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J. Gilbert

Name: Joseph Gilbert

Born:15 June 1931

Joined 92: 6 September 1965

Left 92: 21 November 1967


Air Chief Marshal Sir Joseph Alfred Gilbert KCB CBE 


Educated at William Hulme’s Grammar School,  Joe Gilbert joined the Royal Air Force under a National Service  Commission in 1952. At University he was in the UAS and within a year of joining the RAF full time, he was on 1 Sqn at Tangmere flying the Gloster Meteor with such luminaries as Paddy Hine and Dave Seward. Thence to CFS and RAF Swinderby as a QFI on the Vampire and later as Flight Commander.  Then to RAF Leeming in 1957 on the first Gloster Javelin course and to Bruggen on 87 Sqn, newly equipped with the Javelin, ending up as  QFI, CIRE and fighter combat leader.  


Gilbert returned to RAF Leeming as a Squadron Commander on the OCU training Squadron followed by a spell on the ground in the Air Secretaries Department at the Ministry of Defence and Staff College 1964. He was posted to 92 Squadron as the Officer Commanding in September 1965. His predecessor was a Squadron Leader and Gilbert was the first Wing Commander to command the Squadron, at the age of 34. He moved the squadron to Geilenkirchen in December 1965. He left 92 squadron in 1967 but was not away from the Lightning for long as he was Commanding Officer of RAF Coltishall the home of the Lightning OCU from 1971 to ‘73.


He was appointed Director of Forward Policy in January 1975, Assistant Chief of the Air Staff (Policy) in November 1975, Air Officer Commanding No. 38 Group in 1977 and Assistant Chief of Defence Staff (Policy) in 1980. He then became Deputy Air Officer Commanding of RAF Strike Command in 1984 and having been promoted to Air Chief Marshal, he went on to be Deputy Commander-in-Chief Allied Forces Northern Europe in 1986 before retiring in 1989.


Sir Joseph has always been a strong supporter of 92 squadron reunions and is a life member of 92 Squadron Association. The reunion in 1978 was held at RAF Wildenrath, so many former squadron members had to travel from the U.K. Having a former squadron commander as AOC 38 Group proved very useful as an RAF C130 Hercules was put at our disposal to transport us pilots and the Central Band of the RAF from RAF Lyneham to Wildenrath for the dinner. Unfortunately, after taxying out to take off, the Hercules became unserviceable but having the AOC waiting for us in Germany determined than another Hercules was soon found. Due to the delay at Lyneham those aboard the Hercules were going to be late for the dinner but we changed into evening dress aboard the aircraft, much to the amusement of the band members and were only a few minutes late for the dinner. 


Since leaving the Service, Sir Joseph has been made an honorary graduate (LLD) of the University of Leeds. He has been President of RAFA, the PM's trustee on the Board of the Imperial War Museum and Chairman of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission .  He is now deep into retirement but still acts as a guide in Salisbury Cathedral.  He has a few green line entries but no reds (yet).

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