It's Crunch Time!
Well, we are fast approaching our upcoming Biennial Reunion at Napier and so, if you wish to attend, it is time for you to pick up the phone to reserve your accommodation and to complete and return the attached form. We were rather late getting our act together this time, as we were unable to trap a picked volunteer living in the Napier area to organise the coming event, however, our Secretary, Ed Austin, has very kindly stepped into the breach and the result of his organising efforts are to be found on page 5. The planned arrival date is Friday 23rd March 2007 and we will be departing on Sunday 25th March. Wives and partners are also invited to attend and Ed has organised an attractive programme, so, come on, if you would like to go we ask you to act now! We extend a special invitation to those who have, so far, never attended and who are capable of making the trip to Napier. Our reunions are very relaxed; there is no rank consciousness or 'pecking-order' and there are no formal speeches. We just enjoy the camaraderie and fellowship of individuals who all started their working life as Apprentices at one of the Air Force Schools and who share similar memories of those formative years. We would love to see you there! David Sykes 68th Editor
David Sykes 68th Editor
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Letters to the Editor
Peter Cornelius contacted me recently to advise that he had been awarded a certificate for his first solo flight, which took place last April at Wigram. I replied, 'It must be a great feeling being able to go up on your own'. Peter replied:
As far as being 'on my own' it's certainly more than I expected to be able to do when I started. (It's just a personal challenge.) I'm currently up to 'Solo Consolidation', which means that after a checkout, if things look favourable, I am allowed to fly solo circuits and I have to do a minimum of three hours of these before I will be allowed to fly solo within 25km of base. Often the weather is not suitable, or if I'm having a 'bad day' we continue with further dual training such as 'Forced Landings'. I scared the hell out of myself ten days ago on my last solo circuit when I hit some turbulence on the climb-out and didn't know whether I was coming or going. I was definitely NOT in control but fortunately the aircraft knew better than me and by the time things settled down I was over 500 feet above circuit height and had 'broken airspace' by nearly 100 ft; so it was quickly down again and I made that my last circuit of the day!
Peter Cornelius (C) 69th
I'm sure I worked on Vulcan XH558 (230 OCU) at Waddington and Finningley.
Ed Austin 80th
The following 2 letters are from Trevor Danks (UK) who is championing the quest to restore Vulcan XH558 to flying condition. Trevor contacted me through the Internet site Friends Reunited. Trevor was a design draughtsman at Bolton Paul and served on my squadron as an Airframe Fitter during his National Service. It was a very eerie feeling to receive an informal photo, that I didn't know existed, of myself, Trevor and several others and which was taken about 50 years ago!
Many thanks for the copy of The Wheel and for including the Vulcan piece. Again full of interesting items: had a good chuckle at the Flyer's Quotes. Our weather is very cold at the moment, with icy blasts from Europe. The last few visits to Bruntingthorpe have revived memories of working out on a cold airfield. Our little group of volunteers are at present engaged in doing an inventory of all the spares which are in a barn on the edge of the airfield. The barn has no heating or lighting, which means the doors are open, so we are all wrapped up in warm woollies together with a large quilted hi-vis jacket. We all resemble lime green snowmen. It's impossible to use gloves as a lot of the parts are very small, plus the fact you have to write the details down on paper. At the rate we are going, the warmer weather will no doubt be here just as we finish and we will find ourselves working in the hangar, which is heated. It's all to the good if it gets the Vulcan back in the air. The planned roll-out date is Sunday 27th August when there is an Open Day but it is not due to fly until the end of 2006.
Trevor Danks UK
In talking to one of the Vulcan volunteers I found the answer to a question I have pondered on since 1959, when I worked at Boulton Paul. A project I worked on was to install a third ejector seat in a prototype Canberra T4. I left the company before it was completed so I never knew if this modification was ever used. This guy was in the RAF in the late 1960's and worked on Canberra T4's. I was delighted when he told me that all the T4's had the third ejector seat fitted. He described how it worked which was exactly as it had been designed, for which I did the majority of the prototype manufacturing drawings.
