View Full Version : P/O Prune ?

19th Jul 2006, 13:55
Just recently registered with PPRuNe, and rather assume the site's title associated with the cartoon character, Pilot Officer Prune. Can it be true that he still features in the RAF publication that, I imagine can be found at Dispersal, or nailed to the canteen noticeboard? If not, there must be an awful lot of people trying to work out the dried plum connection. Maybe somebody currently serving could enlighten us?.........or even put up a copy of one of those cautionary tales.........last one I saw, I seem to remember featured a crumpled looking Meteor in a static, and out of context setting. - the way they tend to in a field of cabbages. (..or,maybe that was the " Good Show " panel on the opposite page )

19th Jul 2006, 20:07
I think I am correct in stating the P/O Prune was a feature of Air Clues. Whether it is still published I must call upon the Service Members of this forum to confirm.

19th Jul 2006, 20:44
Air Clues ceased publication a while ago (although there are rumours that it'll be brought back in some form or another) and has been replaced by a tri-service publication called, IIRC, 'Aviate'.

From what I can recall, P/O Prune did make the odd guest appearance in Air Clues in the years up to its demise, but he wasn't a regular or major feature. I'm sure someone who read the thing more avidly than I did can confirm, though.

19th Jul 2006, 21:42
P/O Prune originally featured in Tee Emm, the predecessor of Air Clues which passed into history long before even my time. Amongst the 'Prune' features was the MHDOIF - the Most Highly Derogatory Order of the Finger (or was it 'digit') awarded to folk who did things like landing downwind or taking off in coarse pitch on short runways... The idea being that others ould learn from such fictitious 'Prunery'.

Sadly, even Air Clues (which improved hugely after the 'air power' articles were $hitcanned) was later replaced by some thoroughly boring Purple party line prose - 'Uninteresting Helicopter Quarterly' as someone once termed it...

Which no-one ever reads; it isn't even soft and absorbent, so it serves no use whatsoever!

20th Jul 2006, 02:05
Not entirely true, BEagle. I saw one in use just this week, propping up a wobbly desk...

20th Jul 2006, 05:20
I seem to recall that MHDOIF stood for "Most Highly Derogatory Order of the Irremovable Finger". :E

20th Jul 2006, 08:58
Wasn't it MHDOID with digit rather than finger??

And Percy Prune was well-born, having a family coat-of-arms with a motto of Semper Inanum which was published as meaning "Always inane".

Classical scholars may disagree .......:E

ISTR (possibly from this forum) that all the Tee Emm (old phonetics for "Training Memorandum") articles were/are available on CD. Anyone have details??

[Edited to add:] found it using search - inevitably it was from BEags'Tee Emm' (Training Memoranda?) - the forefather of 'Air Clues'....

Which is, sadly, no longer and has been replaced by some purple 'helicopter quarterly' cack.

A CD is available which has the complete collection of Tee Emms on it; unfortunately PPRuNe rules prevent me posting a direct link to it here (although a donation is made to the RAFBF for every copy sold) as that might be viewed as advertising.

But if you google under 'Tee Emm', you can find the site pretty easily.

Last edited by BEagle : 8th October 2004 at 08:16.

[Edited yet again to say:] ...and BEags' advice still works - I've just ordered the CD!!

20th Jul 2006, 16:08
Prune had companions; a navigator whose name I can't recall and a WAAF (Winsum?).
I used to have a book about Percy's home, Prune Parva, written and published in the '70s but regretfully I've now lost it. Think it was called 'The Passing of Pilot Officer Prune'

20th Jul 2006, 17:25
Prune is still alive and well and living in Sussex as Squire Prune on Ineyne Manor, Pruna Parva (where his family have held manurial rights for centuries).



His drunken bull-terrier, "Groupy" died many years ago and so far has not been replaced.


20th Jul 2006, 23:00
From memory, a cautionary tale from the pen of P/O Prune:

'I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high in straggling bits
When all at once I saw a crowd -
A host of yellow Messerschmitts.
And now, interned for the duration,
I wish I had not lost formation.'

With apologies to Wordsworth and Tee Emm!

This, and many other gems.

21st Jul 2006, 13:07
The old hardback Tee Emm books are like rocking horse $hit.

Don't suppose they are worth much but I look high and low for them
- got 3 so far.

