Tributes paid to H-bomb pilot

THE friends of a distinguished RAF pilot who dropped Britain's first live H-bomb have paid tribute after he died aged 83 at his East Anglian home.Group Captain Kenneth Hubbard, OBE, was the pilot of an RAF Valiant bomber which dropped this country's first live megaton thermo-nuclear weapon in the South Pacific in 1957.

THE friends of a distinguished RAF pilot who dropped Britain's first live H-bomb have paid tribute after he died aged 83 at his East Anglian home.

Group Captain Kenneth Hubbard, OBE, was the pilot of an RAF Valiant bomber which dropped this country's first live megaton thermo-nuclear weapon in the South Pacific in 1957.

Norwich-born Gp Capt Hubbard came to live in Blythburgh, near Southwold, in 1975 after he married his second wife and, Margaret Grubbe, a native of the village.

He took an active interest in village life - he served on the parish council, headed a Neighbourhood Watch scheme and was in charge of emergency planning for Blythburgh in the 1970s.


You may also want to watch:


He also was a great animal lover - he adopted dogs from a local dog sanctuary, helped organise an annual service for animals at Holy Trinity Church and created a wildlife sanctuary on the village's old market place.

Although Gp Capt Hubbard had no children, his godson, Mark Ferrari, 38, lived with him for the last 16 years. He said: "He was a very positive man and could be forceful. He was pretty fit for his age and well respected."

Most Read

Blythburgh artist Paul Bennett, who served on the parish council at the same time as Gp Capt Hubbard, said: "He was a thoroughly good bloke. He was a nice chap who never boasted about his experiences during the war."

Tom Lond-Caulk, who knew Gp Capt Hubbard for 20 years, said: "He will be greatly missed in the village. He was an outstanding man."

The son of Norwich City footballer Gilbert Hubbard, Gp Capt Hubbard joined the RAF in 1940 to train as a pilot and during the Second World War was heavily involved in bombing Europe, including a daring low-level attack on a railway bridge in northern Italy, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

He assumed command of an RAF station in Iraq in 1954 and was involved in developing contingency plans for the evacuation of British nationals in the country to his station and was awarded the OBE for his work.

Two years later he assumed command of No 49 Squadron, based at Wittering, which had been assigned the major role in Operation Grapple - testing the performance of thermo-nuclear weapons in the megaton range.

The largest joint service operation since the war took place off Malden Island in the South Pacific where Gp Capt Hubbard was given clearance on May 15 to release the live H-Bomb, which was 70 times more powerful than the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.

He and four other members of his crew were subsequently awarded the Air Force Cross.

He retired from the RAF in 1966 and joined the board of the Hubbard-Reader Group, a refrigeration company, where he was responsible for sales and marketing until 1982.

In his retirement he gave many years service to the Air Training Corps in Suffolk and wrote a book, Operation Grapple, about his experiences in the South Pacific, which was published in 1985.

He died on January 21 after suffering a stroke at Christmas. His wife died in 1997.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus