From the Chairman. Every member of the Association has been forwarded a letter, written by Bob Danes (33rd Entry), following the 2015 AGM regarding the future of our Association. Very disap-pointingly, so far, only 6 replies (out of nearly 600 letters), have been received and no one has vol-unteered to join the Association Committee. This lack of response is causing some Committee members to question their commitment and devotion of time to the Association as it appears obvious that the overwhelming majority of members are unwilling to offer support or make any sort of contri-bution to its future. As you can see from the enclosed AGM Minutes, a Committee was voted in for 2015/2016. Whilst the majority of current committee members are prepared to continue beyond 2016, unless volunteers to join the Association Committee are forthcoming in the very near future, it is extremely unlikely that a Committee can be formed at the 2016 AGM. Without a full committee the Association could cease to be a viable organisation and consequently it would be inevitable that the Association would not be able to continue beyond the 2017 AGM and that action would have to be taken at the 2016 AGM, under Article 13 of the Articles of Association, to draw down the Association and agree on the disposal of assets.
Fellow members please do not let this happen. To prevent the Association from closing down within the next two years we urgently need members to join the Committee NOW. If you can volunteer please contact any member of the Committee.
AGM Minutes and Annual Accounts
The Minutes of the 18th Annual General Meeting of the Association, held at Swindon on 13th June 2015, plus the 2015 Annual Accounts as presented at the AGM, are attached with this Newsletter.
Should you wish to view the proofs of the photographs taken by the photographer at the June Reun-ion the link below will get you there:
The password is marriott (in lower case)
The photographs (without “proof” on them) will appear on the website in the near future.
Your Committee will be meeting on Saturday 10th October 2015 at Boddington, near Cheltenham, commencing at 11am If you have anything at all that you wish the Committee to discuss, please let the Chairman have your request by 7th October: telephone 01933 443673 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Bryan will acknowledge your request.
Association AGM and Reunion 2016
The 2016 AGM and Reunion will be held at the Northampton Marriott Hotel over the weekend 10th/11th/12th June 2016. Room half-board prices have been agreed at £65 per person per night with a £15 per night single occupancy supplement. In addition a discount of 35% has been negotiat-ed on all bar prices throughout the weekend. The Booking Form is attached with this Newsletter.
|Option A (Frid/Sat Nights)||£260||£160|
|Option B (Sat Night Only)||£130||£80|
|Option C (Fri/Sat/Sun Nights)||£390||£240|
|Option D (Reunion Dinner Only)||£50||£25|
Cenotaph Remembrance Day Parade
We have some tickets remaining for attendance at the annual Remembrance parade being held at the Cenotaph on Sunday 8th November. Any member who would like to attend is requested to contact the Chairman on 01933 443673 or at email@example.com.
|Angus McMaster||304th Entry Oban, Argyll 01632 566584
|Ken Baldock||32nd Entry Huntingdon, Cambs 01480 412923
|Michael Humphris||40th Entry Brighthampton, Witney, Oxon 07785 321409
|Geoffrey Matthews||304th Entry Kenilworth, Warwickshire 01926 511984
Frank Carrol 38th Entry
Andy Lanning 324th Entry
Ted Bolton 1st Entry
Mrs Eunice Shorrocks Honorary
Brian DeVecchis 36th Entry
Roy Larcombe 1st (Non member)
Mick Cocker 33rd (Non member)
N Burnham 330th
G Jones 320th
P Buchanan 5th
C Hope 304th
A Proctor 304th
C Briggs 10th
J Porter 301st
Amendments to Member Details
Obituary – Memories of Denis Eckersley 2nd Entry – Mike McCrow 36th
When I arrived at Bircham Newton in January 1959 Denis was a Leading Apprentice in the senior entry. I never knew him as friend just as a member of the senior entry. I seem to remember he was a good footballer. Other than that he was always fair and pleasant to the junior entry of which I was part. At the end of our first term Denis left as the 32nd entry passed out from Bircham and I got on with my life. I don’t suppose that his name came into my mind again over the next seven years. However in October 1967 I was posted from RAF Brize Norton to 389 Maintenance Unit, RAF Sele-tar in Singapore. Arriving into Changi late in the evening one of my old 36th entry colleagues, Tony Ferrison, was on Movements to see us off the VC10. In conversation he said that Bryn Davies of our entry had arrived the previous week and that Denis Eckersley had also arrived both being posted to 389 MU. Also Bessie Craddock of the 34th was on the MU. A few weeks after I arrived and had got to know Denis, this time as colleague and friend, and we embarked on a mission.A Chief Tech from 390 MU returning home to UK had left a boat moored off the Seletar jetty. It had been in the water a long time and was leaking. The boat was plank built and had a cabin and an outboard Yamaha engine which was also the worst for wear spluttering and coughing and pretty rough.Den had the owner traced and I think from memory we, that is Den, Bryn and myself, or though it may just have been Den, became the owners of a dilapidated green boat. Denis either through the camp library or perhaps he bought it, acquired a book on caulking. This was Denis Eckersleys project. Bryn and I were followers. So we taught ourselves to caulk boats. That is driving thick coarse string in between the planks with a hammer and flat chisel and then in-jecting tar into the plank overlaps on top of the string. This makes the boat completely waterproof. We spent the next few months, with Denis as the foreman, every afternoon after work, working on the boat. Bruised hands and battered fingers and a task we thought would never end. We even had a few planks to remake and fit. Good skill sets for a bunch of logisticians. When the caulking was complete we re-painted the boat green and its cabin white. The engine we had repaired but it never was very reliable. We had a few trips out for fishing and visiting island of Palau Ubin.
