As explained in the ‘About’ section, the whole of this website and book are based on the contents of a box that Geoffrey Pett left behind after he died.  The contents belong to Geoffrey’s Executors, and the intention is to add them to the archive collections of British Airways and the Croydon Airport Society in due course.

Contents of the Box

Notes and a full list of postings and transfers.  The original memos are in a folder marked “Personnel”.

A folder containing correspondence with journalists and authors.  There are some useful comments, and some of the stories are related on paper, which helped my spelling of names and Swahili words.

Micro-cassette tapes:

1: IAL to Brindisi 1935; Brindisi to Mbeya via Rochester and Nairobi

2: Mbeya & Lindi 1937/8

3: Nairobi 1938; Juba 1938/9

4: 1939 Home leave and return to Middle East; (??) 1941 Return to Juba

5: Cairo – Aqueba [Aqaba] up to March 1943 (tape in recorder poss. unfinished)

6: Editorial re tapes 1-5

Also: one empty cassette box; Cassette of Canadian Tour 1994 (holiday)

Bag of papers mainly relating to their wedding, his wife’s change of surname, her nursing certificates, and family letters including permission from his wife’s parents to the marriage.  A small photo album with photos mainly undated and un-named. [My brother tells me he added these to the box for safe keeping]

Presentation album of photos ‘now and then’ and signatures of his colleagues on his retirement from BEA (Cargo & Airmail) in 1969.

Photograph album dated from 1935 to 1939.  Includes photos of Lindi base, establishment of Juba station and the wreck of the Corsair G-ADVB

A small bag of photos in their paper folders, some with annotations on them, and some rolls of negatives. I hoped these were for the period from 1939 to 1943. Unfortunately my hopes were unfounded: nearly all of them are the rejects from those films.

There were a couple of gems, though…

There is what looks like a professional photograph, with Geoffrey’s writing on the back “Heliopolis with Turkish Civil Aviation Delegation and Robert Maxwell, Reg. Director M E 1941”.  Geoffrey is facing the camera, the Turkish Delegation are wearing fez, and there are three other gentlemen in the picture.  I suspect Maxwell is the one with his back to the camera, facing Geoffrey.

There is a series of photographs of a flying boat approaching and landing, and the first is labelled “Canopus Proving Flight, Butiaba, March 1938”.  The last in the sequence is a close-up of the crew picking up the mooring, labelled “W/O Paddy ~~~”

Also of interest: a few extra pictures from Brindisi, some with names, and a few more of flying boats arriving in various places.

Large numbers of formal photos and occasionally menus from the annual Imperial Airways dinners. Unfortunately the photos are undated and rarely labelled or annotated.

There are a series of books which I’m sure will be of interest to one of the museums, either the Croydon Society or the BA archives.:

  • Medical Notes and First-Aid Treatment for Flights in the Tropics and Sub-Tropics (1936)
  • The ‘Q’ Code and other Abbreviations to be used in the Civil Aeronautical Radio Service (1937) – this is relevant to Geoffrey’s comments of radio codes, especially when he was in Juba.
  • British Air Mails – A Chronology (1935)
  • Civil Aviation and the Export Trade by Norman J Freeman (undated but Geoffrey has dated it 1946)
  • Warne’s Metric Conversion Tables (1950)
  • Fifty Years of British Air Mails 1911-1960, together with some memos from Francis J Field Ltd. dated 1966
  • A leather-bound ring-leaf book with alphabetical notes made by Geoffrey including hatch measurements of aircraft, conversions, documents to be carried by aircraft, definitions e.g. “Empty Weight” etc.  Includes an Aircraft Log & Load Record, completed in pencil, for Service No NE103, departure date 18/7/41, flown by G-AEUE (Cameronian), Commander Poole, P/O Anderson, R/O Cussans, Purser Bullock.  “Test Flight delayed because of mist.”  Shows all the transit and joining weights.  I think this is only there having had notes written on the back of other things to define in the notebook!
  • There is also an envelope of memos, some of which pertain to the proving flights of Centaurus, including loading information and various differences between Centaurus and Canopus.

The final gem, to my mind, carefully folded up, is an Imperial Airways pennant, complete with toggle and loop for fixing to a standard.  It is black (possibly navy) with a white cross, and a coat of arms with IA in the centre.

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