Tributes to RAF flyer who brought PoWs home after war

James Betteridge

Flt Lt James Betteridge, left with sword, and a senior officer at a ceremonial parade at RAF Kinloss in Scotland in the 1950s. - Credit: Suffolk RBL

Tributes have been paid to a wartime flyer who played a key role in the final months of the conflict and in rebuilding efforts afterwards.

Flt Lt James Betteridge died at Sydney Brown Court in Hadleigh at the age of 98 and the Royal British Legion attended his funeral at Ipswich Crematorium on March 28.

He joined the RAF at 18 in 1942 and served for 20 years. Among his missions were bringing Far East PoWs home after the war and helping to supply West Berlin during in 1948.

Suffolk British Legion President Brian Vousden said: ”Jim had a long and successful career in the RAF, volunteering at the age of 18 years for Aircrew Training in Canada, completing his course and twice crossing the Atlantic Ocean in 1942 when the German U-Boat menace was at its peak.

"Returning to the U.K. he joined 96 Squadron flying Douglas Dakotas and was seconded to the Airborne Operations in Europe. Jim also served in the Middle East and the Far East, ferrying in Troops and supplies and flying out Prisoners-of-War, freed from the Japanese in Singapore.

"In 1947, Jim returned to the U.K. and was stationed at RAF Waterbeach and completed over 200 Operations with the Berlin Air Lift. Following this, in 1953 he was posted to RAF Forres and then RAF Kinloss with Coastal Command and in 1956, he became a RAF Recruiting Officer.

"He retired from the RAF in 1962 and continued his link with Aviation becoming an Executive Director of an International Commercial Pilot School, then joining the CAA and finally managing Biggin Hill Airport, from where he retired in 1983."

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Mr Vousden said he would be greatly missed by his family, he leaves a daughter Carol Anne and a son Jim Jnr,  and the many friends and colleagues at the Air Crew Association, Suffolk where he was secretary.

He added: "Jim was a fine Officer and a Gentleman and a great friend to all. He will be sorely missed. Blue Skies, Sir, and Happy Landings. We Will Remember Him.”