|The RAF 'ACES' wrote about their experiences soon after the war, and their accounts were often bestsellers. The first-hand accounts emerging today tend to come from more representative pilots, and waning interest means that quite often they are self-published. The advantages are that they can be written frankly and from a modern perspective. An Evil Boy is an above average autobiography from a very lively character. Witt - who likens modern RAF aircraft compared to Spitfires as robots to racehorses - dented the wingtip of his Harvard flying literally wing-to-wing over the runway of his flying school in Canada. He nearly killed himself slow rolling a Tiger Moth on take-off (being by then used to Spits), saw service in Burma, and finally came a cropper when a flap in his Mustang lowered on one side but not the other. Recuperating, he had a hole cut in his plaster so his belly could expand when drinking beer. Post-war he was a test pilot, and flew jets helicopters and the Shuttleworth Deperdussin in Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines. He ended his career as the aerial chauffeur to a multimillionaire. Grounded at last, he expressed himself rallying in his 1934 Lagonda. They don't make them like Witt anymore - Nick Bloom. Pilot February 2005|
FlyPast March 2005
A World War Two Spitfire pilot who had Dame Vera Lynn serenade him on the wing of his plane in the middle of the jungle has written his breath-taking memoirs. Albert 'Witt' Wittridge of Buckland Ripers, Weymouth, tells the story of his life in his autobiography, An Evil Boy. The 80 year old said he wanted to tell other people about the remarkable life he had led, and to share his wonderful memories. One of the book's highlights is his chance meeting in the Burmese jungle with Dame Vera Lynn, the darling of the British services in World War Two, he said, "Bats Krohn was the first to rush out to meet our charming guests. It was Vera Lynn and her side-kick," his book recalls, "Bats stood us down from readiness and Vera insisted on getting up on the wing of a Spitfire and those girls sang their hearts out, bless them. Our squadron was very near the enemy positions but those girls knew that all too well. It was also known that many many big names of the entertainment world got no further than Delhi. Our little charmer had more guts in her little finger than that lot put together, that goes for her colleagues, too." Mr Wittridge said his ambition is to meet Dame Vera again to rekindle those special moments in the jungle, and the 'magical' morale-boosting effect she had on the war effort. He said, "I had so many wonderful times, ad I just wanted to share them. I called it an Evil Boy after myself. I was a bit naughty and mischievous when I was growing up." Following the war, he test-piloted aircraft and went on to become one of the foremost pioneers of jet flying in the 1950s and 1960s. This is chronicled in the book. An Evil Boy is currently being edited for publication. (It is, of course, now published) Western Gazette 14 November 2002
|Dorset Echo Monday 2 May 2005|
'This brief autobiography,
published by the author's daughter, is an entertaining and lively read.
After a chapter of boyhood misdemeanours we accompany "Witt" Wittridge
through initial training and learning to fly on Fleet Finches and
Harvards in Canada in 1942. After advanced flying on Miles Masters he
moves on to the Hurricane, but ends up in India with 155 Sqn, flying
Curtiss Mohawks ("a sort of 'Mickey Mouse' fighter"). Re-equipment with
Spitfire VIIIs comes as a relief.
A nasty accident with Mustang
in Palestine laid him up, but by 1947 he converted on to Meteor jets. A
course at the Empire Test Pilot's School in 1950 cleared him to fly and
test all fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft. "Witt" became an experimental
test pilot at Boscombe Down, but left the RAF in 1953 to become a
civilian test pilot. He flew for Armstrong Siddeley Motors, Bristol
Siddeley and Rolls-Royce as mergers took effect. He was recruited to
fly in Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines (adding the
Deperdussin monoplane to his burgeoning list of types flown). Retired
from test flying, he ran multi-millionaire businessman Dr Daniel
McDonald's fleet of two HS125s and a Bell Jet Ranger helicopter. His
old Mustang crash injuries finally grounded him in 1975.
While the text sometimes lacks
precision regarding units and dates, these can be gleaned from the
appendices, along with an impressive list of types flown, a short essay
on the destruction of a Japanese "Dinah" on September 25, 1944 and some
affectionate comments on the Spitfire. This delightful book is nicely
finished off by Bill Bishop Junior's splendid dust-jacket painting of
155 Sqn Spitfires.
Aeroplane October 2005
Rolls Royce Magazine Issue 39 September 2005
AN EVIL BOY by A H WittridgeWunjo Press 64pp illus ISBN 0 9548778 0 2 13 Peverll Avenue East Dorchester DT1 3RH (Cheque payable to Lynda Franklin)
In Burma “Witt” flew Curtiss Mohawks until 155 Squadron, RAF, was re-equipped with Spitfires in January 1944. The book jacket announces “he flew Spitfires” but this was just one of the ninety or so aircraft types he flew as a test pilot at RAF Boscombe Down and subsequently as a civilian test pilot for Armstrong Siddeley Areo Engines. “Witt” has some interesting comments of some of these aircraft – which ranged from a Tiger Moth to the V bombers during his long flying career. FDC
Dekho! Journal of The Burma Star Association Issue 150 Summer 2005
|Lift Off The Newsletter of Helicopter Operations (Malaya Emergency) Association Issue 13 Summer 2005|
|INTERCOM The Newsletter of The Aircrew Association Summer 2005|
|When I first read the
title, An Evil Boy I was perplexed. Why anyone would call themself Evil?
It is such a powerful word and when I had completed the book I had found
no Evil. True he would have probably been expelled from Enid Blyton's
Famous Five, but his upbringing, father dying when he was six and a
welder for a mother, was inevitably going to produce someone not only
unique, but outstanding.
He experienced more before he was twenty five than the rest us will in a life time. I have certainly not travelled to New York with a dead chef in the freezer, been court marshalled, lost a good friend, had an after death experience, crashed a plane and met Dame Vera Lynn. His love for taking flying beyond its normal limits was bound to lead him to becoming a trainer and test pilot, which must have definitely touched the lives of many military pilots, with the new aviation developments he was involved with.
The book itself is full of black and white photos - 51 to be precise. Witt has written in his own inevitable way, with no malice even when not totally pc: I don't think we can refer to the Japanese as "Nippos"! He paid tribute to German airmen and how the Japanese dealt with the burial of his friend. I can only pay tribute to the man that flew two of my favourite planes, the Spitfire and Hawker Hunter and was nearly a film star in one of my favourite films (Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines). I wish him well travelling the world in his 1934 Lagonda.
I only sit here because of men and woman like him.
|Simon Petyt Wakefield, West Yorkshire 30th August 2007|