There was a very beautiful girl named Doreen Olivira who worked in 389 MU Headquarters near the jetty and one lunch time to impress her I took her out in the boat. We got mid channel between Sin-gapore and the Malaysia and the engine packed up. I must have pulled the engine starting cord a couple of hundred time before I gave up, perspiring and aching of the arm, and after a little while of drifting we got a tow back to the Seletar. Not all was lost because Doreen thought it was quite an adventure. I am sure Denis was on an accompanied tour at Seletar but I dont think I ever met his wife. I think from memory he returned to the UK in 1969. We had closed 389 MU as part of the withdrawal from the Far East and I followed home in March 1970. I rarely get emotional about the people and events I read from my apprentice and adult service days however when I read that Denis had passed away I got a lump in my throat. We were friends but not close and apart from the boat our interests lay in different directions. I was single in Singa-pore and had no real responsibilities and my life revolved around fishing, drinking and if I was fortu-nate the occasional girl friend.Nevertheless my time in Singapore, along with the refurbishing of the boat, the friendships I made with Denis and Bryn and many others are vivid memories in my life.
South West Herts Group Meeting – Phil Gough 31st
The quarterly meeting of the SW Herts flight took place at the usual venue of the Three Crowns, Bushey Heath (nr Watford) WD23 1 GE on 1st August 2015. A good turn out with eight of us enjoy-ing the usual blend of good lunch, banter and reminiscence, the latter enabling Jack Marshall to trump us all with memories of his service in 1939!What a low-tech bunch! – none of us had a camera or a functioning phone camera so no photo this time. Present were Jack Marshall (56R), Ken Roost (1st), Derek Hobden (19th), Haydn Illingworth (21st), Phil Gough (31st), Noel Hayes (31st), Brian Scott (32nd) and Tom Price-Rees (40th).Apologies from Tony Parsons (19th) – unwell but recovering, John Forshaw (20th), Terry Waine (35th), and Peter Ralph (46th). Next meeting same place on Saturday 7th November, 2015. Drift on parade from 11.15 hrs.
Cyprus Group Meeting – Ray Burrow 29th
The picture attached was taken at Avdimou Beach on the occasion of our Group Meeting on June 8th 2015 just prior to me flying to the UK for the AGM weekend in Swindon. There were three of us in attendance and the weather was a bit changeable to say the least. We had a good lunch and a chat which was accompanied at one point by some thun-der and rain which caused a panic amongst those who had left the hoods down on their motor cars. I didn’t know old folk could move that fast when the posermobile was in danger !! Ben had some relatives out in Cyprus visiting him so we all said “Hello” and while they had lunch we carried on. I’ve put an advert in The Air Mail asking for anyone who is interested in our meetings to contact me. Up to now though there is nothing to report. We have our next meeting at Avdimou Beach on Monday September 8th at the usual time of 1230/1300 and as usual we invite anyone who is interested to join us. I hope to see George Masson at this next meeting as he has been in touch to confirm the timings etc.
Obituary Frank Carroll – Paul Dyer 38th
I first met Frank in September 1959 when we arrived at Bircham Newton as prospective apprentices to join the 38th Entry. The young Frank was a cheerful soul whose hallmark was an impish sense of humour and an inimitable “scouse” accent.On graduation in 1961 we both departed our separate ways as Suppliers 1, he to RAF Cranwell. His subsequent career took him, like all of us through a number of postings, both at home and overseas. Including Sharjah and RAF Germany.Our paths crossed at irregular intervals and Frank remained unchanged, still with the sense of humour and still with his hallmark “scouse” accent.A commission and further postings as a Supply Officer followed his well-deserved promotion to WO. He subsequently retired in 1993 as a Sqn Ldr.After a short while working in civilian life he and Barbara moved to full retirement in Spain at Refelcofer just outside Valencia. Here Frank managed to find the time and re-source to obtain a Doctorate in Geology based on his study of the island of Malta. The thesis now sits in many university librar-ies both here in the UK and overseas.A remarkable achieve-ment.As was usual he and Barbara entered enthusiastically into local life and Frank quickly established himself at his local golf club and subsequently as the AAA representative for the Span-ish enclave of Admin Apps. I was fortunate to visit Frank and Barbara in Spain and also met him at various association reun-ions. remained always the same guy I had first met all those years ago. Frank Carrol died of lung cancer on the 18th May 2015. He was a great fellow and will be missed by us all.
