As the final touches are put to your Newsletter a party of members and their wives are enjoying some fine autumn sunshine in Fontainebleau. In a few weeks we shall meet in Warwick for our 6th Annual Reunion Dinner. There are still some places available so if you are thinking of coming please get cracking. You are assured of a great weekend.
It is sad to report that Ray “Bomber” Harris died suddenly in July just 2 weeks short of his 80th Birthday. (Obituary – page 3)
A new feature in this Issue is Letters from our Readers. Let’s hear from you guys. I am sure that many of you can make a contribution to add value to your Newsletter.
George Wright introduced Cpl Chas Hardie after he met him at a recent Apprentices’ Reunion. Chas travelled to Fontainebleau with Jock Fraser in April 1957 and was assigned to the Chief of Staff’s Office working under Sgt Mick Champ. The Corporal post eventually became redundant and Chas transferred to AFCE in Cour Henri IV where he remained for the rest of his tour until October 1959 when he was posted to HQ 38 Group, then to HQ RAF Germany. After further postings in the UK and Naples Chas left the RAF in 1980 taking employment with the Lord Chancellor’s Department as a clerk to a High Court Judge. After 22 years in this post Chas retired in March 2002 and returned with his wife Nan to his native Scotland. He spends his retirement years playing golf and spends many happy hours in his garden.
Cpl John Reynolds who was at AAFCE from about June 1957 until early in 1960 was introduced by Chas Hardie. John worked for Ops, Research and Analysis in Building 1. After Fontainebleau he found himself at HQ Bomber Command at High Wycombe where he was informed that he was to be made an Instructor Credenhill. This hastened his application to become an Air Quartermaster (now Loadmaster). This took priority over Instructor duties and he flew happily on Comets with 216 Squadron after completing his initial training at 242 O.C.U. (Dishforth) on Beverleys. A difference of opinion with the Medics at Biggin Hill resulted in a posting to Woodhall Spa in 1962 for 18 months when he was granted permission to purchase his discharge. 4 days later John joined BEA where he remained until his retirement last March. John resides in Churt near Farnham, Surrey.
Flight Sgt Les Kemp saw the Reunion notice in RAF News. He enlisted in the RAF on 21 May 1947. After a series of postings he found himself at RAF Records, Innsworth where he graduated to the office that selected personnel for VIP and Special Duty Postings. When his time came to leave the Records Office he posted himself to AAFSE in Naples but when he found there were no schooling opportunities there for his children he selected a posting to Fontainebleau. Les arrived at Camp Guynemer in September 1960 and was assigned to ACOS Intelligence. During his tour at Fontainebleau NATO was put on a war footing for the Cuban Missile Crisis and his Division was deployed at Soissons as an alternate HQ.
After postings to Henlow, where he was promoted to Warrant Officer, Brize Norton, and Latimer Les decided to call it a day and took early voluntary retirement in 1978 after 28 years service.
Moving back to his native Yorkshire Les worked for Leeds City Council. After 13 years he retired and now works as a volunteer case worker for SSAFA-Forces Help. Les now lives with his wife Alma in York. His daughter Joyce who married a medic in Fontainebleau has joined the Association.
LAC Ian Blackburn-Elliot, a Medical Orderly in British Wing of the International Hospital in Fontainebleau from June 1961 until January 1964 married Les Kemp’s daughter Joyce who was educated at the International School. After completing 5 years service in the RAF Ian and Joyce settled in Bedfordshire where he was a bus driver while Joyce worked for the local Health Authority. They now live in Rushden, Northants.
Cpl John Cox and SACW Barbara Taylor, traced by John Reynolds served together at Fontainebleau. From May 1957 to November 1959 John worked in ACOS Training in Building 1 while Barbara was a Nursing Attendant at the Hospital in town from November 1957 until January 1960. Whilst at Fontainebleau John and Barbara were engaged and the photo on the left was taken at their Engagement Party on the Camp. John and Barbara are now living in Broadstairs, Kent.
