- Current Issue - Past Issues - Links -


What a Cracker!
Well, the Blenheim Reunion and the Classic Fighters Airshow were truly magnificent and this was due to the excellent organisation and months of 'shepherding' and fine tuning by Graham (Gus) Smart 80th Entry followed by his close monitoring of the events, as they unfolded, over the Easter holiday. I am sure that all who attended will join me in thanking Gus for his outstanding effort. His report of the Easter event can be found on page 7 of this newsletter. The only thing left to say is that it was a Cracker!

If, when you read the report of the Reunion, you have misgivings that you were not with us and if you are of sound mind, wind and limb (Please go easy on the wind though!!) then I urge you to give serious consideration about joining us at our next reunion. So come on; save your pennies for our next reunion in Napier in March 2007.It is a great venue for a get together. Hope to see you there!

The advantages and rewards of having our own newsletter are manifest; not the least being the contacts and renewed friendships that have been made around the world as a result of 'The Wheel' passing through numerous, nebulous channels. Out of the blue, I recently received an email from Peter Magnall 67th Cranwell (C). Peter is the secretary of RAFCAA and, as a result of this contact, I sent him a list of all the ex-Cranwell friends I knew in the early part of my service. Amazingly, they were all listed as current members and Peter kindly put me in touch with several of them. One of the most pleasing results of these renewed contacts is that Phil Shaw 68th (C) and Phil Croft 68th (C), who were mentioned in my article, 'Operation Too Right', were given a copy of the article and, when I wrote it, I had no idea of where they were! Peter asked for permission to print the Valiant articles that appeared in the last issue of 'The Wheel' and they have subsequently been printed in the 'Cranwell Wheel'.

All this interaction with ex- Cranwell people has led me to think that we ex-Halton types, because we are in the majority, are somewhat guilty of overlooking the fact that we have ex-Cranwell and ex-Locking members among our ranks and, in an effort to redress this situation, I have given prominence, in this issue, to articles by these members. Because of this, don't think that you ex-Halton bods are 'off the hook'. I am running out of suitable articles for the next couple of issues and hope some of you, who have not so far contributed, will come to the party!!
David Sykes 68th Editor
Back to Top

Association Contacts
Secretary Ed Austin
Ph. 09-266-8900
Email edaustin@xtra.co.nz
Editor David Sykes
Ph. 07-576-0970
Email damarsyk@xtra.co.nz
Back to Top

Letters to the Editor
Thanks again for sending me another complimentary copy of the Wheel. It's very well done and I wish you and all the ex-Haltonians all the luck going. However, in response to Peter Brooks's letter re 'disinterested ex-brats', it should be pointed out that people change as they age and develop other interests. Granted, a re-union takes very little time out of a whole year but to some it can be thought of as a long and rather stultifying weekend away from more challenging pursuits. Selfish? Of course. Each of us is an individual and after a number of years of being marched around in the ranks I for one am determined to retain total independence. Wine trails and guided tours are not my bag and I suspect a lot of others feel the same way. So Peter shouldn't feel that we're odd or ungrateful. Alright, that's enough. I'm off to try to play my age on a full-sized golf course....then I'll settle down with Bach and/or Mozart and a cryptic crossword...
Clive Shaw 68th
And in reply to this letter-----

Monty Firmin 80th

I agree with Clive Shaw; we are individuals. I haven't a yen to play golf, listen to Bach or Mozart, though I do like crosswords.
Bill Cowham 44th

The Cranwell and Halton 67th Entries have had a combined reunion for the last 5 years organised by Cyril Large [Halton]. We manage a turn out of 50 plus, including wives and have a most enjoyable weekend. This year it was at the Reading Moat House Hotel on the weekend of the 8/9/10th April. I have known Cyril for many years and he had been organising a Halton reunion for several years and suggested we should have a joint venture. I did some heavy S/A/A stuff on the Cranwell lads and it has gone from strength to strength.Because I have been a member of the Aylesbury and Halton Branch of the RAFA since 1965, I have met up with quite a few Halton Apprentices and I have one as a near neighbour. One very old friend is Barry Smith of the 50th Entry, who was Chairman of the Branch for about 10 years and we were on the Committee together for many years before that.
Peter Magnall 67th (C)

It just goes to show that we can get along! DS Ed.

