I expect that you have all recovered from the Christmas and New Year festivities. May 2001 be a happy and successful year for all our readers.
You will notice the new Headpost on this Newsletter for which we have to thank Mike Capon and his Graphics Department who came up with 4 alternatives. I hope you approve of the one adopted
Thanks to the efforts of many of you 43 AAFCE Servicemen were traced in 2000 which makes it our most prolific year. Of these 35 signed up, 7 have yet to reply to the invitation to join and only one was not interested. Keep up the good work lads. The latest “signings” are shown on pages 2 and 3
We were all saddened by the loss of David Allan in October. We lost a very great friend and supporter. Roger Jago received his “Home call” on 27 December.
The highlight of the year was undoubtedly the trip to Fontainebleau where we had an emotional reunion with Charley Collyer. The Commandant opened up Camp Guynemer for our inspection.
There are two options if we are to join the Parade at the Arc de Triomphe. One is in May and the other in September. The members were circularised and asked to state their preference. It is a little too early to take a firm view because all the replies are not in. More detail on Page 6
A booking has been made at the Courtyard Hotel, Leamington Spa for our next Reunion on Saturday 20 October. The hotel can accommodate a maximum of 64 for the dinner and it will be first come first served. Those wishing to attend must book direct with the hotel by calling
(Telephone : 01926 ~ 425522) and it is important that you advise me when you book. The function takes a lot of organising and I must keep a proper handle on the numbers.
We were saddened to learn that Roger Jago passed away on 27 December after a short illness. Roger worked in the AAFCE Equipment Section between Jul 59 and June 62. His wife Sylvia and two daughters survive him. A letter of condolence was sent on behalf of the Association and a donation made to the Cancer Research Fund. John Hookway represented us all at the funeral.
Cpl Ron Anders pictured, arrived at Fontainebleau in April 60 and was assigned to the HQ Tactical Evaluation and Training Division. He left in October 62 and retired from the RAF in 1981 after which he took up appointments with RNIB, and then as Manager Human Resources, Europe with Watkins Johnson International plc, a UK subsidiary of a US Electronics Company before retiring in Dec 99. Ron was introduced by John Higgs and lives in Booker, Bucks with his wife Pat.
Those who were at AAFCE in the early days may remember LAC Alistair Fraser (53 ~ 56) and LACW Monica Galloway (Nov 54 ~ Mar 56), pictured. Alistair served in the Sergeants Mess before moving to Sir Basil Embry’s residence as a steward. Monica worked in the Wing Cottage Hospital. Alistair and Monica married whilst they were at Fontainebleau and have 5 children and 9 grandchildren. They live in Pagham, West Sussex. Monica will try to locate a couple of her AAFCE pals.
LAC Allan Poole, pictured right,arrived at AFWE, Fontainebleau in late 48 and the following year was posted to Germany to help with the Berlin Air Lift. After demob in 1950 Allan returned to his civilian job as a telegraphist with the GPO. After serving in various capacities with the Post Office he retired from the North Eastern Postal Board in 1986 and is now enjoying retirement with his wife Yvonne in Birkenshaw, Yorks.
Cpl Peter Blackman served with ALFCE between Jul 52 and Dec 53. He lives in Calne, Wiltshire.
Cpl Les Hills, pictured left, was a personal steward to Air Chief Marhall Sir Basil Embry from Jul 54 to Aug 55. After serving in the RAF for 22 years, Les retired from Brize Norton in 1976 with the rank of Warrant Officer. He then worked as a Stores Controller for the NHS before finally retiring in 1988 to live in Oxford with his wife Pauline. Les was traced through the RAF News where he appealed for news of Sir Basil after Fontainebleau.
Cpl. Peter Taylor, pictured right with his wife Ellie, was a "Snowdrop" with the AIRCENT Police at Fontainebleau where he arrived in January 1960. He left in 1962. Peter who worked alongside Keith Adams for a time, was traced through the RAF Police Association. After his RAF service Peter followed a career in insurance and public safety administration. Peter is now retired and lives on the shores of Lake Huron in Southwestern Ontario, Canada.
Cpl Brian McClorey was a latecomer to Fontainebleau. He served with the AIRCENT Police from 64 to 66. Before leaving the service in 1976 he saw service in Cyprus and Singapore. He followed a varied career in Civvy Street. He had management posts with the Milk Marketing Board and a Life Insurance Company before setting up his own business as a Business Transfer Agent and Insurance Broker. Brian moved into Property Development before retiring in 1994.
