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Ron Mercer

Dear Sir,

I started my RAF service on Brits in 1969. As my memory is not so good now! Some of the name I do remember were: Station Commander Air Comm Lamb, Sgt Lloyd, engines, Cpl Macciver airframe, Flt Sgt Allcock my first Flt Sgt.

Also I was the LAC who bought the yellow Messeshmitt three wheeler from a Brit Air Eng in 1970!

Any ideas if any of these people are in the association?


Ron Mercer (ex J/T) now working on VC10's until both our retirements.

Sandy Barnes

Would this Simon Berry be the Simon I worked with in Akrotiri - movements? Sandy Butler

Sandy Barnes

'Happy New Year' to all. I hope to see many of you at the next Reunion (the 30th!!!) JUST MY AGE.

Ian S Partridge

I would like, on behalf of my wife Ronnie and myself to wish all Association members and families a Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

I hope to meet many of you at the 30th Anniversary Reunion in May.


Simon Berry

Worth subscribing to the Forum all these years just to read this!

Simon Berry

Please excuse me if this email is a bit cryptic. It was sent from my mobile.

Peter Simpson

Reading through all the sad messages above, I thought it time for something light. The last line is very apt. Makes you glad to be ex RAF

The Royal Navy is proud of its new fleet of Type 45 destroyers. Having initially named the first two ships HMS Daring and HMS Dauntless, the Naming Committee has, after intensive pressure from Brussels, renamed them HMS Cautious and HMS Prudence. The next five ships are to be named HMS Empathy, HMS Circumspect, HMS Nervous, HMS Timorous and HMS Apologist.

Costing £850 million each, they meet the needs of the 21st century and comply with the very latest employment, equality, health & safety and human rights laws.

The new user-friendly crow's nest comes equipped with wheelchair access. Live ammunition has been replaced with paint balls to reduce the risk of anyone getting hurt and to cut down on the number of compensation claims. Stress counselors and lawyers will be on duty 24hrs a day and each ship will have its on-board industrial tribunal.

The crew will be 50/50 men and women, and balanced in accordance with the latest Home Office directives on race, gender, sexuality and disability. Sailors will only have to work a maximum of 37hrs per week in line with Brussels Health & Safety rules, even in wartime! All the vessels will come equipped with a maternity ward and nursery, situated on the same deck as the Gay Disco.

Tobacco will be banned throughout the ship, but cannabis will be allowed in the wardroom and messes. The Royal Navy is eager to shed its traditional reputation for; "Rum, sodomy and the lash"; so out has gone the occasional rum ration which is to be replaced by sparkling water. Although sodomy remains, it has now been extended to include all ratings under 18. The lash will still be available but only on request. Condoms can be obtained from the Bosun in a variety of flavors, except Capstan Full Strength.

Saluting officers has been abolished because it is deemed elitist and is to be replaced by the more informal, "Hello Sailor". All information on notices boards will be printed in 37 different languages and Braille. Crew members will now no longer be required to ask permission to grow beards or mustaches - this applies equally to women crew members.

The MoD is working on a new "non-specific" flag because the White Ensign is considered to be offensive to minorities. The Union Flag had already been discarded.

The newly re-named HMS Cautious is due to be commissioned soon in a ceremony conducted by Captain Hook from the Finsbury Park Mosque who will break a petrol bomb over the hull. She will gently slide into the water as the Royal Marines Band plays "In the Navy" by the Village People. Her first deployment will be to escort boat loads of illegal immigrants across the channel to ports on England's south coast.

The Prime Minister said, "While these ships reflect the very latest in modern thinking, they are also capable of being up-graded to comply with any new legislation coming out of Brussels."

His final words were, "Britannia waives the rules!"

