Royal Air Force
Administrative Apprentices Association

Multum A Parvo

Newsletter No 106 – March 2016


Issue No 106 – March 2016


As you will know, I now have the enviable (or maybe unenviable depending on how you look at it) of being responsible for both our Website and the Newsletter. It is a bit of a juggling act but to make life easier, I keep a draft of the forthcoming newsletter on my website dashboard to which I add articles as and when they are received. Therefore the layout of this Newsletter will seem a bit different to the norm Having said that, all the normal content you would expect to find will still be present albeit in a slightly different order.

Gloucester Regional Group Meeting On 25th November 2015 – Mike Day 38th Entry
Gloucester Group
Gloucester Group L to R: Dave Spicer 27th, Mike Day 38th, Bob Wise 4th, Ian Clark 53(R), Jim Wilcox 5th (President), Bill Beadie 301st, Brian Yost 22nd

Due to other commitments (mostly holidays) I was unable to organise our 2nd luncheon of the year until the 25 November 2015, which was a bit late to catch the last newsletter of the year. Once again our venue was The Royal George at Birdlip. Unfortunately we were unable to match our previous attendance of 22 as I had only 10 replies, but on the day this was unfortunately reduced to 7 ex – apprentices and David Spicer’s wife Sandra who became the official photographer! However this did enable us to sit together and all join in the conversation. Although we are ‘getting on a bit’ I would like to mention that the company included Ian Clark who is now a sprightly 94.

I hope to arrange the next ‘get together’ sometime in April 2016

Report On The Cyprus Group Meeting Held on 15th December 2015 – Ray Burrow 29th Entry
The Cyprus Group Guys In December 2015

We held the Cyprus Group final meeting of the year at the Captains Bay Restaurent at Pissouri Bay on Monday 14th December 2015 to round off another year. The meeting was later than usual as I had only returned from a trip down under on 11th December, but there was a 100% turnout on the day. It was a lovely day although there was a bite in the wind so we stayed indoors but by a window so that we all got the warmth of the sun without the bite of the wind.

A good lunch weas enjoyed by all present and discussions ranged over several subjects so that the world’s problems were sorted out within two hours! We have agreed to meet on the following dates during 2016 and the eternal welcome goes out to any ex-App to join us if they are in the area at the appropriate time. The dates are:

Monday 7th March

Monday 6th June

Monday 5th September

Monday 5th December

All of us in Cyprus wish the rest of the Administrative Apprentices Association membership a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

2016 AGM And Reunion
Northampton Marriott
Venue For The 2016 Reunion – Northampton Marriott Hotel

Full details of the 2016 Reunion at the Northampton Marriott Hotel on 10/11/12/June (including a final attendance list) will be published in the June Newsletter. There are still a number of rooms available, therefore, if your name is not on the following list and you would like to attend please contact Bryan Hoare, the Social Secretary IMMEDIATELY (or Bryan Schofield if Bryan H can’t be contacted). As at 1st March bookings have been made on behalf of:

2nd S Robathan4th R Wise
5th W Huggins, R Oborne, W Wilcox
11th D Gibson, M Heritage
15th T Moore
17th R Blundell, B Bullivant, C Holman, D Valentine, G Wright
19th A Cowan, J Evans, D Hobden, I Thomson, J Waltham
23rd P Bullock, D Marshall, J Reynolds
24th D Bulleid
28th E Baker, M Owen
29th R Anders, A Bell, R Burrow, B Croucher, P Culley, D Davies, G Masson, R Pipe, H Trumbell
30th P Reed32nd B Scott, M Wilkinson
33rd R Danes, P Hall, B Schofield, P Watson
34th P Bunn, A Godfrey, C Morgan, R Orr
35th T Waine
36th R Dickinson
38th A Burchell, M Day, D Linney, K Willliams
40th P Charnell, W Dean
41st T Jones
42nd S Craycraft, K Green, S Hedinburgh, S Hopewell, M Meyer, B Morrison
44th J Upton
45th I Hunter
46th S Foley, P Ralph
305th A Hammonds
307th D Barber, B Hoare, S Sanders
313th D Johnson
318th T Mcknight
330th G Hoyland
Assoc B Collins, J Muirhead, S Wright

AGM – Resolutions and Agenda Items

Resolutions for AGM 2016 (11th June) or any items for inclusion in the AGM agenda should be forwarded to the Chairman not later than 5th April so that the AGM agenda can be finalised at the Committee meeting on 16th April and published in the June Newsletter. Bryan will acknowledge your request. You do not have to attend the AGM to submit an item for consideration but it will require a proposer and seconder on the day.

