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Air Chief Marshal Sir Ruthven Wade

Born: July 15 1920 - Died: September 24 2001

Air Chief Marshal Sir Ruthven Wade, who has died aged 81, spent much of the Second World War flying with bomber squadrons and went on to become Chief of Personnel and Logistics at the Ministry of Defence from 1976 to 1978.

Educated at Cheltenham and at the RAF College at Cranwell, where he was believed to be the last cadet to graduate before the outbreak of war in 1939, when cadet training was suspended for the duration.

In August 1941, Gerry Wade (as he had been known since his school days, when nobody could correctly pronounce Ruthven) joined No 123, a Spitfire squadron based at Drem in Scotland. After a year he was posted to No 80 Squadron equipped with Hurricanes in the Western Desert.

At the time of Montgomery's victory at Alamein in November 1942, Wade moved as a flight commander to No 601 (County of London) Squadron whose Spitfires were moved westwards to support Allied forces in the North West Africa campaign.

The following March he was posted to No 89, a Beaufighter night fighter squadron operating from Castel Benito and later to No 153, also Beaufighters but in Algeria. He was awarded the DFC for, the citation said, "having been continuously employed on operations for three years".

Following his service in North Africa he returned home in 1944 to a special duties post at the Admiralty, moving on the next year to the Air Ministry's directorate of organisation.

In 1949 Wade received command of No 44 Squadron, initially equipped with Lincoln bombers - a type derived from the wartime Lancaster - then Washingtons, as the RAF's B-29 Superfortresses were named, and, from 1953, Canberra jets.

Afterwards Wade attended Staff College and served on the 2nd Tactical Air Force staff in Germany. In 1959 he received command of No 39 squadron's Canberras in the Mediterranean, serving subsequently in charge of administration on Malta.

In 1962 he returned home to command Gaydon, the Warwickshire station where aircrew converted to V-Force nuclear deterrent bombers and four years later he joined the operations staff at the Air Ministry.

Towards the end of 1967, Wade was appointed air executive to the deputy for nuclear affairs at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), returning after a year to command Bomber Command's No 1 Group, comprising V-Force nuclear deterrent bombers.

Wade commanded a detachment of delta wing Vulcan bombers in 1970 which took part in a U S Strategic Air Command bombing and navigation competition in Florida.

Wade's Cold War responsibilities intensified when in 1971 he became the RAF's deputy commander-in-chief in Germany, returning in 1973 to oversee operations as Assistant Chief of Air Staff and moving up the same year to Vice Chief of the Air Staff.

Finally, in 1976, he was appointed Chief of Personnel and Logistics at the Ministry of Defence, a post from which he retired in 1978 to Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.

From 1980 to 1990, he was a non-executive director of Acatos and Hutcheson, the holding company of Pura Foods. A golfer with a handicap of three, Wade played at Ashridge Golf Club.

He was appointed CB in 1970 and KCB in 1974.

He married, in 1945, Denise Davis; they had a son.

Note: With thanks to Rebecca Dutton for bring this obituary to our attention. August 2019.


Reprinted with the kind permission of the Daily Telegraph obituaries column.
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Article prepared by Barry Howard.

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 • Last Modified: 08 August 2019, 22:40