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News > Alumni News > Memoirs of John Laming (at Judd 1941-1947)

Memoirs of John Laming (at Judd 1941-1947)

Decorated pilot and author, now living in Australia, shares his memories of Judd, his incredible flying career and his highly acclaimed book....

17 Jun 2020
Alumni News
John attending a cadet camp whilst at Judd - c.1947
John attending a cadet camp whilst at Judd - c.1947

I was born in 1932 which makes me 88 now in 2020.  My father Hugh Laming was a British journalist who was in the Spanish Civil War and the British Army 1939-45.  We lived in Malta before the war where my father was a journalist for the Malta Chronicle. We returned to England in 1939 and I spent the war years with relatives in Sheerness, Cranbrook and Tonbridge.

Prior to leaving England for Australia in 1947, I attended The Judd School from 1941 to 1947, and it was a very happy time for me, despite the death of my mother Lilian in 1939 of TB.   I was then age seven living in Cranbrook with elderly relatives. 
 
I moved from Cranbrook to Tonbridge in 1941 where I boarded with various kind people while attending Judd.  I remember I lived at 6 Goldsmid Rd and 58 Deakin Leas, Tonbridge.  This photo above was taken during a cadet camp which took place in about 1945 at Walton-on-Naze in Essex. I recognise the faces of everyone in the front row as Judd School boys but I cannot recall their names.  I am the boy in the front row second from the left, kneeling and wearing a white singlet; others in the group may have been Army cadets from another school in Kent.

In those days there were only about 350 students at The Judd School and the best teacher I had was Mr Harris, our Geography master.  He lived a few houses from my digs in Deakin Leas during the war.  I mentioned him in the opening part to my book as his stories of the South Seas of the Pacific were so interesting that I always wanted to see these places for myself.   The Head Masters at Judd during my time there were Mr Lloyd-Morgan (1941) and Mr F. Taylor (1944?).  Both were wonderfully kind men loved by all the students.

When, in later years I flew Boeings and visited the islands of the South Pacific, I knew I just had to write a book.
 
Fortunately on the recommendation of my journalist father, I kept a daily journal and carried a camera on all my flights. That helped greatly when the time came to put pen to paper.


In 1947 my father was offered a job with the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper based in Sydney, NSW when I was 15 years old.   We arrived by ship (The SS Esperance Bay) in November 1947.  I later served in the Royal Australian Air Force 1951-1969 as a pilot reaching the rank of Squadron Leader.  In 1962 I was fortunate enough to be awarded the Air Force Cross in the Imperial New Years Honours List.
 
After 18 years in the RAAF, I left in 1969 and I became an airline pilot with Air Nauru flying routes throughout the South Pacific.  After 13 years in the tropics, I left Air Nauru to fly for a British airline called Paramount Airways based in near Bristol 1989-91.  I also flew for the German airline Hapag-Lloyd based at Hamburg in 1991 operating Europe-wide, to North Africa and to the Middle East.  Since then until the present date I have been involved in flying instruction and as a flight simulator instructor on the Boeing 737. I gave up flying in 2016 following a heart operation but still work as a flight simulator instructor. 




John Laming ( attended Judd 1941 to 1947 ) 
 

Review of John's book - by Macarthur Job, OAM
 
 Tall Tails of the South Pacific, by Captain John Laming, AFC
 
"This highly readable anthology by John Laming reflects his colourful life experiences from schoolboy years in England during WW2, to those of a senior airline pilot, operating Boing 737s throughout the islands of the Pacific Ocean.

Laming’s name is well known to Australian readers (and indeed to some overseas) as the author of numerous entertaining and instructive aviation magazine articles. Within the aviation industry itself, he is also known today as a simulator instructor par excellence, with a wealth of experience as an international jet pilot , and as a former RAAF pilot and flying instructor on heavy aircraft. He is a fount of that good old-fashioned flying wisdom which, in less politically correct times, was universally known as “airmanship”.


John has kindly allowed The OJ Community to read the first two taster chapters; the reason for the unusual title of the first chapter appears in the last few lines of the story......

Chapter 1: "A Messerschmitt and a Blackbird on a Tree"
 
and 

Chapter 2:  "The Ghosts of Camden Past "

Currently the full book is available in both hard copy (£12.38) and digital e-book (£3.82) here: Tall Tails of the South Pacific   

Other interesting and outstanding reviews of his book can be found here: Here



(Normally the book will arrive in your postal address within two weeks as it is printed in UK)

The front cover of the book shows the runway at Nauru Island which was the home of Air Nauru, the airline John flew for in the Central Pacific region. 
 
The photo of the Boeing 737 on the front cover was taken by John in circa 1983 from the air traffic control tower on Nauru.  He described how the aircraft was flying down the runway at high speed at 50 feet, it had just flown in from Hong Kong where it had a new paint job, and the President of Nauru asked the pilot, Captain Maurie Baston, to carry out a low run down the runway to show off the aircraft to the population of Nauru.  (Nauru was a tiny island that took just 30 minutes to drive around in a car and a population then of 6000 people).  The other photo on the cover was a Mustang fighter John was flying at the time while in formation with a Lincoln bomber near Townsville in Australia.  John explained how you can just see the Townsville coastline in the background.   The third small photo of an aircraft at the top of the cover picture, all Photo-shopped together,  is the Lincoln bomber he used to fly.

During his time with the RAAF, he flew a wide variety of planes, including Mustang, Vampire, Lincoln, Convair, Viscount, Dakota, and HS748.  He even once flew a borrowed RAN Sea Fury!  

With more than 23,500 flying hours, John Laming holds a current ATPL, CASA Delegation for instrument rating tests on the Boeing 737 simulator, and a current Grade 1 instructor rating.  He is also an accomplished author with many published articles on a variety of aviation subjects to his name. 

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