So many of you sent cards and letters or telephoned with expressions of sympathy following the loss of Jean. I endeavoured to acknowledge each one individually ~ if you wrote and did not receive a reply please accept my apologies. Thank you all for your support. There is much comfort in friendship.
Over the years both Dave Bennett and Mike Capon have been instrumental in finding new members, Dave through his judicious advertising in magazines and Mike through searching internet sites. We need to redouble our efforts to trace erstwhile colleagues, there are many out there, so if any of you have a spare half hour and are so inclined perhaps you could you have a go.
The new badge at the head of this page will not have escaped your notice. It was designed by Dave Bloomfield ~ a brilliant effort, thanks Dave. We have finally found a great badge for our Association and I promise not to change it.
When Sgt Don Dykes saw the notice in Yours magazine he contacted the Association. Don was posted to the Chief of Staffs Office in July 1961,where he was joined later by Sgt Gordon Eardley. He left Fontainebleau on the day President Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963 for Binbrook. This was followed by a posting to Eastern Radar Watton. He was fortunate to be given another posting to France, this time to SHAPE in Paris to assist in the move to Belgium. From SHAPE Don went to Command Manning at HQ Training Command Brampton on promotion to WO. After a tour as Chief Clerk RAF Brampton he went to CMLO's Office HQ Strike Command. RAF Akrotiri was the next stop then back to HQ RAFSC Brampton CMLO. After final tour of duty at RAF Henlow Don retired to Cyprus for 11 years.
After reluctantly returning to England for a further 7 years it was time to head back to France with his wife Joan in 2001. Don settled in and says “that France has been a wonderful experience, peace and quite with good food and wine, friendly local people. It is a great environment to spend our retirement.”
Cpl Dave Bloomfield, seen on the left with his USAF pal Joe Cardisco last December, was a Driver in the International Motor Pool from March 1964 until January 1966. After Fontainebleau Dave was a passenger on that fateful flight in a Handley Page Halifax from Ceylon to Gan Island when it crashed and he was one of the few survivors. After he left the RAF Dave served in the West Midlands Police Force. He is now retired and lives in North Wales with his wife Jean. Their son-in-law is serving with the 7th armoured brigade in the Gulf. Dave keeps in touch with Joe Cardisco in Virginia who was invited to join our happy band but he declined.
National Serviceman L/Cpl Alan Ketchell was a Wireless Operator with Royal Signals at the Palace from June 1953 to November 1954 when he left the Army to return to his former occupation as a Railway Signalman until February 1960 when he joined Hampshire Constabulary from which he retired in 1990 after 30 years service. Having a handicapped son Alan and his wife Irene do a lot of charity work. Joining the Swanwick Lions Club gave Alan an opportunity to help those less fortunate than himself. Since retirement Alan’s boyhood hobby of stamp collecting has come to the fore. It was a coincidence that when talking to David Rogerson about French stamps he discovered that we had served at Fontainebleau at the same time. Alan lives in the Southampton area.
We could not issue a newsletter without mention of Charley Collyer. He has moved to another building in the Fontainebleau Hospital complex. Brian Moulding visits him regularly and reports that he is in fine fettle but finds walking difficult after his accident and his memory is fading. The hospital staff look after him well especially after they were told that he spent his life in the RAF. Charley’s planned relocation to live with his “adopted” son will not materialise because he wishes to remain in Fontainebleau where his wife is buried. Charley is aware of the Veterans visit to the town in September and is looking forward to meeting up with us again. For those wishing to call him his new telephone number is (0033) 160741357 (switchboard)
Geoff Morgan and his charming wife Michele entertained yours truly to lunch at their lovely home in Christchurch. A return “match” at Brookwood is eagerly awaited.
Dave Bennett had a spell in hospital after he lost his balance. After a few days treatment he was discharged and returned home on medication. Dave and Zena took time out to motor over to Hampshire to visit Peter and Ruth Fryer.
Our third pilgrimage to Fontainebleau is fully subscribed. The itinerary that includes visits to Camp Guynemer and Le Quartier Chateaux is well advanced. We hope to include a visit to Melun Aerodrome and Museum and a day trip to Chartres. Our party has been accepted to take part in the Parade at the Arc on 15 September. Separate circulars with full details will be sent to those in the party so I will dwell no longer here.
Terry Vine and Dick Christensen and their wives met in the Florida Keys in February for a mini Reunion. Dick Christensen writes :-
We all had a wonderful time, the weather could not have been better. One afternoon was spent fishing, the evenings at the local pub and clubs enjoying the local food and beverages..
Our judging of the local bathing suit contest did not go well, we all showed up with our cameras to take a few pictures and judge at the same time, but there was nothing to take a picture of, we thought that the girls had left their bathing suits at home, so we just made the best of it, tough job.
Below are a few of the pictures we took. Hope to see more of you over here next year.
The picture below was designed and printed on A3 paper by Dave Bloomfield. It was framed and now hangs in the editor’s “office.” One has to admire the way Dave has skilfully incorporated the emblems of the seven Air Forces and various views of the Palace.
