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Decorated air commodore dies at 102
1:46pm Thursday 15th November 2012 in News
AN air commodore who was highly decorated for his service during the Second World War and was posted all over the world during his military career has died at the age of 102.
Robert Alfred Copsey Carter was born into a naval family in Portsmouth on September 15, 1910, and was brought up by his aunt and uncle when his parents went to Uganda.
Inspired by the Sopwith biplanes he saw operating from Fort Grange Airfield, Gosport, he decided on an RAF rather than naval career.
He won a scholarship to the RAF College at Cranwell, graduating as a pilot officer in 1932. He was posted to India on the North West Frontier on what is now the Pakistan-Afghanistan frontier, and also flew the Westland Wapiti two seater light bomber biplanes across India and to Burma.
By 1938 he had returned to the UK and was in command of DH82 “Queen Bee” pilotless aircraft at Weybourne in Norfolk. During the war he served in Bomber Command, 103 Squadron and 150 Squadron, becoming the Commanding Officer at RAF Grimsby.
A Distinguished Service Order in 1941 for daylight attacks on German warships at Brest and La Pallice, including the Scharnhorst, was followed by a Distinguished Flying Cross for attacks on Germany. He was twice mentioned in dispatches.
His contribution was recognized by the award of a Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath in 1956.
Following the war, in 1947, he was sent to the United States Armed Forces Staff College where he met his future wife Sally (known as Mimi) Peters from Virginia.
A second cousin of the film star Carole Lombard who married Clark Gable, Mimi served with the American Red Cross in the war, driving a truck and delivering doughnuts to American troops on the front line across Europe.
The couple returned to England in 1948 and in 1950 Air Cmdr Carter was posted as the chief instructor and later director of organisation at the Royal New Zealand Air Force School of Administration.
In 1953 the family moved back to England where Air Cmdr Carter was the Station Commander RAF Upwood Bomber Command (Lincolns and Canberras), then Senior Air Staff Officer Transport Command.
A posting to Germany was followed by retirement in 1964, when the couple settled in Whaddon.
Air Cmdr Carter died at Ashley Grange Nursing Home in Downton on November 10 and is survived by his three children, eight grandchildren, and six great grandchildren.
A funeral service will be held at Salisbury Crematorium on Wednesday, November 21 at 1pm.