Obituary To Kenneth ‘Ken’ Barker – 591313 (49th Ruislip)
Ken died peacefully at home, in the early hours of 21 September 2021 (aged 100).
Ken was born on 28th April 1921 in Featherstone, near Pontefract, West Yorkshire. He was 9 when the family moved to Smethwick, Birmingham. After 5 years at Grammar school, he passed the school certificate which enabled him to join the RAF as an apprentice, on 27 October 1937
The Pre WW1 Nissan hut shared living conditions were a bit of a shock and there was only hot water once a week, on a Wednesday after sports. Pay was 2 shillings a week and no smoking was allowed unless you had a smoking pass from your parents!
Ken passed his apprentice course on 28th April 1939 and on the declaration of war, Ken’s posting to France with the British Expeditionary Forces was cancelled. He stayed in the UK and was stationed in RAF Ruislip at the height of the Blitz. In 1942 he embarked the Queen Mary for Suez. The 28 day voyage, along with 17,000 troops and terrible food was not quite a luxury cruise experience he had in mind.
This tour took Ken to Suez, Aden and India and he was able to visit the Pyramids, Ruins of Baalbek in Syria, the Holy Lands and the Taj Mahal. Post War he returned to the UK and was detached to Germany to help with the Berlin Airlift.
There were further overseas tours to Cape Town and Rhodesia where he was lucky to get trips in a Tigermoth flying over the Victoria Falls and the nearby Game Reserve. After promotion to Warrant Officer he returned to the UK as supervisor and instructor at the RAF Admin Apprentices School. In 1956 Ken moved to RAF Bridgenorth, where he met Maureen.
Ken and Maureen married in 1959 and a final overseas posting took them to Aden where John was born in 1963. Returning to the UK later that year to RAF Innsworth, Gloucester where David was born in 1966.
After leaving the RAF in 1967, he continued his working life as a civil servant until retiring in 1987.
Very much a family man, Ken enjoyed spending time with his children, their wives and grandchildren. He also enjoyed foreign travel and exploring the British countryside.
He attended the annual RAF Apprentices reunions in Stratford and particularly enjoyed sharing stories from his apprentice days.
After a fall in 2017, Ken did not regain his mobility, but with the help of Maureen and carers was able to stay at home.
Ken and Maureen celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in 2019 and received a lovely card from the Queen, and another arrived this year when he celebrated his 100th Birthday.
Ken died peacefully at home, on 21 September 2021, and was cremated in Gloucester Crematorium on Thursday 7th October 2021. He is survived by wife Maureen and sons, John and David.
Owen Claude Douglas – Information provided by his daughter Diana Newson
My father Owen Claude Douglas, known as Joe, joined as an apprentice clerk on 26th October 1938 when he was 16. He was at Ruislip until 1940. I have attached a photo of some of his intake, he is on the left, centre row. They did do shorthand and typing and took an exam as well, certificate attached.
Christopher Bush (591432) – 51st Entry Apprentice Clerks
I have been contacted by Avril MacArthur a Trustee and Assistant Curator at Royal Air Force Museum at Bircham Newton. Her late father, FS Christopher Bush was 51st Entry Apprentice Clerks Ruislip. He was stationed at Bircham Newton from July 1947 until August 1949. Avril would very like to get in touch with anyone who may remember her father who joined the RAF on 29th January 1921 leaving on 29th September 1963.
During a long career in the RAF, Christopher became a voluntary bandsman playing trombone but he also played piano, accordian and both saxes – very much in his family’s tradition. Whilst at RAF Pembroke Dock he started his own band called the Astralaires with consisting just RAF personnel. Later a number of civilians joined the band and he ended up the only RAF member. They played all over W Wales sometimes splitting up to make two bands – Avril thinks up to 14 were involved. They played at The Imperial in Tenby , the Pater Hall in Pembroke Dock as well as the Officer’s Mess there. The Bush family remained at Pembroke Dock from 1952 – 1958 and Avril recalls one bedroom stacked with sheet music.
My thanks to Avril for letting me have these photographs featuring her father. I have decided to place them and other images provided by Avril, here on the Ruislip section of the website but to also place a link to them from the Bircham Newton page.