Have just had a look at your NZRAFAAA website and thought you might wish to include a link to the RAF Cranwell Apprentices Association website at http://www.rafcaa.org.uk/. I do this because the link from the http://www.appbe.com/ website has been highjacked by a porn site!
Peter Magnall 67th (C)

The April edition of the Halton Newsletter mentions that the 68th website is now defunct. I imagine it is because they have NOT updated the address since Brian McCarthy went to live in Europe. Perhaps we could provide a link to it on our local website, and also you might consider letting Halton know about both the NZ website and the current Url for 68th Entry?
Bill Howell 68th

RAFHAAA advised. The 68th Entry address is:-
www.homepage.hispeed.ch/the68th DS Ed.

I am taking the unusual step of writing a letter to myself because I think it is the best forum for the following:- DS Ed.

I visited San Diego Aerospace Museum in May and was delighted to find that there was a Mk XV1 Spitfire (SL574) which had been restored by Halton Apprentices and had been presented to the Museum in 1989 as a tribute to the Eagle Squadron, many of whose members died in defence of Britain in the early part of the war.This aircraft was built in August 1945 at Castle Bromwich. Details can be found on the following:-
David Sykes 68th Entry

Last night I met a visitor from UK whom you will have met at Blenheim, one John Humphries (an instrument basher from the 82nd) and enjoyed a couple of beers with him at the local Aero Club where he is a semi-regular visitor. We swapped email addresses and I now have a Kiwi and a UK contact for him.
Bill Howell 68th Entry

Back in 1998, my wife and I spent 5 weeks in New Zealand as part of our retirement tour of the world. During that visit we stayed with Geoff and Janette Northmore [64th Entry] and with Peter and Janet Cornelius [69th Entry]. We also met with Alan Carter [68th Entry] an NZ Apprentice and John Roberts [69th Entry]. All arrangements made on the internet and confirmed by phone during our tour of NZ. The friendships forged during our Apprentice training and during subsequent service life continue into our retirement and span the globe. I am in daily contact with Apprentices throughout the world via the Internet, and long may it continue.
Peter Magnall 67th (C)
Back to Top

Vulcan To The Sky Project (VTTS)
The last flying Vulcan B2, XH558, formerly being flown by the Vulcan Display Flight, was pensioned off in 1992 and subsequently sold. It is currently being restored to flying capability at Bruntingthorpe.The project is looking for members and donations. A membership form and all details of membership fees can be found on the following website:
Back to Top

In Memoriam
It is with sadness that we record the death of the following member. We extend our heartfelt sympathy to family and friends.
Vic Allen 43rd Entry
Allan Carter 68th Entry (C)
David Moore 74th Entry
Back to Top

Obituaries and Comments
Vic Allen died suddenly, on 31st July, at his home in Pelorus Sound. A funeral service was held at Nelson Baptist Church followed by internment at Fairhall Cemetry, Blenheim. I and my wife Beryl attended.
Jim Butler 44th Entry (C)

Allan Carter died peacefully on June 27th. I had only seen him a fortnight earlier and although weak, he was in good heart and enjoying good conversations. He was a really nice fellow. Doris and I went to the funeral and Bill Cowham also attended.
Sam West 68th Entry

David Moore died on the 20th March, this year. He was trained as an Electrical Fitter at Halton and was a Brit, but has been a '5 bob Kiwi' for a number of years, living with his family in New Plymouth. He and his wife came back for our 50th Reunion in 2003: a very nice couple.
Henry Goldsmith 74th Entry
Back to Top

New Members
We Welcome:-
John Humphries 82nd Entry
John has the best of both (worlds) hemispheres, living for 6 months in each. No prizes for guessing which seasons he selects.
Back to Top

Ploughing by Anson

Anson 22 Radio Trainer, similar to the one mentioned below.

On August 28th, 1951, at 16 years and 1 month, I started at No. 6 Radio School RAF Cranwell and just one week later, on Sept. 4th, I was selected to do a 'Radar Trainee, Air Experience' flight with four others in Anson V V366 piloted by Sgt. Taplin. We weren't in the air very long when the T1154 transmitter, mounted on the bulkhead behind the pilot, started vibrating badly, along with the aircraft. However, this soon stopped and we went into a low flying routine. Although this was my first flight, I knew all about hedge hopping from reading Biggles. Under telegraph wires we went, skimmed over drainage channels, sheep scattered as we came so low and I noticed a farmer jump off his tractor as we were about to part his hair. Then a thump and then scraping as we skidded across a field, another thump as we went through another hedge, and another, before we finally came to a stop. "Get out quick!" shouted the pilot over our headphones. I was at the back and closest to the door, but didn't know how to open it, so someone else sorted that out. We were told to stand about 100 feet away from the aircraft, which looked somewhat sad in the field with its wheels up and propellers bent.