Annual Subscriptions

The 2016 subscription of £10 was due on 1 January. However, at the time of going to press a number of members have failed to pay this year’s subscription. If you have yet to pay your 2016 subscription, please forward your payment to the Treasurer. If payment is not received before the issue of the next Newsletter (June) no further Newsletters will be available to non-payers and their membership will be considered lapsed.

Amendments To Member Details

Mike Needham 34th
Brian Hilton 19th
John Wells 44th Milford, Co. Armagh. 02837 311308
Derek Pitman 3rd West Ayton, North Yorkshire. 01723 865044
Jeff Short 37th Saxmundham, Suffolk. 01728 768775
Bash Johnstone 3rd Market Drayton, Shropshire. 01630 653667
Mike Frank 42nd

New Members

593343 William Corcoran 31st Carterton, Oxon. 01993 212691
595915 John Davison 310th Sparham, Norfolk. 01362 688008
594904 Mike Hudson 304th Brechin, Angus. 01356 625584
8001017 Steve Ings 317th Lisburn, Co. Antrim. 07703 738958
8000358 Ainsley Moorst 313th Carmel, Flintshire. 01352 716858/66882114252
595313 Paul Nicol 306th Eaton Socon, Cambs. 01480 384845
8001546 Neill Peabody 320th Acton, Cheshire. 07470 346992
8000556 Chris Robins 314th Amesbury, Wilts. 01980 626977
594941 Tony Soper 304th Corsham, Wiltshire. 01249 713978
8005045 Bryan Worsley 313th Billingborough, Lincolnshire. 01529 240074

Rest In Peace

594057 Ray Hedinburgh 42nd
592185 Bob Sayer 2nd
Mrs B Higgs Honorary
594250 Tony Melville 46th (Non member)
592059 Evan Thomas 61st Ruislip (Non member)


Obituary Peter J Buchanan 5th Entry – Bill Huggins

I have often commented on the smartness of some of our departed colleagues – and which was required of all of us! Peter was the smartest of all in my time,he had so much going for him, being tall and quite slim. On the order “Tallest on the…..” I would note where Pete was heading – and go the other way.
In the 1951 Trade Reshuffle, he somehow slipped up and as we were both at Kasfareet I offered to help him sort it out, but he didn’t bother. He’d quickly absorbed the Canal Zone Attitude – alla keefiq. He got on well with all, and ws well liked, was always cheerful, and lived life in his own way. He was a member of our Assn for many years, but bowed out when he knew the end was near. VALE Pete.
Bill Huggins 5th Entry

592185 Robert G Sayer 2nd Entry – Bill Huggins 5th

I have attended many funerals, family and professional, of various denominations, but this was the most palpably loving and caring service ever. Bob was a devout Christian, a Licensed Lay Minister, and the various eulogies emphasised his love for all, and his helpfulness to people with whom he worked.

The packed congregation, many elderly, many disabled, all there to show their love and respect for Bob’s work for the church, in his work, and in his village.

His humour was often mentioned, the Lay Preacher who gave the final address, noted that Bob told him ten years ago, that he wanted him to conduct his funeral (and also what should be included!). Bob was not being morbid, but rather was preparing for the final event when it came.

I knew Bob a little as an apprentice. It always seemed to me that we apps fell into three groups, the high strivers, the strivers to survive, and Bob’s group – those who worked quietly and diligently, and with a smile.

I next met Bob at Medmenham, however he worked at Nuneham Park and left early each morning so I rarely saw him. Later, after he’d been in hospital and was posted, I was deputed to help him pack, I reported to his room and was amazed to see his motor cycles in hundreds of pieces! How it was all fitted together/packed I can’t recall.

We met briefly in the early days of our Association, and I recall he read a lesson at St Clement Danes Church at an impressive joint service of Apps and BEs, pre- and post-war.

Clearly we should be proud that Bob epitomised what we recite in our Apprentices Prayer.