21st Jul 2006, 14:22
The thing about the village of Prune Parva is the roads leading to it are not surfaced, making it difficult to find (the main access looking like a farm track)and being situated in a partly hidden valley in the Sussex Downs, it tended to get bypassed by 'day trippers', however with the advent of in-car GPS units which don't tell you if a road has a hard surface, I would expect the village to be re-discovered in the near future!(always provided the GPS software shows the access roads that is!)

21st Jul 2006, 15:23
One of the funniest P/O Prune facts is that the Luftwaffe, who most certainly DO have a sense of humour, actually awarded him the Iron Cross for the number of Allied aircraft he'd managed to destroy by Prunery various!

Allegedly there is a full citation, completed with impeccable Teutonic efficiency, awarding him the decoration.

23rd Jul 2006, 17:34
..........Well good to see that our erstwhile fictional colleague and teaching aid, the much put upon P/O Prune survives in retirement. I guess that our host's acronym for this rumour network is singular and merely coincidental.

23rd Jul 2006, 20:19
Not only was it the MHDOIF (Most Highly Derogatory Order of the Irremovable Finger) but the "good show" award was the MDOVO (Most Desirable Order of the Vacated Orifice)!

Lon More
19th Oct 2006, 09:23
Just found this thread.
IIRC a book was published a few years ago detailing most of his exploits

19th Oct 2006, 11:11
Sorry to be a bit late on '1G&H's enquiry, but to confirm PPRune has nothing to do with PO Prune, it standing (sometimes unbelievably:uhoh: ) for the 'Professional Pilots' Rumour Network'.

There is no RAF blood in the child, although it now has several "godfather's" with pedigree.:)

19th Oct 2006, 12:55
Just found this thread.
IIRC a book was published a few years ago detailing most of his exploits
Published by the then HMSO proving that government paper pushers have a sense of humour too.

Good book, recommended. Nails a few of the above Prune myths...

20th Oct 2006, 09:31
The old hardback Tee Emm books are like rocking horse $hit. Don't suppose they are worth much but I look high and low for them - got 3 so far.

Not worth much? Bookseller here (http://www.ilab.org/db/search.php?Author=&Title=Tee+Emm) looking for $200 for one. :ooh:

22nd Oct 2006, 02:40
For us wot fixed the broken toys, there was "Fred the Wheeltapper" who infamously changed all the wheels on the train and then found out his hammer was cracked. In another poster he taught us to give our instructions clearly and concisely, as he told his hammer wielding assistant - "When I nods me head, hit it."

There were lots of similar 'Human Factors' posters, long before HF was invented: I suppose the fact that we remember them so many years later shows how effective they were.

Tee Emm
24th Oct 2006, 15:29
Don't tell the Politically Correct Brigade this but you will all be delighted to know that on pageXXX of my Tee Emm book there is a picture of a smiling dark skinned black and white minstrel chappie which is an advertisement saying "Darky For a Happy Landing." - available at Airfields, Occults, Pundits and Royal Observer posts. Then an issue later the editor adds: "Darky Regrets." ..it is not often an advertiser apologises for an overstatement..we have, however, been asked by the advertisers of Darky to tell all concerned that the word Pundits was inserted in error. As Darky and Pundits don't mix, the advertisers have asked us to express their regrets and to state in all other respects their claims for the use of Darky are fully justified by experience."

"Darky" was a radio aid with bearings passed to the aircraft by voice radio. Also re the M.H.D.O.I.F. Like the Bar to decorations, the equivalent to Bars to the Pprune award were Joints. for example The Most Highly Derogatory Order of the Irremoveable Finger with Five Joints was awarded to....

29th Oct 2006, 12:54
the MHDOIF - the Most Highly Derogatory Order of the Finger (or was it 'digit')

Just come across this thread. I think you are right on "digit". In my very strong recollection the "Order" was the "Most Highly Derogatory Order of the Irremovable Digit", which was associated with the command, a standard in those days, to "Dedigitate!", or "Get the Finger Out!". Those who did not dedigitate were known to have "finger trouble" at the time a common cause of accidents, mayhem, death or what-have-yiou.

PO Prune was the creation of collaboration between the cartoonist William John Henry ("Bill") Hooper (August 24, 1916 to October 14, 1996) and the author and playwright Anthony Armstrong Willis (who wrote mainly as "Anthony Armstrong" or "AA"). PO Prune was originally a fighter pilot, but broadened his skills, moving to Bomber Command where he acquired a navigator, a bomb-aimer, and an air-ginner each as gifted as himself.

