Local Face: Douglas Joss

  |  Published: Apr 1st 2017

Douglas Joss has lived in Wendover for over 40 years and has contributed a great deal to his community as well as having a distinguished service career during the Second World War. He very kindly let me have his scrap books to look through and his book, “Peace and War of an Air Gunner” which I enjoyed immensely and thoroughly recommend.

He was born in Aberdeen and moved to Coventry where he went to school. He joined the RAF in 1938 when he was 17 and was trained as an aircraft rigger. After training at various places including the Central Flying School at Upavon where he flew with Douglas Bader, he was sent to the Gold Coast to assemble aircraft for use in the Middle East then to Nigeria to service aircraft. He was seconded to the French Foreign Legion in French Equatorial Africa (he was awarded La Croix du Combattant de l’Europe in 1981 and made a Chevalier in the Ordre National de la Legion d’Honneur) and then Nigeria.  He contracted malaria and was sent back to Halton Hospital which had a Tropical Disease facility. After recovering, he was trained as a rear air gunner, got together a crew and flew 32 missions with 626 Squadron throughout 1944 in Lancaster bombers. His description of their flights and the living conditions they had to endure makes you feel that you are there with him.

During his tour of duty, in November 1944 he was commissioned as a Pilot Officer. At the end of his flying duty, he travelled to Malaya and Singapore to help people who had been interned by the Japanese. Still in the RAF after the war he served in the UK and then in Germany during the Berlin Air Lift. He became ill again and in the RAF Hospital he met his future wife, Sister Lois Monks of the Princess Mary’s RAF Nursing Service. He was posted to Huntington where he was offered a permanent commission with the RAF.

He married Lois in August 1950 and in 1953 was promoted to Squadron Leader at RAF Upavon and their sons Michael and then Andrew were born.

In 1956 Douglas was awarded an MBE. There followed many postings abroad and then the family ended up in Halton where Douglas was OC No. 3 Wing in the RAF Apprentice School in 1966. The family decided they did not want another move (which would have made 22) and moved into a new house on Lionel Avenue in 1968. After 32 years in the RAF Douglas retired in 1969 and had a few civilian jobs, becoming the Mayor’s Secretary for the Borough of Aylesbury. During this time, Stoke Mandeville was asked to co-host the 1984 Paralympic Games with three months notice so Douglas was seconded from the Mayor’s office to ensure that everything ran with military precision, including booking Prince Charles to open the Games despite prior other engagements.

Douglas was a marriage guidance counsellor for 3 years and Governor of three schools. For his long contribution to the Scout movement, he was awarded the Scout Medal of Merit for 50 years service. A founder member of Wendover Health Centre’s Patient Fund, he remained its secretary for 13 years. He was Public Relations Officer for Mencap for 5 years, and a case worker for SSAFA for 26 years, for which he was awarded their Star Badge and Certificate. In 1975 he became a magistrate and served for 16 years on the Aylesbury bench and was Vice-Chairman for the last 4 years, during which he represented Aylesbury on the Thames Valley Police Authority for 8 years, ultimately retired compulsorily at the age of 70.

Throughout his long and varied career Douglas has collected a most remarkable collection of anecdotes which makes him a wonderful person to talk to.

Sandy Smith, Wendover Society Magazine

Douglas Joss
Douglas Joss in rear gunner's uniform
Joss, Bader, Deere
Douglas Joss, Air Commodore Al Deere, Douglas Bader
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