Airborne Engineers Association

Roll of Honour



Jim Masters MBE by Baz Henderson


Jim passed to a higher fellowship at 0500 hrs on Easter Sunday 2020 after contracting the Corvid 19 virus. Due to an age-related problem Jim was a care home resident, he was 91.

Although I knew of Jim through his expeditions as Col Blashford Snell’s right-hand man, I did not meet him in person until I left the service. One of the members of the Bridlington REA was Mr Bob Burnside who in the late 1950’s was a Sergeant in the TA in Darlington; Jim was his Regular army QMSI and they became lifelong friends. (One of Sgt Burnside’s young TA sappers was a bloke called Bill Rudd).

Because of the friendship with Bob, Jim visited Bridlington often, so often that I invited him to join our REA Branch, eventually after the death of our President Col Ian Ross Bryce I invited Jim to take over as President. He accepted.

In the mid 1970’s Jim was taking part in the Zaire River Expedition and met an American doctor called Bill Close who was Congo President Mobutu Sese Seko’s personal physician. Bill Close recruited Jim to return as a civilian to organise the distribution of medical supplies to the interior and set up a supply sub depot in each of the country’s nine regions. Some task in a country the size of Europe.

One day Jim was called in to be told that a deadly fever was killing hundreds of people in the Equateur Province and was concentrated near a river called EBOLA. The sick were going to a Catholic mission hospital to get help, sadly little could be done as the fever had no history and was killing most of those who contacted it. [Sounds familiar]. Dr Close was aware of the threat and sent for an investigative team from the USA. It was Jim’s job to set up a field laboratory for the team. Jim said that because of their ignorance they were still walking around in shorts and Dessie boots.

A memoir of his life in the service and his escapades was written by Jim to leave to his family, I have read it and in one paragraph he said:  “The Ebola outbreak left me with a lifelong admiration for those who battle sickness and disease. I came to realise that it is not just enough to find cures for the illnesses we already know about, but to be on guard against the new developments which evolve with life itself”. (PROPHETIC). RIP my friend yours Baz Henderson.

At the time of writing this we are in self-isolation; my wife says that in my case it should be called self-inebriation.



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