First & Last, Journal of the Halton 81st Entry

Issue Number 49

Nov 2016

The Journal of the 81st Entry

Edited and uploaded by Brian Spurway

Welcome to the 49th edition of The Journal.

Last Post:

The loss of any member of the 81st Entry diminishes us all.

The 81st Entry extends its sympathy and condolences to the family and friends of James (Jim) Strachan (Airframes) who passed away on Friday 23 September this year. He will be sadly missed by us all.

Whilst he was in hospital, and shortly before he passed away, Jim wrote a few lines about his life and then asked his son Philip to type them up for him. After Jim's passing I asked Philip if there was anything about his Dad that he would like me to add to this edition of the Journal; he sent me the typed up version that Jim had asked him to do. I am pleased to be able to add these few words from Jim here:-


8th April 1940 - 23rd September 2016

Jim was born at Invereighty near Forfar on 8th April 1940. His father Ernest was a blacksmith, and also farmed with his mother Annie, a few acres of land beside the blacksmiths workshop.

Jim went to Inverarity Primary School until the age of 11 and then went to Forfar Academy. He left school at 15 and joined the Royal Air Force as an Aircraft Apprentice in 1955 at Halton in Buckinghamshire. Aged 18 he passed out from there as a Junior Technician with one stripe and was posted to RAF Wittering to work on Valiant 'V' bombers. In 1960 he attended a Blue Steel missile course and was then posted to RAF Scampton near Lincoln. Jim spent most of his time in the RAF there, reaching the rank of Sergeant.

While at RAF Scampton Jim joined an RAF flying club and gained a Private Pilot's Licence. He joined other flying clubs also and learned to fly nine different types including the Tiger Moth bi-plane and an autogyro, but his greatest love was flying the tail-wheeled De Havilland Chipmunk. Jim was also a member of an RAF gliding club and flew three types of glider. The thrill of flying never left Jim and he flew whenever the opportunity arose, flying in a small aircraft with his family over Berlin and in a small helicopter over Belgium while on holidays. At 67 he went tandem paragliding in the snow covered Austrian Alps.

During his time in the RAF he spent about a year at RAF Leuchars in Fife, working on Lightning fighter aircraft. Jim also met Janet at this time and they married shortly after he left the RAF in 1970. Jim became an aircraft maintenance instructor with Air Service Training at Scone Aerodrome near Perth. In 1971 Janet and Jim went to Uganda where the company had a contract to train aircraft maintenance engineers at the East African Civil Flying School which was set up by the East African Community and the International Civil Aviation Organisation, an Agency of the United Nations. While in Uganda Janet and Jim visited some of the well-known game parks and Jim witnessed the total solar eclipse at Kidepo, a game park in Northern Uganda in 1973.

In 1972 Janet returned to her parent's home on Lour Estate and Philip was born on the 12th September. Janet and Philip rejoined Jim in Uganda in 1976 for about one year when he then left Air Service Training. He spent about 2 years building turnip harvesters in Blairgowrie before rejoining Air Service Training where he remained until he retired in 2005.

Jim's pastimes included gardening and beekeeping, taking over the bees that belonged to Janet's father when he was unable to look after them himself. He was a member of the East of Scotland Beekeepers' Association and served on their committee for a number of years, becoming their president for a short time.

Jim also enjoyed motoring holidays on the Continent with his family, visiting Scandinavia and many of the countries in Europe.

In his younger days Jim also ski-ed and taught his family to ski, having attended a ski-instructors course at Glenmore Lodge while he was in the RAF.


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