John Allison met up with Flt.Sgt Ron “Dolly” Gray at an RAFA function. Ron arrived at Fontainebleau in Dec 1964 and being responsible for Stores furnished, maintained and de-furnished the Married Quarter flats after AAFCE moved to Belgium. Ron was one of the last to leave the Base in June 1967. After 23 years service in the RAF he was demobbed in 1969. Until 1991 Ron was a Wages Manager for a large engineering firm and is now welfare officer for two RAFA branches and is a Hospital Volunteer worker. He lives in Doncaster.
SAC Barry Colman worked in the National MT Section from Jun 65 until Oct 66. He was captain of the International Soccer XI. After leaving the RAF he returned to his previous trade as a bricklayer with a firm in his home town. Later he established his own Building Company which he still runs with his two sons. Barry lives with his wife Ann in a chapel, that he converted, in Bridlington, Yorkshire
This story from Roy Packman illustrates the sense of fair play, wisdom and compassion shown by David Allan when dealing with young airmen.
Congratulations to John Christian who was awarded the Royal Victorian Medal in the New Years’ Honours List for his service to the Queen as a member of the Queen’s Body Guard of the Yeomen of the Guard. (This lifetime appointment was made in 1981. John serves as one of the 6 ex-Royal Air Force members; the other 54 members being comprised of ex-Army and ex-Royal Marine personnel.)
Thanks to those who have made their contribution, our finances are in a much healthier position. For those who haven’t paid there is still time to lob something into the kitty. So come on guys ~ a fiver is not too much to ask to keep us afloat for some time.
Jim (01823 432998) is compiling a record of recruits who squarebashed at West Kirby up to 1960. If you did your initial training there why not call him. He needs your service number, squadron, hut number and drill instructor with the dates you were stationed there.
FONTAINEBLEAU RE-VISITED and LEAMINGTON SPA - 2000
Geoffrey Callaghan wrote on 22 November:-
Whilst it is two months since our gathering in France and more than a month since our annual get-together, both seem barely last week. Newsletter No 16 can leave little doubt that both events were hugely enjoyed by all who were able to take part. For me it was a privilege to be able to return to France more than 50 years after arriving at Quartier Chataux.
Perhaps the greatest joy was finding that much was the same as I remembered but four things brought regret
1. In 1950 there were no traffic lights ~ in 2000 I counted 12 sets
2. The Café de la Suisse has lost its family atmosphere
3. Many of the original family flats and houses – on the daily route from barracks to office – had become holiday homes. This one deduced from observing that almost all the windows were shuttered. Gone was the morning ritual (whatever the weather) of bedding hung out of the windows for the daily airing.
4. Completely gone was the Café de la Poste, near to Cour Henri Quatre. It was a rare Sunday that one failed to enjoy hard boiled eggs, fresh crusty bread with lashings of butter – washed down with the Landlord’s own vin rouge. This repast accompanied the leisurely read of the English Sunday Papers.
For me the most emotional moment was the re-union, in the Hotel Lounge with Charley Collyer. Whist it has not been my practice to embrace Flight Sergeants, a “Tellytubby Hug” was spontaneous as were the profuse tears that followed.
As a final, personal postscript, I am deeply grateful for the enormous help extended to me throughout the Expedition. Whenever or wherever one was troubled with “Parkinson’s” there was always a fellow veteran ready to ease the way.
