Could Thame man be first ever RAF officer?

Commissioning Scroll Presented to RAF Halton 16-01-12
Commissioning Scroll Presented to RAF Halton 16-01-12

THE commissioning certificate of a Thame man who joined the RAF on the service’s founding day has been discovered in an attic.

The historic document, which dates back to 1918, formalises Lieutenant Frederick Aubrey Lane Sear’s commission into the RAF.

Dated April 1, 1918, the scroll is signed by King George V and Air Vice-Marshal Sir Sefton Brancker, who was a pioneer in British military aviation, making it very valuable in terms of RAF history.

On the same day, the Royal Flying Corps was amalgamated with the Royal Naval Air Service to form the Royal Air Force and so Lieutenant Sear became one of the first pilots to be commissioned into the brand new service.

It was found by Lesley Holloway, who is a teacher at the John Colet School in Wendover.

The certificate belonged to Lieutenant Sear, who was born in Thame in 1891.

He joined the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry during the First World War and went on to join the Royal Flying Corps after gaining his Aviators Certificate in 1917.

After the war, Lieutenant Sear took up teaching at Wendover Primary School. Barbara Larkin, who happens to be the wife of RAF Halton’s historian, Min Larkin, was one of his pupils in the 1940s.

She said: “I remember him well. He was very tall and slim, and always wore a flat cap when riding his bicycle to school.

“We had a lot of evacuees in Wendover School and he did not stand any nonsense from those cheeky cockneys.

“It must have been his military training. I remember some boys from London misbehaving in class, and Mr Sear would throw a tennis ball at them to shut them up.

“Even I got the tennis ball treatment once – for not paying attention.”

Restored and framed, the scroll now hangs in the historic Halton House Officers’ Mess at RAF Halton.

Frederick Sear died in 1951, however the discovery of this very rare scroll means that his name will live on in RAF history for many years to come.