If you have any knowledge or memories of Christopher Bush and would like to pass them on to his daughter please contact me,
Administrator Note 4 Jan 2013
Regarding Christopher Bush, In a recent dialogue with Dixie Dean Avril has kindly provided us with another photo. This features Clement Smith (who has recently joined our Association aged 90), with Christopher. Avril comments:
‘I have also (as I told you I believe) been in touch with Clement Smith following your suggestion – he had recently at 90 joined the Association. His son Pete has just emailed me a photograph of my father and Clement as attached. Please use if of any interest. Must say it was beyond me wildest dreams to find someone at this late hour! For which I have to thank you’
Many thanks Avril.
Photo Above includes:
Dennis Sudron Ex- Ruislip Apprentice Clerk Commissioned from FS 14th June 1961 Retired as Flt Lt (Secretarial) 8th February, 1978 Died 24th December 1979
The appeal below is self explanatory. Anyone with any information please contact me firstname.lastname@example.org
My name is Philip Sudron and I am the son of Dennis Sudron (1923 – 1979), who joined the RAF as an RAF Apprentice in 1939. I am researching my father’s life and would be really grateful if you might be able to help or advise, specifically regarding his time at Ruislip and I think he spent some time at Halton, but am not sure. I would really like to know which of the Entry groups he was in. Also if any of his peers are still alive; and who may have contributed anecdotes/artefacts.I have a photograph, a copy of which I’ve attached. It is dated July 1940 and captioned ‘Apprentices P.T. team’. My father is 2nd from the left in the front row.
Philip Sudron July 2011
Herbert Victor Bunting (590328) 17th Entry RAF Ruislip Apprentice Clerks – By Jim Wilcox 5th Entry Association President
Herbert (Harry) Bunting was born on 6th June 1913 in Teddington, Middlesex. He moved with his family to Wiltshire in 1919 living briefly in Corston and then Malmesbury, where his father was Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths. After attending Rodbourne village school and Malmesbury Grammar School, Harry joined the RAF on 30th October 1929 as a Ruislip Apprentice Clerk.
Like many others his ambition was to become aircrew and this he achieved in 1935 when he became a Sgt Pilot. In 1936 he qualified as a pilot on flying boats and flew extensively in the Middle East, India and the Far East. He was commissioned from FS in 1940.
In 1942 he was posted to 210 Sqn, based at Castle Archdale on Lough Erne, Northern Ireland flying Sunderlands. The squadron tasking included flying patrols over the North Atlantic hunting German U boats and providing aerial protection for the convoys bringing vital supplies to the UK from America and Canada. In order to give as much cover as possible to the convoys the sqn was ordered to fly to the maximum safe endurance of the aircraft. Harry Bunting had a more than average understanding of the mathematical and technical aspects of navigation and was able to work out exactly what was a maximum safe endurance for any of his patrols.
On one of Harry’s patrols a new navigator had been assigned to his crew. At the point when they were due to turn for home Harry left the cockpit to check the navigator’s calculations, but found that the Nav had boobed. The Nav’s error meant that the aircraft did not have enough fuel to to make it safely back to Castle Archdale. Even though the Sunderland was a flying boat, the chances of carrying out a successful landing in the choppy North Atlantic were not good. The only course of action was to attempt to make it back to base and the fuel tanks were configured so that each tank would run empty before switching to the next tank. To add to the problem they were flying into a head wind, but as the hours went by the wind direction changed in their favour and eventually the tail wind helped to push the Sunderland over the Irish coast and on to the flat water of Lough Erne. A successful landing was made on the Lough without the aid of the lantern buoys that normally assisted night landing. Before the crew were taken off the aircraft by launch, the Flight Engineer checked the fuel tanks and found that all had completely run dry!
Harry Bunting remained in the RAF until June 1968 when he retired as a Wg Cdr with an OBE. He returned to live in Malmesbury where he died in 2004 at the age of 90.
7th December 2016
Norman L Baugh (590431) 21st Entry Ruislip Apprentice Clerk – By Jim Wilcox 5th Entry Association President
Norman Baugh (Pronounced Bore) joined the RAF on 29th October 1930 as a Ruislip Apprentice Clerk. After passing out of training he, like many other former Ruislip Apprentices, volunteered for aircrew training. Available vacancies, especially for NCO pilots were few and fiercely competed for by airmen of all trades: Particularly by ex-Aircraft Apprentices. As the beginning of the Second World War approached opportunities increased. But from 1938 until the early 1940s, ex-apprentice clerks were actively discouraged from taking up flying training. Nevertheless, Norman Baugh was accepted for training and became a Sgt Pilot. In March 1940 he was commissioned and in 1941 he was serving as a Fg Off at RAF Kai Tak. In the face of the Japanese attack on Hong Kong, Kai Tak was evacuated and Fg Off Baugh left for Aberdeen on Hong Kong Island. What followed is best told in the citation for his award of the Military Cross.