The questions and answers to the Quiz from the Reunion are given in the Supplement with this Newsletter
ROYAL AIR FORCE - A PERSONAL VIEW ~ by Terry Bryant
I answered my countries call to arms
And joined the Air Force without qualms
Although my Dad in war took part
With the fire auxiliary, he did look smart
My uncle who looked just like Dad
Joined the Air force as a lad
And so I kept the family name
In the uniform where he found fame
Good God I thought what have I done
In January, cold in Cardington
Talk about brass monkey weather
They were lucky and bloody clever
They at least were made of brass
and didn’t get cold pain in arse
One fire in hut was all we had
Between god knows how many a lad
I thought that time would never end
And wished I was home in Southend
However time marched on and lo
Was posted for square bashing, so
Arrive I did at West Kirby to face
Eight weeks of marching and disgrace
Utter torment and hounded by
A corporal, parentless and not shy
Snow and ice thick all around
Covering the entire parade ground
Sometimes we drilled in hangers old
At least we kept out of the cold
But at the end I was fit and keen
To serve my country and my Queen
Again was posted but this time to
Netheravon to train as a policeman true
A white cap I did wear with pride
A snowdrop I was called outside
A term of endearment I believe
But anyway that’s how I perceive
I passed out later with colours flying
Or so I remember, unless I’m lying
To be posted, yet again, up with the lark
And set off for RAF Stanmore Park
For now I was in the real Air Force
But I tried to learn each day from others
From true professionals, my new brothers
I made some friends and made them fast
Even though sadly, they wouldn’t last
Then it dawned on me all at once
Though now a policeman, what a dunce
I knew nothing even after a course
While at Stanmore close to London town
I used the tube to get around
Up to town I went quite often
The hardships of RAF life to soften
Stanmore Park was the unit to
Old Bentley Priory F.C.H.Q
There I carried out duties numerous
Some serious and others humorous
At Bentley Priory H.Q.F.C
A fighter plotter fancied me
And then I found out just in time
Her moustache had outgrown mine
I was there about two years
And when again posted shed some tears
For I had enjoyed my time there
And WAAF girlfriends, I had my share
And then it seemed the time just flew
And I was posted to Fontainbleau
To meet new challenges and make new friends
Among other nations with new trends
Dutch and Germans, Frenchmen too
Americans, Belgians and Canadians who
Befriended us Limey’s and invited us in
To share their family and drink their gin
This was my first time out of good old Blighty
And I made the most of my time, nightly
French people treated me oh so well
My predecessors had freed them from hell
I toured the countryside with friends
It was like a holiday without end
Dancing in Dijon and drinking wine
Never paying for the fruit of vine
London paled as Paris glowed
While beer like river water flowed
The left bank, Tour Eiffel, the Seine
Will never seem the same again
Sadly and all too soon my time was up
Even though I had not drank my fill from cup
My four years over with time well spent
Will be remembered with endearment
I’m Grateful to the M.O.D
For in the Air Force allowing me
To visit places, clothe and feed
Make new friends and fill my need
As you can tell I stayed on course
To maintain the standards of the Royal Air Force
And in my time without dereliction
Terry Vine wrote from his winter work station in the Florida Keys. He recently had a visit from Dick and Gail Christensen and they have formed a Florida sub group !
Brian and Ann Williams came over from Detroit in November and met up with Ted and Ann Caton for lunch in London.
I had a call from Georgette Morris, widow of the late Bill Morris who was relief driver at Fontainebleau for about 10 years. She wanted to contact Cliff Clarke and Peter Fryer who she knew well at Fontainebleau.
Ray “Bomber” Harris will have his second hip replacement operation in March. Hope it goes well Ray and that you will soon be running around again like a two year old.
Gordon Eardley has recently relocated to another house in Derby area.
For those of you who have not read Ted Caton’s book “an Erk’s Eye View” copies are still available direct from the author (108 Moulsham Drive, Chelmsford, Essex, CM2 9PZ ~ Tel 01245 256790). It is an account of his National Service in the RAF (1952 – 1954) most of which was spent at Fontainebleau. It is essential bedtime reading and excellent value at £8.50 including postage and package.
WRINKLIES submitted by Pete Williams
When Joy and I go to the shops And tell ourselves, when we are old,
For milk and bread and cheese and chops, Our hands won't shake, we won't lose hold,
We look at all the wrinklies there, And when we're halfway home, we find
Who shuffle round the shelves and stare, We've left the cheese and chops behind!
Does it ring any bells?
Our plans for the next visit are quite ambitious. So well were we received everywhere last September that we wish to present the town and Camp Guynemer with a permanent reminder of the 1950s and 1960s when the Allied Forces were based in Fontainebleau to keep the peace. Ideas range from planting a tree, giving a park bench with a suitable plaque, a stained glass window in the church, and a plaque in the Town Hall. It is thought that Camp may close in a couple of years. If it is possible it would be appropriate to remove the large plaque of the 7 Nations Flags in the HQ Building and transfer it to the present Allied Forces HQ in Belgium.
