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Star of aviation industry
9:00am Friday 25th April 2014 in News
ALAN John Grinter, who was born on 1 May, 1920 at a cottage in Winterbourne Gunner, lived in the Kimpton/Thruxton area for more than 60 years.
Alan went to school in Idminston, leaving at 14 in 1934 to work on a farm at High Post, the aerodrome near Salisbury.
During the Second World War, aged 19, he worked at Cunliffe Owen’s Aeroplane factory in Southampton making Spitfires –some of which were assembled at High Post.
He wanted to join The RAF as an air gunner but his mother was against the idea and he decided not to upset her, carrying on working in the aviation industry and joining the Home Guard.
On one occasion he decided not to go to work, despite being a very conscientious employee, staying at home with his mother.
Returning to work the next day he discovered that Cunliffe Owen’s had been bombed by the Luftwaffe and one of the craters in the hangar was where his work bench had been. During the clear up he found a dead colleague’s foot still in a patent leather shoe. Maybe it was some kind of premonition that kept him away from work the previous day.
Alan was called up in 1941 and fought in Italy, taking part in the battle at Monte Cassino in 1944 and Padua in April 1945.
He was demobbed in 1946 having reached the rank of sergeant.
Alan met his wife Patricia in 1950 while working as a farm machinery engineer. Patricia was working on a farm near Salisbury at the time. They were married in 1952 and initially lived on Thruxton Airfield in a Nissen hut, due the post-war housing shortage.
Alan returned to the aviation industry managing the aeroengine workshop at Thruxton for J R Currie, designer of The Currie Wot aircraft.
In 1960 The Grinter family moved to Kimpton, where Alan lived until a few weeks ago.
Alan also worked at Boscombe Down, famous for testing and developing new aircraft, where he was widely respected amongst his colleagues for being very knowledgeable. He was known to his friends there as ‘Al’ or ‘The Grint’!
He retired in 1983 aged 63 having worked there during a ‘golden age’ in aircraft production and testing.
Daughter Sally Harfield said her father Alan set an amazing example, living alone and being self sufficient until his last few weeks. He was still driving until recently and had a nightly ritual of riding his exercise bike before going to bed until recently too.
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