Please see the article re military medals in Newsletter No 102. The qualifying period for the GSM 1918-1962 (Cyprus) quoted in that article read “between 1 April 1955 and 24 December 1959” This should read ““between 1 April 1955 and 18 April 1959”. This news from Eric Rogers (16th), who applied for the medal and was refused due to his service there being after the latter date.
Worth A Visit – Dave Ainsworth 304th
I attended July’s 50+ Exhibition at Olympia where, to my surprise, was a stand manned by staff from the Royal Air Force Museum, who actively and enthusiastically promoted what they could of-fer. They’ve free admission throughout 2015 and now have over 100 aircraft at their Hendon base. Current daily opening hours (including Bank Holidays, but closed 24-26 Dec) are 10am-6pm (last entry 5.30pm). A website gives latest gen – www.rafmuseum.org/london it’s worth checking this website before setting out, as it gives details of special events and/or closures (in 2016 this site will also be closed on Jan 1st & 4th-8th Jan).
The location is Grahame Park Way, London. NW9 5LL. There’s a small car parking charge (plenty of spaces) and it’s easily reached (& signposted) from the M1 Junction 4. It has good public public transport links. Colindale Station (Northern Line Underground) is nearby, and Mill Hill Broadway rail station is 20 minutes’ walk away. Bus 303 stops outside. For those well-heeled, there’s a heli-pad! So many have never got around to making a visit…so put it down on your “things to do” list.
RAF Bircham Newton 10th Anniversary Celebration – Dixie Dean
Despite the appalling weather, the event was well supported and our Association display received a number of visitors including some of our members which was much appreciated by the Heritage Centre Staff.
The Fiesler Storch pictured, with AA Seymour 46th alongside, was on static display at Bircham Newton for a number of years and is now on display at the RAF Cosford Museum. It has had a colourful history since its capture by the British in 1945 and was flown extensively by the RAF and RN, the latter even carrying out a landing on the aircraft carrier HMS Triumph in 1946. The Fiesler had a very short take off and landing and an extremely low airborne speed. You can read its full history by visiting the RAF Cosford Museum web site.
Tales From The Falkland Islands – Episode 1
There are a number of radar/radio stations at high vantage points on East and West Falklands. A few of these are staffed and at one particular site there were just two Army personnel of the Signals Regiment. A very lonely existence as there was no road access and virtually all of their tour was spent in the location after being dropped by helicopter. The personnel lived in a 40′ shipping contain-er with the necessary operational equipment.
A call was received from the Army Liaison Officer to advise the soldiers had a porta-loo and when it needing emptying the contents were put in a plastic bag and chucked into a separate adjacent 40′ container!! Said container was now full and needed removing and a replacement sent!
A winching under slung job for the Chinook Flight we thought and the task was duly placed and ac-cepted. There was some debate as to what should be done with the full container and the first sug-gestion was to drop it in the sea but this was quickly discounted as it may have washed up on shore and caused complaint/embarrassment. It was decided to fly an empty container in and return to base with the full one and decided what to do with the contents at a later date!
On the morning of the helicopter operation, I received a telephone call from the Chinook Flight which went something like this: ”Morning Dixie its Robbo here”. ”Dixie how much does a 40′ container full of s**t weigh?”. ”I have know idea” I replied. ”How can we find out?” said Robbo. We pondered on this for — well all of 5 minutes. We agreed, the Movements Staff (or Passenger Counting Officers as they were referred to at some stations, e.g.: RAF Gutersloh) must have some magic formula for working this out (eg: x=lbs of s**t +5% x+y-z z=the average weight of a human being etc etc)
Alas, surprisingly, the Movements Staff had no idea also!!??
It was decided to fly out with an under slung empty container and the full one to be left in situ and this was duly completed.
There were no plans to build a road to the site for a myriad of reasons. Consequently, I would esti-mate there may be in the region of 5 full containers sitting there to date!
In the event of a further intrusion to the sovereignty of the islands they are marked on operational maps as Strategic Height Interception Transmitters!!
