ISSUE  NUMBER  14                                                              MAY 2000


FONTAINEBLEAU TRIP                            


It is all systems go as our plans are falling into place nicely.   A party of 35 will travel by an Executive luxury coach on 15 Sept and it is hoped that we will hit Paris in time to join the RAF Parade in the Champs Elysees.  The Paris Branch of RAFA have invited us to march with them to the Arc de Triomphe to rekindle the flame on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on this the 60th Anniversary of The Battle of Britain.


Our activities in France include a day trip to Paris followed by an evening at the Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte with its candlelit display and dinner.  The highlight of the trip will be an escorted tour of Camp Guynemer on Monday which Charley Collyer had kindly arranged.  The camp is now a highly secret base and training centre for the French Army. The Sunday is set aside for a tour of the local area which gives us an opportunity to re-visit our favourite haunts of yesteryear.


A few of our erstwhile colleagues now living in France will join us in Fontainebleau.


Full details of the tour will be sent in due course to those on the trip.





The bookings for this are strong with 55 having informed me that they will attend.  However the Courtyard confirm only 35 names on their booking register. It must be stressed that the maximum number the hotel can accommodate for the dinner is 70 and the line will be drawn at at that number.  So if you intend to come and haven’t booked with the hotel please do so now to avoid disappointment and to save me the trouble of chasing the laggards.  Do not forget to mention that you are in the “Fontainebleau Party”.  If anyone requires a Hotel brochure please let me know.   Bookings must be made direct with the hotel ~ Telephone 01926 425522


Menus will be circulated in the summer for attendees to make their choices.  These must be back in my hands quickly to pass over to the hotel.


It has been suggested that after the dinner formalities are over we hold a quiz for those who wish to partake.  This should enable us to socialise more ~ last year people tended to sit at their table the whole evening. Other ideas to enliven the proceedings please on a postcard




Two milestones were reached in April.  Firstly, we have now attained the magic 100 mark. Secondly, we enlisted the first airmen from our allies.  Thanks are largely due to Dave Bennett who inserted notices in various RAF publications that  produced such a rich harvest


SACW Jean Senior was a Dental Nurse at Fontainebleau from Oct 58 to Dec 60. She married Alan Johns. They had 5 children (including 2 sets of twins within 18 months) Jean now lives in Bridgend.                      



Leading Radio Operator Alan Johns (RN) served in the Commcentre from Dec 59 until May 61 He was one of about 14 Royal Navy personnel attached to AAFCE.



Petty Officer Writer Len Williams is one of the increasing number of RN personnel to join us.  Len was a Writer at NAVCENT from Nov 58 to Nov 60.


SAC Barry Croad worked in the MT Section from June 64 until Nov 66.  He now lives on the Isle of Wight with his wife Christina.


Airman First Class Richard Christensen is our first USAF Member. He worked in the Commcentre between Mar 55 and Nov 58.  He now lives with his wife Gail in Florida.  Richard will join the coach party returning to Fontainebleau in September.

Cpl Tony Course worked in the Office of the Scientific Adviser from Jan 60 to Jan 63.  In September Tony and his wife Gillian will be relocating to Menton in France.


Cpl Dave Evans worked in the Admin Section of the Commcentre from Dec 57 to June 60 and was a regular member of both the Soccer and Cricket XIs at AAFCE.  He left the RAF in 1979 with the rank of Warrant Officer.




Gunner Peter Thomas  (Royal Artillery),  attached  to  ALFCE  from Jul 53 to Feb 55, was

a regular member of the International Rugby XV.  He now lives with his wife Joan in South Wales.


Cpl Paul Harris worked in the Staff Message Control Centre between Feb 58 and Aug 60.


Sgt Ken Tomkins worked in the National M.T. Section from May 61 to Dec 63


SAC Colin MacLean is another ex Commcentre airman where he served from Mar 1963 to Mar 1965 and is currently living in Scotland



SAC Gordon Lawrie is another member of the MT Section (Apr 57 ~ Jul 59).  After leaving the RAF in 1959 he rejoined in 1960 and retired as a Warrant Officer at the age of 55. Gordon now lives in the South of France with his wife Irene who he met at Fontainebleau.


