A Wing Commander Writes #5


As a Wing Commander I was shocked and disappointed - no, disgusted - yes, that's got the gist of it - shocked, disappointed and disgusted - at your recent piece on my sister-in-law's late grandfather Squadron Leader Kite. I know a thing or two about military etiquette, especially where the RAF is concerned and I can state quite categorically that the gentleman depicted in the cockpit of the Mark II Spitfire was no RAF flying officer and certainly not Mervyn Kite of beloved memory.


The famous Handle Bar

As even the most short-trousered schoolboy knows, it was only in the navy that servicemen (and women) were allowed to wear glasses and a moustache (sometimes termed a handlebar moustache on account of its resemblance to a line of musical notation in a bar of Georg Friedrich Handle's famous oratorio The Titanic - I believe the bit that goes "And I-ii, I-ii, I-ii will always something or other you etc etc*). In the RAF full beards alone were permitted (it was damned cold up there in a draughty kite), whilst in the army toupées and varifocals were compulsory so that one could simultaneously avoid and spot the lice which were, sadly, prevalent within the clothing of even our most punctilious fighting men overseas.

The famous "Handle bar" from which the moustache

gets its name [courtesy HMS Catterick]

* For a full rendition of the bar(s) in question try to source a copy of Dame Vera Dion's "Face Furniture and Other Favourite Wartime Hits" [HORNIMINT NOSTALGIA HN235231365]. Album includes Bonus Track, Yes we have no Macdonalds (they haven't been imported yet due to Atlantic Convoy interruptions).

I believe the "gentleman" depicted in the spitfire is none other than Drew "Toady" Richmond a part-time para-Dentist from Croyden who occasionally passed himself off as a military officer on account of an away-day visit to the Royal Navy deep-water command facility at Catterick in 1947 where a 3 minute ride on a hastily assembled flight simulator - see below - was translated in his fanciful CV into full military honours. I am shocked and disappointed - no, disgusted - yes, that's got the gist of it - shocked, disappointed and disgusted - at this egregious error on your part which I assume will be corrected at the first opportunity.

Yours in shock, horror and disgust

Wg Cdr Anthony Wedgewood-China DFC

Child Okeford


Drew "Toady" Richmond in a replica Fokker Dr.I at the RAF Flight Simulator, Royal Navy deep-water command base at Catterick in 1947.

Drew "Toady" Richmond in a replica Fokker Dr.I at the RAF Flight Simulator, Royal Navy deep-water command facility at Catterick in 1947. Many former para-dental colleagues believe the experience led him to exaggerate his military credentials and prowess, though - in fairness - he was said to be a "wizard with the scraper".


4 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All