Airborne Engineers Association

Roll of Honour



Tribute to Maj (Retd) Bill Rudd MBE & Bill's Wife Dot

Part 1 by Adam Frame

Bill was sadly called to the great re-org in the sky in the early hours of Saturday 28 Jan 2017.

Bill Rudd joined 9 Parachute Squadron very early on in his career and served with the Sqn until he was a SNCO. He completed tours of Radfan & Saudi Arabia with The Sqn. Bill also did 5 years working for the Sultan of Oman after he finished in the British army.

He was of course a 9 & 59 Sqn man through and through and attended the reunions religiously in addition to any other reunion associated with those Sqns, Airborne Engineers Association (AEA) and Airborne Commando Royal Engineers Officers Association (ACREOA)

I remember being SSM 9 Sqn and visiting the Blackpool AEA reunion. I'd managed to convince the OC (Rob Rider) it was a good idea to fly across from N. Ireland where we were on tour. We should take some of the younger lads with us too who could mingle with the older ex Sqn blokes. We were to host the EinC (A) who was Albert Whitley a 59 man himself but an extremely affable character who many reading this will know. I remember being met by Dot Rudd at the reception of The Norbreck Castle Hotel as Bill was off hosting and organising, fine tuning etc. We went to the bar ready to host the EinC (A), got a drink and made sure we had a pint of bitter ready for the VIP's arrival. The rest of the day into evening passed with great company, a superb meal and of course Bdr Albert's fine after dinner speech. Everything was going too well if that was possible until next morning when I came downstairs for breakfast.

There were our young impressionable paratroopers being taken on by Bill Rudd in his underpants, hearing aids in and all, to a swimming race. He'd been at the bar all night drinking with them telling tales of daring and sporting prowess no doubt. One can only imagine how he coped with wrapping up the weekend let alone seeing off his VIP visitor with no sleep. I heard he won the race too!

The AEA was of course his passion, of which he was a lifetime Vice President - Bill formed the Yorkshire Branch with Dave Edmonds, Charlie Dunk and a few others in the TA centre Harrogate where Dave was the PSAO. Bill was then Chairman of the branch for over 25 years. Only handing over the mantle to me last year now with some 70+ members! We never expected him to ever hand it over and truth be known, he never did completely. He roped me in as President after Tom Thornton sadly passed away.

Fun times with Phil Eccleston

With Bills hearing being so bad despite whatever version of hearing aids he was on at any time (civvy or issued as he called them, privately purchased or NHS) the meetings took forever with members trying to make their point. Mike Pallott suggested to me that we simply do a swap - Chairman & President. That seemed like a I had no real say in anyway. This worked pretty well as he was still in charge really. It just meant he had me to relay everything to him close up rather than shouting across the room. Meetings were more efficient, not quicker as everyone wants a say now that they can be heard.

Bill & Adam sample a few pints together!

Bill always said to me "I used to be quite the man about town you know Adam when I was younger"! My response was always something akin to "No change there then Bill" because I believe he knew and charmed just about everyone in Ripon, but definitely anybody who lived from the Spa Gardens to Claro Barracks as they would have to pass his gate on the way into town. Bill loved his garden and took great pride in entering the Ripon in bloom competitions annually, taking a prize every year, so he'd sit in his garden or be tending it, and it was so easy to engage just about anybody who walked past. Generally with a glass of wine for the ladies and a beer for the men — generous old soul that he was.

Bill Rudd

Of course there was one other woman who he shared his life with — Vera Lynn! And he played her from dawn till bedtime sometimes! You could chat to him on the phone, well listen to him shouting to you at least, and hear Vera Lynn in the background consistently. Well he'll have to wait a little bit longer to see her though, she's still thriving with a new album released at 100 years of age this year.

The ladies just loved him

During our many conversations, Bill and I realised we had both served in the same places at the same time unknown to each other then, clearly in different ranks. Bill was in fact a Captain in the Falkland Islands in 1984 and I was a young LCpI when 9 Sqn took over as the Falkland Island Fd Sqn. Bills opposite number in 9 Sqn was Paddy Fulton, they knew each other well, in fact were on the same RSMs course together. How on earth they survived each other is a miracle as they could both drink like Gilkes pumps. Fulton used to call himself the hardest head in the Sqn and with Bill Rudd's pedigree, you can only begin to imagine what those two egos together were like! According to Bills version of the story, the pair of them met up to do a handover/takeover of QM's which became a good old social within only a few hours. So the rumour goes is that Paddy couldn't be found for at least 24hrs afterwards. But Rudd sustained and was at work as usual the next day telling the tale and denying any knowledge of Fulton's whereabouts, giving his old pal time to sleep his hangover off.

Church parade with Adam & Pete Bailey

In a tale told to me by Bob Prosser, there used to be this particularly good boxer at 9 Sqn who was a heavyweight called Tom Tuddenham. Nobody would fight him so Bill said, "I'll do it". Of course Bill got beaten so next time it came to the boxing, same scenario, nobody wanted to take Tuddenham on and Bill again said, I'll do it, he's going down this time though. Sadly not, beaten again but that is testimony to the man about town, Bill Rudd's spirit. He was a fighter who you couldn't help but love and admire.

He fought through the adversity of his beloved Dots illness and showed such a brave and smiling face. I can honestly say that I have never heard him shirk or complain about much in the time I knew him. Sure he'd voice his opinion and yes he there were things he disliked, but Bill Rudd was never a moaner or felt done down, on the contrary, he was a much larger than life person who got on with the job and made the very best of everything.

He was always busy organising some battlefield tour to Arnhem or Normandy or the AEA annual reunion.