Ann Tartt accompanied her late husband Warrant Officer Ken Tartt during his 3 year tour at Fontainebleau where he worked in the HQ Building 1 from March 1962 till March 1965. A 44 foot caravan was shipped from the UK, in which they lived behind the Forrestier Cottage on the edge of the Forest behind the Obelisk. Their two children were educated at the International School. Ann was well known in Fontainebleau as running the Youth Club that took servicemen’s children on outings. Ken completed 36 years in the RAF before retiring. Ann widowed 20 years ago lives in Nottingham.
Ray “Bomber” Harris died peacefully from a heart attack on 26 July just a fortnight away from his 80th birthday. Ray a career airman, served as a Sergeant in the International Motor Pool at Camp Guynemer from February 1956 until July 1959. He was an active member of the MPH Club and took part in many night rallies. Ray joined the Association in it its infancy and was a supportive and active member – always present at our Reunions. He lost his Dutch wife a short while ago from Alzheimers and is survived by his partner Betty and his 2 daughters Valerie and Michèle. An expression of sympathy together with a donation was made by the Association.
I took over the running of the Youth Club from a US Sgt. It was run pretty well on American style. We had parents who volunteered as chaperones when we took children aged 13 years upwards on outings. Some members, still schooling, were in the 20s and the parents made sure that there were no seats at the back of the coach for “monkey business”. Many of the British children had not heard of Sadie Hawkins night ~ progressive dinners, starters at one house, main course at another finishing with a disco at a home with the most ground or garage. The Base Commander, Colonel Regan loaned his premises on more than one occasion.
We even took part in the prep for the Annual 3 day March which we joined for the last 5 kilometres on 3 consecutive evenings. I finished with every bone aching and was greeted by some Dutch children with a bouquet of flowers. Colonel Regan presented me with my medal and one also to the wife of an RAF Flt. Lt. who accompanied me on the walk. I particularly enjoyed the members who were a great bunch of well behaved children ~ we never once had a problem.
Bingo was a great night too held in the cinema at Camp Guynemer. We had to arrive very early to ensure entrance. Jackpots were cars, caravans, boats so you went in hopefully, but I and many others came away excited even if we won nothing. The comradeship with all nationalities was very close and we made lasting friendships. So for that reason alone I would like to meet up with old friends through the Association. My dear husband Ken died 20 years ago. We used to say that if we could relive our lives we would do the same all over again.
Ann Tartt (Nottingham)
This should bring back happy memories to some of our readers.
I've just received the latest Newsletter and seeing a mention of General Norstad I have quite an amusing article that I think you might find interesting for the Newsletter. The most important job in the Royal Air Force is Postal Clerk.
General Norstad arrived at Fontainebleau sometime after me, and one afternoon he called at the RAF Section Post Office, much to my surprise. I immediately jumped up calling him Sir, when with that typical American drawl said, “Take it easy son, I need to ask you a favour.”
He went on to say that he wrote many letters to England and it was a very long process with the American Post Office, as the letters had to go first to USA and from there to England. He wanted to know if it would be possible if he could use the RAF Post Office to hasten up his mail. I told him that would be no problem and he was very pleased and immediately sent a bunch away. He then went on to ask me my name to which I replied LAC Howard. "No, no" he said “I mean your first name” to which I replied “Roy”. "Ok Roy" he said, “I'm Laurie” and we shook hands and he went away. From then on every time he came in it was “Hi Roy” and “Hello Laurie.” On one occasion when he came in who should be there but the RAF Adjutant Flt. Lt. Strange who as you all know was well over six feet in height even managed to grow another few inches when standing to attention. He spoke to Laurie with half a dozen Sirs to go with it and when I just said "Hello Laurie" he nearly went through the roof. After Laurie had gone he blew me up, wanting to know what I was doing calling a high ranking officer by his Christian name. When I told him this was on the orders of Laurie himself he said that it would have to stop and the next time Laurie came in I was to call him Sir.
