Tributes for distinguished Bomber Command veteran and Lincolnshire councillor

A spirited Bomber Command veteran and dedicated district councillor has died at the age of 92.

Councillor Geoffrey Whittle passed away on the afternoon of Thursday, January 14, after a period of illness.

Geoffrey was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal in 1943 for his courageous and highly skilled operation over Hanover in Germany during the Second World War.

A report from the time said:

“Sergeant Whittle, with magnificent courage, continued to carry out his allotted task with complete disregard for his personal safety which was an inspiring example to all the crew.

“Sergeant Whittle, with magnificent skill and while working in extremely difficult conditions, navigated his damaged aircraft through thick cloud and heavy rain back to this country.”

Geoffrey flew a total of 16 missions for Bomber Command aged just 19.

Following his service, Geoffrey continued in the RAF based at RAF Ludford in Lincolnshire.

He attended staff college and retired early in 1961 but was drawn back after a short stint in banking.

Geoffrey then went on to have a 26-year career with the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes, 18 of them overseas, up to his retirement in 1988.

Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

A tribute on the International Bomber Command Centre Facebook page said: “Geoffrey has been a staunch supporter of the IBCC since the launch of the project in 2013 and his contribution has been of tremendous value.

“Geoffrey, in his role as district councillor, spoke passionately to the Planning Committee about why the IBCC was so important and certainly helped smooth the way for the necessary permissions.

“Above all Geoffrey has been a great friend and advisor to the team throughout the last three years.

“His energy, stoicism and great humour were attributes that we all admired and he will be missed terribly by us all.”

Geoffrey at the Bomber Command ceremony in October 2015. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Geoffrey at the Bomber Command ceremony in October 2015. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

As one of the oldest councillors in Britain, he served for North Kesteven’s Asbhy de la Launde and Cranwell Ward since 2007, having been most recently re-elected back in May 2015.

Immediately prior to this he had given 18 years to East Hampshire District Council which he chaired in 2000/2001.

As chairman of NKDC’s Performance and Resources Overview and Scrutiny Panel, Geoffrey played a key role at the heart of the council, scrutinising its performance and financial management.

He also contributed to a number of committees and had chaired the licensing committee, performance and resources overview and scrutiny panel and the member/staff liaison panel.

Leading the tributes, chairman of the council, Councillor Gill Ogden said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with Councillor Whittle’s family at this sad time.

“He was a very dedicated and loyal councillor, a true gentleman for whom we had the utmost respect.

“He was always so very modest of what he had achieved, very sharp in his mind and wit and always immaculately dressed; we were all very fond of him and will miss him greatly.”

Council leader, Marion Brighton OBE welcomed Geoffrey into the local Conservative Group soon after his relocation from Hampshire to Ruskington, to be close to his family.

She said: “We all enjoyed our time with him greatly as he always had such a positive disposition and such a wonderful eye for detail. To all of us he displayed a marvellous loyalty to the council.

“As a group, a council and a district, we owe him so much; and as a nation too given his distinguished 19 year Royal Air Force career which included service with Bomber Command.

“I recall his passion and clarity when the planning application for the emerging International Bomber Command Memorial Centre came before us, that it should be built with some urgency so that the story of Bomber Command could be shared with future generations as fully as possible; this was typical of his wonderful spirit and charisma.”

A funeral service has been arranged for February 19, at 2pm, at All Saints Church, Ruskington.