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Tributes paid to fighter ace

PUBLISHED: 05:59 05 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:15 24 February 2010

TRIBUTES have been paid to a decorated World War Two fighter pilot ace who saw action in both spitfires and hurricanes, flying missions over Burma and India.

TRIBUTES have been paid to a decorated World War Two fighter pilot ace who saw action in both spitfires and hurricanes, flying missions over Burma and India.

Wing commander Gordon Conway's funeral service is being held next week in Bury St Edmunds after his death aged 79.

During the Second World War he flew hurricanes and spitfires on 136 and 155 Squadrons in India and Burma, becoming an accredited "ace" by destroying seven Japanese aircraft, together with one probable and four damaged.

He was a very young squadron leader, only 21, and had already been awarded the DFC, the Distinguished Flying Cross. At the end of the war he was commanding No 155 Squadron and led them down through Rangoon to Singapore in September 1945.

After the war he stayed in the RAF. He flew meteors at RAF Thorney Island and then commanded 92 Squadron at RAF Linton-on-Ouse from 1949 to 1952. He attended the RAF Staff College and then became wing commander flying at RAF Horsham St Faith, just outside Norwich. After another posting to the Staff College, this time as a member of the directing staff, and a tour at MOD, he was posted to RAF Gutersloh in Germany as wing commander operations from 1961 to 1964.

After some time at Biggin Hill, where he ran a training course among other things, he returned to the MOD and then went to Belgium in 1969 to join the NATO staff. In 1973 he returned to England and to his final posting as officer commanding the administration wing at Wattisham's military base, near Stowmarket.

When he retired from the RAF he was towed out of Wattisham in a spitfire, identical to the one in which he had won so many victories, to commemorate his departure from the forces. The Battle of Britain pilot even saw his squadron receive a congratulatory telegram from Sir Winston Churchill for the role they played in Burma.

Wing commander Conway was born in London on March 18 1923 and brought up in north London. He attended University College School and then joined Kodak, with the intention of becoming a chemist.

However, with war looming, he answered the call to arms and joined the RAFVR as a pilot, eventually transferring to the regular RAF. Having backdated his age, he eventually had to leave the RAF at the age of 54, one year earlier than the normal retirement age.

He met his wife Enid when they were in their teens and they married in October 1941, a year after he joined the RAF.

After his retirement, he and Enid settled in Haughley, where they took an active part in local life. Wing commander Conway helped to organise and run the nearby Stowmarket branch of the Citizens Advice Bureau(CAB), and was the honorary chairman for the past few years.

He had two daughters, Jackie and Wendy, and his daughter Jackie Gould said yesterday: "He was always very enthusiastic about things that interested him. He loved the RAF, the CAB, jazz and golf, although sadly he was not able to fulfil his ambition to spend his retirement playing golf after his war wounds caught up with him.

"He was very loyal to comrades and colleagues, both senior and junior to himself. He was witty, hospitable and, until recently, very active.

"He was very sad following Enid's death four years ago, they had been married for over 57 years. He was chivalrous and had a great sense of duty and loyalty. He inspired great affection. We will miss him.''

At the Stowmarket's CAB they remember him with great affection for his commitment to the organisation.

Wing commander Conway died on January 25, after a short illness. His funeral service will now be held at the West Suffolk Crematorium in Bury St Edmunds on Monday, from 11.15am.

The family request flowers from relatives only and anyone who would like to remember wing commander Conway is instead asked to consider making a donation to the RAF Benevolent Fund c/o L. Fulcher Funeral Service, 58 Ipswich Street, Stowmarket, Suffolk. IP14 1AD.


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