1945 - 1990

Cold War Years

A tribute to Air Commodore and Mrs Walter Ormrod

Posted by Louise Gibson on

Our late father, Air Commodore Walter Ormrod, joined the Royal Air Force towards the end of World War 2. His dream to fly started early at school in Bolton and this was realised in 1944 with the Southampton University Air Squadron.

On joining the RAF he trained to fly Spitfires and in 1947 flew with 17 Squadron in Japan. After returning to UK, he flew a number of different aircraft before being posted to Fighter Command HQ at Bentley Priory. Here he had the opportunity to meet a number of senior RAF officers with distinguished war records. Air Chief Marshal Sir Basil Embry made a great impression on him.   

The partial loss of hearing in one ear necessitated a move from operational flying. Time at the RAF Technical College gave him the grounding in Aero Engineering, and prepared him for the rest of his career. A first Engineering Posting to RAF Pembrey gave him experience with the Hawker Hunter and immediately afterwards it was off to RAF Habbaniya Iraq, with Hunters, training the Iraqi Air Force.  

In September 1958, the Ormrod family, along with all other RAF personnel, were deported from Iraq because of the revolution. Back to HQ fighter Command and then to Cranfield College of Aeronautics where Air Cdre Ormrod was awarded an MSc in Areo Engineering. He was then technically equipped to help introduce the Lightning (English Electric) into front line service. 3 years at the MOD were then followed by 2 years at RAF Tengah in Singapore.

Back in the UK, he was stationed at RAF Brampton where he was involved with the engineering to fit a Rolls engine into the newly ordered Phantom (F4). This entailed visits to the USA and working in conjunction with McDonnell Douglas, the aircraft manufacturers. RAF Conningsby was the next posting where the Phantoms were delivered prior to front line NATO service. It was a thrill for him, not only to be posted to RAF Bruggen with the first Phantoms but, also that they were adopted by 17 Squadron, his first Squadron in Japan more than 20 years earlier.     

Promotion to Group Captain at Bruggen resulted in moving to Rheindahlen (2 ATAF). During his time in Germany Air Cdre Ormrod worked for Air Chief Marshal Sir Chris Foxley-Norris 9, one of Walter’s mentors and source of inspiration. RAF Locking was his first Station Commander role and while it wasn’t a flying station, he enjoyed it nonetheless.

Supporting the Boxing Club was one of his pastimes as well as supporting Leonard Cheshire Homes with Anne. During his time at Locking, he was awarded a CBE and promoted to Air Commodore. His final postings were to High Wycombe and then to Andover where he was responsible for a number of different stations, including Aldergrove. He was presented with a Shillelagh on one visit. 

Prior to his retirement in 1975 he was invited to co pilot the Lancaster (PA 747) with the Red arrows in formation above him. This was at Kemble and a signed picture of the flight is a prized possession and memory of his wonderful time in the RAF. 

Air Commodore Ormrod married Sarah Anne known as Anne in 1948. They met at a dance for service personnel and nurses. Together they had 6 children; Catherine, Joanne, Paul, Mark, John & James. Anne supported him with overwhelming loyalty and commitment throughout his numerous postings.  She worked with wives’ groups, station magazines, various charities and provided hospitality.

As a meritocracy the RAF offered to a very intelligent young man from a working class background, the opportunity to learn to fly, meet his wife, travel the world, continually enrich his education, afford a family, have his children educated, provide a home, meet extraordinary people and live in a largely comfortable retirement. For Mrs Ormrod, an 18 year old woman from Belfast it was much of the same: the excitement of travel, new places, very hard work but, with the comfort of RAF facilities and support at hand.

Walter’s time in the RAF, 1945-1975, was one of unbroken service. He loved it, so did Anne, and no other experience could have replaced it. Their surviving 6 children, each with their own families are testament to that.  

In Walter and Anne’s memory  we are delighted to support the RAF Benevolent Fund.



Storylines is part of leading RAF welfare charity the RAF Benevolent Fund. By making a donation, you will be helping to provide wide-ranging and far-reaching support for RAF Family members in need. From financial assistance for struggling elderly veterans to counselling sessions for serving personnel in distress, your help could have a profound and direct impact on the welfare of thousands of people.

Together, we can repay the debt we owe to those who sacrificed so much for our country – and help them live secure, fulfilling lives well into the future.