VALE Bob, gone but not forgotten.


594250 A D (Tony) Melville (46th)

Tony Melville died on 2nd January after a long battle with Parkinsons. Five of the 46th Entry attended his funeral in Gloucester. He was a much loved husband, father and grandfather and all our sympathies go to Sheila and their family. Tony was a “service brat” who, while in Singapore, fell in love with another and was only parted from Sheila by his death. He joined up at Bircham in May 1962, passed out with the rest of the 46th from Hereford in December 1963 with distinctions – the most notable of which (in our eyes) was that he was the only member of the Entry with a fiancée! He and Sheila married on 19 December 1964, upon which occasion I had the honour to be his best man. His subsequent career took him to Stradishall, Henlow, Lindholme, Bawtry, Newton, Hereford and three tours at Innsworth, where he was a fully paid up member of the “PMC Mafia”! His overseas tours were to Labuan, Singapore and twice to Rheindahlen. Loyal to our trade, he did the full term to age 55 and reached the heights of Warrant Officer Clerk Secretarial – the first in our entry to do so. During his career, apart from the GSM and LS&GCM and bar, he was awarded the MBE, BEM and MSM. He was an excellent all round athlete with his first love undoubtedly being golf: he had a single figure handicap – and even then I suspected him of being a bandit! Although we lost touch from time to time, we always connected in the end – at Rheindahlen, Innsworth (many times) and Hereford. During those meetings, I met other friends of his and realized that I have never met anyone who didn’t like Tony – he was that rarest of individuals, universally popular. Steve McKay, another member of our Entry (and of the Association), upon hearing of his death wrote: “He was very laid back and a great companion, full of fun. I shall certainly remember him with affection.” I can’t improve on that.
Vale, Tony: ‘XLVI in aeternum’.
Pete Ralph (46th)

Five members of the 46th (a quarter of its number) were able to attend the funeral and those of us unable to attend echo the words of Syd and Pete’s fine words in the obituary

On the completion of RAF Mount Pleasant, several of the roads were given names Falklandsappropriate to the activity therein and signs erected accordingly eg: ”Letsbe Avenue” for where the Police Flight was located, ”Rodney Ave” for the Army HQ and ”Petrel Drive” for the MT petrol pumps! There were others.
Not sure how these names were chosen or whether they were officially approved, perhaps a member can enlighten us on this.
About 2 months into my a tour a ”FOD FREE ZONE” sign was put up but located in an odd place and nobody seemed to accept responsibility for it! Shortly after its erection ( no pun intended) the sign was amended as shown in the photograph and stayed this way for a number of weeks. It was eventually spotted by a senior officer who ordered it be returned to its original form. Strange we all thought, why not just have the sign removed completely or put up in the operational area where it should have been in the first place.
The sign was taken away, duly repainted and returned the same strange location. However, a couple of weeks later it was again in the ”amended format” and stayed this way for quite a while until a gale force wind blew it away and it was never seen again!!
I think I know the guilty culprit who did the artwork but it is not for me to say!!
The Fred Jones Chronicles – Alan Bell 29th

My late mother’s brother my uncle Fred Jones (now in his late 80s), was a just a young lad of 11 or so when I was born in 1940. He has kindly agreed to provide us with a series of personal memories from his wartime days and beyond. My uncle who also served in the RAF is not only someone who over the years has become aquainted with some very interesting characters, he is continues to be a very talented aircraft painter, cartoonist and a fund of interesting and often very amusing anecdotes.

As your recently elected newsletter editor, One of  my aims is to try and ensure the content of the quarterly bulletins stays as interesting as possible, not simply confined to albeit the welcome contributions made by our members.  Most, if not all of us ex-admin apprentices have family or friends who served in the forces who might be tapped for stories. I am extremely fortunate that my own uncle is still around and for his agreeing to provide us with a personal quarterly ‘blog’. These will be headed up as The Fred Jones Chronicles and I will be most interested to hear what you think of them.

I would also like to think that by introducing what is a departure from the norm, it may just encourage other members to get out there and find other interesting contributors – I certainly hope so. I am also very keen to get our own members more involved in providing articles not only about their time in the RAF but about events after they left the service. Most of us would be able to come up with plenty of amusing stories about things that took place while in civvie life.  I would very  much like to hear some of these stories as I am sure would all of our readers.

