The Airmen's Stories - F/Lt. A J Trumble
Anthony John Trumble was born in Essex on 15th December 1915 but spent most of his early childhood in India. Back in England, he
attended Wanstead High School, Essex.
Trumble joined the RAF on a short service commission in
January 1935. He arrived at No. 1 RAF Depot Uxbridge on 13th March for a short induction course.
He was posted to 5 FTS Sealand on the 30th and after completing his training joined 56 Squadron at North Weald on 28th February 1936.
Trumble was attached to RAF Gosport on 22nd June 1936 for floatplane conversion and then he went to No. 1 FTS Leuchars for an FAA conversion course. He joined 801 (Fleet Fighter) Squadron on 25th September 1936, based at Southampton and at sea on HMS Furious.
He moved to 800 (Fleet Fighter) Squadron on 6th May 1937 and to 803 (Fleet Fighter) Squadron on 1st December 1938 as ‘A’ Flight Commander.
In January 1939 Trumble took part in deck-landing trials on the aircraft carrier HMS Courageous. On 31st May 1939 the Navy took over the FAA and Trumble was posted to staff duties at HQ 23 Group.
On 26th August 1939 he went on staff duties with the RAF Component of the Field Force, destined for France.
In February 1940 Trumble was in the Intelligence Section, HQ Air Component in France. After Dunkirk, he joined 264 Squadron at Duxford on 4th June 1940 as ‘B’ Flight Commander.
Trumble was detached from the squadron on 17th July on temporary duty and joined a group of pilots on board the carrier HMS Argus at Greenock. This group became 418 Flight and their destination was Malta.
The Argus sailed on the 23rd and on 2nd August 1940 they flew their Hurricanes off to Luqa. The Flight was redesignated 261 Squadron on 16th August 1940 and Trumble was ‘A’ Flight Commander. He was promoted to Acting Squadron Leader on 10th December and took command.
On 25th February 1941 he was posted to HQ Middle East for staff duties on Fighter Plans. He was attached to RAF Crete on 1st April for fighter operations. These were cancelled after the German invasion of Greece.
Trumble subsequently became Station Commander at Heraklion. The station was taken by German airborne troops in late May 1941 and he was captured. He was in many different PoW camps from Greece to Poland but most of his time as a PoW was spent in Stalag Luft
As an experienced wing commander, he was appointed the senior administration officer responsible for discipline and organisation. This required a delicate balance of firmness and understanding for the prisoners' activities which were often subversive. At the same time he had to maintain a good relationship with the German authorities to obtain the best possible treatment for a large population of young aircrew officers. Trumble's unfailing tact, energy and conscientiousness were largely responsible for the high morale, good humour and cohesion of the camp and added greatly to the safety and security of the PoWs.
On the night of 27th January 1945 the German guards burst into the compound and gave the prisoners 30 minutes to pack their meagre belongings before herding them into columns and marching them westwards ahead of the advancing Russian army. The winter of 1945 was particularly severe, and the PoWs suffered considerable privations as they marched; there was little food and no shelter. Eventually, Trumble's column reached Stalag IIIA at Luckenwalde, south of Berlin, a camp in which the conditions were particularly brutish. He once again assumed the role of senior administration officer.
The German guards left on 21st April and the Russian army arrived a few days later. Trumble and his fellow PoWs were free, but it was some time before they were able to return to England.
Trumble returned to the UK on 10th May 1945. After an Air Ministry attachment for debriefing he went to 7 FIS Upavon for a refresher flying course and after another course at the School of Air Transport, he took command of the Metropolitan Communications Squadron at Hendon on 10th August 1945.
He was made an OBE (gazetted 28th December 1945) for services as a PoW. In the post-war years he held a series of appointments and commands, his final posting being to the Ministry of Defence.
He was made an officer of the Order of Leopold II of Belgium for services to the Belgian Air Force, for his work in creating an air transport force.
Trumble served on the staff of the RAF Staff College and at the Central Flying School, before being promoted to group captain to command Bridgenorth, the RAF's National Service recruit training depot. During this period he was appointed to organise and take command of Lord Trenchard's funeral parade.
Trumble retired on 3rd May 1966 as a Group Captain.
Trumble became secretary of the Royal Thames Yacht Club before finally retiring to South Devon. He was the proud owner of a vintage Rolls-Royce, which he greatly enjoyed driving and maintaining.
He died on 21st April 2004.
Tony Trumble and his wife Robin were married for 65 years. She and their two sons and a daughter survive him.