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Sunday, 26 October 2014

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Ted Dunglinson

Man of action:  Edward Dunglinson’s crucial work during the war was recognised in the 1990s when he received a Mentioned in Despatches

In temperatures well below zero, with mountainous waves and Kondor spotter planes directing German U-boats, the sea run that shipped vital supplies to the Soviet Union was a killer, even by World War Two standards.

So many ships were sunk; so many British servicemen died. Those who survived could count themselves lucky to be alive – men like Ted Dunglinson from Hayton, Brampton, who has died, aged 96.

As a young flight sergeant in the RAF, he sailed on the “River Afton” on the run to Archangel and Murmansk in 1941, in a convoy taking 63 Hawker Hurricane fighter planes desperately needed by the Russians as they fought to halt the German army’s advance.

The voyage lasted a fortnight and, against the odds, Ted’s ship arrived at Archangel and he and his colleagues were taken to a town on the River Volga to show the Russians how to assemble and maintain the crated aircraft.

Ted was in Russia for six months and though he tried to write to his wife and family back home, his letters did not arrive and they did not know where he was.

Eventually, he returned to safely to Britain.

But his contribution to the war was anything but over. He went on to become a flight sergeant responsible for maintaining the aircraft that dropped spies into occupied France, working for the top secret Special Operations Executive.

More than half a century on, in the 1990s, his crucial work was officially recognised when he received a medal from the Russians and a Mentioned in Despatches certificate for his work with the SOE.

The Arctic Convoy Medal and the Arctic Emblem arrived after he saw an advertisement telling all who had served on the Russian convoys that they were entitled to them. He applied and they duly arrived.

He received his Mentioned in Despatches certificate after the RAF Association in Carlisle made representations on his behalf.

He said at the time: “I never asked for a citation when I was discharged because I just didn’t think it would be worth it. But my family were anxious for me to have it and I am pleased for them as much as for myself.”

He had joined the RAF in 1926 and his career in the service lasted for 25 years, by which time he had become a warrant officer. Postings took him to Hong Kong, Russia and to Germany in 1949, where he worked on the famous Berlin Airlift. This was the Allied forces’ lifeline that kept the city going after Soviet troops blockaded all the land routes from the west.

During his quarter century of service, he served on aircraft carriers, once sailing 600 miles up the Yangtse River to Hankow. He walked on the Great Wall of China and also visited Japan.

As a civilian he continued to work for the RAF, at its 14 Maintenance Unit in Carlisle, and then he worked for the Hawker Siddeley company on the Blue Streak rocket programme at Spadeadam until he retired in 1973 to his home in Hayton.

Edward Dunglinson was born at Hayton Town Head but the family moved to Whiteflat, near Irthington, when he was only three. He went to the village school and then to Brampton Secondary School and at 16 joined the RAF as an aircraft apprentice and was stationed in Bedfordshire. He served at Leuchars, in Scotland and then on the aircraft carriers HMS Hermes and HMS Berwick – on which he sailed up the Yangste – and he spent three years in India.

He was a keen motor cyclist and it was while he was stationed at Aldergrove, in Ulster, that he went to a garden fete. He introduced himself to a girl there and took her off on the back of his bike. He later said: “She hung on tight and she’s been with me ever since.”

They married in 1936.

A keen sportsman, he ran the mile in two minutes five seconds when he was only 16 and he won the Halton Apprentice Cross Country Trophy in the RAF. He played hockey for Fife County and, although in the air force, played twice for the Royal Navy in the Far East. In the 1953 coronation celebrations, he won the 100 yards sprint for Hayton House. His prize was five shillings.

In retirement, he kept hens, made some fine garden tools and repaired machinery.

He and his wife travelled in Europe, China, Canada and the USA. They had planned a trip to Russia but the Chernobyl disaster put paid to that.

He served on his parish council, the reading room committee and the old folks’ committee and, for years, he cut the grass on the village’s public places.

Mr Dunglinson leaves his wife, three sons, three daughters, 15 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

His funeral service and interment took place at St Mary Magdalene’s Church, Hayton.

Graeme Kennedy made the arrangements.

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