The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. E L R Poole
Eric Leonard Ronald Poole was born in Southend-on-Sea on 2nd July 1917. He was educated at Bournemouth Park School and Southend Day Technical and Commercial School. He joined the RAF in January 1934 as an Aircraft Apprentice and passed out in December 1936 as a Fitter.
In January 1937 Poole was posted to 54 Squadron, he then moved to 65 Squadron in July 1938. He later applied for pilot training and was selected. He remustered as an Airman u/t Pilot on 24th August 1939.
He completed his training at 14 FTS Kinloss on No. 3 Course, which ran from 4th November 1939 to 20th April 1940, then joined 604 Squadron at Northolt on 21st April. He was detached from 604 to RAF Uxbridge on 22nd May 1940 for a short course on R/T procedure.
Poole served with 604 Squadron throughout the Battle of Britain and was credited with damaging two enemy aircraft, one at night.
In June 1941 he was posted to 59 OTU Crosby-on-Eden as an instructor. In February 1942 Poole went to 87 Squadron at Charmy Down and carried out some Turbinlite sorties.
He joined 1449 Flight in the Scillies in May 1942, involved in escorts of air-sea rescue operations. Poole was commissioned from Warrant Officer in June 1943. He was serving with the Flight until December 1944, when he applied for early release from the RAF to join Scottish Airways. This was granted in January 1945 and he became an airline pilot, later moving from Scottish Airways to British European Airways.
Poole was BEA's youngest ever Flight Manager. Later he worked at Smiths Industries, helping to develop the Autoland System for BEA and in 1965 he piloted the first automatic landing in the world with fare-paying passengers (below).
Poole became the Chief Technical Pilot for British Airways (European Division) and when he retired in 1976 he was BA's most senior pilot. He was awarded the Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service in the Air.
Poole died on 13th December 2002.
All images courtesy of Jim Davies and Keith Hayward of BA Heritage Centre.