The gauntlet has been thrown down so do not let me down guys!! Meanwhile enjoy the first of Fred’s wartime stories.

A North Weald Encounter


Fred Jones

Fred Pedalling
At North Weald With German Bombers Overhead My Uncle Fred Pedals Furiously To My Mum’s House

Hi Admin vets et “al” (short for you know who) – my nephew, your revered Newsletter Editor, has invited me to tell a few stories relating to my long-in-the tooth self. This is No 1, and I suspect, if it proves to be boring, it will not reach No 2. Might send you off for a No 2 though! Hadn’t thought it might have an laxative effect.
Well now, this little war story had it’s beginnings in 1940 when dear old Britain was being well and truly clobbered by the German Luftwaffe. Come one sunny day in August, there I was pedalling furiously along the Epping New Road. My destination was the RAF aerodrome at North Weald, some 12 miles from the outer reaches of East London where I lived. My intention was to visit my brother-in-law, Flight Sergeant Bell. who happened to be the proud father of Alan, his recently born son and now your worthy committee member. Now I was very proud of my brother-in-law, then a handsome young man with a trim moustache that reminded me of my favourite movie-screen hero, dear old Errol Flynn.
So I pedalled on with great expectations of something exciting ahead. How right I was. though there was nothing to indicate this when I arrived at the gates of RAF North Weald aerodrome. All was blissfully calm. A balmy summer’s afternoon and balmy me taking it all in, the sun beating down on my youthful head, the drone of bees above the neatly cropped grass and not a soul in sight. With no one to stop me, I wheeled my bike right up to the door of a building which proved to be the Station Headquarters but looked more like a neat suburban house. Abandoning my bike, I went straight into the orderly room and asked to see F.S Bell. All eyes turned in my direction and the unspoken question was: “Who the hell is this bloody kid and how did he get in?”
A few moments later, I was told to clear off because “Dinger” Bell wasn’t available. Furthermore, there was a war on and this was no place for kids to be wandering around, interrupting its progress.
A young airman escorted me to the gates and having watched me pedal off, made off for the Guard Room, no doubt, to tell them what had happened. Meanwhile, however, I was making a less conspicuous entry, circumventing the administrative block, then heading for one of the hangers. As I stood outside the door of this hanger, admiring a Hawker Hurricane, an overalled NCO appeared. Upon seeing me, he waved a spanner in a threatening manner and demanded to know who I was. “Flight Sergeant Bell’s brother-in-law,” I nervously explained. “I only want to see him, if, ‘er, that’s OK by you.”
Before he could answer, my red-faced brother-in-law, clearly embarrassed, finally showed up. Moments later, he carted me off, took me away from the aerodrome into a little cafe across the road. There I was treated to an orangeade and then told to cycle off to my sister’s place a mile or two down the road. As I made my way towards the village of Coopersale, suddenly everything changed. Firstly, I noticed there was no one about, the road was deserted, no sign of life, just me on my bike and the sound of gunfire coming from the aerodrome. I looked to my right and saw what the guns were shooting at, a line of low flying German bombers (Dorniers, I think) scudding across the airfield. Puffs of smoke from the low pointing guns, explosions on the ground, machine guns rattling away while I sought to outpace the jerries on my bicycle and escape their attention. Well, happily, I managed to do just that, reaching the sheltering trees of the nearby forest and pedal on to my destination,
No sweet welcome awaited me there, I’m afraid. My sister was in a panic, yanked me indoors and started yelling her head off, as if I was to blame for bringing the war to her doorstep and she wasn’t prepared to forgive me. There happened to be others in the house that day, probably the owner and his wife. After hastily conferring with them about what she should do with me, a decision was reached and I was shunted into the parlour.  No need to guess who was in there, snoozing away in his pram, blissfully unaware that his dear Uncle Fred had arrived unexpectedly just in time to protect him.
“Now you stay in here and look after the baby, ” cried my sister. An intake of breath before she went on: “Yes, look after him and don’t let anything happen to him, or I’ll damned well give you what for”
This said, she swung on her heel and departed, leaving me there in that tiny parlour with that tiny toddler to protect. Rocking the pram when the little brat stirred, I wondered whether we would survive. I had no need to worry, the bombers departed, leaving the airfield in a mess. Not us though. We were OK, not one tiny scratch on us. Now do I hear murmurs of regret, or relief from you guys, or is it merely my imagination?