“At the outbreak of the Second World War Flying Officer Baugh was stationed at RAF Kai Tak. Unfortunately all our aircraft destroyed in the first phase and he was never able to operate. After carrying out as much demolition as possible and rendering unserviceable all M.T. that could not be evacuated to Hong Kong Island, he supervised the evacuation of personnel and proceeded in convoy with 8 M.T. vehicles to Aberdeen.
On arrival at Aberdeen the RAF personnel immediately came under Navy orders. Pending definitive orders as to the employment of the RAF personnel, Flying Officer Baugh accompanied Wing Commander Bennett and Naval Dockyard Police patrolling the Town. Subsequently he and a detachment of 10 airmen came under the command of Major Bailey. Armed with Vickers machine guns and small arms they, from December 14th to December 20th, remained under Major Bailey’s command and actively participated in the defence of the Island.
On the evening of the 20th December, whilst supervising the evacuation of personnel ordered by his Commanding Officer, he was blown against by a mortar bomb explosion and became unconscious and injured his back. The next morning he was taken to the Canadian Casualty Clearing Section, which itself was subject to heavy fire, from where he was later evacuated to the Aberdeen Industrial School. Finally, he was taken to the Hong Kong Hotel which was being used as a hospital.
On December 24th, feeling somewhat better, he applied for his discharge from the hospital and, being unable to contact the RAF Detachment, he joined up with the Hong Kong Volunteers to assist in defending a secondary line of defence. These positions were destroyed on the 25th and he then retired to Headquarters. Later that day the Garrison surrendered and on the 26th December he was transported with the Volunteers to Victoria and joined up with the remainder of the RAF personnel. They were detained in the grounds of the Fortress Headquarters until the 30th when they were marched to Star Ferry and shipped across to Sham Shui Po.
From December 30th until February 1st, he remained in this camp and spent most of his time planning to escape. His plans were drawn up with Major Munro and Captain Trevor and they decided that the only successful way of getting out was by sea. They prepared a small raft from firewood to take their packs containing clothing and food supplies. On the night of 1st and 2nd February at about 2320 hours they left the camp swimming and pushing the raft before them. They eventually landed on the mainland very exhausted at 0020 hours. After a short rest they proceeded on foot on a Northerly course over Golden Hill and Smuggler’s Rest. At daybreak they laid up in the undergrowth, taking care to keep watch and they did not move until nightfall. They travelled throughout the night until 0330 hours when they were, again, thoroughly exhausted. The following evening they set off again in the rain, but made slow going on account of the difficult terrain and through having to go entirely by compass bearing. They walked until 0400 hours when they laid up again. On the evening of the 4th February they set off at 1945 hours, but the going was so heavy that they were obliged to rest every two or three minutes. Captain Trevor at this period was suffering from extreme exhaustion and was unable to make much progress on account of the slippery surface on the steep inclines. After some hesitation they allowed Trevor to go into a village to obtain food; which he successfully achieved. The following evening they continued but shortly ran into bandits who, however, gave them a meal and a guide, but retained some of their possessions. The bandits guide took them across the New Territories leading them to a farmhouse where they were given food and shelter. They remained there all day until 0300 hours on the 7th February and went to a farmhouse at Tseung, passing very close to the Japanese. Again they were given food and then proceeded to Kounan Market where they met Chinese guerrillas who received them very well. They had intended to proceed to Wai Chow, but the guerrillas informed them that it was in Japanese occupation and advised them to wait for a while. On February 12th, learning that Wai Chow was now free from the Japanese , they continued on their way and arrived at 1815 hours in a very exhausted and dilapidated state. They were by then in fairly poor physical shape on account of the many days exposure in very bad weather. From Wai Chow onwards their journey through to Kunming was hard but they met with no more real obstacles, though they suffered much from the conditions. They arrived at Kunming and finally left for Calcutta by air on the 1st of April 1942.
It should be pointed out that Flying Officer Baugh’s decision to escape was very commendable in view of the fact that the general morale in Sham Shui Po Camp was low and little or no encouragement was given to would be escapers. It was necessary to have a very firm determination to leave the comparative safety of the camp for the unknown hazards of the mainland and to get through some 2,000 miles of Chinese territory to safety.”
Unfortunately Norman Baugh did not survive the War. Serving as a Flt Lt Pilot with 31 Sqn, he was killed in action in Burma on 31 January 1943.