I suddenly remembered that I had left my beret in the aircraft, and although I had only been in the 'mob' a week, I knew that being in uniform without one's hat was a chargeable offence. So I risked being present when the aircraft blew up and re-entered the aircraft to fetch my beret. I returned to the rest of the chaps to discover that an officer had turned up and had passed the cigarettes around. The only time I ever knew an officer to pass cigarettes around and I had missed it! It turned out that the officer had come in a Land Rover from RAF Coningsby, which we could just see and which the pilot was probably heading for, so he must have been calling on the radio.

We were later to return in Best Blue to the Court of Enquiry at the Coningsby Control Tower, but the pilot's story must have been accepted as none of us were called to give evidence. Anyway, my evidence would have been simply the vibration, the scattering sheep and the farmer's nose dive from his tractor. I believe the vibration was probably due to an engine throwing a sparking plug or a con-rod, but a Haltonian might have a better idea. The reduction in vibration would have been due to the offending engine being feathered or switched off, and although theoretically twin engined aircraft can maintain flight on one engine, there's always the exception to the rule!

With assistance from another ex-Brat in the UK, I was able to obtain a copy of the accident report and 26 year old Sgt. J.H. Taplin, 1628910, was blamed for having 'failed to maintain airspeed and apply full climbing power on the good engine'.

Here endeth the story of my first flight. Fortunately I was too young to become scared of flying again.
Peter Cornelius 69th (C)

I have been told that the following 4 apprentices were on this flight, namely:- Coleman, Cornelius, Cox and Crowhurst. I have recently made contact with Ted Cox (After 50-odd years) who I served with at Gaydon and who is listed as one of the four. Paragraphs from his story follow. DS Ed.
Back to Top

My Headlong Flight
If I remember rightly, there were four of us, in the Anson, who were taking our first flight. (We were selected in alphabetical order.) Crowhurst had taken the Co-Pilot's seat, I was next in the W.Ops position (T1154/1155) with Cornelius and Coleman behind me. (Gee II - Rebecca)

At the time of the incident I noticed that we were low and out of the starboard window I saw a couple standing outside their bungalow looking up at us. I grinned and waved cheerfully back. We got lower, a lot lower in fact and when I looked out of the port window, the port wingtip was knocking over stooks of corn. "This is a bit dangerous!" thinks I, oblivious to any danger until now, so I strained up into my seat straps to look between the two pilot's seats and through the windscreen. Just as I did so, I saw us go through a hedge. If I thought that the previous vibration had been severe, it was nothing to what followed. I shut my eyes and hung on to the 1154, which felt like it was coming apart. We were well strapped in, but that was some bumpy ride! When we finally skidded to a halt, the order "Abandon Aircraft!" came over the Intercom. I twisted the harness catch and gave it a blow, as demonstrated before the flight. It came undone. I jumped out of my seat and headed rapidly towards the rear door, only to be jerked severely back almost to where I had come from and nearly breaking my neck in the process. My helmet was still on and I had forgotten to undo the 359 socket! (I think I suffered more bruising from that than from the crash landing!) I got to the rear door. Peter Cornelius was pulling on the door handle and Coleman was yanking on the emergency handle, but nothing was budging. They both looked up at me, so I found some purchase from behind and kicked with both feet whilst they operated the handle. (The reason the door hadn't opened was that we were below ground level and soil was up against it.) On the second kick, the door flew open and, as I was in the centre of the doorway, I was first out and I took off at high speed across the ploughed field.

Shortly afterwards, a civilian, carrying a small puppy, was walking down our trail of destruction towards the aircraft. He explained that he was a farmer and had been driving his tractor, harrowing his field. He heard the noise of the crashing aircraft and looked up to see it hurtling through the hedge towards him. He then grabbed his puppy, pulled his coat over his head and dived off the tractor. He said the aircraft took his chain harrow off and smashed it into a ball, whilst the tractor carried on and ended up in a hedge.

