ARTHUR Reid, who has died aged 98, flew on dangerous and clandestine missions with an RAF squadron that specialised in electronic warfare, confusing the enemy by jamming its radar and carrying German-speakers to issue false commands to the fighter aircraft hunting them.

The sorties he took part in - so secret that he had no clear idea of their purpose - involved him operating equipment such as the ABC, or Airborne Cigar, and the Airborne Grocer, which coincidentally described him perfectly, as that had been his trade before the war. The fact that he was with 192 (Special Duties) Squadron, and that 192 was the street number of his house, further convinced him that he was made for his role.

He used this advanced jamming equipment to deny the enemy the use of its radar and radio, which turned into a cat-and-mouse game as enemy controllers constantly changed frequencies, requiring great skill on his part to follow them. The missions from RAF Foulsham in Norfolk involved lengthy flights near or over hostile territory, with an operational area stretching from Norway in the north to the Bay of Biscay in the south.

One of his first missions with 192 Squadron, part of 100 Group, was the first Thousand Bomber Raid on Cologne in May 1942, with the loss of 46 aircraft and 300 airmen on that sortie alone. The casualties would undoubtedly have been higher had it not been for Mr Reid and his crew jamming vital frequencies. Indeed, these special duties missions often attracted particular attention from the Luftwaffe, which tried to lock on to the powerful jamming signal then send fighters to shoot them down.

The squadron aircraft at that time comprised Wellingtons, Halifaxes and Mosquitos, and duties involved carrying a German speaker who would operate from behind a black curtain, hidden from the crew, to seduce Luftwaffe fighters away from the main bomber force by mimicking their radar controller in their own language. These individuals’ identities were always protected; they boarded when the crew was in position and they left before they exited. Using his highly classified equipment, Mr Reid would search for and identify German radar on ships, aircraft and even submarines.

In one complex operation involving close co-operation with the Royal Navy, a German submarine was disabled in the Atlantic and a highly valuable Enigma code machine seized. One of several captured in the war, the finds were a huge asset for the Allies and arguably shortened the conflict, although Mr Reid had not been directly involved and did not know it at the time. It was said after the war that had it not been for the efforts of 100 Group, 1,000 more bombers and 7,000 aircrew would have been lost.

Excerpts from his logbook highlighted dangerous and stressful moments with characteristic understatement. Returning from a stretched and daring mission of eight hours and 40 minutes to the Bay of Biscay, one of his Wellington aircraft’s twin engines ran out of oil. Mr Reid simply pencilled in “oil”. After another mission, he nonchalantly wrote: “Landed with the main spar cracked”; a catastrophic failure that wiped out the entire crew of a preceding aircraft.

Earlier in his flying career, he and a pilot were detailed to carry out an air test for a plane at Lossiemouth. The pilot was unhappy about the early hour and decided to “beat up” the officers’ mess by flying low over it. Unfortunately, in so doing he overshot the runway and the aircraft caught fire. The skipper used an escape hatch, leaving Mr Reid to make his own way out. The pilot was later court-martialed and returned to Canada. Mr Reid narrowly escaped death, yet again, when he was grounded with conjunctivitis. The crew he was due to fly with the following day did not return.

Arthur Baxter Reid was born on October 9, 1920 in Edinburgh and brought up in a tenement flat in Morningside. He attended Boroughmuir High School but had to leave at 14 to support his father in the family grocery business. He had a flair for English and often reflected on how he would have liked to have become a writer of some kind, but from childhood he had a paper round, was a delivery boy and worked behind the counter, and never had the early opportunity to develop his potential.

His military life began in the Home Guard but he yearned for excitement and joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve as a wireless operator and air gunner, known as a WOPAG.

Having flown on some of the most harrowing and demanding missions supporting Bomber Command, he stepped from an Avro Anson as a senior signals officer at the end of the war and wrote with irony in his logbook: “Posted to Bombay - marvellous.” His flying days were over, or so he thought. He set up a wireless communications unit in Kandy, Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, which helped bring home service personnel from the Far East, before being demobbed in 1946.

After the war he remained in the grocery and sales trade, but ended his working life as a recreational assistant with Edinburgh District Council. He was a proud member of the Scottish Saltire Aircrew Association and a hard-working ambassador for the RAF Benevolent Fund, regularly attending air shows and other public events along with fellow Second World War veteran Alistair Lamb, who had also been a WOPAG. The pair would sit together signing Bomber Command books, being photographed and chatting to the public.

His main love was football and in particular Hibernian FC, where he was a season ticket holder for many years. He enjoyed driving and had started with a Lambretta scooter, then a motorcycle and sidecar, progressing to cars via the three-wheeler Reliant Robin. He only stopped driving when he was 90. In August 2018, he was invited into the royal box at Edinburgh Castle to watch the military tattoo, in a trip organised by the Air Officer Scotland, Air Vice Marshal Ross Paterson. In the same year he was also awarded France’s Legion of Honour for his war service.

For more than 70 years after stepping out of that Avro Anson, Mr Reid had vowed never to fly again. He had survived 34 dangerous missions, flying for 656 hours, and had lost many friends. That part of his life was over. But in September 2017, when his “other family” in the shape of the RAF Benevolent Fund asked him if he would take a flight in a refurbished Spitfire for a publicity event, he changed his mind and took to the skies again from Cumbernauld Airport, aged 96. Mr Reid’s wife Dorothy pre-deceased him. He is survived by a daughter, Barbara, son Arthur, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Campbell Thomas