John Nichol (RAF officer)
Adrian John Nichol was born in North Shields, and attended the St Cuthbert's Grammar School on Gretna Road in Newcastle upon Tyne. He joined the RAF in February 1981 as an electronics technician; having signed up in 1980 and needing sufficient O levels. In the intervening period between school and the RAF, he worked in a large DIY store, although his employers were not aware of his military plans until they sought to promote him to management and he decided to tell them.
Nichol was commissioned as a navigator in December 1986.
He served with XV Squadron based at RAF Laarbruch. During Operation Desert Storm in the Gulf War the squadron was deployed to Muharraq Airfield in Bahrain. His first mission, on 17 January 1991, entailed flying as number two to Squadron Leader Paul "Pablo" Mason on an ultra-low-level sortie against Ar Ruma airfield. During the flight, his Panavia Tornado ZD791 was critically hit by a shoulder-launched SAM SA-14, and he and his pilot, John Peters, were captured by Iraqi forces. After capture he was shown, bruised, on Iraqi television. He was tortured in the Abu Ghraib prison. Nichol was released by the Iraqis at the end of the Gulf War.
Author and broadcaster
Since 'Tornado Down', Nichol has written over ten books including five novels 'Point of Impact', 'Vanishing Point', 'Exclusion Zone', 'Stinger' and 'Decisive Measures'. His latest books provide extensive eyewitness accounts of World War II history and include 'The Last Escape' which tells the harrowing story of Allied POWs in the closing stages of the war, 'Tail-End Charlies' which gives an insight into the final battles of the Allied bomber campaign in World War II and 'Home Run' which recounts the experiences of escaped Allied POWs evading capture in Europe behind enemy lines.
Medic: Saving Lives - from Dunkirk to Afghanistan (2009) was short-listed for the 2010 Wellcome Trust Book Prize.
- The March (1945) The Last Escape