It would be two years before we flew again and I will admit to being a tad nervous on our first sortie, but operating Gee II and giving the pilot instructions like "Left a bit!", "Right a bit!" and "Back a bit!" soon rekindled my love of flying. I guess the pilot was expecting the "Back a bit!"
Ted Cox 69th Entry (C) UK
Back to Top

Per Ardua Ad Nova Zelandia
When the war began I was 14, and living in a little market town, Henley-on-Thames, between London and Oxford. (It is now in the millionaire's belt around London). I was a scholar in a fee paying, rugby playing, old English grammar school and have hated rugby ever since. We were far enough from London to be unaffected by the Battle of Britain and subsequent Blitz, except to have billeted on us evacuees, both children and adults. These came and went. Some stayed for a few days, others for months. My mother joined the Women's Voluntary Service (WVS), serving meals in the war-time British restaurants that provided cheap basic meals. My father became a Civil Defence Firewatcher, spending three or four nights a week on top of a tall building on the lookout for incendiary bombs. None were dropped on Henley, but two explosive bombs were dropped nearby. One killed a goose!

In an effort to maintain a high School Certificate pass rate, my old grammar school excluded, from sitting this exam, those who the teachers considered had no chance of passing. As I was one of these, my father, who was paying about two weeks wages a term to keep me at school, decided I should leave, which was OK by me. I went to work for a local farmer for sixpence an hour, but knowing that I would be conscripted as soon as I was 18, my father, who served in the trenches in WW1, was keen to keep me out of the Army. Also, as well as being a Butler by name he had been a butler by occupation, so was keen to get me into what he considered a proper trade. Finding that the RAF was taking boys between the ages of 15½ and 17½ for apprentice training in aircraft trades, he arranged for me to sit the entrance exam, which I managed to pass. So, on the day Singapore fell to the Japanese, I arrived at RAF Halton along with 300 other young lads.

After a few weeks of medical examinations, inoculations, kitting out, drill, being shouted at and generally being mucked about, particularly by senior entries (boys who had joined up in previous years), 75 of us were selected to go to RAF Cranwell to begin two years training as Wireless Operator Mechanics. Today they would be called Communications Technicians. The training was really very good, and stood me in good stead for the rest of my working life. There was, of course, plenty of drill on the parade ground, where we were screamed at by drill instructors. Plenty of inspections to see that we had our boots and buttons clean, and our uniforms properly creased. We were harried by the senior entries, who delighted in raiding our dormitories (great long rooms with 25 beds on each side) after lights out (9 pm I believe), to tip us out of bed. This happened regularly until a new entry arrived later in 1942, when we were able to do the same to them! We were paid fortnightly, getting alternately five shillings one fortnight and ten shillings the next, but we were given extra money when we went on leave; three times a year, six weeks in all.

After church parade on Sundays, we were given the rest of the day off, and we could go by bus into the nearest towns, Lincoln and Sleaford. Not that we had much money to spend. Most went on food, because meals were pretty basic. Boiled potatoes, boiled cabbage and carrot stew seemed to be the norm, with plum duff for afters, and lumpy porridge for breakfast. We were perpetually hungry. A penny-halfpenny would buy a mug of tea and a currant bun from the NAAFI wagon for morning and afternoon tea breaks and at the YMCA in the evenings you could buy baked beans on toast, or a plate of chips for a penny. The cinema cost threepence. We were forbidden to smoke, but most of us did, if we could afford to buy cigarettes. After five shilling pay days most of us were broke long before the next 10 shilling pay day was due.

We were given jankers (confined to camp) for minor misdemeanours, such as being late on parade, having dirty buttons or boots, not being in bed by lights out, and being caught smoking, that sort of thing. Once on jankers it could be difficult to get off, because one had to parade in full kit at the guard-room at 6.30 am for inspection and then again at 6.30 in the evening, when one was also detailed for chores that would occupy the rest of the evening. If one had difficulty in getting moving in the early mornings, three days jankers could easily be extended to three weeks. The chores one was given in the evenings were often cleaning pots and pans, and maybe the floor in the cookhouse. Not an unpopular chore because, in the cookhouse, one could often scrounge something to eat. I remember once acquiring a tin of sliced pears, and scoffing the lot while sitting in the toilet and once in the Officers Mess being given a bowl of strawberries and cream by a kindly WAAF.

I managed to pass the tests we were given at the end of each term, just getting enough marks to prevent me being thrown out of the Apprentices (ceased training), or being put back to a junior entry for further training. But not all of the 75 of us remained to take the final exam. I had trouble with passing the Morse Code exam. My writing was so bad I could not read back correctly the five-digit code groups I wrote down at 18 groups a minute. So I was passed out as a Wireless Mechanic only, just before D-Day. I am still in touch with about 20 of those I trained with at Cranwell.