Trevor Danks UK
The following 2 letters refer to articles which appeared in issue 5 and, due to me being overseas at the time of receipt, resulted in them being overlooked for issue 6.
I was interested to hear of the Spitfire 16 at the San Diego aerospace Museum and that it had been restored by Halton brats. During my time in the RAF I worked on a number of Marks of Spitfire ranging from Mk2 to Mk24. I was posted to Thorney Island, which was an Air Navigator Training Unit flying Wellingtons, but the first job I got was to do an inspection on a Spitfire Mk16 of which everyone claimed to have no knowledge. I was only there for a short time and do not remember ever working on Wellingtons. Spitfires were my favourite aircraft, although I worked on quite a number of other aircraft.
Bill Cowham 44th
I am not too far from Coningsby so I am delighted that they have given up ploughing by Anson but I do get the benefit of seeing the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight a/c flying off to and returning from functions and shows. Only last week one of their DC-3's did a 360 degree turn over the church at the end of my garden; well below 'legal' and lower than I would have thought prudent; however, I am pleased to report all the rivets looked to be ok from where I was standing!!
Paul Lampard (UK) 74th
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Short (True) Story
Keith was a Flt Lt Navigator and good golfing friend of mine. He was so laid back he was almost horizontal. We were on the first tee waiting to tee off.
"I had my annual appraisal today," said Keith.
"Oh!" I replied "And was it okay?"
"Not really; the boss said I was indolent"
"Indolent! What is indolent?" I asked and Keith replied, "Don't know, I just can't be bothered to look it up!"
Ted Cox (C)69th UK
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It is with sadness that we record the deaths of the following members. We extend our heartfelt sympathy to their family and friends.
Norman Bolland (C) 45th
Eric 'Blondie' Broughton 68th
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Obituaries and Comments
It is with regret that I have to inform you that Norman died on 10th January 2006. It was all most unexpected and was a big shock to me and our daughter, Sarah, as he was well at one moment and not the next. His death has left a huge hole in our lives but we have many happy memories to remember him by. His love and interest in aircraft was unabated even after all these years and I know he enjoyed reading your newsletter; it triggered many interesting memories even though he was a 'Cranwell man'. We attended your reunion when it was held in Christchurch and Norman thoroughly enjoyed himself, among other things the trip to Wigram Museum was highly rated by him. Thank you for including Norman in your mailing list even though he was not a Halton boy, it was appreciated. Beverley Bolland.
We send our deepest sympathy Beverley. I was impressed when Norman wrote in support of our newsletter when we first started. He will be sadly missed.
I am sorry to have to tell you that Dad passed away on Friday morning. We are planning a service on 5th June at All Saints Church Peterborough as that is the church where Mum and Dad were married. Regards, Lynda.
I replied to Lynda as follows:
What sad news and we hope you are all bearing up as well as can be expected at this unhappy time. Eric will be sadly missed and there will be a big gap without him. His dry humour will be particularly missed and he certainly did a good job to keep the Peterborough Branch in the spotlight and in touch with we far flung friends and acquaintances. He and I were buddies in the Halton Velo Cycling Club and Eric had a very strong memory of those far off days and it was good to share reminiscences with him. Sadly, I only made contact with him about two to three years ago and would have appreciated more time being in contact at this later time of our lives. Obviously, with being so far away here in New Zealand it will not be possible to be at the service but Eric will be in our thoughts
I contacted Terry Moore, a close friend of Eric's and asked about Eric's funeral. Terry replied:
Eric had a good send off. His coffin was draped with the RAF Ensign obtained by Tony Whiting who read the lesson. His history was outlined by the Hospice Nurse and the turnout by ex-brats was good: Eddy Harmer 68/70th, Mike Williams 68th, Pete Smith 68th (arm) who was also a pall bearer. Many others from his RAF past attended and there was nearly a full turnout by the Peterborough Branch. Tony Whiting 68th read out the Apprentice Prayer and the service ended with our hymn 'I vow to thee my country'
We later all gathered in the Free Masons Lodge for refreshments and a chat.