A few days later he did come back and in his usual way said, "Hi Roy how are you today" I replied " Very well thank you Sir" he was surprised and wanted to know if anything was wrong. I told him what Flt. Lt. Strange had said. He politely asked where is office was and went out. A few minutes later he came back and said to me, "Who am I?" I said “Laurie” he replied “And don't you forget it" and walked out. Sometime later Flt. Lt. Strange came into the Post Office, locked the door behind him and went on to say I had his permission to call the General, Laurie as that was what Laurie wanted, but he (Strange) was not altogether in agreement. When General Norstad left Fontainebleau he gave me a signed photo and on the photo he had written, thanks for everything Roy, regards Laurie.
Regarding Jean I'm sure you do miss her a great deal and I think it will be for quite sometime yet before you will feel differently. If at anytime you might like to talk about it please don't hesitate to call me, I should be happy to help in anyway I can.
Roy Howard ~ (The Netherlands)
Thanks Roy for your kind thoughts and great story ~ Ed
I had a very busy time at the RAFA Conference With all their recent financial problems there was much to discuss. Still it looks as though they have "turned the corner" having sold off their London premises.
Some time was spent with John & Kath Allison at the civic dance and at the Memorial Parade we met up with Keith Adams who was Standard Bearer for his local branch. John was elected on to the RAFA Standing Orders Committee having come off the National Council.
We had an interesting and informative address by the Chief of the Air Staff, Sir Peter Squires, much of it covering the Iraq conflict giving some insight to the formidable "smart" bomb weaponry used.
Brian Gibbons (Poole)
On Saturday 14th June I had arranged to meet Terry & Hazel Bryant who we had met through the efforts of your goodself, anyway in the meantime my wife had received some distressing news re her health so she did not go to the meeting, Terry as usual was late arriving but arrive they did, after exchanging kisses (for Hazel) handshake for Terry , he said do you know this guy, I studied him for a few moments and then said Keith Adams, what a surprise, we had not seen one another since December 1959, he had his good lady Pam with him, but what a shock, more was to follow.
As my wife Alwyn joined me in Font after we were married she got to know most of the lads and of course we have got to know Hazel, so there was no hesitation we were going back to see Alwyn says Terry so to our house we went.
Unknown to me, our eldest daughter and grandsons had come down from Tamworth and were at home when we arrived. After introductions we went into the garden. Keith having his usual beverage whilst the others had soft drinks, anyway out came the customary photos, who's that then says Keith, some names from his past were Colin Marsh, Med Parry, Barry Fores, George Johnston amongst others, then the fun really started, Keith asked my wife if I ever said that they took my car when I was on duty at Melun, the two or more b......s used it to go to Paris for the night, I never knew anything until Saturday
They then started on my daughter saying “he's not your father you know, we all fancied Alwyn and when he was on nights oh boy did we have fun.” The poor girl is still wondering, no I jest, you only have to see us together.
The afternoon went all too quick, laughter and tears of happiness was the order of the afternoon, all too soon they had to leave, so when you see those two smoothies thank them from me ~ they did Alwyn and myself a power of good. One thing you must do is ask Terry about his ride on Colin's motor-bike, you will be in stitches.
Des Gwilliam (Wales)
On a glorious Sunday 7 July John Ross set off on his sponsored cycle ride for the Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow Trust. I followed in the car with picnic furniture, food, flannel, towel, first aid kit and most important fortisips.
After trying to trace John for nearly 2 hours I eventually caught up with him at Manton Village. He did not require a drink and said “See you at Normanton Car Park” After driving the 6 miles I selected a nice grass verge and laid out the picnic only to be told as he rode past “see you Whitwell.” Although John had a bottle of water on his bike I was concerned and decided to go to Empingham Car Park ~ the penultimate stop before the finish. Once more I laid out the refreshments.
I waited and waited in vain, not knowing that John had decided to complete the run in under 3 hours, and seeing a chance to achieve this he put a spurt on. I could not believe it and was worried lest he had collapsed and been carted off. Trying not to panic I set off for Whitwell Car Park as instructed.
On enquiring at the finishing line if No. 60 had arrived I was informed that he had and left a message that he is going home along the road. At least he was O.K. On my arrival at home there was his Lordship next door on Kate’s sun lounger with a medal around his neck. John had achieved the ride in 2 hours 52 minutes having raised over £450 for the Charity. John is talking about entering again next year (and the Tour de France). I have been promoted to his Personal Trainer.