This is the last extract from the file of Jock Fraser’s letters home to his Mother
4 July 1958
…..I’d seen corkscrews in Fontainebleau shops like a little dog with the corkscrew bit hanging underneath its cocked leg which I thought would appeal to Dad for his birthday. George was on a day off so I asked him if he would get one for me. He came back blushing and fit to be tied – he’d seen them as well but now all the shops didn’t have any. Of course he started off well by forgetting the word for a corkscrew (we’d looked it up) and confronted the young lady in the first shop with “Je vais un petit chien qui pisse…” then got stuck. When all the staff had assembled to hear this mad Englishman and he finally managed to get over what he wanted they said “no, we haven’t anything so vulgar, but the shop across the road would have them” He went over the way, went through the same rigmarole, to be told “We’ve nothing so vulgar, try over the way”, and so it went on through Fontainebleau. He’s gone a bit off me….
For no explainable reason the numbers are well down on previous years. With the inevitable onset of advancing years some find it difficult to travel. Below is a list of those who have booked. If your name should be on this list and has been omitted please let me know quickly. It is not too late to book your place for what promises to be a super week-end in pleasant surroundings. You know the number to call 023 8040 2846.
Number Number Number
Harris Ray* 2
* staying 2 nights Friday and Saturday
Brian Williams who is out on a limb in Detroit writes regularly and includes a selection of jokes from the local Fax Tribune. Here are a few :
God put me on earth to accomplish a certain number of things. Now I am so far behind, I shall probably live forever.
One of life’s mysteries is how two pound of candy can make a person gain five pounds.
You know you are getting older when you don’t care where your spouse is and as long as you don’t have go along.
You know you are getting older when the girls in the office start confiding in you.
Every time I think of exercise I lie down and the thought goes away.
~~~ ~~~ ~~~
………….and here are some extracts from letters written by council house tenants.
My lavatory seat is cracked, where do I stand?
Our lavatory seat is broken in half and is now in three pieces.
Our kitchen floor is damp. We have two children and would like a third so please send someone round to do something about it.
Here is another selection from the collection of photos loaned by some of the members
Café Demense ~ March 1954 where old timers enjoyed
SAC Ted Caton and LAC Brian Simpson 1954
Courtesy Ted Caton
Café Demense ~ September 2000. The boules pitch is now a car park
Courtesy Alan Lake
LAC Appleyard, ----?---- LAC Les Massey,
and LAC Weatherall,
Quartier Chateaux soccer players ~ 1958
Back row – Pete Wooton (RASC), Cpl Unsworth (RAPC) --?—(RMP)
Front row - Cpl Johnson (REME), Pte Thorne (RASC), Cpl Jeff Lester (R. Signals), Gunner Wermold (RA), Cpl Dave Heaney (RMP)
Courtesy Jeff Lester Fontainebleau Railway Station
Courtesy Ted Caton
In the role of guide and interpreter to LACs Caton and Smith I made the journey to Paris once more. Once again it was the 1336 that was employed and when we reached the Gare de Lyon we plunged into the metro for a long and complicated journey to Place de l’Europe. Caton was hoping to obtain a refund on his Air France ticket but as the agent was closed we had to go to their main office in the Champs Elysées
I then led the way down the Champs to the Place de la Concorde, along the Rue de Rivoli turning left at the Pyramides towards the Opera and then to Montmatre. We found a restaurant and had a splendid meal (£1. 12s for the three)
We then continued the walk through Montmatre to the Porte St Denis, down the Rue St Denis to the Ile de la Cité and then back to the Gare de Lyon via the Bastille.
The 2034 train got us to Fontainebleau at 2145 and the AAFCE bus got us back to camp at 2230.
Quite definitely the coldest day of the winter so far. In the morning sleet and rain fell to form a solid sheet of ice over all the camp roads and in the afternoon there was a short downfall of snow.
Up to Paris by bus and after considerable difficulty we made our way to Stade de Colombes in order to see France and Ireland do battle with a rugby ball.
The home team won a not very inspiring game by 8 pts to 0 and completely satisfied the crowd. The first half was evenly contested but the crowd didn’t approve of the Scots referee. France scored 2 tries in the second period and the whistle wielder was forgiven in the upsurge of national pride and delight that the two famous Prat brothers were doing the scoring.
As an International Stadium Colombes falls short a long way behind the English standard. Having paid 12/- for a seat I expected something better than numbered planks. The arrangements for entering and leaving the ground were very poor and at time dangerous.
Colonel Barney's Appointment with GENERAL Norstad
The following was downloaded from the internet
Barney (right) with Norstad
Barney with Generals on airplane
As NATO got off the ground, General Norstad was ordered from his post in Wiesbaden, Germany, to take command of Allied Air Forces, Central Europe (AAFCE) Headquarters in Fontainebleau outside Paris. Barney made the journey with Norstad in April 1951. Barney remained overseas until December 1953.
"General Norstad and myself in the first days of NATO, 'looking ahead', but not yet seeing what the precarious start that the Berlin wall would go up and down, and the USSR would disintegrate."
The Annual Military and Veterans Festival 14 – 20 June is one of the leading events in the South and is one of the major features of Weymouth’s programme. Weymouth and Portland Borough Council is working closely with ex-service associations. Why not take part in the Festival and give yourself an unforgettable experience.
RAFA ANNUAL CONFERENCE
This will be held in Bournemouth in May. Brian Gibbons will attend and hopes to meet up with John Allison and Keith Adams and perhaps some other Fontainebleau Veterans.
AND FINALLY …………………….
The success of the Newsletters depends on input from the readers. I have to scratch around for material as reliance is placed on just a few contributors. So why not send in your stories and news items. They do not have to be confined to your time at Fontainebleau. Any interesting stories before or after those idyllic days will be considered.