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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

David Berry

Chris Fitzpatrick refers to my letter in The Times. It might be of interest to members as it concerns our era. You might agree with it - or not!

David Berry

Sir, As someone who served for 40 years in the Royal Air Force and survived without a single medal on his chest, I would like to join the debate on a defence medal. During those Cold War years, many of us had our arduous moments but we were never in direct fear of our lives - and our arduousness was nothing compared, say, with living under canvas in Afghanistan with an IED lurking underfoot. Let those of my compatriots campaigning for a medal reflect on their good fortune of having enjoyed all the pleasures of Service life without any of the hazards.

Squadron Leader David Berry

Jacqui Wheeler (Teddy)

Thanks to Ian and the Committee for another great Reunion. Sandy - it's always like that, you are usually tucked up in bed so early!

Chris Fitzpatrick

No need for Medal
I liked your letter to The Times May 31st re the lack of medals for our generation of RAF personnel. Good points - well made.

Sandy barnes

Ann - I couldn't agree more. This year, for some reason, everyone joined in and enjoyed themselves. Thenk you to Ian and company. If the 30th Anniversary is as good as the 29th then we are in for a good time. Ian has something up his sleeve for the 30th - not sure what but watch this space!!!

Ann Bihan

Many thanks to the committe for an excellent reunion. We had a most enjoyable weekend. Roll on the 30th anniversary next year.

Eric Healey


Unfortunatley Jonathan Margetts has had a family crisis and is unable to go ahead with the presentation of the picture of 496 tomorrow, Saturday 21 May.

He sends his apologies, and is probably on his way to Ipswich by now.

496 will still be open as arranged and is as pretty as a picture!


Eric Healey


As a mark of appeciation, Jonathan Margetts on behalf of Fly2help, is presenting the XM496 Preservation Society with a picture by him of 496 in flight.

It has been possibly to arrnge for the presention to be made at 496 on the same day as the Reunion.

XM496 is regularly included as part of events known as "Air Smiles Days" organised by Kemble airfield charity Fly2help. See more about Air Smiles Days at this link to their website:

One of their organisers is aviation artist Jonathan Margetts, his website is:

Although not everyody on an Air Smiles Day is able to visit 496, those who do really appreciate the experience, including talking to the working members. We find it a very rewarding and uplifting experience.

For directions to XM496 which is on North site, Cotswold Airport, please see the XM496 website:

As well as myself and members of the XM496 Preservation Society, our Association chair, Ian, has agreed to attend. I hope that some of you are also able to be there.

The airfield restaurant, AV8, will be open if refreshment is needed:
(website includes a map to North side)
They do egg and bacon sandwiches as well as more civilised fare.

Best wishes to evrybody,

Geoff Lee

Hi Everyone,
My name is Geoff Lee and I am hoping to contact a former friend with whom I served with during the late fifties & early 1960's at RAF Nicosia.We were both Instrument Fitters and his name is David Offer .David transfered to air engineer on returning to the Uk in the early 60's. Unfortunately although we did meet up whlist he was in training we have since lost touch,consequently I have no idea of the type of aircraft he finally flew in.So I am wondering if any members may have heard or know of his whereabouts . Many thanks Geoff Lee

David Berry

Sad news from Spain - Jo Webster reports that Terry has died - 'He died of a heart attack early yesterday morning (7th January). It was very sudden as although he was having treatment for angina he had no problems with his heart. Poor Terry, but at least he didn't suffer.'

Terry will be remembered as as the ultimate professional crew member combined with great sociability. It was always good to fly with him.

Our sympathies go out to Jo in her sad loss.

Ian S Partridge

Some good news!

Many of you may not know that Sir Jock Kennedy had a stroke in mid-December. Fortunately, he was admitted to hospital in Leicester within the 4-hour critical limit and is now recovering.

I spoke with him today and to use his words ‘I lost movement on my left side together with my speech. But they injected me with some jollop and within an hour I was recovering.’

He tells me he is pretty well now, he certainly sounded on the phone just like the Jock I know, though admits his memory is a little shaky at present. They spent Christmas with their daughter, so the festivities did not have a shadow cast over them, fortunately.

Sir Jock asks me to wish you all a Happy New Year.

I know all our thoughts and prayers will be with him, and with Lady Margaret.

A Happy New Year from me and my wife Ronnie, too.

Best wishes


David Berry

No doubt, if you are a 'Subscriber' to this Forum, you have received, like me, an e-mail referring to an old entry. This has happened a number of times before. I am attempting to sort out the problem with the company that hosts the website - meanwhile, apologies!

I use this opportunity to wish you all the best for 2011. My thanks to those of you who have contributed to the Forum and kept it alive. I would also like to thank in advance all who are going to send me a stunning article for the next magazine! It is due out at the beginning of March so now is the time to start writing.

One piece of news for the magazine is that a 'Britannia Novel' is emerging. Author Peter Devereux has turned his attention to the many ways that all parts of the RAF contributed to maintaining the delicate balance of power in the Cold War - and in particular the Britannia fleet. A central character is a First Tour Copilot! It might seem a natural lead on from this that the title is 'Cold War - Hot Sex - well warmish!' Full details will be available for the magazine.

Happy New Year!

