Robert Hustwith, OBE: RAF career officer and Norfolk teacher

A career Royal Air Force officer and teacher at a Norfolk school, Robert Hustwith, has died aged 89.

His role in operational planning and masterminding the RAF's strategy during the Suez Crisis was recognised by being made an OBE in 1957.

By enabling V-bombers to be re-fuelled over Malta, the heavy air support made a material difference to the outcome in Egypt.

After retiring from the RAF as wing commander with a quarter of a century's service, he moved to Norfolk and taught at Wymondham High School for 10 years until retiring as a department head in 1978.

Robert Henry Collins Hustwith, who was born in Seaton Delaval, Northumberland, joined the RAF in September 1940 – a month before his 18th birthday. He developed a strategy for 'blind landings,' which was tested by Grp Capt Willie 'Tirpitz' Tait, who flew blindfolded taking directions from behind a screen.


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After the second world war, he specialised in armaments investigating unexploded ordnance in Germany and Tripoli.

In 1949, he left the RAF and studied at Durham University and gained a BA. He re-joined the RAF and was also involved in air reconnaissance in the aftermath of the 1953 East Coast floods. After Suez, he undertook intelligence training to join A15 and served between 1957 and 1960 in Cyprus at the height of EOKA's terrorist attacks.

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After returning to London to work in the Air Ministry, he was sent to South Australia to take over joint missile trials of the Bloodhound surface-to-air missile at Woomera. He returned to London in 1966.

He had married Ellen in 1945 and they were married for nearly 67 years until her death on Christmas Day, 2011. He leaves two sons and a daughter, Claire, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

A funeral service has taken place.

Michael Pollitt

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