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'Tally Ho!' - joining the 609 West Riding Squadron


Graduation, but no commission
Ken Adam Artist
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On my graduation leave I went to visit an uncle in New York, and he showed me off everywhere, you know, with my silver American wings and the RAF wings. And I came back after some time to Dothan, Alabama, and the commanding officer called me in and said, 'I don't know what to make of this, but this is a' – I think it was a telex in those days – 'from British Air Staff, Washington, saying: pending further investigations, Aviation Cadet KH Adam will be... will not have a commission, but will be a Sergeant Pilot'. And you know, we never found out why. In the meantime, somebody wrote me a letter saying they thought it may be that I wasn't able to do the oath to the King, and all that sort of thing.

Sir Kenneth Adam (1921-2016), OBE, born Klaus Hugo Adam, was a production designer famous for his set designs for the James Bond films of the 1960s and 1970s. Initially, he trained as an architect in London, but in October 1943, he became one of only two German-born fighter pilots to fly with the RAF in wartime. He joined 609 Squadron where he flew the Hawker Typhoon fighter bomber. After the war, he entered the film industry, initially as a draughtsman on This Was a Woman. His portfolio of work includes Barry Lyndon and The Madness of King George; he won an Oscar for both films. Having a close relationship with Stanley Kubrick, he also designed the set for the iconic war room in Dr Strangelove. Sir Ken Adam was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2003.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: New York, Dothan, Alabama, British Air Staff, Washington

Duration: 1 minute, 6 seconds

Date story recorded: December 2010 and January 2011

Date story went live: 15 August 2011