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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.

Ena Bowles

Re information on post war aircraft crashes, I can find no mention of two which I recall.

First was a Hastings from R.A.F Topcliff which crashed in Greenland in 1952 or 1953, reputed to have been caused by a 'Whiteout' ? causing a wingtip to hit the snow.

All crew were eventually safely rescued. Captain was Dicky Moseley and Siggie was Franky Burke.
The only casualty was poor Franky's nose which took the brunt of the R/T equipment coming forward on impaact.

Second was a Hastings which crashed near Ripon just after take off on a continuation training flight from R.A.F. Dishforth in 1955.
All crew and one passenger were killed. The navigator was our dear friend Phil Peckham who had returned from leave that very day after celebrating his brother's wedding.

Doea anyone else remember those Hastings crashes?
Have I been looking in the wrong place?
Without doubt I can say Ted too would have hated to think they are just not remembered.

Ena Bowles.

David Berry

In response to Graham's request, relayed from Pete Whitten, for a 99 Squadron tie - I have bad news and good news.

The bad and sad news is that only yesterday I was told that one had been burnt! At the Memorial Service for Colin Rowlinson, one of his daughters told me that he was cremated wearing his 99 tie.

The good news is that I have one! I am leaving instructions that in the event of my demise before delivery is effected then, for my final attire, another tie should be used!

It is good news that 99 are preserving the tie as it isn't like a normal, small squadron badge, one - more like a regimental or college sort. There was a move afoot a while ago to try and find out why this was so but it came to naught.

There was an interesting 99 historical note about the church used for the Memorial Service - St Britius, Brize Norton Village. In my pew, I looked up and there was an old 99 Squadron Standard. My immediate thought was that it must have been a Colour before that of the Britannia years as that one was deposited in the chapel at Cranwell, on the squadron disbandment. But with time to reflect, I realised that it was 'ours' and it had been retrieved by the present 99 and then replaced when their new colour was presented a few years ago. On that occasion our Colour was once more laid up in this new location.

My thoughts on it being older than 'ours' was that it is incredibly bedraggled! But then, so are some of us!

Graham Rutledge

Hello all; I have received a request from Pete Whitten, our splendid guide and host from 99 Sqn last July. He has been tasked with resurrecting the 99 Sqn tie using the original design. He has photos but needs an actual tie for the manufacturer to get the colours correct. Does anyone have a 99 Sqn tie that they would be willing to loan to Pete for a few weeks? Please get in touch with me in the first instance and I will coordinate. The reward is a new tie when they are available. Hope someone can help - sadly I was 511 so have no tie except one from the first Hong Kong detachment in autumn 1972!

David Berry

More sad news. Colin Rowlinson died last week. I was advised of this by one of his daughters, Joy, and I use her words which will bring back memories of the Colin that we remember - except he wasn't totally that - with age he became blind. It was my privilege to organise, last year, a visit for him and his family to the Kemble Britannia.

'Dear David, I am sorry to have to tell you that my Dad, Colin Rowlinson, passed away last week, peacefully at home, just as he wanted. His age had been catching up with him in the last few months and he had become quite frail. He lost his appetite and was only really eating survival rations under protest. But with three of us continually nagging, he struggled on graciously, anything for a quiet life. But when he went off his beer then we realised that this was serious and had to accept that he really had had enough of the struggle of life in the last few years.

He took to his bed, decided enough was enough and stayed there for three weeks and three days when he peacefully gave up the fight, with all of us around. John came home from New Zealand so he knew we were all with him and we were lucky enough to keep him at home until the end.

We are so glad that we got 'the visit' in while he was still quite fit and still enjoying certain aspects of life! He was such a brave chap and hung on to his independence as long as he physically could. We think he did brilliantly given adverse conditions and he kept his quirky sense of humour almost the whole time.

Many thanks again for all you did for Dad, David. I vaguely remember a story about a baby albatross on Christmas Island (I think) many years ago but it might have been another David! It had a happy ending anyway, as I recall!

Best Wishes Joy (Jan, John and Jill) xx

PS Dad's last discernible words were, very softly,'A pint of beer'!

PPS Colin's funeral will be a family service at the Oxford Crematorium on Tuesday 28th September. This will be followed by a Thanksgiving Service at 2.30pm at St. Britius Church in Brize Norton Village. There will be light refreshments available for lunch. (Also, there is a decent pub in the village which does good food) and tea after the church service, both at Jan's home in Brize Norton,(St. Martins, Manor Road, Brize Norton OX18 3NA.) It will be lovely to see anybody who would like to come to the Thanksgiving Service.'

My (David Berry) postscript to that - continuing with the sense of humour that Colin would have appreciated - is that it was actually a Gooney Bird on Midway Island!

David Berry

I have just been informed that Stu Roberson died on 10th September. Many you will recall Stu's enthusiasm. This extended to his conversation where he was so keen to get a story out that he stuttered. But he never had that problem at his navigation table.

His funeral will take place at Basingstoke Crematorium on Tuesday 28th September at 1230.

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