubbed “Photographic” RICS, with what would have been the inevitable attendant acronyms. By the time of the IV Squadron move away from Wildenrath however, the word “Intelligence” had, rightly or wrongly, been accepted for incorporation into “RIC”.

[Read more]


From Smoky Green:

Jill and I watched highlights of the celebration in London today. It was my great privilege to fly with you. Congratulations on each of your contributions to 100 eventful years of service to your country and the world. All Best, Smoky
IV(R) Sqn RAF 100 Flypast

IV(R) Sqn RAF 100 Flypast

IV(R) Sqn RAF 100 Flypast

IV(R) Sqn RAF 100 Flypast

Photos: Ian Black @BlickyIan

Tony Chaplin RIP

Late news, I’m afraid, (I’ve been out of internet coverage for a while), but Tony Chaplin passed away on the 18th of April. Kate has let us know that Tony’s funeral will be at Lincoln Crematorium at 12.30 on 15th May, followed by a gathering at Welbourn Village Hall. For those wishing to correspond with the family, Kate’s address is Long Cottage, 50 The Green, Welbourn, Lincolnshire, LN5 0NJ.

Tony was the boss of IV in 1978/79 and then the Harrier OCU in 1983/4.

I only flew with Tony once. In 1982 he was OC 233 OCU, the Harrier OCU, and I was on the QWI course, and we flew the “freefall giveback dual” ride together. As a Germany pilot, freefall wasn’t a familiar event to me, in fact I’d never done any freefall before the QWI course. We only had four practice bombs – my demo was 150 ft long and I was pretty pleased with that. Tony first bomb was 200 ft long and his second 250 ft over. He was obviously making a mistake that I’d failed to notice. Tony then asked if we could “toss” the last bomb, again, an obvious staff pilot trap that I wasn’t going to fall into, so I said we’d be better nailing the last bomb in freefall.

It was unscorable at 12 o’clock.

All the way back to Wittering and throughout the debrief I was racking my brain to try to discover the deliberate error that Tony had introduced and that I had failed to spot. After my debrief it was Tony’s turn to debrief me: “Great trip, Chris, thanks.”

“But hang on, Boss, what were you doing to make each of your bombs worse than the last?”

“No idea, Chris, sorry, I’ve never done freefall before!”

I think this falls into the “I learned about instructing from that” category…

Sqn News – March 2018

Sun, sea, sand and… snow?

IV Sqn 6 Ship

IV Sqn 6 Ship

The Beast from the East has arrived… no, we aren’t referring to Lt Fahad Al Qarni, but the unseasonable wintry weather we have been blessed with through the early part of the year. The newly re-designated IV Squadron have enjoyed a particularly busy couple of months, with a much improved picture on jet availability thanks to some excellent work from our partners at BAe Systems. Whilst the weather has been challenging at times, the Squadron has made great progress, with the joint graduation of course 22 and 23 sending 6 newly qualified fighter pilots to their OCUs (or for the lucky one, back to CFS to learn the black arts of becoming an instructor). A wealth of new qualifications have also been gained, with B1 upgrades for Flt Lts Pearce, Critchell and Crickmore, the Typhoon Tripod, aka Flt Lts James Critchmore, James Critchmore and James Critchmore. Flt Lt Osborne and Flt Lt Van Hessing are currently deep in the throes of their A2 workup, some say they currently see only in the regulation 4 colours of CFS and have nightmares about giant airborne manuals chasing them about the Squadron, we wish them well in their exams and hope they return to the real world soon.

[Read more]

The RAF Centenary Campaign

From the HFA:

The RAF Centenary Campaign was launched in October 2017 and concludes in September 2018. Our Centenary provides a unique opportunity to showcase our Service by commemorating our past, celebrating our considerable achievements, and inspiring people about our future as we move into our next century. Key objectives of the RAF100 Campaign will be to raise awareness of the RAF, to deepen understanding of our roles and capabilities, and to engage with those who might traditionally have had limited contact with us. We will do this by delivering an ambitious programme of complementary events and initiatives at national, regional and local levels. A key part of this programme will be a tour of aircraft around major cities within the United Kingdom. The Chief of the Air Staff is keen to use this as a vehicle to reach out to new audiences, especially our youth, and to excite them about careers in aviation and aerospace. Our concept is to include a range of aircraft covering our history from WW1, WW2, the Cold War, to the modern age and in recognition of our key anniversaries, the RAF has traditionally organised a display of static aircraft on London Horse Guards. These exhibitions have always been tremendously popular with the public and we hope to capture their imagination again this year from the 6th to 10th July. This Central London display will complement our key RAF Centenary event on 10 July 2018, involving a church service, a parade of service personnel, the consecration of a new Queen’s Colour for the RAF in the United Kingdom, a Centenary flypast and concurrent receptions at Buckingham Palace and Horse Guards.

The RAF100 Programme Team invite Association members to assist with the delivery of these events. Volunteers are invited to talk to the public and invited guests at all venues (please see RAF100 Aircraft Tour event graphic which can accompany the request) about their own experiences with the aircraft detailed below. Travel, accommodation and daily subsistence will be provided for this fantastic opportunity to contribute to the Service’s Centenary message of Commemorate, Celebrate and Inspire at these extremely high profile events.