He ran the Arnhem tour every year with the help of his great friends Ed Van Der Laan & Tom Oomens both honorary members of the Bill Rudd Appreciation Society- sorry, Yorkshire branch of the AEA I should say. Both of whom arrange the smooth running of the trip with transport and accommodation arrangements that side, cutting through any red tape. As many reading this will know, we are met by a bus provided by the Dutch military Police and get priority at the road blocks in Oosterbeek.

We are hosted royally and all attributed to Bill's friendship with these two fabulous friends of our association. I'm happy as I am! Always a happy soul no matter what ailments or complaints he had.

All joking aside, along with the wonderful memories of my dearest friend, with whom we all shared many fantastic times on plenty of different occasions. I have to say "Goodbye Bill" from all of us. You fought right up until the end and still wouldn't be beaten. You've defied them all and you're walking again already! A true legend amongst men, the likes of which are rarer than the Highlander, who's famous phrase was "It's better to burn out than to fade away". Bill Rudd definitely managed that. We'll all be seeing you soon mate at the big DZ Rally upstairs!

Part 2 by Dave Rutter

They Came to Say a Final Farewell

From Sappers to Brigadiers, both serving and retired, they came from all corners of the UK to bid a final farewell to Bill Rudd. The service held in Ripon cathedral gathered in a congregation in excess of 500. Representatives of serving and retired Airborne Engineers, mingled with the green berets of 59 Cdo Engineers as they mingled with former colleagues from 26 Armoured Engineers and those of 28 Amph Engineers and 38 Engr Regt (formerly located in Claro barracks in Ripon, where Bill served as the RSM). There were also numerous civilian friends and colleagues, in particular his close friends from Holland, Ed Van De Lann and Tom Oomens.

Those who had left it till the last minute to seek overnight accommodation in the city hotels, were sadly disappointed. The bed spaces in each and every one had long been booked and late comers had to resort to any available B&B.

On the conclusion of the burial service, everyone was invited back to the Spa hotel. The huge hall and adjoining rooms were jammed packed with former colleagues renewing acquaintances with those they'd not seen in years. It was a fantastic occasion in celebrating the life of one of the Corps of Royal Engineers most iconic characters.

Congratulations are extended to Adam Frame MBE, who had organised much of the day's ceremonial proceedings. Bill was given, what can only be described as a "Fantastic Send Off'. We shall miss him. RIP Bill Rudd MBE.

Captured among the hundreds attending

Col Graham Owens with a former member of 59 Cdo
Willy Wiltshire & Charlie McColgan
John Parker with Baz Henderson
Barney Barnwell with Ed Van Der Laan
Frank Ryan, Mick Wallace, Tim VDK, Jim Doubtfire, Dave Leibrick, Geoff Barlow & Charlie McColgan
Chris Chambers & Bob Varey

Phil Paulton, Paddy Denning, Jeff Langford, Barney Rooney & Chez Sheridan                

Billy Morris, Tim VDK & Mark Hindley

Tribute to a Very Special Lady by Bry Carter


Dot Rudd was born on 29 September 1940 and passed away, after a long illness, on 27th July 2010, aged 69, and was buried at Ripon cemetery on Thursday, 5th August. Her husband Bill, and son Nigel survive her.

Dot would have been amazed at the huge turnout at her funeral at Ripon Cathedral, or perhaps not so, given her and her husband’s popularity. If Nigel, a chip off the old granite block if ever there was one, did not already appreciate the esteem Dot and Bill were held in by so many people, then by Thursday’s end he will have done.

People from all walks of life, Lt Cols, ten a penny, and all aspects of Bill’s long and varied military career made the effort to turn out for the funeral. Berets of all hues were worn, “hats” - and none the worst for that, from the Singapore period, men like ‘Ginge’ Palmer and Brian Kelly who had worked with, and alongside and under Bill at various times stood in the guard of Honour with members of 59 Cdo and the Airborne Engineers that lined Ripon cathedral.

Indeed, at times, it looked like an outtake from the “Godfather” film, lots of fierce looking old men, dressed in black, or pin stripes, - highly polished black shoes de rigueur - stood to attention as the coffin was slowly taken into the Cathedral by 6 pall bearers, it was as it should have been, just about a full military burial, only the shots over the grave were missing.

Bill bravely gave a 30 minute homily to his lovely wife and best friend for 53 years, cleverly interweaving vignettes of married army life into the tale of a woman who had been taken away from her native north east at a tender age, settled into domestic “bliss” that was Aldershot in the 60s, how they came to settle in Ripon, her house proudness and devotion to her dog, through to her illness in the latter stages of her life. The story being poignant, funny, humorous, sad and well, compelling, - by the time, “Yours” by Vera Lynn was played there was barely a dry eye in the cathedral, which was filled to capacity, people having to stand down both side aisles.

Bill had been comforted by long standing friends, Baz and Caz and their wives, Pat and Jo, Rommel and Joan, while Jeff Smee and his wife managed to make it from Tenerife, Steve and Mandy Pickles, George Nelson and Joe Stoddart turned up to represent the “green” corner, - but in truth, it was the parachute Engineers who turned out en masse to honour and show respect for two of their own, who made the day. I have not, and doubt if I will ever see again, so many different red berets/pins this side of an Airborne Forces Day.

As the afternoon wore on into the evening, and the drinks flowed I moved/circulated around the hotel and listened to many anecdotes/vignettes about a remarkable lady, mainly from the ladies present, and I can/could empathise with the situation.
As the evening went into night and everybody retired to the “Mucky Duck” stories still emerging about Dot.
Over the years Bill and I had discussed the possibility of them coming to stay with me in Hinderwell, as they loved Whitby, sadly this never happened, for whatever reason, and when the opportunity did occur, Dot was too ill to come.

Bill, now that you have some time on your hands, and want to have that 1/2 of shandy, that we never managed before, you will always be welcome up here.



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