Inside this Newsletter
Sadly, Nora Betteridge died in August. For many years she led a small team of helpers in providing coffee and biscuits after every meeting of the Hadleigh Society. Equally important was the support she gave to her husband, Jim, our Honorary Secretary.
She was also a very active supporter of the Martlesham Heath Animal Home run by the RSPCA local branch and of the local St Elizabeth Hospice charity shop.
in an occasional series featuring Hadleigh Society members
Born in west central London in 1924, Jim was attending Northampton Polytechnic when war broke out, putting a damper on his electrical engineering studies for the family business.
Bombed out in 1941, Jim joined the Royal Air Force in January 1942 and went to Canada for pilot training. Returning to England for a short period he was shipped off to the Middle East, where he flew C.47 Dakota aircraft — later moving to the Far East where he was engaged in close support work with the 14th Army in Burma.
The ending of the war in the Far East found ‘our hero’ switching from ‘Operation Zipper’ (the planned invasion of Malaya) to ‘Operation Tide race’ flying in troops and bringing out ex P.O.W.s from all points East. Based in Hong Kong, Jim was engaged in route flying from Japan to India until posted to Singapore as a Test & Dispatch pilot. This led to him ferrying home Dakota KK110 over Christmas 1946/1947—meeting the worst winter in the U.K. for years!
Staying on flying duties in the R.A.F, Jim flew Near East and Continental routes ranging from Cairo to Warsaw, ending up with the Berlin Airlift in 1948/1949 on which he flew over 200 sorties. A tour as a flying instructor followed in the west country and Scotland after which the powers that be thought a ground tour was indicated (flying a ‘mahogany bomber’). This included an hilarious period as R.A.F. Recruiting Officer in East Anglia, based on Ipswich in the 1950’s, which led to a lifetime love of the area (and ultimate retirement destination).
After a tour on staff duties in London, there followed a return to four-engined transport flying, finishing up in support of U.N. forces in the Congo, during its first revolting period after independence.
Retiring from the R.A.F. in 1962 Jim was Training Manager for an international commercial pilot training school in Oxfordshire, training students from all over the world. He later joined what was to become the Civil Aviation Authority, first in Flight Safety and then in Airport Management. Appointed to Biggin Hill Airport he remained in post on its take-over by the London Borough of Bromley in 1973. He retired again in 1983 and moved back to Suffolk where, together with wife Nora, he became closely involved in various voluntary organisations including ex-service organisations and, of course, the newly formed Hadleigh Society and the RSPCA.
Next year Jim completes his second spell as the Society’s Secretary and stands down under the 5 year rule. If you know of anyone looking for an interesting job, or would care to have a go yourself, now is a good time to have a word. No particular skills are required but, as Jim says “a strong sense of humour and thick skin could be useful, at times”.