Marjorie Aylward (Rutland)
Well done John ~ Follow the advise and counsel of your Personal Trainer at all times.
Don Dykes and I worked in the Chief of Staff's Office and one day when I was out of the room for a while, Don heard the sound of a terrific crash coming from the main public road nearby. He quickly went into the corridor to see what had happened. A few moments later he returned to find the “Cosmic Box” had disappeared from his desk. It was a worried looking Don whom I saw when I, too, came back to the office.
What had happened was that, in the few moments of Don's absence, the Air Marshal had come in, and seeing the box apparently unattended on the desk, promptly picked it up and took it into his inner sanctum.
You can imagine the red faces all round a few minutes later when the Air Marhal's buzzer sounded!
Gordon Eardley (Derby)
We have sold our home in Hampshire after living here for 33 years. As the time draws nearer it is becoming harder to think we are leaving, but the joy of not having to cut and trim over 250 conifers in the garden plus the near one acre of paddock hedge every year makes leaving a little more tolerable.
We are storing all our possessions for the next twelve months, possibly longer, who knows. We then intend to go to France, Spain and Portugal with our Caravan wintering there for 6 months, before returning to England to make arrangements to go to America and Canada (not in our caravan!) for three months or so. The after that New Zealand which is attracting us more and more. I suppose we should have made the short hop from Australia last year when we spent 3 months visiting Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and Thailand but I guess the oversight must be due to lack of planning or old age.
Before we leave sometime in early November we will be staying from with our son David at Mattingly, Hook, Hampshire.
Peter Fryer (Alton)
Good luck Peter and Ruth ~ you must give updates on your travels to include in Newsletters. - Ed.
I was pleased to read in the latest newsletter about the Café Demense, a favourite watering hole of mine in the winter months, nothing like a large coffee laced with cognac to drive the cobwebs away on a raw cold morning.
In 1953 the Station Sick Quarters at Quartier Chataux was transferred to a building inside the walls of Caserne Demense opposite the café and although I was still billeted at the Quartier Chataux I walked to work just a short distance along Rue St. Merry.
As a result of the Newsletter I have been in regular contact with Monique Matthews (nee Besson) and health permitting I shall visit her later this year. Monique remembers the café and tells me that as a young girl during the war her late father took her there to get his tobacco ration. She says that the café was a popular spot with the Germans during the Occupation.
George Millington (Wallsall)
BEVERLEY STORIES PART I - SOME TRUE, SOME APOCRYPHAL OR HEARSAY
This selection of amusing stories where “AQM” = Air Quartermaster (now Loadmaster) were submitted by Jock Fraser, our correspondent in Australia ~ and there are many more in stock for future issues. Jock certainly enjoyed his time in the RAF.
47 SQN. BEV. KHARTOUM 1960's
Land in darkness, open crew door. Set of eyeballs and teeth in the blackness outside say "Hoo are ye daein', Jock?" from local Sudanese gent. Startled crew find he was taught English (sic) by Glaswegian 47 Sqn. groundcrew with Fairey IIIFs in 1930s when Squadron based there. (Heard a tale later that he was brought on visit to UK as a guest of 47 Sqn - can anyone confirm?)
47 SQN BEV XB290 - PAU, FRANCE JUNE 61 and XL149 DEC 61
Liaison visit to French Army Para School at Pau, Bev. "Q" and despatchers work on French Noratlas to see how French systems work. Bev. "Q" sitting (very hungover from Armee de l'Air Sgts. Mess hospitality) in Noratlas B-106, forgets he is not in Bev., nearly dies of fright as undercarriage leg retracts up past his window after take off... Another surprise was one small, slight para who jumped at the end of one “stick”, and was still up there when we turned in for another drop. And was only half way down when we did a third run! If I remember, they were Foreign Legion paras, so one wouldn’t make fun of him unless one wanted to carry ones teeth home in a paper bag…
(NB 1- French system seemed to be despatcher leans out of door judges when to send troops out. Latter amble to door stubbing out fags on internal longerons and still chatting with their mates, fall out. Land on DZ, make for French NAAFI wagon which sells Coke sized bottles of vin ordinaire, drink three and rejoin queue for next Noratlas...)( becomes even more nonchalant as day goes on, wine goes down - but they drop precisely on DZ where the “refills” are..)
