Douglas Rudolf Pobjoy at Cranwell Douglas Rudolf Pobjoy, drawn by a messmate at Cranwell RAF College in 1926

Douglas Rudolf Pobjoy was born in 1894 in Bristol. He studied engineering at Bristol University but enlisted as a private in the Army Service Corps when war broke out. He went to France in July 1915 and in due course became a captain in the Royal Garrison Artillery. A contemporary photo shows him with his elder brother, Revd Harold Norman Pobjoy.

After the war he joined Bristol Aeroplane Co. He began to design aero engines and went into the RAF as an education officer at Cranwell. F/ Lt Comper piloted a Pobjoy-engined plane at trials in 1926, and in 1931 a Pobjoy-powered Comper Swift flew from London to Australia in a record-breaking 9 days 2 hours.

In 1928 Douglas had married Elaine Edith Holloway and they had a daughter Shirley Ann in 1929. The Pobjoy aero-engine factory movedfrom Wirral to Rochester, Kent, in 1934. When the war came, however, it was big firms like De Havilland that got government grants, and Douglas worked on vital de-icing equipment.

After the war he designed a revolutionary tractor, but in July 1948 the airliner in which he was returning from a sales trip to Helsinki was involved in a mid-air collision in cloud over Ruislip aerodrome. All 39 passengers were killed in what was at that time the greatest air disaster to have occurred in Britain.