Sgt John Mercer arrived at AAFCE Nov 53. After a spell in the Orderly Room he transferred to the Code and Cypher Office in the Commcentre.

He left AAFCE in May 57. John is married to Pearl and spends the winter months in Spain and the summer in France. John was traced through a notice Dick Rogers placed in a Dover newspaper.


Cpl Brian Williams was part of the RAF Police Team from Oct 55 to Oct 58 Originally from Cheltenham, after demob he settled in Michigan, USA with his wife Ann who was with him at Fontainebleau.


Flt Sgt Tony Chapman worked in the Commcentre from Aug 57 until Jan 60.  During his 39 years service Tony played hockey for the RAF and whilst at Fontainebleau captained the International Hockey XI there. Football was also among his sporting activities.  He left the RAF in 1976 to settle in Peterborough.  Tony is a life long supporter of Ipswich Town.



Our activities have resulted in a useful top up to the Admin Fund.  There are a few blazer badges in stock including a couple suitable for displaying in a frame 6” x 4” and which sell for £15 each.


The last of the original consignment of ties was sold recently and 20 more are on order.  They will retail at £10


There are plenty of enamel badges (£3.50) remaining in stock.


Any profit for these activities is credited to the Admin Fund.  This has avoided the need to make a second call on the members for further subscriptions.





It is about time the Membership was updated. This appears on pages 7 and 8 and is restricted to those who are or have been active members and whose particulars have been provided.



THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT FONTAINEBLEAU                        by Mike Capon

"The Chateau of Fontainebleau


Upon arriving in Fontainebleau a visitor will feel strongly the link between the Chateau and the forest: the forest comes to the limits of the gardens from which every view opens on the forest, you do not know where one starts and the other finishes. Even the buildings have a part of this symbiosis, as they are constructed with materials from the forest, sandstone and even the sand for the mortar.


From the beginning (the 12th century) the reason for the Chateau was royal hunting. When Francis I, in 1528, decided on an entire transformation of the old buildings, the reason was his liking to hunt "red and black furred animals in the Biere forest". All the sovereigns after Francis I, Valois or Bourbons, kept the tradition of hunting."


"The House of Centuries"


"Eight centuries of nearly uninterrupted occupancy by more than thirty sovereigns from Louis VI "the fat" to Napoleon III, makes Fontainebleau the symbol of French history. Napoleon I put it well into words: "Here is the real abode of Kings, the house of centuries", is what he said in

Saint Helena, thinking of the Chateau he, as his predecessors, loved so much.


Making a tour of the buildings and the gardens, the visitor will see a succession of examples of art of every period and every style from medieval tower to the famous horse-shoe staircase (1634) and to the great pavilion built by the architect Gabriel in 1750. The successive transformations of different reigns make a real catalogue for history of art."

                                                                                                                        to be continued




Brian Simpson has recently moved from Berkshire to Hereford


Les & Vera Massey have swapped their house in Leicester for a bungalow in the same city so Les is able to continue supporting Leicester City


Geoffrey Callaghan changed his residence in Notts for a similar one in Shrewsbury




The story of the Ladies Underwear                                                      by Mick Capon


One of the things the MT personnel liked to do on a Sunday was to go down to the Seine to mess around in rowing boats.  A few crates of American beer were taken and kept cool by the river


It came to our notice that one of our colleagues, Cpl Taffy Cockcroft used to wash his A30 Austin car on the opposite bank. 5ft Taffy and his 6ft wife Winnie were passionately Welsh. We noticed after a while that after they had finished washing the car Winnie would lift the passenger seat and get out the drying rags.


A bright spark had the idea of swapping the rags for ladies’ underwear from the assortment delivered to the MT Section each week.  One Friday afternoon the rags were swapped for French underwear.


The following Sunday we sat by the river watching the car washing routine.  The fun started when Winnie lifted the seat to retrieve the rags.  Finding the underwear she blew her top and started hitting Taffy round the head.  We all laughed while he shook his fist at us from across the river.


The following week Taffy hatched his plan to get even.  Believing Sgt Ray Harris to be the instigator of the prank he filled a long plastic bag with French chalk from the MT Section and packed in a box with 4 dozen condoms obtained from the Medical centre.  He sent this parcel through the official post to Ray along with a note saying that as he was a such a p***k he could use these.


