Farewell Alfie

From Blenheim bombers to Tutor training aircraft; past and present members of the RAF’s 57 Sqn laid to rest their former colleague Alfie Fripp, who at 98 was the UK’s oldest surviving prisoner of war. 

In 1939 FS Fripp was an observer with 57 Sqn, flying air reconnaissance missions over Germany when his Bristol Blenheim aircraft was shot down. In 2013 the role of 57(R) Sqn is elementary flying training at RAF Wyton and on January 25th, 2013, in honour of their RAF forefather, current aircrew of 57(R) Sqn, based at RAF Wyton carried him on his final journey to Ruislip Crematorium, Middlesex. Squadron Leader Wes Wesley,Officer in Charge 57(R) Sqn led the pallbearers.

“It is a privilege to pay our respects to Alfie Fripp.  It is important that we remember the contribution and sacrifice that Alfie, and airmen like him, made for this country.  His legacy is the example he set, one of courage and sheer grit and determination; qualities we foster in our personnel as we train for 21st century operations.”

After his time as a prisoner of war Alfie remained in the RAF until 1969, retiring as a Sqn Ldr.  He later joined the 57 Sqn Association, whose members gathered at the service with his family and friends to remember him.

Staff and students of 57(R) Sqn, RAF Wyton were honoured to support Alfie’s family at his funeral, flying instructors performing the role of pallbearers while flying students carried out the duties of ushers.  Flt Lt Gareth Walker, Qualified Flying Instructor on the Sqn said: “Although a sad occasion, we were very proud to give Alfie the farewell he deserved.  We will deeply miss his presence at 57 Sqn Association get togethers.”

At the service, Alfie’s daughters led the tributes.  “Nothing ever got him down, he was a very, very positive man” said Anne Gibbs.  Her sister, Sue Dorrell added: “He never bore a grudge or had a bad word to say about anybody, not even the Germans – we even holidayed with one of the German prison guards after the war.”  Robert Fripp spoke of his uncle: “Alfie belonged to two families and was a repository of the history of both.  His second family was the Royal Air Force, which I believe was as close to his heart as his first family.”

Pat Jackson, life long family friend whose father Charles Hancock served as a prisoner alongside Alfie summed up the day: “Alfie and the others he was with were the unsung heroes of the Second World War.  They didn’t know if they would ever see home again but they never gave up the fight.”

For more information on the life of Sqn Ldr (Ret’d) Alfie Fripp, please go to: