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1.Tony Mills photographs from El Adem 1958

2. Obituary Air Chief Marshall Sir Peter Terry(taken from Daily Telegraph)

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The last Station Commander at RAF El Adem

Born 18 October 1926, Died 19 December 2017


Peter Terry was born on October 18th 1926 at Ramsgate and was educated at Chatham House Grammar School.  He enlisted into the RAF in late 1944 but was not called up until September 1945.  Initially he served as an airman before being commissioned into the RAF Regiment. In 1948 he joined one of the Regiment’s Light Anti-Aircraft Artillery squadrons in Germany providing air defence for RAF airfields. After three years he became the personal staff officer to the Commandant General of the RAF Regiment.

In 1953 he started training as a pilot and two years later joined No.79 Squadron, flying the Swift in the tactical reconnaissance and ground attack role from airfields in Germany.  He was soon identified as able to take more responsibility and was sent to complete the Pilot Attack Instructor’s (PAI) course, in which he came top, being awarded the Leconfield Trophy, a rare achievement for such an inexperienced pilot and in such a demanding role.  This was soon followed by his appointment as a flight commander. At the end of his tour he was awarded a Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service in the Air (QCVSA).

He attended the Central Flying School and trained as a flying instructor before taking command of a jet training squadron at the RAF College Cranwell. After two years he was awarded a second QCVSA.

After RAF Staff College he spent almost three years in the plans division of the RAF’s Far East Air Force based in Singapore. During a busy tour, he was heavily involved in plans to support operations during the Indonesian Confrontation.

Returning to the UK in 1966 he assumed command of No.51 Squadron, equipped with Canberra and Comet aircraft specially adapted for gathering electronic and signals intelligence, operations described in those days as “long-range calibration“ sorties. At the end of his tour he was awarded the AFC.

On promotion to Group Captain he was sent to command the large staging post and airfield at El Adem in Libya. RAF squadrons were also detached to the base for training on the local bombing and gunnery ranges. After coup d’état led by Colonel Gaddafi on September 1 1969, Terry began plans to withdraw the RAF from El Adem. At a ceremony on March 28 1970 he handed back the base and associated ranges to the Libyan authorities, bringing to an end the British military occupation of airfields on the North African littoral, which dated from the days of the Royal Flying Corps.

Terry’s return from Libya signalled the beginning of a series of high-profile appointments in MoD, overseas and in NATO. Following a period as Director of Forward Plans (RAF) he became Assistant Chief of Staff (Plans and Policy) at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), an appointment filled by the RAF’s most capable officers and those destined for senior posts in the service.

On his return to Britain in 1977 he became Vice-Chief of the Air Staff, responsible for the operational and planning aspects of the RAF at a time when the service was adjusting to some heavy cuts and dealing with problems over service pay. These coincided with the introduction of the strike version of the Tornado, the purchase of Chinook helicopters and the development of the ill-fated Nimrod airborne early-warning aircraft.

In 1979 Terry returned to Europe when he was appointed Commander-in-Chief RAF Germany and Commander Second Allied Tactical Air Force. His RAF and Allied squadrons were in the midst of a major aircraft re-equipment programme and there was an emphasis on its air base ability to survive a pre-emptive attack. This included the construction of hardened aircraft and operations facilities and enhanced air and ground defence capabilities.

After a brief period as the Deputy Commandeer-in-Chief at HQ Allied Forces Central Europe, Terry was expected by some of his contemporaries to be in line for the RAF’s top appointment as Chief of the Air Staff. One of them commented: “He was the best CAS (Chief of the Air Staff) we never had”. However, with his wide experience, NATO had need of him and he became the Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, a post he held for three years. He left the RAF in October 1984 and a year later became the Governor of Gibraltar, retiring four years later.

In late 1987 British intelligence detected that the IRA were planning an attack in Gibraltar, most probably at the changing of the guard ceremony outside the Governor’s residence. Three IRA members were tracked to Malaga in Spain and in early March 1988 they crossed into Gibraltar with a car mistakenly thought to contain a bomb. On March 6th Terry authorised the local police and a team of SAS personnel to pursue and arrest them as part of Operation Flavius. In the event, the three terrorists were shot and killed.

On 18th September 18th 1990 Terry was reading in a downstairs room at his house in Staffordshire. The curtains were partly open when a gunman fired some 20 shots through the window. Nine bullets hit him, shattering his jaw and two lodging in his scull close to his brain. The surgeon who spent five and a half hours rebuilding Terry’s face subsequently told the Telegraph that a bullet “stopped just short of going through the softer inner membrane near the sinus and was no more than 2mm from entering the brain”.

Terry was also wounded in his side and left leg. His wife Betty suffered an eye injury, which later affected her sight. At the time of the attack she was on the floor sorting through photographs with her daughter, who was uninjured but deeply shocked.

The Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, said she was “Utterly appalled and deeply grieved” by the shooting. Interviewed by the Telegraph while her husband was recovering Lady Terry spoke about the “wonderful” floral tributes and letters that the family received, many from Ireland. Asked about the lack of security around Terry, she explained that her husband had known he was at risk but had been determined to lead a normal life in retirement. “It is too expensive to expect people to nursemaid us”, she said.

He was appointed GCB (1983), KCB (1978) and CB (1975). In May 2006, after a wait of almost a quarter of a century, Terry was one of seven of Britains most distinguished military officers who were finally installed before The Queen at Westminster Abbey as Knights Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath.

Peter Terry married Betty Thompson in 1946 and she, a daughter and son survive him. His elder son predeceased him.



Canberra El Adem 1958


RAF El Adem 1958










British Cemetery 1958


Dramatic sky over RAF El Adem


Johnny Howard


Bruno and Lofty German Town 1958


RAF El Adem Football Team Versus Tobruk 1958


Longbeach Tobruk 1958

Doc Allabarton, Johnny Howard,Ginger Gooding,

Brian Woods, Austin Lawrie and Tony Mills.





© 2007