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Sir Jocelyn Buxton

Pilot

Pilot

Born August 8 1924; Died April 25 2014.

Sir Jocelyn Buxton, who has died aged 89, had a distinguished career with the Fleet Air Arm starting during the Second World War and continuing for over half a century. In wartime, he was principally involved in sailing with the protection vessels on the hazardous Arctic convoys to Murmansk, while in peacetime he served in Africa.

On his 18th birthday, he volunteered for the Fleet Air Arm and after a strenuous training regime, both here and in Canada, was posted as a fighter pilot to the aircraft carrier Campania which was on duty on the Arctic Run protecting the vital supplies that were being shipped to northern Russia.

Many of the convoys assembled prior to each sailing on Loch Ewe, the sea loch in Wester Ross. The loch provided a fairly safe anchorage for the convoys as not only was it further from Scapa Flow (thus out of range for the German bombers in Norway), it was also well sheltered, remote and protected from the worst weather. One major benefit to the surrounding community was the hasty building of a single-track road to the naval base.

It was deemed vital that supplies from Britain reached the Soviet Union so that the war could be continued on two fronts. These supplies had to reach the Soviet Union by the dangerous route around the North Cape. The conditions, the weather and the risks on the Murmansk Run were challenging in the extreme - the short winter days made living conditions on board appalling. The primitive radar facilities added to the navigational problems.

Those on board got little sleep because of the turbulent sea and they had to be constantly vigilant for attacks from German aircrafts and U-boats. Sir Jocelyn and his Fleet Air Arm colleagues had to fly under such conditions and then engage with the German reconnaissance planes. Twice in 1944 he was credited with a share in the shooting down of enemy seaplanes and was mentioned in dispatches. While the town of Murmansk was the major destination port, the convoys had to sail round the Kola Inlet in Finland which was heavily fortified by enemy garrisons.

At the beginning of 1945 Sir Jocelyn faced a different peril: the River Clyde. He was flying to Machrihanish where a Naval Air Squadron and the anti-submarine school were situated when a faulty fuel gauge showed he had no fuel.

Sir Jocelyn was forced to ditch his plane in the Firth of Clyde and was soon picked up by a submarine. During a raid on German positions in Norway, he was shot down and forced to ditch in the sea and on that occasion he was rescued by a destroyer.

Jocelyn Charles Roden Buxton (known as "Jocky") was born in London the son of Captain RHV Buxton, RN. He was brought up at Romsey, Hampshire, and educated at Eton and then immediately applied to join the Fleet Air Arm.

After the war, he gained a private pilot's licence and joined the Uganda Company flying aircraft principally to Kampala where he much enjoyed sailing on Lake Victoria.

His intrepid love of flying was reignited with the outbreak of the Korean War. Sir Jocelyn, who was a member of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR), volunteered for active service. He qualified to fly the powerful Sea Fury, and in 1953 was one of the first RNVR pilots to establish himself as a regular squadron pilot. Taking off from the carriers Ocean and Glory, he flew almost every day, "our targets being road bridges" he once recalled "to stop any movement of supplies to the front line".

He advised on a number of construction projects in Sudan. In 1969 he returned to England to qualify as an airline pilot flying scheduled passengers on British Island Airways routes to the Channel Islands. His last role was for Channel Express based in Bournemouth.

Sir Jocelyn continued to fly in retirement and took special pleasure in flying as far afield as Moscow and Elba. But a personal favourite were his trips to the Shetland Isles. He was also a vice patron of the charity the Waveney Stardust which promotes cruising for the disabled.

Sir Jocelyn's passion for flying was a dominant feature of his life and his sense of duty to the Fleet Air Arm was boundless.

There is little doubt that his and his colleagues' contributions to the success of the Murmansk Run helped to defeat the U-boat threat and limited the air attacks from the German navy.

In 1960 Sir Jocelyn married Ann Frances Smitherman who, with their three daughters, survives him.

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