Rheindahlen/Wegberg Visit 50 Years On – Harry Trumbell 29th
Is it really 50 years since I was stationed at RAF Rheindahlen? My wife Jane has never been to Germany, so I thought it would be a good idea to show her where I lived for two and half years. But the whole area around JHQ and Wegberg Hospital is fenced off. I tried the west, east and south roads into the base without luck. Happily all the places I frequented socially were still functioning.
Jane and I arrived at the Luttelforst Mule on Sunday 31st May after a smooth ferry crossing form Hull to Rotterdam. It is just as I remember it. For lunch we had a great half chicken and chips at the Fuchsbau on the Hardt road from JHQ. The evening walk along the side of the river was a real pleasure. Dur-ing our second day (1st June) we drove through Rickelrath to Wegberg town centre for coffee and cake! We then travelled to the old RAF Wildenrath base which has been taken over and developed by Siemens – building engines and carriages for the German railways. Unfortunately the Luttelforst Mule and Oncle Gustavs did not serve food on Mondays! However, we managed to find a nice restau-rant in Hardt and had Wiener schnitzel for lunch. On the main road through Hardt is a ‘Welcome to Rhine Garrison’ sign on a large poster board. The local authorities are looking for ideas/projects for the development of the old
JHQ Site! Though the visit was a worthwhile experience for both of us, I did feel rather melancholy about the lack of development of the JHQ site after all this time. If you would like to see more of my photos please vis-it: queenswayclubsurvivors.com. Simply log on by registering your name and email, then go to the heading ‘contributors’ and click on my name.
The following day (2nd June) we set off to visit places where I lived with my parents between 1948 and 1952!! Yes! I can still remember that long ago!
The New Website Design Project
As both your website manager and Newsletter Editor I feel it is important to remind you all to read the details I published on 24th June outlining the changes to the existing site that are necessary as part of the our new website design project. I have undertaken some serious pruning in order to en-sure the new site is slimmer and more modern looking. You may find some of the pages you would normally have expected to be able to access have now disappeared and others have been almaga-mated. You will note also that on several pages, I have placed comments in red which are designed to help you to understand what is going on in that particular area of the site and to assist the Web-site design team as they reconstruct the site. If you have any particular queries or there is something you do not understand, please contact me and I will do my best to answer your questions.
Progress on the new site is continuing and the navigation structure has now been created. The de-sign team will now be engaged in the transfer of existing content to the new site. Regular updates on how the project is progressing will be posted on the website and in subsequent newsletters.
Association Golf News
At Swindon John Waltham (19th), Ian Thomson (19th), David Marshall (23rd), Harry Trumbell (28th), Michael Day (38th) and Tony Hammonds (305th) competed for the Burnett Shield and welcomed Madge Collenz and Peter Cross as guest players.
Nearest the pin on the 6th Peter Cross
Nearest the pin in two on the 16th Ian Thomson
1st Tony Hammonds 41 points
2nd Ian Thomson 34 points
3rd Harry Trumbell 32 points
RAFAAA Versus RAF Halton AAA The Elworthy Shield at St Ives (Huntingdon)Tuesday 22nd July 2015
For the 15th consecutive year the RAFAAA golfers competed for the Elworthy Shield against the RAF Halton AAA and following eleven consecutive defeats our team comprising of Arthur Row-land (19th), Ian Thomson (19th), Harry Trumbell (28th), Tony Hammonds (305th) and Steve Sanders (307th) put in a great performance on a demanding golf course to win the Elworthy Shield by a ten point margin with a total score of 159 points.
Worth A Read – A Book Review By Shay Foley 46th
I have just read ‘A Salute to One of ‘The Few’ depicting the life of Fg Off Peter Cape Beauchamp St John” by Simon St John Beer. Published by Pen and Sword Aviation in 2009 – ISBN No 978 1-84415876 – 8.
The author is a civilian pilot but has made a flight in a Spitfire so the description of the flying se-quences ring true. The book tells the story of a young man who joined the RAF on a Short Ser-vice Commission and was one of ‘The Few’. Anyone who has served on a Flying Training School will relate to the pressures that the student pilots were under. It is well written and tells a fascinat-ing story. Recommended.
This is my first quarterly Newsletter after becoming editor after replacing Peter Ralph at the AGM in June. Please send me any comments you may have, as well as your articles about anything you think would be of interest to your fellow members. Without these the newsletter will quickly become somewhat boring! The Newsletter will eventually be available to those with internet access, directly from the new website but will be subject to a password. Passwords will simply be your service number. For those of you with 59 numbers who were allocated an alphabetic prefix, only the 6 digit number will be required. Newsletters will continue to be sent by post to those of you without access to the internet.