Terry Moore 66/68th
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Tony Parkinson (L) 71st/72nd
Russ Cross 2nd Australia Entry
(It has been decided to include Australian trained apprentices
as members of our Association)
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3 Wing Circus
Jim MacKenzie 62nd sent this photo of the 3 Wing Boxing Team taken in 1951. He identified himself (as marked on the photo) and also identified Wing Commander Joel and Warrant Officer Parkes.
I replied as follows: 'Thanks for the forwarded copy of the 1951 Boxing Team. I recognise 3 of the faces of the team but can only put a name to one of them. In the back row, 1st left, is a Leading Apprentice from
65th Entry, name now forgotten, but he was in 3 Wing, which was where all the Instrument and Electrical Trades were domiciled at that time and Wing Commander Joel (In the front, centre) was the CO of 3 Wing. The boy 2nd from the left, back row, I believe, is Brian St John Webb, u/t Instrument Fitter (Nav), initially with 66th Entry, but re-coursed with the 68th The guy 4th from the left, back row is a familiar face and, I believe, was in the 67th Entry, 3 Wing, but again, time has erased the detail.'
A copy of Jim MacKenzie's email also went to Bill Howell 68th who replied:
I certainly remember Wg Cdr Joel! He was a Kiwi in the RAF who was more British than the British. Originally from Dunedin, perhaps? He was the officer responsible for the 'selection' of two 7-a-side rugby teams from 14 Kiwis who had just come from a NZ summer; followed by 5 weeks approx. on a boat and then 3 weeks sight-seeing. He decided we needed to start in the right manner and so it was sports gear on etc. Then he saw we needed haircuts; so all into the Station Barber and the first 7 shorn comprised the "A" Team and the next 7 made up the "B" Team. We then had to suffer from lack of fitness PLUS a Wing Commander running up and down the sideline shouting in the best pukka BBC accent, "Play up Kiwis!"
The fact that we also lost didn't really endear us to him. At this time, Easter 1951, he was O/C No 3 Wing.
Happy daze! Bill =^.*.^=
It is really good to welcome Jim MacKenzie to our ranks, particularly as he is the sole representative of the 62nd Entry here in New Zealand. I am sure fellow ex-68th Entry members will agree with me that we have fond memories of that entry, as they were our senior entry and, one way or another, were very influential in our development as youngsters at Halton. (and presumably at Cranwell too!)
I have the privilege of being in contact with 2 other members of the Halton 62nd, those being Peter Goodwin (UK) and Colin Mackenzie (USA). Both these ex-Brats have very interesting life stories; Pete having tried a 'Scarlet Pimpernel' by disguising himself as a woman whilst attempting to escape Iraq during the 1st Gulf War (Gosh! That must have been hard! At the very least the old Gillette Razor must have taken a bit of a pounding!) and he nearly got away with it! Following on from that, Pete did get an audience with Saddam (the benevolent-looking dictator) and has a photograph of the incident to prove it.
Colin Mackenzie's journey through life took one or two unusual turns and after finishing a flying career in the RCAF he trained as a medical doctor in Canada and ended up as a physician in sunny California. At the risk of turning this issue into something of a Mackenzie Fest, his story, as told by me, is as follows:
Colin started his life at Halton as a u/t airframe fitter in 61st entry but was dissatisfied that he didn't get his first choice of engine fitter. His request to remuster to engine fitter was granted only after he had done 4 months of training in 61st entry. He remustered to 62nd entry as an engine fitter. He grew up in London, in Brixton, right by the prison of that name and was educated at a Central School taking commercial subjects. Colin became prominent in athletics, mainly running in track and cross-country. He rose steadily through the apprentice ranks until finally becoming the Flt. Sergeant Apprentice of the 62nd Entry and, upon graduating from Halton, was awarded a Cadetship to Cranwell.
