A superb Operation Plainfare ‘Berlin Airlift’ Avro York pilot’s Air Force Cross and King’s Commendation for Valuable Services in the Air group. With an extensive archive or original documentation and photos, including a complete run of three log books and service record.
Air Force Cross GVI reverse officially dated 1949, 1939-45 Star, Defence Medal, War Medal 1939-45 and GSM ‘Cyprus’ (Sqn. Ldr. E.A. Brittain R.A.F.) Mounted as worn, with the KCVSA oakleaf worn on the War Medal GVF
AFC – London Gazette 9 June 1949
KCVSA – London Gazette 1 January 1949
With an extensive archive or original documents:
- His 3 x original log books covering the period August 1942 to November 1959 with a total of 4,779 flying hours. His final log book contains a full list of all of his postings.
- Aircrew categorisation booklet (with photo in uniform).
- Named award slip for the Air Force Cross.
- Certificate for his King’s Commendation for Valuable Services in the Air.
- 2 x group photos (Brittain named) in uniform at 3 Sqn, 6 ITW Aberystwyth 1942.
- Portrait photo in uniform showing all ribbons and the KCVSA apart from the GSM (not yet awarded).
- Group photo with his crew (World War 2 period).
- Group photo of pilots, including Brittain (probably taken at RAF Lyneham).
- Press photo showing Brittain with his crew in the flight ops room during the Berlin airlift; the reverse inscribed ‘Berlin airlift – visibility 400 yards in fog. Scrub or fly? Go!’
- Photo of Brittain in uniform addressing a meeting at Blackburn General Aircraft Ltd regarding the Beverley aircraft.
- Cartoon sketch of Brittain flying the Avro York on one engine at a display.
- Various original photographs of aircraft, including his Avro York and a crashed Avro York.
Edward Alan Brittain was born in Coventry in 1921. He married Oliva Blackman in Coventry in 1942. He was commissioned into the General Duties Branch as a pilot: Pilot Officer 11 June 1943, Flying Officer 23 May 1946, Flight Lieutenant 11 December 1946, Squadron Leader 1 July 1953 and retired from the RAF 11 August 1964.
He flew more than 20 aircraft types during his career, including the Tiger Moth, Harvard, Cornell, Anson, Oxford, Dakota, Wellington, Lancaster, Liberator, Lancastrian, York, Hastings, Heron, Sycamore, Meteor, Pembroke, Britannia, Valetta, Beverley, Devon. Most of his post-war service was on the Avro York and the Handley Page Hastings.
Brittain carried out his basic RAF training at 6 ITW at Aberystwyth. He learned to fly on the Tiger Moth at No.9 EFTS, RAF Ansty between August 1942 and February 1943 and on the Harvard in Canada (Medicine Hat) between February and June 1943. He earned his wings on 11 June1943.
Brittain was kept on in Canada as a flying instructor. He instructed on the Harvard at 31 SFTS in Kingston, Ontario for a year between August 1943 and August 1944.
Returning to the UK he converted to multi-engined aircraft on the Airspeed Oxford. He then went to No. 29 Operational Training Unit at RAF Bruntingthorpe on Wellingtons.
In June 1945 he was posted to 227 Squadron on Lancasters at RAF Graveley. From late 1945 until autumn 1946 he flew Liberators with 102 Squadron out of RAF Bassingbourn, bringing home troops and POWs from India, and with 53 Squadron out of RAF Upwood.
For the next four years, from November 1946 to the end of 1950, he flew the Avro York. He earned his KCVSA and AFC during this time.
He started by converting to the York at 1332 HTCU. In January 1947 he was posted to 511 Squadron at RAF Lyneham.
In August 1948 he took part in his first Operation Plainfare (Berlin airlift) tour flying his Avro York. On 12 August 1948 he flew from RAF Lyneham to RAF Wunstorf. He then flew the Wunstorf-Gatow-Wunstorf route from 14 August to 1 September 1948.
In June 1949 he was posted to the Transport Command Examining Unit (TCEU) at RAF Honington. In August 1949 he took part in his second Operation Plainfare tour, again in the Avro York. On 3 August 1949 her flew to RAF Wunstorf from where he flew the Wunstorf-Gatow-Wunstorf from 4 to 11 August 1949.
He stayed with the TCEU on a move to RAF Dishforth in May 1950. From January 1951 his primary aircraft moved from the Avro York to the Handley Page Hastings. His tour with the TCEU ended in December 1951.
His next posting was a job on the staff, at the Ministry of Supply. This lasted three and a half years (17 December 1951 to 8 July 1955). In this job he was involved in the procurement of aircraft for the RAF, working with the aircraft industry.
His next posting was also a staff job but this time at an air headquarters. From July 1955 to March 1956 he was at HQ 205 Group Middle East Air Force in Cyprus (RAF Nicosia). When 205 Group disbanded in April 1956 the headquarters subsequently became Air Headquarters Levant, still based at RAF Nicosia.
While carrying out these staff jobs Brittain had been away from full-time flying for 5 years (January 1952 – March 1957). He did, however, manage to get in a great deal of flying, as his log book shows. While at the Ministry of Supply he flew the Devon regularly and the Hastings; while in Cyprus he flew the Meteor VII jet regularly and the Valetta.
In March 1957 Brittain returned to flying and was posted for a second tour at the Transport Command Evaluation Unit (TCEU). He was to remain there for almost three years flying the Hastings.
In November 1959 it was time for another staff tour. Brittain was posted to the newly established Ministry of Aviation. His job involved the testing and procurement of new military aircraft for the RAF. Brittian worked, on projects involving the Blackburn Beverley and the Hercules. He served in this post for almost 5 years, from 4 November 1959 until August 1964.
Squadron Leader Brittain retired from the RAF on 11 August 1964 after 21 years’ service.