Obituary: Air Chief Marshal Sir Brendan Jackson

TWO ATTRIBUTES distinguished Brendan Jackson from his fellow Members of the Air Force Board: he was a qualified interpreter, speaking fluent German and French and with a BA degree in modern Japanese; and he had successfully ejected from a V-bomber.

This ejection occurred when he was flying as co-pilot in a Victor B.2 of No 100 Squadron, XM714, which took off from Wittering on a night training exercise on 20 March 1963. Shortly after getting airborne, at about 800ft, an emergency occurred which made it uncontrollable and the captain ordered Flt Lt Jackson to eject. The Victor came down at Barnack, about eight miles north-north-east of Wittering, with the loss of the other five crew members.

Jackson had joined the RAF in 1956 on a National Service commission after graduating at London University - Air Ministry policy in those days being to encourage graduate entrants who, when they became senior officers, could talk on equal terms with their top contemporaries in governing, legal or industrial circles.

He was posted to No 100 Squad-ron - which was due to be equipped to carry Blue Steel air-to-surface nuclear missiles - in June 1962, having previously had jet-flying experience on Canberras, with No 31 Squadron, based at Laarbruch in Germany with a reconnaissance role in the 2nd Tactical Air Force. His tour with the V-bomber force had begun at the end of 1961, with conversion to Victors at No 232 OCU at Gaydon, and by the end of his service with No 100 Squadron - on which he was already being recognised as a high flyer in RAF career terms - he was a Flight Commander with the rank of Squadron Leader.

He was posted to attend the Staff College at Andover in 1966 and then - after doing a re-conversion course on Canberras at No 231 OCU - given his first squadron command, of No 13 Sqn, which operated PR Canberras from Luqa, Malta, in a reconnaissance role. Then in 1969 he returned to Germany as Personal Staff Officer (PSO) to the Chief of Staff at No 2 ATAF Headquarters.

By now a Wing Commander, his experience widened still further with an exchange posting in 1972 to the US Armed Forces Staff Colleges - during which he had the opportunity of flying B-52 strategic bombers; then in 1974-76 he held a key and demanding appointment, of PSO to the Chief of the Air Staff.

A Group Captain from 1977, he was given command of a V-force station, Marham, which had two squadrons of Victor K.2 tankers - on which he had done a conversion course. After two years in this post his future lay with increasingly senior appointments - at the Air Ministry and at Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers Europe (Shape): he was successfully Director of Air Staff Plans (with promotion to Air Commodore in 1980 and Air Vice- Marshal by 1984), then Assistant Chief of Staff (Policy) at Shape.

His career encompassed Command experience when in 1986 he was appointed Chief of Staff and Deputy Commander-in-Chief at Strike Command; then in 1988 he joined the Air Force Board as Air Member for Supply and Organisation (AMSO), being promoted to Air Chief Marshal in 1990. But, sadly, an increasingly debilitating illness brought his RAF career to a close: he took premature retirement on medical grounds; 4 November 1993 was his last day of service.

Brendan James Jackson, air force officer; born London 23 August 1935; Assistant Chief of Staff (policy), Shape 1984-86; Chief of Staff and Deputy Commander-in-Chief, Strike Command 1986-88; KCB 1987; AMSO 1988-90; GCB 1992; married 1959 Shirley Norris (one son, one daughter); died Shouldham Thorpe, Norfolk 19 November 1998.

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