(NB2- These French para are tough – watching them. as we went to the mess, running round the square at Pau carrying logs when on “jankers” was enough to make you have another glass of ordinaire when you got to the bar…
47 SQN DETACHMENT BAHRAIN 62
Delayed take off, usual confusion, last minute panic departure with 40+ pax for up-country destination. Internal temperature on run-ups 140F, flight deck change into normal MEAF flying gear - (desert boots, socks, underpants (shreddies), and flying helmet, shove something into flare chute to get airflow ventilation) 20 minutes into flight "Q" discovers he has left paper cups behind, 46+ tongues hanging out for a drink. Shortly thereafter, all souls on board fed and served coffee in little glass bowls, all happy. "Q" collapses in freight bay, looks up at freight bay lights - 46+ naked light bulbs with no little glass covers on and thinks "It's lateral thinking that makes this job such fun...."
47 SQN BEV XB264 YAS ISLAND, PERSIAN GULF JUNE 62
While on 47 Sqn (Abingdon) Bahrain detachment, tasked to drop mail to Army chaps playing soldiers on an island in the Gulf. This was enlivened by approaching the island at zero feet and pulling up over the line of “thunderboxes” they had rigged up as latrines, which blew away in the slipstream quite entertainingly – except for those sitting communing with nature at the time. I did a cartoon which we dropped with the mail, which later appeared in the Para Regiment magazine “Pegasus” and was used for the Para Christmas card that year – I received a nice letter from the Officer Commanding the Regiment thanking me for the drawing and saying they had sold a thousand or more cards, but the bugger never mentioned royalties…..
FRANCE’S NATIONAL PRISON MUSEUM
In a recent issue of TIME Magazine there appeared an article on France’s new National Prison Museum at Fontainebleau. The stone prison is located behind a high wall and is situated on the other side of town from the Palace where Napoleon took his bath. The following is an extract.
This is partly an exhibition of the penal past and lists Gustav Eiffel's brief 1893 stint on fraud charges (later dismissed) and the red bricks manufactured by convicts banished to Guyana. This prison looks much as it did when it was built in 1850. There are huge arched windows at each end of the three-story nave (19th century prison architects also designed churches.) There is even an altar, so that inmates could swing open their solid wooden doors and stand to attention for mass. In modern cell blocks, inmates only dream of such luxuries of a sky view and privacy.
The building operated as Fontainebleau's jail until 1990 The whole place is glossed over by a coat of fresh paint - this is, after all, an official state-run museum. Luckily, the painters skipped over the solitary confinement cell in the basement-where there are still dash marks in the wall counting the days, weeks, months.
In some places, the museum is unblinking. One cell tells how this prison was used to "torture and humiliate" members of the Resistance during World War II, Pére Jacques, the priest who hid Jewish children and whose story is told in the film Au Revoir les Enfants, was held here. The deputy mayor of neighboring Avon, a Resistance member, was held in a cell filled with water up to knee level, so that for days at a time he could not sit or lie down. But just as interesting is what is missing from the museum. There are two guillotines - the ultimate punishment in France for nearly 200 years-but they are locked away in the basement. Curator Catherine Prade spends a lot of words explaining her decision to hide them; the gist seems to be that she is afraid they are too spectacular.
But Prade's affection for the museum is unassailable, and it is what makes the place fee like a home, where the skeletons are mostly out of the closet and hanging in a place of honor. She put the museum together single handedly over the past 12 years, carefully arranging the strait jacket, the cradle from the women's prison and the illicit homemade tattoo machines. "I learn every day about the lives of men and women of great, human qualities” she says, "whether they were judges or murderers, members of the Resistance or bandits:' A few former inmates have even come back to visit, now that their cells have become objects of fascination.
A fresh consignment of ties was purchased recently to add to our stock of blazer badges, enamel badges, table mats, coasters and computer mouse mats. All these items are available from the Editor.
