It is said that one of the earliest trades in the world is that of the Armourer. Historically, it is a profession dated slightly after prostitution, but well before banking! Since the birth of the Royal Flying Corps in 1912 through to the modern Royal Air Force, the role of the Armourer has been pivotal. Not for nothing did the founder of the RAF, Lord Trenchard, once declare: ‘The Armourer – without him there is no need for an air force.’
In the years since the need for RAF Armourers was first recognised, it has been a role that has evolved with the times. What has remained constant, however, is the fact that it is still a fascinating and potentially dangerous trade with many different branches and specialisms. In this book the authors, one of whom, Tony Lamsdale, is himself a former RAF Armourer, reveal the previously untold story of how the trade has adapted to the most modern of military machines, the aircraft.
The authors look at the shared history of the Armourer and the RAF through the eyes of those who served. These veterans’ stories span decades, and their first-hand accounts and insights into conflict and peace-time operations demonstrate the qualities and characteristics that make Armourers unique.
The book starts with a brief history of the Armourer, then before capturing the adventures and exploits of RAF Armourers from the Second World War and on into the Cold War. The dangerous duties of the Armourers on deployment in such places as the Falklands, Iran, Iraq or Afghanistan are all explored. There is also the question of having to learn of bomb dumps, the use of small arms and the unique world of the Armourer with its own peculiar language and the camaraderie of the crew room.
With each chapter brought to life through personal anecdotes and shared experiences, this book provides an insight into an utterly essential role which has remained largely hidden – until now.