The Airmen's Stories - F/O G E Pittman
Geoffrey Edward Pittman was born in Birmingham on 5th January 1921.
He attended Spring Grove Secondary School, Isleworth and on leaving worked as a laboratory assistant testing the components of automatic pilot mechanisms for installation in military aircraft.
In 1938 he joined the RAF on a short service commission and began his initial training on 31st October 1938 at No. 1 E&RFTS Hatfield.
He moved on to 5 FTS Sealand on 28th January 1939 and after completing his training joined 17 Squadron at Croydon on 3rd September 1939.
Pittman was posted from 17 Squadron to France on 16th May 1940 and joined 85 Squadron at Lille/Seclin on the 17th.
Above: an unidentified Hurricane, probably in France, code YB-F
He rejoined 17 Squadron at Debden on 23rd May. From 8th to 16th June 1940 the squadron used Le Mans, Dreux, Beaumont and Dinard as forward bases until withdrawn to Jersey on 17th June and to Debden on the 19th. After a weeks leave the squadron was operational again.
Above: at Debden
On cowling L to R: F/O DHW Hanson, F/Lt. WJ Harper, F/O GR Bennette
On wing L to R: P/O LW Stevens, P/O GE Pittman, Sgt. G Griffiths
On 12th July 1940 Pittman shared a He111 and on 11th August he shared in destroying a Me110, on the 25th he destroyed a Me110, on 5th September he shared in the probable destruction of a He111 and on the 24th he damaged a Me109.
Pittman damaged Do17s on 11th and 14th October and he destroyed a Ju87 on 11th November.
He was posted to CFS Upavon on 15th November for an instructors course. He was at 8 FTS Montrose from 15th December 1940 to 9th March 1941 when he went to Southern Rhodesia, serving as an instructor at 22 SFTS Thornhill, near Gwelo, from 24th April 1941 to 20th February 1944.
Above: Thornhill, Pittman seated third from right.
By the end of his service there he was CO of the Advanced Training Flights.
On his return to the UK Pittman went to 57 OTU Eshott for a Spitfire refresher course, then to 83 GSU Redhill on 26th May to convert to Mustang IIIs.
He joined 122 Squadron at Funtington on 5th June and moved with it to Normandy on the 25th. The squadron flew ground-attack sorties in support of the advance north to Belgium.
The squadron returned to England on 29th September and began escorting RAF heavy bombers on daylight saturation raids on German targets, flying from Andrews Field, Essex.
On the last sortie of his tour of operations his engine failed and he survived a forced-landing near Ijmuiden, Holland.
In January 1945 Pittman was posted to No. 1 Radio School at Cranwell for a Specialist Signals Officer Course. He was appointed Station Signals Officer at RAF Valley in November and was released from the RAF in January 1946 as a Squadron Leader.
Above: Cranwell 1944 - Pittman seated third from left.
Below: On 9th December 1944 Pittman married Edith Gladys Addelsee, who served in the WAAF
He set up his own commercial and industrial photography business and using his prewar engineering experience also worked on advanced techniques for printing circuit boards for the Bell Punch Company.
Pittman's venture into the world of engineering led to him being interviewed by the Weapons Research Establishment and offered employment, however this was based at the test site at Woomera, South Australia. He accepted this and emigrated to Australia in 1957 with his wife and two daughters.
They settled in the 'company town' of Elizabeth, then a suburb of Adelaide.
In the late Fifties he worked on the Blue Ray and Red Top missiles and throughout the Sixties was closely involved in the development of the extensive recording and measuring equipment used at the Woomera range. In 1970 the Skylark rocket programme began and he went on from this to the Redeye and Blowpipe missile trials.
Pittman retired in 1984, moved to Queensland and took up gliding at Bundaberg.
He died on 9th February 2001, at his request his ashes were scattered from a glider over the Glasshouse Mountains in Queensland.
Additional research and all images courtesy of his daughters Christine Pittman and Carolyn Kenwrick.