London 6-10 July – Meteor F4 (Pilot or enthusiast)

London 6-10 July – Dakota – Representing the Service’s contribution to the Berlin Airlift 1948-49 (Aircrew, ground crew, enthusiast)

London 6-10 July – Chinook – MERT experienced medical staff

All Tour Dates – Harrier GR3 – (Pilot)

London 6-10 July – Tornado GR4 – (Pilot / Navigator)

All Tour Dates – BAE Typhoon Full Scale Replica (Pilot)

London 6-10 July – LMUK F35 Full Scale Replica (Pilot or presentation team member)

Birmingham 25-27 Aug – LMUK F35 Full Scale Replica (Pilot or presentation team member)

Glasgow 31 Aug – 2 Sep 18 – LMUK F35 Full Scale Replica (Pilot or presentation team member)

Volunteers are requested to go contact the RAF100 Programme Team with their availability or to obtain more information.

Volunteer deadlines are 3 Apr 18 for Cardiff and 2 May 18 for all other events.


Tel: 020-8833-8737 / 020-8833-8772 / 020-8833-8975

Sqn News – Jan 2018

New year, new Squadron! (or is it?).



Winter has most definitely arrived, and Happy IV(R) Squadron have returned after the Christmas break full of energy after the disappointing December weather kept all but the most seasoned flight commanders on the ground. Starting as we mean to go on, with more jets on the flight line and even the met office playing ball with a favourable weather system in charge we are all looking forward to a productive year training the next generation of fighter pilots.

[Read more]

The 4 Sqn Collection

From Jim Sharples:

I would like to introduce myself. Over the years I have been collecting 4 Squadron Items and have now built up a reasonable collection of artefacts, ranging in scale from aircrew equipment to full aircraft.

The current focus of this collection is around any 4 Squadron artefacts dating from World War 2 and up to the end of the Cold War. It is intended to add artefacts from more current conflicts as and when they become available.

With regards to aircraft and cockpit sections, the current interest of the collection is around those that were used by 4 Squadron and produced by Hawker Aircraft/Hawker Siddeley Aircraft.

Unfortunately, the collection is not currently open for public viewing, so I have created a website that serves as the virtual home of the collection, The website has only been live over a week or so and I’ve still got lots of additions to make.

The choice of name for the collection represents what the collection contains, and I must stress, as I do on the website, that I have no affiliation or association with the Royal Air Force or No. 4 Squadron itself. What I do have is a genuine and sincere interest in 4 Squadron and in preserving items relating to it.

Should you ever require anything bringing to an event or reunion, then I will always endeavour to assist where I can.

I may need a little assistance from your excellent site and its members in the future, relating to two pieces of Nose Art, one on the cockpit of XV806 and one on the cockpit XZ131.


James Sharples BA(Hons) MIFireE MIFSM MIIRSM TechIOSH

jim-sharp [at]

Harrier Engineers’ Annual Reunion 2018

To coincide with the “Harrier Engineers’ Annual Reunion 8” at the Green Man pub in Stamford on Saturday 3rd March 2018, Phil Willsher will be arranging to open the Harrier Heritage Centre at RAF Wittering at 11.00 on that day.

Ex Harrier Force members and their guests are welcome to visit the Centre. Please notify him no later than 28th February 2018 on Facebook, mobile (07971 566851) or email (philwillsher [at] so that access to the site can be arranged. The visit will last for about two hours. He 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. Those attending will need to have a means of identification.

Royal Air Force Day at the RAF Museum Hendon

From Malcolm White:

1000 to 1600 on Thursday 10 May 2018

The RAF Museum will host a “Royal Air Force Day” on Thursday 10 May 2018. Held in the Museum’s main and new Exhibition Hall at Hendon, and before the whole site is formally opened to the public in June; it promises to be a splendid day and an opportunity to reflect on the past and catch up with chums, friends and families: a “re-union” not to be missed.

This Day will be part of the RAF 100 Programme of Events for 2018; events which aim to Commemorate, Celebrate and Inspire future generations – and build on Lord Trenchard’s founding principles of training and education excellence, both of which are so relevant today. In support, The Museum would be delighted to welcome those who serve today; those who have retired, and importantly to extend a very warm welcome to family and friends.

Age has no barrier in this, as Primary School Children to Veterans in their 90’s (and a few in between) will be there. So on behalf of all involved may I say that it would be a delight to welcome you to Hendon. I know it’s a working day, but please try and join us if you can – if only for a couple of hours

If you are interested or know of someone who might be, then please register your interest with Anji Patel & Odette Harris at Anji will ensure that you receive full details in early March.

Thank you

Malcolm White Trustee

Royal Air Force Museum Grahame Park Way London NW9 5LL

SatNav NW9 5QW

Where’s This Castle? (Yes, Germany!)


@BAESystemsAir Here’s a challenge for you on a Thursday night, Twitter. Name the castle in this Harrier picture? We’ve tried to find it and come up with nothing. Any ideas? #avgeeks @Frostblade_

Snow Falcon Harriers

From John Wolstenholm:

Hello. Is there any possibility one of your members might be able to help regarding the Snow Falcon Harriers, I and IV squadrons in 2004?

I’m nearing completion of a detailed 1:32 model of one of these GR.7s. Both this picture:

and even more so the one on your site:

seem to show a staining (brown) on the fuselage spine and stbd wing, which at first I thought was caused by the low angle of the sun. Your photo appears to be taken in overcast conditions and the ‘staining’ is even more pronounced.

Thank you for your time and any help you may offer.

[Ed: APU exhaust?]