Wednesday, April 23, 2008

G/Cpt Harry A.'Bruin' Purvis DFC AFC* 1905-1966

Harry Alexander 'Bruin' Purvis was born near St Andrews in 1905. During his school holidays he spent much of his time watching the flying at Rendcombe Aerodrome,managing to get a flight in a BE2a biplane.
He joined the RAF as a cadet in 1924,learning to fly on Mono-Avros and graduated on to Bristol fighters,DH9a and Sopwith Snipes. He was awarded his wings in 1926 and won the Groves Memorial Flying Prize. He was then posted to No23 Sqn at Henlow,flying Gloster Gamecocks.
In 1929 he was selected to give an individual flying display at the Hendon Air Display.Later the same year he was selected to take a course at the Central Flying School (CFS).

He was posted to Leuchars where he trained RN pilots for the Fleet Air Arm. In 1932 he was posted to Torpedo Development Flight at Gosport,flying Hawker Horsleys and Blackburn Darts and Ripons.
In 1936,he was posted to the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough. Whilst he was there he was selected to fly a special Spitfire which had been prepared for an attempt on the world speed record,however, before he could make the attempt, it was beaten by a special ME109,and the attempt was abandoned.
In the early months of WW2, Bruin Purvis was invloved in the trials of the Wellington D.W.I (detonation without impact) which was being used to counter mines laid in shipping lanes.

In May 1940, he was posted to command a Hudson squadron with Coastal Command at Leuchars. The following year he went to the USA with a British Air Mission to test and evaluate American aircraft. The head of the mission was P.W.S ('George') Bulman. He returned to the UK in 1942 to take command of the Performance Testing Squadron of the AAEE at Boscombe Down, where he remained until 1945.
After the war he retired from the RAF to become Chief Test Pilot to the Civil Aviation Section at Boscombe Down. In that capacity he did much of the testing on Tudors,Marathon,Ambassador,Viking,Viscount and Hermes and Comet.
He had flown over 7,000 hrs on over 200 types.