Donald Donaldson-Davidson: RAF instructor worked for Norfolk charities

An elite instructor with the Royal Air Force, Donald Donaldson-Davidson, who has died aged 88, helped Norfolk charities during his long retirement.

His influential paper on the future of air fighting resulted in selection as radar weapons instructor on the first Lightning Conversion Unit at RAF Coltishall in 1959. But his career as an elite instructor was cut short when it was realised that such a tall man would be unable to eject safely.

Born in Whitehaven, Cumberland, into a farming and hotel-owning family, he joined the Royal Air Force as an 18-year-old in 1941.

He was deemed too tall at 6ft 5ins to become a pilot. However, he trained as a wireless operator and later navigator in Canada and Scotland before being posted to Burma with 211 Squadron. He served in south-east Asia and also the Dutch East Indies. After the war, he continued in the RAF until retiring early as a squadron leader in 1973.

His three years' work was recognised by the award of the Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service in the Air. He took early retirement to help his wife, Anna, run a shop/ post office at Burgh-next-Aylsham but she died about a year later. Then, he joined estate agents Hanbury Williams in Norwich with responsibility for its country house department. In his final role, he became a control officer with Norfolk Ambulance Service and he also worked for Help the Aged in Norwich. Much to his indignation he had stop his advisory work because the charity could no longer obtain insurance for anyone working over the age of 80.


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He leaves two sons, Michael and Duncan. A funeral service will be held at the City of Norwich Crematorium on Monday at 11.15am.

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