NB. The aerodrome was badly damaged, many casualties and those killed, airmen, waafs and soldiers lie in the graveyard (military plot) of the nearby parish church.

I need to comment! Brat? how dare he! That is tantramount to suggesting I became a Boy Entrant!

Bircham Newton News from Dixie Dean

RAF Heritage Centre
The HC is in urgent need of volunteers to assist with the 2016 open days having lost 3 of their stalwart helpers. It is important to have at least 2 members on duty now the HC covers the whole of the ground floor of what was the Stn Cdr’s residence. Volunteers can do a complete day or it can be split; the 2016 open days are shown on the HC website ”latest news” page If you are interested in assisting please contact Avril MacArthur on 01485 578588

Apprentice Display Material

Many visitors to the HC often look for friends who they think may have trained at Bircham. This entails searching through the entry nominal rolls that comprise the Apps display and when the name is found excitement mounts when they then switch to the Entry photo scrapbooks. However, on a number of occasions there is disappointment when there are no photos to be found or if there is a photo it does not bear the names or the quality is very poor eg: copy of a copy!
Please, please could I appeal again for photos for the following entries. How many such items I wonder are languishing in boxes in the attic etc never to see the light of day? It is important the photos have names.
32nd One trade photo only, need entry one.
33rd Need entry photo.
35th —– ditto——-
37th Have entry photo but poor quality and names chopped off.
39th Need entry photo.
41st —– ditto —–
All entries. Require good quality photos of any aspect of entry life.
Please contact me with any details 01728 747878 Dixie Dean Bircham Newton Liaison Rep.

305th Entry 50th Anniversary

The 305th Entry will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary of joining up, to be held on the 17th April 2016 at the Bicester Golf and Country Club. A  game of golf will take place on the 18th (Mon).  All ex 305th Members welcome. Full details from Jim Parker

FEAF Memorial Appeal

The RAF Seletar (Inc RAF Tengah) Association, the RAF Butterworth & Penang Association, and the RAF Changi Association have jointly launched an appeal to raise funds to establish a Trust Fund, managed by the National Memorial Arboretum, to cater for the long-term care and maintenance of the FEAF Memorial at the NMA. If you served at any of the Far East stations and would like to donate to the appeal please send cheques, payable to the RAF Seletar Association (With FEAF Memorial Appeal on the reverse), to Mr D Taylor, (RAFSA), 7 Deerstone Way, Dunnington, York, YO19 5RB; For more information please contact David on 01904 593259 or Email: dt@deltatango

And Finally A Word From Me – Your Website Manager and Newsletter Editor

Well at last we seem to have got our new website up and running more or less as we would like. I have been having fun trying to learn the complexities of Word Press, the software platform that most websites are now using to maintain their sites. At any age this can be daunting but at my age it has been even more challenging!
We have encountered a number of frustrating technical issues along the way and I am still finding errors that were made during the changeover process by our web design company. The latest of these revealed that the transcription of the detail of the Entry Lists was far from accurate. Although Bryan Schofield has now updated these in so far as is possible, it would be very helpful if you would check your own Scrapbook Page and notify either Bryan Schofield or myself of any listing or other errors (including missing forenames). Bryan can be contacted by Email at My email address is shown on the front page of the Newsletter. I would also like to hear from you if you find anything else on the site that does not appear to be either working correctly or you find information that you consider to be incorrect. While talking about notifications do remember you can comment on any Notice that is published. Comments made will be scrutinized by me before being approved for publication so be careful what you say lads!!
Please note that Find A Friend Requests that are received will no longer be notified via the Noticeboard but will be placed automatically in the Find My Friend page of the site. The same goes for any Articles you may submit. Please use the the interactive forms provided for both Find A Friend requests and Articles.
I have recently added a couple of new pages to the site that are accessible in the News and Views section, namely the ability to read and/or download a number of previous editions of our Newsletter and a facility to access and play the Website Manager’s video presentations made at the AGMs in 2014 and 2015.
I would welcome your views about the new site and any recommendations you may have for improvement.