Michael Joyce

To all Britannia people I send greetings from OZ. May you all have a Happy Christmas with health and prosperity throughout 2012. Cheers Mike and Anne

David Berry

Sad News from Australia. Stu Bowles e-mails:

'It is with great sadness that we must tell you that Mother passed away this morning. She was 76.
During her last few days she has been looked after admirably in Dove Cottage Palliative Unit at the Caloundra Hospital on the Sunshine Coast. Happily, she appears to have suffered no pain, and whilst sudden, her passing has been quick and without complications.'

Our sympathy goes out to the family and friends.

Jan Burt (nee Robinson) and Issy Lawrence (nee Booker)

Hi Stuart, we were very sorry to hear about your Mum, we have very fond memories of playing twister in her house at Brize, back in the early 70's. Please pass on our love and hugs to her and the family and we will be thinking about you all. Luv Jan & Issy

David Berry

I have received an e-mail from Australia:

'Hi, my name is Stuart Bowles and I’m Geoff and Betty’s youngest son.

I have to tell you that Betty is desperately ill in hospital, suffering from a fast failing liver. I won’t go into the detail, suffice to say that we don’t think she has too much longer. Perhaps given your contacts, you might pass this message onto her many friends from the Britannia days?

Incidentally, it was this time 20 years ago that Geoff passed away.'

This is sad news of a bubbly personality remembered, with affection, by many of us.

Jacqui Wheeler

Commisioned members who staged through Gan may remember Miss Edith Bennett,the lone WRVS lady on the island. She died recently aged 90 at her home in Lincolnshire. She never married having lost her fiancee in the war. She had a full and interesting life and had been, for a time, Winston Churchill's driver.Many of the officers she had known still kept in touch and she enjoyed receiving cards from them at Christmas.

Eric Healey

Mike Simpson, who was Chief Flight Engineer at Bristols on the Brit in the 50s, died last week.

Below is a copy of an email I have received from Keith Simpson, his son. It is self explantory.

I have posted it because of the role Bristols had in the initial training of RAF crews and there may be some amongst those who trained at Filton who knew him.

I met him at the Downend 50th Anniversary Memorial in 2007 and he visited 496 the following year. He was still a Brit enthusiast.

Keith's message:


I am the son of Michael F. Simpson, who was Chief Flight Engineer on the Bristol Britannia in the 1950s, before emigrating to Vancouver and working for Canadian Pacific Airlines until his retirement in 1990. I believe Dad was in touch with Neil Todd, son of Bill Todd, and I would like to get in touch with him to share some sad news - Dad passed away yesterday in Guelph, Ontario from cancer.

We are trying to reach out to different people that may have known Dad over his life and career. There will be a memorial and celebration of life for him in Ontario, likely in early September. If you can help with any information or messages, please let me know.

Thank you,
Keith Simpson

44A Fore Street
Topsham, Exeter
Devon. EX3 0HY

Tel: 01392 874365"

David Berry

I will now demonstrate how my brain is full of useless information, using up space that could be more usefully employed!

Bob Brownlow came to the Britannia fleet, from Argosys, around 1971/72. He was in the unenviable position of being a newly promoted Squadron Leader and thus went straight into the left hand seat. After a relatively short time on 99 he was posted to the OCU as the Britannia section's Flight Commander - another unenviable position, being in charge of a group of old Britannia hairies? I know little of his subsequent career except that he held a Wing Commander post at Brize - where he was addicted to fruit machines!!

The Brownlow, who is an Association member, was Wg Cdr Ops at Lyneham - 1967/68? Rather irreverently, we Squadron chaps called him Brown Commander Winglow! He went on to greater things, ending his RAF career in the rank of Air Commodore, as the Commandant of A&AEE, Boscombe Down.

Not many people know all that!

Ian S Partridge

As a PS to my last, Bob died on May 6th, and I have phoned his widow Veronica on the number given in RAF News (which I missed on my first reading). I have expressed condolences on the Association's behalf, for which she was very grateful.

If anyone wants her number, she has given me permission to provide it - just email me and I can let you know.


Ian S Partridge

I see the current RAF News has a notice of the death of Group Captain Bob Brownlow, It mentioned he flew, among other types, Britannias and VC10s.

