ABOUT 500 people attended a thanksgiving service in memory of a former RAF officer.
Group Captain Maurice Short MBE, AFC, RAF (retired), died peacefully on Saturday, March 9 aged 87.
A host of family, friends and former colleagues paid their respects at Emmanuel Church in Northwood on Friday, March 22, following a private cremation two days before.
Mr Short joined the RAF as a Halton Apprentice in 1942 when he was 16. In 1945 he went to Burma to work as a mechanic, and it was there he heard about the burial of crated-up Spitfires.
The episode, if true, has become legendary: at the end of the second world war, were dozens of mint condition aircraft simply pushed into a hole or a swamp, being surplus to requirements?
An expedition financed by the website Wargaming.net to the airfield at Mingaladon on the hunt for the buried aircraft was called off in February.
Mr Short said in a recent interview for a film produced by the website: “They’d saved my country. They were beautiful aircraft… How dare they?
“But was it true? And oddly enough, whether it was true or not did not cross our minds. It had happened. And when you take the case we’d been in Burma some time, we’d met some strange situations, pushing an airplane into a swamp, well, that was just another bit of a day.”
Described as a ‘wonderful man’ by his wife, Daphne, Mr Short was also deputy director of the RAF Sports Board, a role that led to him managing the RAF cricket ground in Vine Lane, Hillingdon, and setting up the RAF Sports Lottery.
He was also president of Hillingdon Swimming Club.
In a statement, club chairman Joanne Lawrence said: “Maurice, always supported by Daphne, was a tremendous friend to the club and will be greatly missed.”
Mrs Short said: “He was involved with so much. His funeral was quite a who’s who of his life.
“It was absolutely wonderful to see so many people.”
Originally from Yorkshire, Mr Short met his wife when they were both working for RAF Coastal Command, at what is now Northwood headquarters. They spent some time in America and Scotland before settling back in Northwood in 1975.
Mr Short also leaves three daughters and five grandchildren.
? An interview with Maurice Short about his recollections of the Burmese Spitfires can be read at www.worldofwarplanes.eu/en/blog/witnesses.