Wednesday, June 11, 2008

AVM Edward D Crew CB DSO* DFC* 1917-2003

Brought up by his step-father, Sir Kenneth Murchison, who was a Tory MP, he attended Felsted School and later Downing College, Cambridge, where he was a member of the University Air Squadron. Graduating in 1940, he immediately joined the RAF and was posted to to No 604 Squadron, equipped with Blenheim If's as a night fighter pilot. At that time one of No 604's pilots, later flight commander and squadron commander, was John Cunningham, the RAF's finest night fighter pilot of the period. In the spring of 1941, No 604 the re-equipped with the new Bristol Beaufighter and he soon began to make a name for himself, destroying five enemy aircraft in ten weeks, for which he was awarded his DFC. When his original radar operator, Sgt Guthrie was posted, he was joined by Sgt Basil Duckett and the pair continued to be successful and with three kills to his credit, whilst paired with Duckett, he was awarded the Bar to the DFC.

In October 1942, he was rested from operations and took command of the Radio Development Flight, but he was back in the frontline, the following spring, when he was a appointed a flight commander in No 85 Squadron. By the time he joined No 85, it was equipped with the Mosquito NF Mk II and XV. But his time with 85 was short as in June, he was promoted and placed in command of No 96 Squadron, also equipped with Mosquito night fighters. Shortly after the D-Day landings, Britain began to hit but what seemed an endless stream of V-1 flying bombs and 96 was one of the units tasked with providing night defence against them. By the end of World War Two, he had destroyed 12 enemy aircraft, shared in the destruction of one, damaged five and destroyed 21 V-1s. On one occasion, he and his radar operator were forced to bail out of their Mosquito, when it was damaged by the explosion of the V-1 they had just destroyed.

disbandment of No 96 Squadron at the end of 1944, he attended the RAF Staff College and in 1945 was appointed to a permanent commission. This was followed by a posting to the Air Ministry and then in 1948, he returned to operational flying when he took command of No 45 Squadron in Malaya. This was at the beginning of the Malayan emergency, which was codenamed 'Operation Firedog' and eventually lasted until 1960. He was mentioned in despatches for his work with No 45 in 1949. In 1952 he undertook an exchange posting with the RCAF and commanded the operational training unit tasked with introducing the CF100 all weather fighter into service.

On his return from Canada, he was appointed to the command of the All-Weather Development Squadron at the Central Fighter Establishment. where he was involved in the trials of the Gloster Javelin. In late 1959, he moved to Germany and command of RAF Bruggen, which at the time was home to a mix of Canberras in the tactical reconnaissance and interdictor roles and Javelins in the all weather fighter role. In 1965 he was back in the Far East, this time as Commander of the Air Forces in Borneo, where he was involved in the operations in combating Indonesian incursions during what became known as 'The Confrontation'.

After attending the Royal College of Defence Studies, he held the post of Director of Operations (Air Defence & Overseas) at the Ministry of Defence, before being appointed Commandant of the Central Reconnaissance Establishment. His final appointment was as Deputy Controller of the National Air Traffic Service until he retired. From 1973 to 1987, he was a member of the Planning Inspectorate of the Department of the Environment and having retired from this post he served on the Cotswold District Council from 1991 until 1995.