FLIGHT LIEUTENANT JOHN BLAIR DFO volunteered for the RAF while in Jamaica in 1941 and was trained in Monkton, Canada, and RAF Kinloss in Scotland. And assigned to the 102 (Ceylon) Squadron which was stationed at Pocklington, Yorkshire.
He was a Navigator and was part of a crew that flew Halifax bombers. He flew in 33 sorties from 1944 to the end of the war in Europe which was higher than the average airman who usually only managed just over 25 missions, due to the intense danger they faced with each sortie.
John Blair was aware that prior to 1940 the British Forces had the ‘Colour Bar’ in place, which stipulated that “only British men of European descent could be officers in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces”. However, after the RAF suffered extremely heavy losses during the Battle of Britain they were forced to re-think this policy. They lifted the ‘Colour Bar’ and started recruiting men from the Caribbean and West Africa. However, he was aware that, unlike his white comrades, if they were shot down by the Germans, any Black Officers were likely to be shot on the spot.
By the time John Blair qualified as a Navigator, he was part of a fully integrated aircrew where each member could be from a completely different part of the world – a point that made a huge impression on him. He received the (DFO) Distinguished Flying Cross in 1945 at which point he turned down the opportunity to be demobbed but instead signed on with the elite Pathfinders squadron. He stayed in the RAF until 1965.
At the end of the war, he transferred to Transport Command and flew Comets and Hastings around the world. By all accounts, John Blair was a success.
His eulogy was written by his nephew, Mark Johnson
Purchase the book from Amazon and other good online stores, or order a signed copy from https://lnkd.in/dnX7HK8p “Pilots and Soldiers of the Caribbean; Fighting Men of the Caribbean”.
ISBN- Paperback- 978 1838-0127-48.
e-Book ISBN – 978 1838 0127 55
By Maureen Dickson Author of “Pilots and Soldiers of the Caribbean:
Fighting Men of the Caribbean”