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The Airmen's Stories - S/Ldr. N C Odbert


Norman Cyril Odbert was born on 6th June 1909 in Rathdown, Dublin, Ireland. His father was a civil servant.

Odbert joined the RAF on a short service commission in December 1927. He was posted to 2 FTS Digby on 14th January 1928 and in early 1929 joined 26 (Army Co-operation) Squadron at Catterick. After a course at the School of Army Co-Operation at Old Sarum, Odbert was posted to the Middle East on 13th September 1929, to 208 (Army Co-Operation) Squadron at Heliopolis.

Back in the UK, Odbert went to CFS Wittering in September 1932 for an instructor's course, following which he was posted to the staff of 504 Squadron, Auxiliary Air Force as Flying Instructor and Adjutant.

He moved later to 601 Squadron Auxiliary Air Force and on 10th February 1936 he went to the staff of 609 Squadron Auxiliary Air Force when it was formed at Yeadon. Odbert left the squadron in 1938 and after a spell instructing at Cranwell he was posted to the Air Ministry on the Directorate Auxiliary Air Force.


Officers of 609 Squadron at the first Summer Camp, Ramsgate 1937.

Rear row: TMcM Boyle (MO), JE Rylands, JC Gilbert, BW Little, SG Beaumont, P Drummond-Hay, PH Barran.

Middle row: P Nickols, A Matheson (Asst. Adjutant and FI), Earl of Lincoln, H Peake (CO), N Odbert, RF Burges (Equpt.).

Front row: D Persse-Joynt, GG Robinson (Accountant).


In late 1939 Odbert was on the staff of 54 Group. He married Eileen Mary Venables at Henley on 2nd December 1939.

Odbert went to 6 OTU Sutton Bridge on 23rd May 1940 for a refresher course. After converting to Spitfires he took command of 64 Squadron at Kenley on 31st May.

He was posted away in late July to 23 (ASU) MU at Aldergrove, Northern Ireland remaining there until October 1941 when he went to the Air Ministry as Deputy Director, Directorate of Operational Requirements.

Odbert did this job until December 1945. He was made an OBE (gazetted 13th June 1946) and held a series of appointments and commands at home and overseas prior to his retirement on 29th January 1957 as a Group Captain.

Odbert died in August 1999 in Windsor, Berkshire.


One of his brothers, Group Captain Reginald Vere Massey Odbert, was killed when a Wellington of 1485 Flight crashed on 18th July 1943. He is buried in Newark-upon-Trent cemetery, Nottinghamshire. 

The aircraft, based at RAF Fulbeck, was taking part in a gunnery and fighter affiliation exercise, as part of a senior officers' assessment course. The outer mainplane became detached, resulting in the Wellington partially breaking up and hitting the ground at an estimated speed of 200 mph about one mile south of Appleby, Lincolnshire. Also killed were the pilot, WO JW Heard, F/Sgt. D Breslin DFM, W/Cdr. AWS Matheson RAAF, G/Capt. BE Lowe and S/Ldr. P Brandon-Trye.


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