I was posted to Special Signals Squadron 192, stationed at Foulsham, in Norfolk. While I did not know what was going on at the time, the planes of 192 Squadron were dropping 'Window' (aluminium strips) in the English Channel, near Dover, to try and fool the German radar that the invasion force was assembling near Dover to invade France near Calais on D-Day. I was put into the Special Signals Servicing Section, which contained all sorts of strange equipment, which I had never heard of before, or since. Some was to record the frequency and pulse rate of German radar, so it could be jammed. Other equipment was to record the speech and frequency of the German ground controllers of their night fighters, also for jamming, or confusing their instructions. It was a mix of peculiar equipment, some commercial, some home made, whose serviceability in vibrating aircraft was poor, to put it mildly. There was a civilian scientist working in the section trying to make improvements. My job was to fit this equipment in the aircraft in the afternoons, prior to take-off in the evenings and then take it out and return it to the section in the morning, when the planes returned, for checking and repair. It was pure manual labour on our part. Most of the equipment was quite heavy, and often had to be fitted into awkward places. Balancing a heavy 'black box' on one's shoulder while climbing a ladder to enter a Mosquito, through a small hatch, was particularly tough. It was easier in the Wellingtons and Halifaxes, because there was more room. Most of us in the section were young, 19, 20 and 21 year olds. But there were two older men who had been radio repairmen before being called up. 'Old Bert' who was 32, and 'Old George' who was 36! We youngsters used to consider them really old men!

When the European War ended, all us youngsters were earmarked for 'Tiger Force' for the invasion of Japan. But, before we got underway, the Japanese war was over and we were shipped off to Egypt instead. After some weeks in a transit camp near Cairo, I was posted to a Halifax Squadron in Palestine. This Squadron was engaged in searching the eastern Mediterranean for ships bringing Jewish refugees to Palestine. If they were found the ships were diverted to Cyprus, where the refugees were interned. This activity did not go down well with the local Jewish population, and their 'Freedom Fighters' or 'Terrorists', depending what side of the fence you were on, did their best to sabotage our planes, with some success. As a consequence, much of my time in Palestine was spent on guard duties. Fortunately, after a year I was posted to Amman in Jordan, for the last 18 months of my overseas tour, where one could go into town or into the countryside with no danger.

After Palestine, I got a very cushy posting, back to the UK, where I spent a year on a maintenance unit near London and then I went back to Cranwell as an instructor in the Radio School I had left about 5 years earlier. Whilst there, the school was moved to Locking, near Weston-Super-Mare; a delightful place, which I remember with affection but, all too soon, in 1952, I was back in Egypt again, along-side the Suez Canal, with about 80,000 other British servicemen (and about 80 service women) at a maintenance unit, RAF Abyad.('Stalag Luft 109' we used to call it.)

About every six months in this two year tour we could be flown to Cyprus for a fortnight's leave. Towards the end of this tour, while on leave in Cyprus, I had to go into RAF Nicosia, where RNZAF 14 Squadron was based. It had been my intention that, when I completed my 12 years regular service with the RAF, I would sign on for a further 10 years, (to be able to retire with a pension) however, in talking to the ground staff of 14 Squadron at RAF Nicosia, I found they were virtually all ex-RAF, getting much more pay than equivalent ranks in the RAF, and were flown back to the UK for leave. I am in the wrong Air Force I thought! So, shortly after, back in the UK, I was in New Zealand House in London, where I was wheeled in before an Air Commodore. There I was, standing before him in my best blue uniform, sergeant stripes on my arm, medal ribbons on my chest and he was telling me that I could buy back 10 years of my RAF service to go towards pensionable service in the RNZAF (it was to cost me 240 pounds only), and that I was just the sort of man the RNZAF needed. Obviously, he was not a good judge of character! So about one year later, after talking to the RNZAF ground crew at Nicosia, here I was in New Zealand. Yet in that year everything had changed. Britain had removed all its service personnel from Egypt, so my fear of more overseas tours in that wretched country, had I stayed on in the RAF, was pointless.(There had been no hint of that while I was at Abyad and the Maintenance Unit was still installing new installations when I left for the UK). I also found when I was leaving the RAF that the personnel were getting a substantial pay rise. Worse still, 14 Squadron had been transferred from Cyprus to Singapore from where it was far more difficult to get flights to the UK for leave. All that happened in that one year and so, I made a king-size 'blue' and have been stuck here ever since.
Jim Butler 44th Entry (C)