He doesn't come to mind for me, but we do have an R P Brownlow in our Association membership.
Does anyone have any memories they can share?


John Hunting

Signed, 30th Ann. formation of 511 Sqn cover is available on eBay - via this link.
Regards to all from the sunny Moray Firth.

Ian S Partridge

More sad news, I'm afraid.

Ruby Marshall has written from Australia informing us of the death of her husband Sydney John Marshall, Association member number 664.

Eric Healey, who received the letter, has no knowledge of him, and neither do I. However, I shall be writing to Ruby on the Association's behalf. Please hold her in your thoughts and prayers.

If anyone can add to people's memories of him, please feel free to share your thoughts. If you would like Ruby's address, please contact me by email.

Ian S Partridge

Quick off the mark as always, David, with the info on Britannia names. I must admit that I didn't know about Argo (should have read your book more closely!).

As an aside, people often ask me why we gave our house the name 'Altair', usually not knowing it is a star. The answer is that when we moved in I found that the phone number ended in 398 - which rang a bell (sorry!).

So we live in a surviving Mark 2 Brit, so to speak!


Jan Burt (nee Robinson)

I have great memomies of my flights with Jim but will be unable to show my respects at the funeral due to caring for my husband 24/7 but my thoughts are with his family at this sad time.

David Berry

The answer lies in a book! 'The RAF Britannia and its people' has the information - plus a comment!

'As they had come off the production line, as well as the necessary registration number, each aircraft received a name:

XM489 Denebola
XM490 Aldebaran
XM491 Procyon
XM496 Regulus
XM497 Schedar
XM498 Hadar
XM517 Avior
XM518 Spica
XM519 Capella
XM520 Arcturus
XL635 Bellatrix
XL636 Argo
XL637 Vega
XL638 Sirius
XL639 Atria
XL640 Antares
XL657 Rigel
XL658 Adhara
XL659 Polaris
XL660 Alphard
XN392 Acrux
XN398 Altair
XN404 Canopus

The statement is often made that the RAF Britannias were named after stars. If this is said in the presence of Squadron Leader David Court-Smith then the speaker will be corrected:
‘XL636 was named after Argo, which is not a star. Argo Navis, to give its correct name, was a large constellation in the Southern Hemisphere between Canis Major and Southern Cross. In the middle of the 18th Century an astronomer called Nicolas de Lacaille decided that it was actually four separate constellations. The name Argo Navis meant ‘Argonaut’s Ship’ (you remember Jason pursuing the Golden Fleece in his Argo) so de Lacaille called the new constellations Carina (the keel), Puppis (the stern), Vela (the sail) and Pyxis (the compass).
‘The intriguing questions which come out of these facts are, therefore, why was one Britannia not named after a star and why was the constellation name chosen one of such astronomical antiquity?’'


Dave Ray

A few times recently former pax of ours have refered to flights with us from Lyneham and they remember the name of the particular aircraft in which they flew. All the time I flew the Brit on 99 squadron I never took much notice of the names but I would be interested now to know them if anyone could enlighten me please. David Ray (99sqn 1959 - 1966)

Ann Bihan

It is with great sadness that I have to report the passing of MALM Jim Verity MBE. MSM on the 5th June 2011 following a short illness.
Jim flew on 216, 511 & 10 Squadrons. He was a wonderful boss a gentle man and was respected and loved by all who knew him. Our thoughts go out to Francis his wife at this sad time.
"Jim now there is no pain fly free and high again."

There will be a private Cremation followed by a Memorial and Thanksgiving Service to be held on Wednesday 15th June 2011 at St Mary's Church Purton SN5 4EB at 2.45 followed by light refreshments at the Red House Club on Church Street Purton

As there is likely to be a very heavy turnout I would ask all those wishing to attend both the service and the Red House Club to let Peter Wentworth know preferably by email to or by telephone to 01367 240925 and to leave a message with their name and numbers attending

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