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Alan Bodger was born at Ilford on the 01st of September 1921 and educated at Brentwood Grammar School.

Alan John Bodger, died on the 02nd September 1995 aged 74, served with distinction during the Second World War and went on to run Gulf Aviation and its successor Gulf Air. Gulf Aviation had been founded in 1950, and eight years later was still struggling to achieve profitability. When Bodger became chief executive in 1959 Gulf Aviation operated three Doves (seven-seaters) and four Herons (15-seaters) and made scheduled runs to Dhahran and Sharjah as well as conducting charter work for oil companies.

The principal backers of Gulf Aviation, the Kanoo brothers of Bahrain, told Bodger he would receive no salary unless the company made a profit. Cabin service consisted of a flask of water and paper cups. No aircraft were equipped with lavatories until a senior director of Gulf Aviation was caught short between Sharjah and Bahrain. The next board meeting instructed management to instal lavatories, though this meant the loss of one-fifteenth of their income.

Throughout the 1960s the airline expanded its fleet through the purchase of DC3s and the charter of Viscounts and Tridents from Middle East Airlines and Kuwait Airways. When Opec quadrupled the price of oil in late 1973 businessmen from all corners of the globe descended upon the Arabian peninsula. Travel 5. and accommodation throughout the region were stretched to their limits. Under Bodger, Gulf Aviation responded effectively to meet demand. The airline also built hotels in Bahrain and Muscat.

Bodger joined the RAF in September 1941 and trained as a Lancaster pilot. He saw action two years later, first with 101 Squadron, based at Ludford Magna, and then with 576 Squadron, out of Elsham Wolds.

Between September 1943 and April 1944 he flew 30 missions to Germany. On one, his Lancaster was hit by incendiary bombs dropped by a target-marking Mosquito. In such circumstances, the only option open to pilots was to throw the plane into a vertical dive and try to extinguish the flames with wind velocity. After plunging 10,000 ft and levelling out, Bodger and his crew were greatly relieved to see that the procedure had worked. He brought the damaged plane back to home base, where its main spar was found to be half its original diameter. The plane never flew again. Bodger was commissioned and awarded the DFC.

Whilst with PFNTU (Pathfinder Force Navigation Training Unit) on the 03rd February 1945 flying Mosquito DZ437, crashed almost immediately some 800yards southeast of the airfield at RAF Warboys, Huntingdonshire (now Cambridgeshire). Both he and his navigator FL/Lt. Gordon Horace Hart 133653 RAFVR survived with injuries.

When the war ended he joined BOAC, flying Sunderland's from Poole to Singapore and subsequently to South Africa. Throughout the 1950s he worked for a number of BOAC subsidiaries, including Aden Airways in Eritrea and Hong Kong Airways.

By the time Bodger retired in 1976, Gulf Air, as it had become, employed some 4,000 people and carried more than two million passengers a year. Its fleet included Lockheed L-1011 Tristars as well as Boeing 737s. Bodger went on to be chief executive of Air Pacific from 1977 to 1980. He was married, and had a son and a daughter.

DFC Citation Alan John Bodger 170721 RAFVR 576 Squadron: 'This officer was the pilot of an aircraft detailed to attack Berlin one night in January, 1944. Whilst over the target a fire broke out behind the port inner engine but Pilot Officer Bodger continued his bombing run and executed a successful attack. Shortly after the bombs had been released, two more fires started. Both wings of the aircraft were set alight and burned fiercely at first but soon afterwards died away. Although considerable height was lost, Pilot Officer Bodger flew the damaged aircraft to base. In the face of a harassing situation this officer displayed coolness and courage of a high order and his example was most inspiring'.

With thanks to Lucy Childs who sent this information in December 2022. Her relative, F/O. P/O. Edward Horace Childs was killed flying Lancaster I W4245 UL-52, flew together.

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• Last Modified: 27 December 2022, 18:33 •