Ray picked up the parcel from the mail room and took it home at lunchtime to give to Penny, his wife.  When she opened it the French chalk went all over her.  Luckily being Dutch she had a good sense of humour. 


Top Security                                                                                                           by Gordon Eardley


Security was paramount at Fontainebleau.  Passes with photographs had to be shown to the Police at all points of entry to buildings which contained classified material.  One morning an RAF Sergeant produced his pass at the door of the HQ Building to the RAF Policeman on duty who said “Is this really your photograph Sarge?”  “Of course” replied the sleepy Sergeant remarking that he had come through the front door for the last six months and had not been questioned before. “Then you had better take another look” said the Corporal.  This the Sergeant did only to find himself looking at a photograph of his alsation dog !


Late Kick Off                                                                      by David Rogerson


It was my last week-end at Fontainebleau before demob.  Late on the Friday afternoon with my pal Les Goddard I took the train up to Paris.  As I was due to play my last football match for the RAF on the Saturday we asked for a call at “sept heures et demi” at the cheap hotel we booked into ~ in time for one last look at the Capital before meeting Nobby Clarke (the Commander’s chauffeur)  at the Gare du Nord who agreed to pick us up after his “drop” to get us back in good time for the 2.30 kick off.  We toured the bars of Paris all night drinking Cognac, returning to our hotel at 0900 where the smiling concierge pointed to his watch and said “sept heures et demi”.  We were fairly shattered and agreed to kip for a couple of hours but slept until the afternoon.  We struggled back to camp and I was met by an irate Stan Fenney who was annoyed that I had let him and the rest of the team down.  He vowed never to speak to me again.  It has taken 40 years for normal relations with Stan to resume.





Off Track                                                                             by Dick Rogers


A Sergeant was driving through France on his way home for a spot of home leave via the Dunkirk ~ Dover ferry.  Approaching Northern France he encountered a lorry with “DUNKIRK” on its Registration Plate.  Not being sure of the route to the Channel Port the Sergeant decided to follow the lorry in the mistaken belief that it was returning to base.  He ended up 70 miles from Dunkirk at the Customs post on the French-Belgian border




The Sad Sack                                                                                                         by David Rogerson

During my time at Fontainebleau I did not come across many RAF personnel who were unhappy with their lot and that included airmen like myself who were in the service only because of National Service.  AAFCE was such a super posting that even the most disgruntled became happy well adjusted men.  However Cpl George Hammersley, the Postal Clerk in the RAF Support Group had had enough as he approached the end of his 8 year engagement and he continually said that on the way home after demob he would throw his uniform kitbag and all out of the train window.  Wonder if he did ? 



Smoking can damage your freedom                                                                         by Derek Dolton


SAC “Scouse” Baker was a long serving driver who regularly drove the RAF bus to our away football matches.  One day he was detailed to take a high-ranking officer to Paris and asked if another airman could accompany them for the trip.  Having obtained agreement he dropped off his passenger at the Gare du Nord and set off for Fontainebleau.  En route they stopped for a coffee at a café.  Sitting at the table Scouse remarked that he had left his cigarettes in the car and his friend said “Give me the keys and I’ll fetch them for you”. Once inside the Humber Hawk his pal could not resist putting the key in the ignition and taking the car for a short spin during which he wrapped it round a tree. Scouse was court-martialled for damage to Air Ministry property and given 28 days in the glasshouse.  After he served his time he returned to his post in Fontainebleau.





American Airman who dropped Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima dies







Col Thomas Ferebee, (on left of picture), the bomb aimer who dropped the bomb on Hiroshima died recently aged 81.  Colonel Tibbett (on right of picture) was a member of the crew of “Enola Gay” from which the bomb was dropped.  Some of you will remember Col Tibbett who was a key member of the H Q staff at Fontainebleau in the early 50s.






I could not resist including this superb picture, lent to me by Dave Evans, of the RAF Cricket team c 1958, captained by Sgt Stan Fenney (in the foreground wearing cap.)  Dave Evans is standing back row, third from the right.


Others in the photo include

Wing Cdr Brown, Norman Davidson and Vallentine


If anyone can identify others in the picture please indicate position and name on here.