His girl friend, the W.A.A.F. (Women's Auxiliary Air Force) Winsum, was also in the service.

As a schoolboy, Hooper was often in trouble for wasting his time drawing cartoons. He worked for a while (unpaid) as a youth for the famed forensic pathologist Sir Francis E Camps, whom I once met.

He volunteered for the trade of air-gunner at the start of WW2, but was sent to No 54 Squadrin, RAF, as groundstaff. He continued to sketch cartoons, noticed by, among others, his C.O., Squadron Leader R F Boyd, RAF. S/Ldr Boyd asked him to illustrate a compendium of hints he was himself preparing for his pilots.

This product found its way to the Air Ministry, which put Hooper in touch with Armstrong who had just been appointed editor of the new "Tee Emm" ("Training Memoranda").

PO Prune's very first appearance was on the inevitable table-napkin at a lunch between Hooper and Armstrong.

Hooper's obituary appeared in The Times for 28 October, 1996.

P.S. The expression "a poor prune" itself appears to have a much longer
history. I find references in light literature, early plays of the 20th century, musicals (Kern), and so on, and I even had a schoolteacher who occasionally used it. Perhaps that is where Armstrong and Hooper found part of their inspiration. Can anyone add anything?

John Eacott
29th Oct 2006, 21:14
I'm lucky enough to have both a bound full set of original Tee Emms, and a copy set produced by the Australian War Museum :)

To lay at rest the Finger/Digit discussion, here is a scan of one of the monthly "Awards" :ok:


And don't forget 'Binder', P/O Prune's dog:

Pedigree: By Intruder out of Bandit
'I certify that the dog is well-behaved, house-trained and thoroughly mess-broken'

Does the current PC force allow dogs to be taken to work these days? I used to take mine ;)

31st Oct 2006, 21:07

And you can get it all on a CD for 20


Brian Abraham
1st Nov 2006, 05:37
Does the current PC force allow dogs to be taken to work these days? I used to take mine

John - they're talking about you at


1st Nov 2006, 22:53
Although I have Lurked around these forums for some time, I have never previously posted as, having no connection with the Aviation Industry other than as an interested bystander and paying customer, I have felt it better to allow my elders (not many) and betters (nearly everybody) to do the talking.
However, I may be able to add something to the early history of P/O Prune. I have a book entitled 'Pick of Punch', which is a collection of articles from 'Punch' Magazine, in this case for the year 1942, which includes a story by Anthony Armstrong entitled 'Flies and the RAF'. The story describes a meeting of the Fly Inverted-Landing Commitee in the Mess at RAF Prangmere, among those present being P/O Prune, F/O Talespin, P/O Nosedyve, various others and a considerable amount of alcohol. The discussion centres around the age-old mystery of how flies land on the ceiling, and, inevitably ends in disaster.
It is quire funny, in a 1942 sort of way, and I would be happy to scan and mail it to anyone who is interested.
I did have more wartime editions of 'PoP', and I'm sure the venerable Prune appeared in other stories, but they seem to have gone the way of all Flesh, and I can't check!


2nd Nov 2006, 19:51
I think the following award absolutely typifies the sort of thing that merited the award............................

1945. The M.H.D.O.I.F. has been awarded to F/O ******* who landed at Abingdon for fuel.
When asked by Station Flight, he didn't know whether his Spitfire was a Mk 14 or 16, whether it required 100, 130 or 145 octane fuel or what the maximum Take-off RPM or boost was. All he knew was that he'd been told to land at Benson if he got short of fuel. "This IS Benson, isn't it ?" he asked.

(He was probably a jolly nice chap though !)

2nd Nov 2006, 20:27
I have just found 30+ assorted Tee Emm books for sale on www.abebooks.com - a site which involves 13,500 sellers with over a million books in stock. Worth a look - some are not too expensive, like 10

27th May 2007, 16:31
Just came across a 25th anniversary tribute to P/O Prune in the May 1966 Air Clues... you can read it here....

P.O. Prune says that guy's been in the Air Force so long he put
Wilbur Wright through his I.T.W.

David Layne
6th Aug 2009, 20:29


8th Aug 2009, 13:52
Thank you.