Three mile on the outskirts of Portadown

Laurelvale's Most Famous Son

Air Vice Marshal Stewart William Blackner Menaul  CB, CBE, DFC, AFC



AVM Stewart 'Paddy' Menaul was born on 17 July 1915. He was educated in Laurelvale and Portadown, Northern Ireland, and the RAF College, Cranwell. Apart from a period spent as a Flying Instructor, between 1940-1941, between 1936-1943 he served with Bomber Command Squadrons, including No 14 Squadron, 1941-1942. In 1943 he joined the Air Staff of No 3 Group but before the end of the year was posted to Pathfinder Force with which he served until 1945.
Post war, Menaul attended both the Royal Air Force Staff College in 1946 and the Imperial Defence College in 1950-1951 with a posting at the Air Ministry in between. From 1951, as Deputy Director of Bomber Operations, he had special responsibilities for V bomber forces. In 1954 he was attached to the US Nevada Nuclear test site and in 1955-1956 commanded the British nuclear tests at Monte Bello and Maralinga, in Australia. His last service postings were as Commanding Officer, Bombing School, Lindholme, 1957-1958, Air Staff Officer, Aden, 1959-1960, Senior Air Staff Officer Bomber Command, 1961-1965 and finally Commandant, Joint Services Staff College, 1965-1967.

In civilian life Menaul was Director General of the Royal United Services Institute, 1968-1976, a position which served him well as a platform from which to stimulate debate on defence issues, most notably nuclear strategy and weapons, and to develop a role as a military commentator and defence consultant. Menaul was a passionate supporter of ballistic missile defence as a means of strengthening Western Defences and argued forcefully that the Strategic Defence Initiatives (SDI Systems) were in Europe's interest. The latter, he believed would serve to enhance the credibility of America's nuclear guarantee of its NATO allies, as well as providing protection for Europe's own high value military assets. A layered defence against missiles, possibly including space-based lasers, was, he argued, technically feasible and affordable and strategically desirable since it would multiply the uncertainties facing enemy military planners. He remained a strong believer in a British independently controlled deterrent but believed Cruise rather than Trident was the more realistic option for Britain in terms of likely obsolescence.

Menaul was twice decorated during the Second World War, DFC and AFC, and on his retirement from the RAF, his broader career contribution was marked by the CB and CBE. Inevitably remembered as a man of robust opinions, Menaul commanded considerable respect in both America and China where he was popular as a lecturer. His role as a commentator on the Falklands War for Independent Television also earned respect in the UK. Menaul died on 22 May 1987.

Laurelvale Scouts

Stewart Menaul is on the extreme right in front row, to the left of Stewart is Ted Campbell

Recollections of Laurelvale's

David Whiteside

Many ‘Laurelvaleites’ settled throughout the World, one, David Whiteside now in his eighties living in Connecticut, USA has many happy memories of the area.  After reading above Stewart Menaul article David recalled his youthful days in Laurelvale, he and Stewart were friends and both attended the local school, David a few years younger than Stewart was in a different form.  Stewart had two brothers, Jack and Jim, their father was a manager at Sinton's Weaving Mill in the Village.

David Whiteside



Another resident of the Village who also worked in the management of the Mill was Augustus (Gussie) Wardell, David remembers the family well, Gussie's sister Kitty was very fond of horses and spent most of her spare time looking after them.  Gussie left Sinton's early 1930's to join the Royal Air Force; he was based at RAF Aldergrove and later became a Squadron Leader.  Whilst he was a Flying Officer Gussie took a few liberties on practise manoeuvres by departing from the designated route, he would fly low over the Village then ascend to a height where he would 'loop the loop' and other stunts, by this time most of the Villagers were out of their homes looking heavenward knowing that their neighbour had called in for a bit of aerobatic fun, after the free unscheduled air show he would land the two seater in the football field and get out of the craft for a chat with his friends.  After a short stay he would head back to Aldergrove his superiors none the wiser of his adventures. 

Laurel vale P1

Laurelvale P2

Laurelville P3

Mullavilly School

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