Air Commodore Gordon Fithen BSc RAF (Ret'd)
raf officer and industrial training manager
(ABGS 1939-1946)

Gordon Fithen 2012

Gordon Fithen, 2012, in Moscow

Gordon Fithen was born in 1928 the son of H.H.J. Fithen1, a tailor, and his wife Hilda, née Thomas, of Elm Grove, Gadlys. He entered the school in 1939 and left in 1946 with ‘Highers’ in Chemistry, Botany and Zoology. After gaining an Honours degree and a Diploma in Education from the University of Wales in 1950, he joined the Royal Air Force. His last three appointments were as Commanding Officer, Royal Air Force School of Training and Education, Director of Personnel (Ground Branches) and Director of Training and Education. From 1974-1976 he was an Aide-de-Camp to H.M. The Queen.

Whilst serving in the Royal Air Force he played rugby football at various levels with enthusiasm but without great distinction. However, he fared better as an “alickadoo”2, proudly filling the post of Chairman of the Far East Air Force Rugby Union and, eventually, Chairman of the Royal Air Force Rugby Union of which he is a Life Vice-President.

In 1981 he retired prematurely from the RAF to join Rolls Royce plc as General Manager responsible for Management Development and Training for the Company.

Gordon in rugby team

Gordon, as a member of the
1945-46 school rugby 1st XV

From 1991, when he retired from Rolls Royce, he was retained by the Company as a consultant on Management Development and Training, particularly in Brazil, the People’s Republic of China, Thailand, Vietnam and Eastern Europe.

He is a Chartered Fellow of the British Institutes of Management and Personnel Development, respectively, and from 1990-1999 was an Associate Fellow of the Engineering Department of Warwick University.

He has been married for 61 years to Barbara, née Shill-Williams3. They live in a small village in the Peak District National Park and have three children and seven grandchildren. Gordon maintains contact with family in Aberdare where his sister Gillian lives in Abernant. Gillian is now Mrs Gillian Dent having married the late Terry Dent (ABGS 1938-40) in 1969.


  1. Henry Haydn John Fithen also attended Aberdare County School; he was a pupil from 1913 to 1915.
  2. “[It’s] all I can do” - often applied to a non-playing member of a rugby union club who performs tasks essential to the smooth running of the club.
  3. Barbara Shill-Williams was a pupil of the Girls’ County Grammar School in Plasdraw.