Flt Lt Edward Fairbrother

Also known as: Ted.

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Edward Alfred Fairbrother (April 1916 – April 2002)

‘Ted’ always wanted to join the RAF and first applied to be an apprentice with them at age 16 but unfortunately was unsuccessful as there were no vacancies at that time. After working for Sainsbury’s until he was 19, Ted finally got his wish and joined the RAF in July 1935.

He was assigned to receive 15 months of intensive training as a Wireless Operator at RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire, where he said the hardest part was learning Morse code to attain a speed of twenty five words a minute! His first posting after training was to North Weald and the 58 Squadron which was flying Hawker Furys, Gloster Gauntlets and Gladiators where his main job was to maintain the aircraft radios. On one of his first weekend passes he met his friend Ken’s sister Joan, who seven years later, was to become his wife.

After a short stint in North Weald, Ted was shipped off to India in October 1937 where Britain was fighting rebels in the North West Frontier. He was to join the 28 Army Co-operation Squadron in Ambala, approximately a thousand miles north east of Karachi, where his troopship docked. At this time, Ted was an Aircraftsman Second Class and was paid the princely sum of two shillings and nine pence per day…….about £50 per year! Here, the squadron were flying the Hawker Audax biplane and Ted became an accomplished air crew photographer, bomb aimer and rear gunner while also carrying out wireless operations. He was promoted to Leading Aircraftsman and qualified for aircrew. The squadron moved further into the north west of India to Kohat where there were particular problems with itinerant tribesmen. The Army had previously dealt with these problems but now the RAF was going to be used to provide support. Two years in Kohat and Ted was now a Flight Sergeant.

A sudden move by the squadron took them to Burma after news of the Japanese capturing Singapore. Using Lysander aircraft now, the squadron was trying to halt the Japanese invasion by bombing supply routes but eventually the order came to get back to India as soon as possible. Ted and three other crewmen actually had to drive back rather than fly but they made it safely despite being chased by the Japanese for part of the way. In total, Ted spent 63 months in India and Burma before eventually being sent back to the UK in March 1943. He was now asked to train other wireless operators and had been promoted to Warrant Officer, and in December of that year married Joan.

In 1945, Ted was trained as an Air Traffic Controller and was sent out to Kabrit in Egypt. A further promotion to Flight Lieutenant followed along with a move to Ismalia at the top end of the Great Bitter Lake. Here, Ted had responsibility for all aircraft entering the area from Malta to the west, Iraq to the east and Aden to the south. After five years in Egypt, Ted and his family went back to the UK and a posting to Newquay in Cornwall. Further postings to Londonderry, Northern Ireland and Dunfermline and Kinloss in Scotland, Brampton in England ensued with Ted’s final posting to the Ministry of Defence in London.

Ted really enjoyed all of his 32 years in uniform and he, along with Joan and their family, got to experience many places and different cultures that were presented to them while they were part of the RAF family.

Added by: Jeffrey Fairbrother on 30th November 2013.


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Picture of Edward Fairbrother.
Picture of Edward Fairbrother.
Picture of Edward Fairbrother.

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Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund
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0800 169 2942
Registered Charity No. 1081009