John William Holmes Aire

In March 2020, Amanda Dalton, the daughter of Leading Telegraphist John William Holmes Aire who served on HMS Gambia for her 1955/56 commission, very kindly sent me a lot of photos and a biography.

HMS Gambia's radio room. John Aire is front left.

Leading Telegraphist John "Jock" Aire on left front, Ordinary Telegraphist Harold Geoff Beestin, Telegraphist G. "Jock" Redpath. Front right, holding the phone is the leading hand of the watch, who is anonymous, looking at the back of the head of Ordinary Telegraphist Nev Blockley.

Amanda wrote of her father...

My Dad, John William Holmes Aire (Jock/Jackie) was born in Glasgow on the 21st May 1932. He was orphaned in 1941 and joined the Royal Navy (RN) in June 1948 as a boy telegraphist. He remained at the shore establishment HMS Ganges until September 1949. I know that he was involved in the manning the mast ceremony at some point during his time there. He transferred to Devonport (HMS Drake) in September of that year.

His first shipboard posting was HMS Euryalus (a Dido-class cruiser) in October 1949 as an ordinary telegraphist. He then went on to serve on HMS Tyne (a Hecla-class destroyer depot ship) in Malta on January 1951 for a year. He returned to Devonport for 4 months before joining HMS Flint Castle (a Castle-class corvette) based at HMS Osprey (Portland) from May 1952 until January 1953. He returned to HMS Drake in January 1953 and on to another shore establishment HMS Hornet (Gosport) July of the same year. During this time I think Dad also spent time on HMS Porchester Castle (another Castle-class corvette, HMS Loch Scavaig (a Loch-class frigate) and at HMS Hornet, HMS Gifford, a Ford-class Seaward defence patrol boat.

In November 1953 he was promoted to a leading telegraphist and joined HMS Gambia in January 1955 for the 1955-56 commission. He was put in charge of cryptographic duties whilst serving on the Gambia. He returned to HMS Drake at the end of that commission and married my Mum, Pearl Ivy Lough on the 29 December 1956. His Royal Navy service culminated as i/c of CRR at RNAS Yeovilton (HMS Heron) on the 28 March 1957.

During his time in the RN he was an active and enthusiastic sportsman, representing his ship/division/mess in football, rugby, cricket, swimming and rowing. He also took part in the Royal Navy Field Gun competition representing Devonport.

He joined the Mid Anglia Constabulary (now Cambridgeshire police) in June 1957 serving in uniform and subsequently in the CID and as a Scenes of Crime Officer. He left the force in October 1966 and became a private detective and subsequently worked for several firms of Solicitors in Peterborough as a legal executive. He died in February 1978 at the very young age of 45.

John Aire in the Seychelles, 1955. Image from Amanda Dalton, John Aire's daughter John Aires on HMS Gambia, 1955. Image from Amanda Dalton, John Aire's daughter HMS Gambia in Malta’s Grand Harbour, 1955/56. Image from Amanda Dalton, John Aire's daughter Unfortunately we do not know who these sailors are, but it was taken in 1955. Image from Amanda Dalton, John Aire's daughter 'Tubby' Jackson and John Aire. I think this would be Petty Officer Telegraphist S. Jackson. Image from Amanda Dalton, John Aire's daughter Rest and Recuperation. Image from Amanda Dalton, John Aire's daughter HMS Gambia's second-string rugby players. Extreme left is Telegraphist W. 'Jock' Menzies, second from left is Leading Signaller Andy Broadfoot. Leading Telegraphist John Aire is 3rd from left. Image from Amanda Dalton, John Aire's daughter An after match dinner with a local team in Kuwait. John Aire is on the left looking at the camera. Image from Amanda Dalton, John Aire's daughter Rowing regatta. John Aire is in the second row from the back on the righthand side. Image from Amanda Dalton, John Aire's daughter Rowing regatta. John Aire is in the second row from the back on the righthand side. Image from Amanda Dalton, John Aire's daughter Rowing regatta. John Aire front, right. Image from Amanda Dalton, John Aire's daughter 'Beheading the menace!' After cricket fun! Trincomalee, January 1956. Image from Amanda Dalton, John Aire's daughter Trincomalee. Image from Amanda Dalton, John Aire's daughter Trincomalee. Image from Amanda Dalton, John Aire's daughter 'Jimmy and I' John Aire is on the left. Diyatalawa Rest Camp, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), September, 1955. Image from Amanda Dalton, John Aire's daughter 'Mind my bike!' Diyatalawa Rest Camp, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), September, 1955. Image from Amanda Dalton, John Aire's daughter 'A golfing we will go!' Diyatalawa Rest Camp, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), September, 1955. These must have been experienced golfers, many sailors went around the course with just one club! Image from Amanda Dalton, John Aire's daughter Diyatalawa Rest Camp, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), September, 1955. Image from Amanda Dalton, John Aire's daughter 'Taff, Brian and I.' John Aire is in the center of this trio. Diyatalawa Rest Camp, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), September, 1955. Image from Amanda Dalton, John Aire's daughter John Aire's certificate for Crossing the Line on July 22, 1955. Image from Amanda Dalton, John Aire's daughter Waiting for the Bears, those nasty Neptune's helpers. Crossing the Line ceremony on July 22, 1955. Image from Amanda Dalton, John Aire's daughter Christmas 1955. Middle Row: Second from left is Telegraphist W. 'Jock' Menzies. Extreme right is 'Oggie' Brown. In front of 'Oggie' Brown and nearest to camera is Leading Telegraphist Jock Aire. Image from Amanda Dalton, John Aire's daughter Christmas 1955 menu. Image from Amanda Dalton, John Aire's daughter John Aire with his Aunty Ann while on leave in Glasgow, she looked after him after his mum and dad had passed away. Image from Amanda Dalton, John Aire's daughter John Aire and his sisters, Jean (left) and Anne (next to John). Image from Amanda Dalton, John Aire's daughter

HMS Gambia's Communications Division.

HMS Gambia's Communications Division.
Leading Telegraphist John Aire is third row, 8th from the left.
Petty Officer Telegraphist S. "Tubby" Jackson is 2nd row, 11th from left.
Ordinary Telegraphist Nev Blockley is front row, 6th from left.

HMS Gambia's Christmas 1955 menu

The Christmas 1955 menu