Unfortunately, Colin's training at Cranwell was terminated due to a medical problem and he was given the stark choice of returning to the ranks or being discharged as a civilian. Colin opted for the latter and was discharged as a very young and bewildered civilian with a rather uncertain future ahead of him and which was epitomized a few months later when, as a lonely figure, he disembarked from a ship in New York with little idea of what lay ahead. He then made his way to Canada where he got a job in an aircraft factory and quickly came to realise that the daily grind as a faceless factory hack was not the way he wanted to spend the rest of his life. Fortunately for him he spotted an ad for men to join the RCAF for training as navigators and so he applied and was accepted for training, which he successfully completed and he was
commissioned as a navigator.
Coincidentally, Colin has one or two nebulous connections with New Zealand, not the least being that he served on Lancasters with a New Zealand born pilot. Also, Colin's father emigrated to Australia in 1912, where he was a coal miner and then served in the Australian Army during the First World War. He moved on later to NZ where he set up as a coal merchant in Ashburton. He returned to UK in 1925 because things in NZ were not prosperous, as it was the beginning of the Depression. Colin also toured New Zealand for a month in 1977, with his wife and young family, on a camping holiday to visit his father's old haunts.
Whilst serving in Canada Colin enjoyed himself during his off-duty time and eventually met Thelma, from Nova Scotia and they duly married and set up home together. Upon Colin's term of engagement with the RCAF coming to an end there was another dilemma of which choice to make next. Colin had always had an interest in medicine but did not have the educational requirements to make a serious choice in 1948, but then, in 1957, equipped with an education by correspondence in the RCAF, he entered university, did pre-med for two years and was accepted by Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, graduating from there in 1965.
By this time Colin and Thelma were raising a young family and it was largely due to the resolve and magnificent support of Thelma, who juggled with a job and looking after the family, that Colin was able to concentrate on his studies and successfully graduate as a medical doctor (MD). After graduation Colin was still determined to see the world and so accepted a post in a county hospital in Northern California. After two years the family moved to Scotts Valley, California, where he and two other doctors built a medical clinic and where he practiced family medicine until retiring at the age of 67 in 1998.
Now you would think that the above scenario would be a picture of happiness and contentment, but oh no, it wasn't! Colin craved for chocolate just like he used to have in the UK and because she was a kind and very practical wife Thelma started making chocolate goodies in her kitchen. The chocolates were so good that Colin started to pass them around his fellow medical staff and patients. They were an immediate success! The next thing, orders for chocolates were flowing through and Thelma, being very artistic, packaged and presented these chocolates beautifully and the end result is that the Mackenzie family now own and operate a very successful boutique-style chocolate business.
(See www.mackenzieschocolates.com )
Margaret and I visited Colin and Thelma last year and it was lovely to meet them and they very kindly showed us around their part of California. It was a great experience!
David Sykes 68th Entry
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Napier 2007 Reunion Details
Our 2007 Reunion is being organised by Ed Austin and the venue is in Napier which, for those attending from outside the Napier area, will require accommodation for the nights of Fri 23rd and Sat 24th March.
Napier is the Art-Deco capital of New Zealand and offers a wide variety of attractions including the Sunken Gardens, Marineland, Botanical Gardens, National Aquarium, the Faraday Centre (Technology and Science), Old Prison and the Bluff Hill Lookout.
There is also Miniature Golf and a Miniature Railway. There are a number of attractive restaurants and cafes and also one or two pleasant vineyards which we may well visit.