I suggest you remember that Jim is a 'dry old stick' and his final words are dry humour and are not intended to start a race war! It's a send up! Honest! DS Ed.
Back to Top

Eat yer heart out, Eric Harman!
This unique number-plate was drooled over and coveted by all those attending the Reunion in Blenheim, except for the true owners, Derrick and Vera Hubbard (46th Entry), who proudly sported it on their immaculate Jag. The Haltonian showed this picture and erroneously claimed it was owned by Eric Harman 80th Entry. Sorry Eric. No such luck!
Back to Top

RAFCAA Reunions in the UK
I emailed Geoff Northmore, some time ago, asking him a number of questions about the RAFCAA Reunion that he had recently attended in the UK. This is his reply. DS Ed.

In the past, the annual RAFCAA (RAF Cranwell Apprentices Association) luncheon was held at various RAF Stations with an Apprentice background, however, due to 'downsizing' the RAF could no longer offer us hospitality. As a result, an alternative venue at Warwick University has been used for the last few years. The event, with about 350 attendees, normally takes place in mid-September. Every year, the 3 Entries whose Golden Anniversary of Passing Out it is, are celebrated and toasted etc. Each Entry has a spokesman who reveals all about our 3 year sentence at Gulag Cranwell. So in September 2003 it was the turn of the 64th, 65th and 66th Entries to brag. From about the 71st Entry all training took place at Locking.

There is a separate Locking Association but, as anno domini catches up, I think we will all be lumped together to make one viable unit. The youngest bod, who completed part of his training at Cranwell, must be in his mid-sixties. The RAFCAA normally invites representatives from the other ex-brat groups i.e the Poles, Halton and Locking. Any member may have a personal guest whom he sponsors and pays for. Some of our old Regular N.C.O's have attended as guests. It is a great chance to catch up with each other and 50 odd years ago seems like yesterday!

In January 2000, my own 64th Entry decided to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our joining and about 15 members plus our wives spent a wonderful weekend together at Chipping Norton, with participants coming from UK, Spain, USA and in my case, New Zealand. We decided to make an annual weekend meet that coincided with the RAFCAA lunch. We were the first entry at Cranwell to have a Pakistani contingent and we have been able to contact 3 of them up to the present. One even attended the 2002 event but then had a stroke and is slowly on the mend. We keep on trying to find old 64th brats and we found two more last year. The Grim Reaper has struck, but most of us are still around to enjoy our meetings. The 64th UK Group - 40 bods- had about 10 commissioned officers from F/O to W/C. Three of us became pilots and another a navigator and our Oz dweller became an A.E.O. All the remainder made Senior NCO rank. Most completed 20 years plus and all seem to have prospered in later civil life. Of our Pakistani members (18), some had a very grim reception at home and tell harrowing tales of deserting and walking into Afghanistan etc to escape the regime at that time.
Geoff Northmore 64th Entry (C)
Back to Top

2005 Reunion and Classic Fighters Airshow

Peter Jackson's Fokker DR1 Triplane at the Classic Fighters Airshow - Omaka

We held our Biennial Reunion at Blenheim (Marlborough) NZ during the Easter period 25th to 27th March 2005. The Reunion coincided with the Classic Fighters Airshow, which was used as the draw card to encourage a high attendance and this resulted in 33 ex-Apprentices and 25 partners taking part in one or more of the functions. Various entries from the 44th to the 133rd were represented with the 76th being represented by 'Bones' Howath who happened to be on holiday in NZ. In conjunction with the main event, ten members (plus partners) from the 80th Entry celebrated their 50th Anniversary from commencement of training. The 80th contingent consisted of four members from the UK, plus one who had previously emigrated to NZ from the Isle of Man, one from Canada and four of the six original NZ members.

