Anyone who has ever given any thought at all to the pleasures or
the hardships of flying, will find Witt Wittridge's book "An Evil
Boy" hard to put down. If one man has ever told of a life in
aviation with passion, humour and hard, cold facts Witt Wittridge
has! From his pilot training days under the Commonwealth Air
Training Scheme, through his wartime operational flying on
Spitfires, Mustangs and Thunderbolts and his post-war flying, on
early military jets such as the Meteor and Vampires, and then on to
his days as a test pilot, he recounts a captivating tale - always
massaged with modesty and self-deprecation.
Fast and upside down flying behind him, Witt's final aviation appointment was as Chief Pilot for a UK-based multi-millionaire. With over 90 aircraft types in his log book, Witt's had an extensive flying career by any standard - and his book is really one not to miss.
Squadron Leader Colin Pomeroy RAF (Ret'd).
An early interest in flying and the outbreak of WW2 saw Witt joining the RAF as soon as he was old enough and, having completed pilot training in Canada, being sent to India on active service flying ops against the Japanese. With self effacing humour he describes how his over-enthusiastic flying brought him on several occasions during his career to the unwelcome attention of the authorities resulting among others things with a loss of seniority and twice being placed under close arrest. Seriously injured when a mechanical fault caused his Mustang to crash on landing Witt was returned to the U.K. to recover and to return to flying fitness.
With the war over he describes how fear of a desk job saw him looking for ways to remain airborne and to notch up new types of aircraft in his log book. He succeeded in this task in the most spectacular fashion as a test pilot both in the RAF and then afterwards in the civil sector. There can be few pilots who can match Witt Wittridge for the number and variety of types of aircraft flown - a most impressive list.
This book charts the life of an ordinary man who, like many others of his time, was drawn into events that were far from ordinary and yet rose to the occasion without hesitation. His love of flying is evident throughout and in particular his undying affection for that enduring symbol of Britain’s WW2 spirit - the Spitfire.
To men like this we all owe a debt of gratitude.
Dear Witt.I have just sat down and read your book, the only disappointment was that I wanted it to go on for longer. That however does not detract from a marvellous piece of work to get back all those memories. I live on the south coast and am surrounded by the memory of the Battle of Britain and D-DAY. As a boy I would sit and watch the Tiger Moths in the circuit at Shoreham, I knew I had to get off my a** and fly, but without the academic background it was a non starter in the forces. So I paid my way and have never looked back, I am lucky enough, through hard work and a bit of blag, to be flying some nice types these days. Your story tells me of your affection for Vera Lynn, well the grand lady lives only some 15 miles from me, I do not know her but I feel compelled to loan her your book. She has graciously attended our annual airshow at Shoreham when her busy schedule allows. Thank you for putting pen to paper and writing such an informative and amusing book. My collection of aviation books has been enhanced greatly by adding your story to many others who have made their mark in the history of this once great country. Your remarks about the current state of our nation are also shared by many.
Sid Munro from New Zealand wrote this :
We were interested to read the Readers' Comments. The second comment from NE (fellow Spitfire Pilot, 155 Squadron, Burma), must be from Norman (Chota) Edwards. It mirrors what all the others we know from 155 say about Witt; that he was indeed an exceptional pilot.
When I was his No 2 on Spitfires on 155 Squadron in Burma. He was wonderful to fly with; always steady and never got lost, as some did. If he got cheeky I'd climb up his wing with mine until he pleaded with me and said sorry. My wing would take his lift and he got very tired of holding it up. So he would apologise and I would pull away and say 'until next time!', and then make it even harder the next time. You couldn't fault his airmanship. We had a lot of fun. I preferred flying with him to any other.
Do you remember me riding along with you, partial pressure-suit clad, in various aircraft, including Canberra WD933 before Jim Starky & I arrived back engineless and upside down on 10 November '54! Incredibly, fifty years ago. PAT (Flight Test Observer, Armstrong Siddeley), 25.1.05
Witt was a wonderful pilot. We admired his piloting considerably. To be able to do 3 upward rolls in a Spit is no mean feat. NE (fellow Spitfire pilot, 155 Squadron, Burma) December 04
My school chum JDM, flew Spits in Burma between '44 and '45 as a F/Sgt in 273 Squadron, did you, by any chance, know him? EDB 4.2.05
I enjoyed reading the book as I spent 20 years myself flying in the RAF, 1951 to 1971, and a lot of the aircraft in the book are very familiar to me. Good luck with your sales efforts. BW, 28.2.05
Thanks for the book received today. I look forward to a good read. DW, 2.3.05
I enjoyed the book very much (ex Spitfire pilot) and I wish your sales well. Sqdn LDR IB, 3.3.05
Many thanks to you for the copy of you father' book 'An Evil Boy'. I was most interested to read that your father served at Boscombe Down at the time I served there on 'B' Squadron from 1948 until 1953. I was an aircrew signaller and for the last few months before posting away from A & AEE I was the Flying Wing Adjutant with Grp Cap. Bobby Clayton. AJRR, 6.2.05
I have read the book and found it most interesting, especially since I did my training in South Africa and was posted to SEAC via Poona in late 1944 as a Hurricane pilot and thence on to the ACU (Airborne Commando Unit) part of Force 136 for operation Zipper. Happily the Atom bomb prevented my getting myself killed on this operation!! Eventually posted to a 'Com Flight' at Peshawar NWF, flying the Harvard around the forts of the NWF and subsequently flying Spitfires Mk16 to Mk 24 on 80 Sqdn as part of BAFO Germany. (No gongs of course) then civil flying ending up as a training captain in what became British Airways. Best regards, JT. 2.2.05
Thanks for sending me a copy of your father's fascinating book. I read it and thoroughly enjoyed the book. He certainly had a wealth of flying experience over a long period. I found the list of aircraft flown particularly interesting, since I once served on RAF Handling Squadron, Boscombe Down and was able to fly a number of different types. Wng Cdr RJW,7.2.05
There has been great interest in the branch (Air Crew Association) in 'An Evil Boy'. WP, 15.2.05
We agreed that we would purchase a copy for use by all our members (Air Crew Association), PH. 25.2.05
I will never forget Witt's accident. At the time I was Adjutant of 213 Squadon. I was at the door to the office when I heard a Mustang on the circuit. Looking up at it I thought he was doing a very tight circuit with the undercart down. Lining up with the runway he went behind a brick building and I did not see him past the building. There was no sound but I shouted at some of the NCO pilots that I thought there had been an accident and took them in the 15cwt to the end of the runway. We couldn't see anything at first and then some metal reflected the sun. I think the first bit of wreckage was the prop and then the engine.
Witt was in a small section broken off behind the engine and just behind the armour plated seat. Witt's head was under the gun sight which I broke off from the mounting. I had been a second year medical student and although I could see that his leg was smashed up I was worried about his spine. I was able to reach under the cockpit and unlock the American type of straps and also his parachute. We then very carefully extracted him from the cockpit and laid him on the ground. The ambulance arrived and took him away. If I remember the MO was in Haifa so we had no professional help at the accident site.
A little extra. Colin Willdey returned from a visit to Witt and said he was very distressed at having lost his dental plate. We all went to the wreckage complete with spades and on the site we realised it would be impossible to find the denture. Fortunately one of the NCO pilots had the sense to put his hand just in front of the instrument panel and came out with the plate. Colin took it on the next visit to Witt.
Witt rang me up just after I had spoken to you to order a copy of An Evil Boy. It was great to hear his voice again after all these years.
Yours aye, Jock Luckas
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