It's always a sad day when a veteran passes away but the loss of those who have shared their life with us 'poor slobs' through the medium of a book always feels a bit more personal. That connection has been made through the pages and while it will never resemble the strength of a personal relationship the reader appreciates it for what it is - a window. If you then happen to stumble upon someone who knows the author and confirms your assumptions, the connection is stronger no matter how intangible it is.
So it was with the passing of Jim Sheddan, the author of the often amusing Tempest Pilot (co-written with Norman Franks), on Thursday. I've had his book in my collection for about a decade and, although I read it a few years ago, it still resonates - the connection was made. The former No. 485 Squadron Spitfire pilot and 486 Typhoon and Tempest pilot and CO was a superb flyer - he was successful against aircraft (manned and pilotless) and ground targets alike - and possessed a considerable, wicked really, sense of humour and love of life. What little I know of his life over the past decade, he was happy to lend his time to various commemorative efforts and was a dab hand at homebrew. He was also very supportive of the various Bomber Command organisations having lost his brother on his first operation.
My condolences to the family and friends of this good man. I cannot begin to imagine the hole his death has left in your lives.
Squadron Leader Cornelius James Sheddan DFC, RNZAF. RIP.