David Berry

Ian S Partridge

Hello All

As Chairman and on behalf of the Committee of the Association, I would like to wish you all the best for Christmas and the New Year.

Thank you for your support for the Britannia Association events, and I hope to see as many of you as possible at the May Reunion in 2011.


Mike Joyce

To all the Britannia people I wish you all a great holiday and Christmas season and health for 2011. Here's hoping I can get there in May and with any luck the snow and freezing temps may have gone. Now if the rain would stop we can get on with summer. Cheers Mike Joyce

David Berry

The sad news is brought to us by Tim Simmonds that
Paddy Dempsey died on 26 October.

His wife has said, 'Hugh fought a brave battle with cancer. He died with bravery, courage and his good sense of humour till the end. As you can imagine it has left a huge void not only in my life but family and friends.'

Tim reports, 'Paddy was a Chief Tech. airframes on B shift Brit Line, from around 1971 until we left in 75/6. He was a Crew Chief for the latter part of his time at Brize so was well known to many of the Brit crews for his expertise and sense of humour. A real party man sorely missed!!'

We extend our sympathy to Kath and the family.

Ena Bowles

Hello Ian
I stand corrected re the A.E. training being at Topcliffe rather than Shawbury.

Ted and I were to have attended a 'war time aircrew' reunion which was being arranged in Australia about 11 years ago.
The organisers wanted contributions for the notice board and I wrote the poem for that occasion.
Unfortunately the organisers miscalculated and and the scheme went
bankrupt and it was cancelled.

I am flattered that you might want to use the poem and would be pleased for it to be used by anyone else who might find any use for it.

Ena Bowles.

Ian Partridge

Your comment is interesting Ena, because I, like Ted, did the AEOp course between February 1964 and July 1964, but at RAF Topcliffe, which was then the training unit for AEOs and, I think, Flight Engineers.

It was a very interesting course, but made no difference to what we did on the aeroplane - but did bring an increase in pay. And a few questions here and there, as we were very much the earliest NCOs to wear the AE brevet.

Thank you for the poem, too, I may well use it at one of my Remembrance Sunday services.

Ena Bowles


We stand united here in common bond,
And time has scarcely dimmed the memory,
Of those who gave their lives that we might live,
And made their sacrifice to keep us free.

So in our minds young men they will remain,
Hide not your face in shame if you should cry,
For had the pattern altered long ago,
They surely would have wept for you or I.

No time we had to say a last farewell,
So raise your glass as though in silent cheer,
If caring thought can cross that great devide,
Our hearts will have them stand beside us here.

Ena Bowles

Ena Bowles

Re change over to A.E.

Ted's Log book shows on a trip to Thule then Elmdorf on 7.7.64 that he was still a W/OP.

After a gap of 5 months the next trip shown is on
4.12.64 to Akrotiri.
That trip shows Ted as then being an A.E.

If my memory serves me right Ted was away from home for those months at R.A.F.Shawbury 'converting'

Ena Bowles.

Peter Simpson.

I was certainly a serving AQM/ALM at the time of the changeover. I understood it was to bring is into line with NATO. Especially the Americans.
Peter Simpson

David Berry

Wg Cdr Jeff Jefford is a prolific writer on RAF history matters. He has sought my help with two topics. I have advised him that I am unable to help directly - but I know a man who can!

Can you help?

"Could I tap into your an ex-truckie memory? A few years ago I did a book on the history of all non-pilot aircrew trades throughout the 20th Century. One aspect that eluded me was the reasoning behind the change from QM to LM. I have a copy of DCI(RAF) S159 of 30 September 1970 that authorised the change but, despite rummaging in files at Kew I have never been able to find any correspondence to explain why the change was considered necessary. Do you recall the basis of the argument."

"You may recall that I quizzed you on the ALM/AQM changeover. I've got another one. I would like to nail down the demise of the air signaller a bit more precisely. I'm up to speed with the way that training was adjusted - intro of the AEOp and all that - but not the timing of its impact at the coal face. I'm sure that it didn't happen overnight, but could you say, within a year or so, when air signallers disappeared from the Britannia fleet? My guess is that the Valetta, Hastings & Beverley, all still alive and kicking in FEAF until well into the early 1960s, may have stuck with Morse to the bitter end but that the new-fangled Argosies and Andovers never had a signaller. Or had pilot-operated HF SSB become a universal practice in truckie world by the early 1960s? Grateful for any thoughts on that?"

Harry Liddell

In reply to Ena Bowles (hello Ena!), to the best of my knowledge the Greenland Hastings was captained by Mike Clancy, a voluble and charismatic Irishman who was well known in Transport Command during the early post-war years.

The other accident occurred during a continuation training flight from Dishforth in September 1955, and was captained by Sqdn Ldr Roy Cox of the Examining Unit who (significantly) was the only pilot on board, the co-pilot's seat being occupied by Bernie Godwin the unit adjutant.

I can vouch for this as I was the last person to see the crew, having handed over during an engine-running crew change; I have a clear memory of waving to the flight engineer Mickey Rooney, as I handed to the steps up to him before he closed the door.

The crash remains a mystery. Eye-witness statements were contradictory and unreliable, and no technical fault was found with the aircraft (or what remained of it); most likely cause was that Roy was suddenly taken ill, with inevitable results.

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