News Item

Obituary for a SpecN

Wg Cdr Trevor Thain, a Specialist Navigator and instructor on Aries flights in the 1950s, has died at the age of 98.

After completing air observer (O brevet) training in January 1941, Thain joined 99 Sqn flying Wellingtons from Newmarket Racecourse. Shortly after, on returning from attacking Bremen, their base and diversion were in fog, so the crew climbed to 2,000ft and bailed out over the Fens. Thain survived and was arrested by the Home Guard, but 2 of the crew perished. He ultimately completed 42 operations and was awarded the DFC before becoming a specialist navigator.

For 2 years he was an instructor at a navigation school in Canada as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. On return to Britain in 1944, he specialised in transport and air supply operations as a station navigation officer covering Arnhem and Rhine crossing operations.

After the war, Thain became a navigation specialist at the Empire Central Flying School and then the Empire Air Navigation School. When the latter became part of the newly-formed RAF Flying College at RAF Manby, he became an instructor on the Specialist Navigation (SpecN) course.

Whilst at Manby, Thain was one of 2 navigators of Aries III, a converted Lincoln which, in October 1950, made a 3,064-mile non-stop flight to Khartoum in 14 h 23 m - a record confirmed by the Royal Aero Club. The aircraft then headed for Mauritius before flying on to Perth, Western Australia, arriving 62 hours after leaving Britain. Later, the aircraft completed its round-the-world trip, returning to Manby via Fiji, Hawaii and the US.

Thain later commanded 202 Sqn in Northern Ireland, flying long-range sorties into the Atlantic to gather meteorological data. He had staff navigation appointments at HQ Middle East Air Force during the Aden troubles before becoming Wg Cdr Flying at RAF Lyneham; and he served in the Far East during the Indonesian Confrontation, retiring from the RAF in 1965. He finally retired from civilian life in 1983.

In 1982 the remains of his Wellington, abandoned in 1941, were discovered near Wisbech. A propeller blade from the aircraft was mounted in a block and erected on Newmarket Heath, where it was unveiled in 1985 to commemorate airmen who had failed to return from operations.

George Trevor Thain      12 July 1918 - 30 December 2016

A full obituary can be found at the link below . .

  • 28 February 2017
  • RIN

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