Wing Cdr (Rtd) Anthony (Bugs) Bendell OBE
30 March 1936 - 30 December 2016
Anthony ‘Bugs’ Bendell ranked amongst the RAF’s most talented fighter pilots of his generation. Bugs had grown up in the shadow of the Second World War, and from an early age dreamed of becoming a fighter pilot. In 1953, at the age of 17, he turned down a draughtsman’s apprenticeship in order to join the RAF.
During his 35 years of service, Bugs was widely regarded as one of the RAF’s most skilled fighter pilots. At a time when the Cold War was becoming more entrenched and Russian nuclear bombers were testing Britain’s air defences, Bugs was one of the pilots flying the RAF’s feared interceptor, the Lightning F1.
In 1963, Bugs was selected by the RAF as the best pilot to take up an exchange posting at Nelles in the US. His experience of the Lightning made him the natural choice to train American pilots, bound for the Vietnam conflict, on the F105 Thunderchief.
Sadly, Bugs was forced to retire from the RAF in 1987 after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a challenge which he faced with his customary bravery and determination. In 2011, Bugs came to live with The Royal Star & Garter Homes, in the Richmond and then the Surbiton Home, when care at home was no longer possible. Together with his wife Jules, Bugs played an active part in life at the Homes and key events, such as the Charity’s Centenary and visiting the site of the new High Wycombe Home. Bugs and Jules very kindly allowed the Charity to share Bugs’ remarkable story, helping to raise funds to care for his fellow veterans.
Bugs was an intelligent, charismatic and well-loved figure around the Surbiton Home and will be greatly missed. The deepest sympathies of everyone at The Royal Star & Garter Homes go to Bugs’ wife and family.