IT WASN’T until after his father Arthur’s death that John Rolph found out more about his time in Iraq back in the 1930s.
His father (pictured), who was with the no.1 RAF Armoured Car Company, died in 1984 and Seaford resident John was left with masses of photo albums which began to tell the tale of his father’s time abroad which saw him protect the bases and regularly patrol the area with his colleagues.
After learning more about his father’s service the 69-year-old contacted the RAF Armoured Cars Association and after 10 years of being the organisation’s secretary - bringing people together from across the country to share their stories - he was recently given The Commandment General’s Commendation for his dedication.
John, whose father spent several years abroad before he was demobbed in 1938, contacted one of association’s co-founders Ernest Melhuish.
He said, “My father didn’t tell me about what he had been doing when he was away. I knew he had been in the RAF and in Iraq and Palestine.
“I got tiny bits of information but for one reason or another most men in those days didn’t talk about what they had did.”
In 1998 a curious John got in touch with Mr Melhuish who was keen to hear of his father’s story and invited the Maple Fields resident to a reunion of the association in Derby.
The father-of-four said, “He invited me back and I went along two or three times and in 2001 he said this is going to be the last one, the guys are in their late 70s and early 80s, I can’t do it anymore.”
So John stepped up to the job as honorary secretary in 2001 and in the 10 years since then has taken a great interest in the history and organised reunions and talks for people across the country.
Recently the Commandant General of the RAF regiment Air Commodore R W Laforte decided a number of non-military people who had given their support to the regiment should be recognised and John was one of the them. He received a certificate - The Commandant General’s Commendation - to recognise the work he has carried out over the years.
He said, “I was really quite proud, it was a complete surprise because they don’t ask you, somebody else has to nominate you.”
John plans to continue his work but because many of the group’s members are elderly is also keen to speak to people who work with armoured car companies currently, known as Nos 1, 2 and 3 Squadrons of the RAF Regiment.
Anyone who has any connections to the RAF Armoured Cars Association or would like to find out more can contact John on 490049 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org