‘An Evil Boy’
A H ‘Witt’ Wittridge, RAF (Ret’d), DFC
Former World War Two RAF Spitfire fighter pilot, 82 year old Flight Lieutenant Albert Wittridge, DFC, did his best to ensure people remember the ‘forgotten Air Force’ that fought in Burma.
He put his memoirs on paper and published a book about his two tours of operations with 155 Squadron and subsequent RAF/civilian instructing and test flying.
“The 14th Army in Burma was called ‘the Forgotten Army,” he said. “When appointed Supreme Allied Commander for South East Asia Lord Mountbatten referred to this and said, ‘You are not a forgotten Army. Nobody has ever heard of you’ and he set about changing that.
“Few then knew – and even today know much – about the air forces in Burma, although the war against Japan went on longer than the war in Europe.”
With typical modesty, bearing in mind his mischievous childhood when he was brought up by his mother, following the death of his father, he entitled the book, ‘An Evil Boy’. The ‘Evil Boy’ went on to join 155 Squadron, flying Mark 8 Spitfires, and to shoot down not only a Jap fast and high flying Dinah reconnaissance aircraft similar to the RAF’s Mosquito, but also a Jap Oscar fighter, which outclassed RAF Hurricanes.
Albert Wittridge, always known as ‘Witt’, ended his tour of operations as an instructor with the flying assessment of ‘Exceptional’. Based at Boscombe Down he became an experimental test pilot until leaving the RAF in 1953 where he continued as a civil test pilot, being at the forefront of many fascinating experimental developments, flying and testing over 30 different types of aircraft including Meteor jet fighters and V-bombers.
His well-illustrated hardback book provides a rare ‘pilot’s eye view’ of the harsh conditions of life in Burma and the dangers of flying and fighting during the monsoon period when towering thunder and lightning clouds could easily break up an aircraft as well as making navigation – equipped only with elementary aids - difficult and almost impossible.
Despite having flown so many different and more advanced aircraft, he rated his Mark 8 Spitfire DG-C above all the others.
‘Witt’ continued to suffer from injuries caused in a 150mph crash in Palestine at the end of the war when he was flying a Mustang on which only one wing flap came down during his landing approach. He lived the remainder of his days in Dorchester, Dorset.