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The Airmen's Stories - P/O H N D Bailey


Henry Noel Dawson Bailey was born on 15th December 1917 in Hull, the son of Frank Burgess Bailey (1879-1930) and Elsie May Bailey (nee Farbstein 1894-1964).

He intended to pursue a medical career but the early death of his father meant there were insufficient funds and he took up his second interest, engineering.

Bailey was awarded an engineering degree with honours at Hull Technical College and joined Rolls Royce in 1938 as an engineering apprentice, later working on aero-engine development.



He joined the RAFVR in September 1938 as an Airman u/t Pilot and carried out his weekend flying at Derby.

Called up on 1st September 1939, he went to an ITW and was then posted to 5 EFTS Hanworth in March 1940 for elementary flying training. He was then posted to 5 FTS Sealand on No. 49 Course, from 16th June to 7th September 1940.

With his training completed, Bailey went to 7 OTU Hawarden on 7th September and after converting to Spitfires joined 54 Squadron at Catterick on the 28th.


Above: Bailey standing far right.


He remained with the squadron until September 1941, when, as an Acting Flight Lieutenant he was posted to 58 OTU Grangemouth as a Flight Commander instructor.

Bailey joined an Air Ministry Unit attached to Rolls Royce in Derby and Hucknall for flying duties in January 1942 and remained there until March 1946, when he was released from the RAF as a Squadron Leader.

He had married Yvonne Fisher in April 1942 in Hull.

He continued flying for Rolls Royce, eventually becoming Chief Test Pilot. Bailey flew the first jet lift machine, the 'Flying Bedstead', in 1954.

He was appointed Senior Liaison pilot in 1947 and Assistant Chief Test Pilot in 1951. On the retirement of Harvey Heyworth he was appointed Rolls-Royce Chief Test Pilot in 1954, serving in this position until 1955 when he was succeeded by Jim Heyworth.



Rolls Royce test pilots (L to R); R Jones, HC Rogers, HND Bailey, JH Heyworth (Battle veteran), J Heyworth, A McDowall (Battle veteran), AR Barnard.




Above: the same group in front of a Canberra.


He had flown forty seven different aircraft types and in the course of his duties with Rolls-Royce had visited sixty countries around the world.

He settled in Derby, in a house of his own design.

Bailey was an extremely keen Bridge player and could recall hands that had been dealt 60 years previously. He won several competitions. Other interests were golf and amateur radio, he had an installation in a basement of his house.

Bailey died on 21st October 2002 in Preston, Lancashire.




Additional research and all images courtesy of Debbie Welch (granddaughter).


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