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Obituary for a navigator

Gp Capt John Digman, a wartime bomber navigator, was the instigator of SpecN Aries flights to the North Pole.

He trained as a navigator in Canada and flew 36 wartime operations in Lancasters, being awarded the DFC in 1945. He then became an instructor at a bomber-training unit before embarking on a long career as a navigation specialist.

Whilst an instructor at the Empire Air Navigation School, he was the navigator of the Lincoln bomber, Aries II, which departed UK in April 1947 and flew non-stop to Kano, Nigeria, establishing a record time. It then flew direct to Cape Town, arriving 26h 57m after leaving Britain.

In 1950 he was made responsible for the one-year postgraduate Specialist Navigation (SpecN) Course for 'above-average' navigators. Three years later he introduced Aries flights to the geographic North Pole into the syllabus, with the aim of practising navigation techniques at high latitudes; he flew on the first course flight. Aries flights to the N Pole had actually taken place since 1945, but were not part of the SpecN syllabus. The last such flight took place in 1995; to commerorate this 50th anniversary, the Institute produced first-day covers, which were taken over the pole.

From 1956 John Digman served in the Far East Air Force in Singapore and, in 1959, started a 4-year period at the Air Ministry, responsible for navigator, air electronics and combat survival training.

As a Wg Cdr in 1963, he became OC Ops at RAF Coningsby, Lincs, with 3 Vulcan strategic nuclear bomber squadrons. He oversaw their move to Cottesmore, Rutland, in November 1964. His last flight in a Vulcan was in January 1966, when he was the senior navigator on a journey to New Zealand for a display at the opening of the new airport at Auckland. At the end of his tour he was appointed OBE.

His last 5 years in the RAF were spent in the MoD, finally being promoted to become Deputy Director, RAF Security. He then joined the Civil Service as well as giving much support to RAF charities.

Gp Capt John Digman      4 September 1923 - 11 December 2017

Full obituary and image from The Telegraph link below . .

  • 02 March 2018
  • RIN

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