All of this will take a lot of organising and there are certain channels to go through and protocols to observe. For this reason a May trip looks unlikely. Charley Collyer is providing helpful advice and the SHAPE Officers Association have been asked to give some guidance.
Accommodation in Fontainebleau during May and September 2001 is fully booked and our Tour Operator has advised that there is room at the IBIS in Melun. For a 6 day tour he has indicated a price £200.
The following article appeared in AIRCENT NEWS c 1966 and was provided by Barry Colman who was team captain ~ he is second from right, back row in the team photo below.
On Saturday, March 12th our opponents were Melun and under windy conditions, the AFCENT team excelled itself, registering its highest score in two seasons. From start to finish, AFCENT dominated the game with the defence impregnable and the attack in magnificent form.
It did not take long for the AFCENT team to settle down and some direct attacking football was witnessed in which the home team was in command.
The goals came thick and fast and the Melun goalkeeper must have been the most miserable of the players at the end of the game. Brachman at centre forward was in devastating form, scoring four goals but the outstanding player was Bobert who scored three excellent goals including a penalty. His understanding with Sabre was uncanny and some beautiful moves by all the forwards resulted in further goals by Sabre, Birkett and Houlston. It was Jack Birkett’s last game and after a quiet first half, both he and Houlston settled down to assist in AFCENT’s best perform-ance of the season.
All of the AFCENT team played exceptionally well and it was most pleasing to see the new centre half Chanial settle down so quickly and give such an intelligent performance.
For the records, the AFCENT team was as follows:- Maasen, McLeod, John, Schade, Chanial, Colman, Birkett, Sabre, Brachman, Houlston and Bobert.
Often people are asked where they were when President Kennedy was assassinated. Gordon Eardley recalls precisely and he writes
I was serving at Fontainebleau alongside many US airmen for whom the news came as a shattering blow. The one thing I recall was that the Americans had arranged their Annual Dance and this was no Saturday Night Hop. Lavish preparations for the event had been going on for some time and were in their final stages when the news came in. What surprised us all was that without hesitation and with only days to go, they simply cancelled the whole thing. This (to us, unexpected) mark of respect and admiration for their President cost them thousands of dollars and I must say we were impressed with their spontaneous action. I believe the Americans went up in our estimation that day, for truth to tell some of the “poor” Britishers” were just a little cynical (and jealous) when it came to talk of the mighty US Dollar.
AND FINALLY ~ AN AMAZING FIND
Although the following is “unrelated to AAFCE” I considered worth including illustrating the wonders of the Internet.
In 1962 Rhonda, a fifteen year old girl and her brother went into an abandoned bungalow in Orlando, Florida. They found scattered on the floor lots of family photos and a few Christmas cards and postcards. She gathered the photos up and took them home. She so liked the look of the couple, who were once the apparent owners of the house, and their relations and friends that she became attached to this unknown family. She even made a collage of some photos that she hung up in her bedroom. Some of the photos were taken in an Omaha studio and others in Deadwood, Florida and Denver, A few were from Europe. She knew from the inscriptions that the couple was Fred and Eva ROGERSON. In April 1999, she opened the box of photos again after many years, and put out an appeal on the Internet, posting some of the photos on an Omaha web site.
Whilst surfing the Internet recently we came across this web site and could hardly believe what we were reading. These pictures had been the subject of a chat line since April '99.
To cut a long story short, I knew Fred was my uncle, born in 1867 in Manchester and who emigrated to Omaha early in the 20th Century. While in the USA he married EVA BURSTON of Deadwood. We contacted Rhonda who now lives in Boston, Mass. by e-mail. She was so thrilled to have found a relative of her "adopted" family. She wanted to know more about Fred and Eva and their contemporaries. After taking copies of the pictures she mailed them over to us. Included are Christmas cards from my Dad and his mother at c1909 as well as some family photos my Dad sent over. They are in excellent condition and someone had the forethought to write exact dates and places on the backs of some of the photos.
The concluding page of the web site gave a summary of Fred's life in Omaha obtained from delving into electoral roles, directories etc. supplied by another historian. Fred worked on the Omaha Bee Newspaper from 1907 ~ 1913.
The story with a few of the photos was carried in the local weekly newspaper published in Deadwood, South Dakota.
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Readers are invited to submit their stories of recent events to include in future issues