A full set of 27 Newsletters together with the photograph supplements is available on a CD ROM for the bargain price of £3.00
Roy Howard sent in Public Information Leaflet No. 4 issued from the Lord privy Seal’s Office in July 1939. Householders were invited to read it and keep it carefully as they may need it. Here are some extracts that may bring back some memories of those dark days.
YOUR FOOD IN WAR- TIME
You know that our country is dependent to a very large extent on supplies of food from overseas. More than 20 million tons are brought into our ports from all parts of the world in the course of a year. Our defence plans must therefore provide for the protection of our trade routes by which these supplies reach us, for reserves of food here and for the the distribution of supplies, both home and imported, as they become available.
WHAT THE GOVERNMENT HAVE DONE
During the last eighteen months the Government have purchased considerable reserves of essential foodstuffs which are additional to the commercial stocks normally carried. This is one of the precautionary measures which has been taken to build up our resources to meet the conditions of war. In addition, the necessary arrangements have been made to control the supply and distribution of food throughout the country immediately upon the outbreak of hostilities and to bring in such measure of rationing as may be required.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
There are certain ways in which traders and householders can help to strengthen our food position at the present time.
In the ordinary way, the stocks of food in any area are based on the extent of the local demand, or the size of the local population. In wartime, the amount of stocks in any area might be affected by air raid damage, or the flow of supplies might be reduced temporarily by transport difficulties.
As an additional precaution against difficulties of this kind, traders will be doing a good service now by maintaining, and if possible increasing, their stocks, so far as they can. You, too, as an ordinary householder, will be doing a good service if you can manage to get in some extra stores of food that will keep. These will be a stand-by against an emergency. Of course, there are many of us who cannot do this, but those who can will find, if a strain is put at any time upon local supplies, that such reserves will not only be a convenience to themselves but will help their neighbours
By drawing on these reserves instead of making demands on the shops at such a time, they would leave the stocks available for the use of those who have not been able to put anything by.
For those who have the means, a suitable amount of foodstuffs to lay by would be the quantity that they ordinarily use in one week. The following are suggested as articles of food suitable for householders storage : Meat and fish in cans or glass jars, flour, suet, canned or dried milk, sugar; tea; cocoa; plain biscuits.
When you have laid in your store, you should draw on it regularly for day to day use, replacing what you use by new purchases, so that the stock in your cupboard is constantly being changed. Flour and suet in particular should be replaced frequently. You may find it helpful to label the articles with the date of purchase. Any such reserves should be bought before an emergency arises. To try to buy extra quantities when an emergency is upon us would be unfair to others.
The Government evacuation scheme, of which you have already been told, will mean a considerable shift of population from the more vulnerable areas to safer areas. This will lead to additional demands on shops in the reception areas. Traders have been asked to have plans in readiness for increasing the supplies in shops in reception areas to meet the needs of the increased population. It would, however, take a day or two for these plans to be put into full operation.
The Government are, therefore, providing emergency supplies for children and others travelling under the official evacuation scheme. These supplies would be issued to them on their arrival in their new areas and would be sufficient for two days. Those who receive them will be asked not to make any purchases, other than small ones, in the local shops during those two days.
Those making their own arrangements to travel, should take food with them sufficient for two days, and should buy in advance, as part of their arrangements, the non-perishable food which they would require. As already said, anyone who, in time of emergency, buys more than normal quantities, would be doing harm, as such buying must draw on stocks which should be available for others.
1933 Postcard of Fontainebleau acquired by
Mike Capon on a recent visit to Paris
The photograph above taken in February 1959, shows Tony Bowdler with Senor Pascal, the owner of the Santa Lucia Pizzeria Bar in Rue de la Cloche, a favourite RMP haunt. The restaurant was just around the corner from the BAE Chateaux in Rue St Marie. The card top illustrates the interior of the restaurant.