Ed has reserved 25 twin and double rooms (all with ensuites) at the Masonic Hotel and these will cost $95 per room and should be booked without delay by those wishing to attend. The Masonic is located on the corner of Tennyson St and Marine Parade and is not far from the RSA (34 Vautier St). We intend using the RSA for our Saturday night dinner because the Masonic is more expensive and has limited seating and is also open to other diners. The Masonic website is www.masonic.co.nz .
Ed plans to offer a wine trip by bus on Saturday morning, which will return by noon, which will enable socialising over lunch to take place after the trip. Ed needs to know the level of interest to allow him to proceed further with arranging this trip and so we require quick action on your part if you wish to attend the reunion and if any wish to go on the bus trip. Your completion and return of this questionnaire is required as soon as you can get it away to Ed after receiving this newsletter.
Everyone will be on a 'pay as you go' basis for accommodation, meals and bus trips. If you require accommodation then you are requested to phone the Masonic (Ann Philips) on 0800-627-664 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to put names to the rooms. Please quote 'Pre-booked Air Force Reunion March 23/24' so that Ann knows you are part of our group. Anyone attending the dinner but not staying at the Masonic should let Ed know on this form.
If you are arriving on the Friday we aim to meet in the Rosie O'Grady Bar in the Masonic at 6pm. Please detach and return your completed questionnaire Pronto, if not sooner! Thank you!
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Whittle - In Perspective
In the article devoted to Sir Frank Whittle (Issue 6) I wrote: The indifference shown by the British Authorities to Sir Frank's endeavours to get the first jet aircraft into the air, particularly in view of the threat emanating from Nazi Germany, is nothing short of criminal etc. etc... These were strong words indeed, but since then I have read the book Frank Whittle - Invention of the Jet by Andrew Nahum which was first published in 2004. Nahum traces the story in great detail and highlights the difficult times prevailing in the 30's and early 40's when the drama was taking place. Far from agreeing with Whittle's complaints of indifference by the Authorities, Nahum goes on to highlight all that was being done to achieve a successful and practical design and all the major players are named and their roles documented. It was clear that although Whittle initially had a reputation of being a charming personality, the pressure of the project took its toll on him and later he had difficulty in working with the Ministry of Aircraft Production and other players in the project. The problems began when the Rover Car Company was brought in to help in the production of the W.2 engine. Rover engineers were concerned that the special features of the design made efficient factory production impossible and they introduced modifications which gave more power output and better production flow. Rover sought patents for these modifications which Whittle resented and his relationship with Rover became embittered. The W.2 engine was later produced by Rolls Royce as the Welland and the Rover 'straight-through' engine became the Derwent.
David Sykes 68th
The following is a letter I received from Ted Cox in UK concerning the Whittle article.
I found the article on Sir Frank Whittle especially interesting because, exactly a month before, I was having lunch at the Golf Club with a friend of mine, Clive, when he happened to relate a story to me about Frank Whittle, so how uncanny was that? He was telling me that, as a child, he used to live in Rugby and his father had a friend who used to call in for their regular trip to the local ale house. One day, when Clive was about 5 or 6 years old, his dad's friend came round when his dad was out and said to Clive that he would wait for his father to return home. Meanwhile, Clive had been busy building something with his meccano set and so his dad's friend sat down with him to help with construction. His dad arrived home whilst they were busy and said to Clive, "You've got the right bloke to help you there, son; he invented the Jet Engine!" Yes, it was none other than Frank Whittle.
After the usual exchange of pleasantries, Frank told Clive's dad that he had just blown the roof off the factory at B.T.H. He had to do his engine runs in the evenings because the female members of staff at the factory couldn't stand the noise. The engine vibrated quite a lot on its mounts and not only had it blown the roof off more than once but had also blown the windows out and so the powers-that-be were about to move him and his engine out of Rugby to another factory about ten miles away, much to Frank's annoyance.
Clive saw quite a bit of Frank Whittle during those years so what a coincidence that you researched and printed that article and it's nice to have met someone who actually knew him.
Ted Cox (C) 69th UK
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