Local Face: Alan Payne

  |  Published: Aug 1st 2013

Alan Payne was born in Wendover.  He studied at Wycombe Technical College and worked in Aylesbury for a brief period before volunteering for military service, as war had broken out again.

He decided to capitalise on his lifelong love of aviation by joining the RAF in 1942.  He trained as an observer in the UK and South Africa, and flew 29 missions as a bomb aimer on Lancasters with 630 Squadron.  Whilst serving with this squadron, he participated in the Battle of Berlin from November 1943 to March 1944, which culminated with the raid on Nuremberg on March 30 and 31 1944. This was the most disastrous night of the war for Bomber command, resulting in the loss of 96 Aircraft, and is the subject of the recent book The Red Line, in which Alan features several times.  He was awarded the DFC for his service with Bomber Command.

After his tour with Bomber Command was completed, Alan transferred to Transport Command and flew as a navigator, serving on the Halifax with 620 Squadron in Palestine supporting 6th Airborne Division.

When his time with the RAF ended, he attended Oxford School of Architecture to study, and obtained a five year diploma and RIBA qualification.

His architecture study finished in the late 1940s, and he returned to Hertfordshire to work.  In 1970, Alan started an architecture partnership in Tring which had clients in Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire, and some overseas clients, too.  He is proud of the five years his firm spent working with the National Children’s Home in Harpenden.  In the Wendover area, he designed Weston Turville, Wilstone and Stoke Mandeville Village Halls, as well as the Wendover Cricket Club Pavilion in the Witchell.

From 1983 to 1999 he served as the diocesan architect for the Diocese of Oxford.  As part of that role, he was responsible for quinquennial inspections of St Mary’s Wendover, Kimble Church and St Michael and All Angels in Aston Clinton, among others.  He is happy to have worked on many of the updates and upgrades to St Mary’s, including overseeing the conversion of the organ chamber to a social centre, the fitting of the glass doors in 1998, and the addition of the bell tower floor in 1999.

Alan has lived in Wendover all his life, except whilst in the RAF and at Oxford. He lives in a house of his own design, next to the house where his children were raised.  Alan and his wife Gwendoline, whom he met whilst stationed at an RAF base in North Wales, built Alan’s current house when their children had grown and began to start their own families.  One of his  sons still lives in the original house with his own family. His eldest  son and his family run a farm and stables at Whiteleaf.

Alan travelled to South Africa in 2011 as part of the “Heroes Return” programme with the Big Lottery Fund.  He chose to return following the death of his wife in 2009, and visited the areas where he had been whilst on RAF training  in 1942-43.

Alan assisted in the formation of Wendover Cricket Club in the 1950’s and attends matches when possible.  He was an active golfer at Ellesborough Golf Club until recently. For several years he was a committee member of the Friends of St Mary’s, and he still attends services there regularly. He was also a member of Tring Rotary Club and the Probus Club of Aylesbury Vale until they ceased meeting.

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