Fontainebleau welcomes careful drivers ~ just a couple of the wrecks from the International Motor Pool circa 1958 ~ Courtesy Malcolm Hughes
25 August 1957
………Had spent the afternoon in town shopping and visiting a few bars so was feeling quite rosy when I got back to camp for supper in the mess. Went back into Fontainebleau for another few beers at a bar where the toothsome barmaid calls me “ M’sieur Moustache” and then took a taxi to the Cascades Bar about 11pm. Found some of my pals having a celebration so had a few with them and then wandered into the back room to find some of the RAF “intelligentsia”, an educated GI, Air Commodore Testers daughter Sandra and another girl all quoting Shakespeare and drinking vin rouge. I then recited the Saga of the Bath which gave me a chance to get at the bottles while they were still laughing. Then Paddy Connolly and a couple of others joined us and we made it a party. I taught Sandra some Ogden Nash poems, we all sang “Carmen”, “Carousel” and so on till they threw us out at 1.30 am. The ladies left whereupon the singing doubled in volume and trebled in indecency. Having got in the mood we banged on the doors and insisted they sell us a bottle of wine apiece or we wouldn’t go away, and then we set off to Fontainebleau Forest to continue. We meant to go up the hill to Les Rochers – a rocky outcrop, but Ginger Edmonson fell flat on his face in a clearing and wouldn’t get up, so we all sat along a fallen log drinking wine and singing at the pitch of our voices – joined by Ginger in the choruses from the horizontal. It was raining cats and dogs by this time but we never noticed….
When the bottles were empty we sang hymns (with descants) and then all the National Anthems we could remember in respectful hiccups – even left out the rude words to the Star Spangled Banner in deference to our GI mate, and then reeled back to camp singing the Red Flag. Jolly good fun all round. Kept losing Ginger and having to go back to prise him off trees he was making mad passionate love to under the impression they were Brigitte Bardot, but got back eventually. A very pleasant evening, though all the deer and squirrels in that part of the forest probably had to be treated for shock and an owl was heard to declare he was flying south with the swallows come winter time…..
11 July 1957
Had the doubtful honour yesterday of being the RAF representative on a Guard of Honour for a visit of the Netherlands Chief of Air Staff. Reasonably amusing in prior practice when the German AF bloke, on “replacing standards” missed the frog thinggie on his belt with the end of the pole and nearly did himself a permanent injury. Then the Belgian bloke dropped his and nearly speared the Canadian with the pointy bit on the end of the staff. The actual “do” went off all right except that those of us on the downwind side got the standards blown in our faces by the strong winds and were so busy trying not to smother in yards of heavy silk we never saw the chap at all.
We are all set to meet up on Saturday 18 October at the Honiley Court Hotel on the outskirts of Warwick for our Annual UK Reunion. This is a new venue for us and all the indications are that we shall be well looked after by the hotel.
A total of 73 are booked to attend and there is still room if you are thinking of coming.
It has come to my notice that Frank Raw lost his wife recently. Our sympathy goes out to you Frank.
Peter Argent had to pull out of the Fontainebleau trip when his appointment for a knee operation came to the top of the list a few weeks before the “off”. Peter and Elaine hope to make the Warwick Reunion.
Les Goddard is another one who had to cancel the French trip after he suffered a stroke. After a few days in hospital and physiotherapy and medication Les is making a good recovery and will be with us in Warwick.
Pete Prentice had operations on both knees last year. Unfortunately he recently had to undergo corrective surgery.
Dave Bloomfield’s wife, Jean has just come home after a hip replacement operation. She was in hospital for 9 days and Dave had to make a 140 mile round journey to Oswestry each day to visit her so he will be glad to have her home.
Tony and Elaine Bowdler called in at Brookwood on their way to catch the ferry from Portsmouth to meet up with the party in Fontainebleau. We had a super afternoon together. It was great to see them again on the return leg when they stayed overnight before driving home to Droitwich.
In the next Issue there will be a full report with a selection of photographs of the third trip to Fontainebleau in September. Our 6th Annual Reunion Dinner will also feature.
If anyone has some copy for the next Newsletter, which I hope will be out for Christmas, I will welcome it with open arms.
Still some Newsletters are lost in transit. This means that those further down the list do not have the opportunity to read them. Moreover they are uninformed of our functions which they may wish to attend. May I urge you to ensure that you forward them promptly. If you do not wish to receive future issues please indicate this on the distribution sheet at the front of this Newsletter.