Richard Le Brocq
From the Victoria College Foundation newsletter
Wing Commander Richard Le Brocq was born in Petersfield on 15 January 1936 and died in Jersey in 2012 at the age of 76.
His family returned to Highfield in Jersey in 1947 on the partition of India, where Richard’s father had been serving with the Indian Police, and he went to Victoria College, where, like his father, he was head boy and excelled at sport, particularly cricket, as a batsman.
His great ambition was to fly and he entered RAF Cranwell in January 1955. It quickly became clear that he was good at it. Having passed out second in the order of merit, he was commissioned in December 1957 and was posted to fly fast jets, the Hawker Hunter, in 20 Squadron, which he joined in May 1958.
In the meantime he had married Mary Scriven on 1 October 1959 and because he was under the age of 25, not only did he have to ask his squadron commander’s permission, but they were not entitled to married quarters.
In May 1963 he was posted to Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, and the next two and a bit years were extremely happy ones with highlights like Richard borrowing a T38 jet to fly to a wedding in California and then, at the end, handing over to his brother-in-law, Ted Nance, who had married Mary’s younger sister Jane in 1960, and who died six months to the day before Richard.
Of all Richard’s flying career, the most significant was flying the Hawker Harrier. Once the various experimental aircraft had been developed, Richard took over as head of the conversion team to bring the Harrier into RAF service. To do this, first he had to learn to fly a Whirlwind helicopter, as the training version of the Harrier had not been developed.
He went on to run the operational conversion unit and, at the age of only 35, was promoted Wing Commander, having been awarded the Air Force Cross for his bravery, steadfastness and leadership. He then commanded one of the first operational squadrons, his first squadron, 20 Harrier Squadron, at RAF Wildenwrath in West Germany.
After that he was required to ‘fly a desk’ and at the age of 40, in 1976, he left the RAF and returned to Jersey with his family. He found civilian life different, initially as the managing director of Aviation Jersey and later as an entrepreneur, developing a cleaning business that refurbished the grease traps in the kitchens of hotels and restaurants.
His sons Peter and David vividly remember being tasked to clean the kitchen stove grease traps at the Hotel L’Horizon, overnight, during a school week. The team effort to dissolve the grease in chemical filled tanks at Highfield is a memory for both of them that has not dimmed with time.
Richard was an expert fly fisherman, and he had a particular skill at tickling trout out of the stream that is today Grands Vaux reservoir. Dexterity was needed then, and later throughout his life in repairing things, for one of his other passions was DIY.
He joined the St Saviour Honorary Police in 1977, rising to the rank of Chef de Police. In 1979 he and Mary volunteered as honorary ADCs to the Lieutenant Governor and in 1986 he was appointed Assistant Secretary and ADC, a post he held until he retired in 2001.