The weekend commenced with registration and a get-together at the Criterion Hotel on the Friday evening and afterwards, the 80th Entry members left for their Anniversary Dinner, which was held on a paddle boat on the Opawa River, whilst the remaining members, from other entries, stayed on at the Criterion for their evening meal. Saturday dawned overcast, but gave way to clear blue skies later, and all enjoyed a trip to the past watching flying displays and mock battles between five Fokker triplanes, a Bristol F2b Fighter, an Airco DH2, a Sopwith Camel and a Pfalz D.111, to name some of the WW1 aircraft at the Classic Fighters Marlborough 2005 Airshow at the nearby Omaka Airfield. The 20,000-plus crowd was treated to a non stop flying display from 10 am to 4 pm. A good representation of WW2 aircraft including P51 Mustang, P40 Kittyhawk, FG-1D Corsair and Catalina Consolidated PBY-5a, to name but a few, were also present. Two superb aerobatic displays were provided by an Edge 540 and a Giles G-202. In all more than 20 different types of WW1 and WW2 replica or restored aircraft were flown together with many more that entered service in the late 1940s and 50s. General aviation and the RNZAF also participated in the flying displays. 'France' was the overall theme for this years show and very realistic Ground Theatre depicting various battles of WW's 1 and 2 were integrated into the display and took place only metres from the crowd. The sights, sounds and smells of war raising authenticity to the highest level. www.classicfighters.co.nz displays many of the activities and aircraft that took part in the show.

A Reunion Dinner was held in the Marlborough Club on the Saturday evening and on Sunday there was a choice of a Wine Trail with luncheon, or River Cruise luncheon, followed by a guided tour of RNZAF Base Woodbourne's Ground Training facilities and ended with a social hour in the WO & SNCO's Mess. The weekend finished with over half the attendees arriving back at Betty and Gus Smart's for coffee and desert, and with champagne provided by John and Uta Humphries to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary.
Graham (Gus) Smart 80th Entry

Editor's Footnote: It came as no surprise to find that the Sunday Wine Trail was oversubscribed and, as a consequence, several of us joined the non-winos to make up the numbers on the paddle boat for lunch. It was a very pleasant experience and the main course consisted mainly of a huge cut of tender steak, or chicken, which was individually delivered to us on what appeared to be a crackling, sizzling, black cobblestone. Each of us cut off small pieces, which it must be known, were personally cooked with immaculate skill and which were consumed with a copious amount of wine! All those cookhouse fatigues must have paid off!
Back to Top

2005 Reunion Group Photograph at RNZAF Base Woodbourne

Group Photo

Front Row: George Gardiner 86th, Alec Brooks 65th, Gus Smart 80th, Eric Harman 80th, Peter Cornelius 69th, Jim Butler 44th, Bill Cowham 44th, Graham Eves 68th.

Second Row: Derrick Hubbard 46th, Nev Feist 80th, Monty Firmin 80th, Cole Bailey 69th, David Sykes 68th, Sam Samson 80th (Partially hidden), Bryan Beames 66th (Partially hidden), Don Lamason 68th.

Third Row: Rick Bright 80th, Gerry Smith 80th, Ed Austin 80th, Tony Dye 68th, John Humphries 82nd, Peter Edmonds 84th (lower level), Gordon Francis 77th.

Back Row: Sam West 68th, Bruce Bygate 74th, Peter Thorpe 89th.Attendees of reunion absent from photo: Bryan Bell-Syer 71st, Ian Cochrane 71st, Tony Howath 76th, Alec Burt 80th, Brian James 80th, Tim Hutchinson 133rd.
Back to Top

Rendered 'Armless
It was a Saturday in 1959 and was shortly after my posting to 148 Squadron at RAF Marham. I was Orderly Sergeant and, after visiting the Airmens' Mess with the Orderly Officer at tea time, I was free for a short while and as the floppy rod and cable brakes on my 1951 Ford Prefect were always in need of adjustment and setting up (to minimise side pull) I went under the car. The first time I looked at my watch, it was past the 18:00 hours flag lowering time. On returning to the Sergeant's Mess, I received a call from an 'unhappy' Orderly Officer, whom I had visualised, due to him being on his own, as saluting with one hand while lowering the flag with the other. As well as going in his report, my absence was to be 'rewarded' by my accompanying him on his evening security tour of the aircraft.

During the tour, he failed to see some works around one of the aircraft and subsequently hit a structure and bent the right-hand mudguard of the Land Rover. "I'd appreciate it if you didn't mention this to anyone, Sergeant". "Right, Sir. Now, about my being absent at the flag lowering ...."
If he hadn't decided to punish me by accompanying him on his tour, I'd never have been any the wiser of his misdemeanour!
Peter Cornelius 69th Entry (C)
Back to Top

- Current Issue - Past Issues - Links -