We had great expectations of filling a coach for a 6 day trip to Rouen. With most of the replies now received only 23 have signed up. Where are all those who put up their hands at the October Reunion? Plan B is a 3 day trip to Paris to attend the Parade at the Arc. Details are given later in this Newsletter. There are a few more new members whose details are not to hand at the time of going to press. Their entries will appear in the next issue.
SAC Bob James a 5 year regular airman, (known as Jesse James after his crack-shot performance on the rifle range during his basic training at West Kirby) arrived at Camp Guynemer in March 1954 for work in the Signals Communications. He left Fontainebleau in August 1957, his final posting being RAF Chicksands were there was a large contingent of US personnel. Bob is now retired and lives with Gillian, his wife of 45 years, in Tamworth, Staffs. They have a daughter and a son and four grandchildren. Bob’s main interests are sport, DIY, gardening, steam railways and 50’s and 60s music – big bands and jazz etc.
AC1 Ray Moore pictured here with his wife Jill was one of the initial intake at Fontainebleau arriving in December 1948 as Driver to AVM Brooks. During his tour he made many trips to Soisson, Rheims Cologne and Dusseldorf. A lot of towns and villages in Western France and Germany were still in rubble with narrow tracks for roads. After demob Ray resumed his previous employment as a Service Engineer in the Motor Trade, finally becoming Service Director with the BMW Main Dealers in Bedfordshire and Herts. At the tender age of 67 Ray retired and now lives with his wife Jill in North Walsham, Norfolk a few doors away from Brian and Barbara Hill.
Cpl Brian Samways, RMP had 2 short tours at Quartier Chateaux, Fontainebleau – the first from October 1959 until January 1960 and the second from March 1966 until October 1966. After leaving the Army as WO1 (RSM) having served in the Far East, Middle East, Europe and the UK Brian became involved in the Security industry holding positions of General Manager and Director of Operations for Companies in London, before founding Kestrel Guards Limited in 1988. He was managing Director for many years and today, whilst retaining a 25% shareholding in the company, he enjoys a less hectic role in semi-retirement and maintains contact with many of my former RMP and SIB colleagues. Brian lives with his wife Waltraud in Poole, Dorset.
Lance Cpl Alan Taylor served as a Royal Military Policeman at Fontainebleau for one year from April 1958. He then went to Chatham to finish his National Service in June 1959. While at Chatham Alan applied to join the Metropolitan Police and began his Police training at Hendon College on 4 August 1959, only three days after his 21st birthday. He served as a uniform officer all his service until retiring in March 1992. During this time as part of a Public Order Serial, he was at the forefront of all the major riots and disturbances in London and other parts of the country. During the miners strike in 1984 Alan was seconded to various other Police Forces in the Midlands and Yorkshire. He also served on the Diplomatic Protection Group guarding Members of Parliament and Diplomatic Missions while armed.
The day after retirement as a Police Officer Alan joined the civilian staff of the Metropolitan Police working with computers and dealing with reporting crimes. In 1998 he retired from the Police on age grounds.
A few days later he commenced work with the Local Authority where he is still employed dealing with all Street Licensing and Street Trading matters in company with a colleague, who is an ex-detective sergeant from the Met Police.
Alan is a Church Warden at his local church and a verger, being a member of the Church of England Guild of Vergers. The Men's Group at the church field a football team for which Alan played in goal regularly until two years ago. A 90 minute match is now too much for him so he takes part in the five a side matches instead. As a regular road runner Alan has taken part in two London Marathons. Unfortunately arthritis is now taking its toll, and the most he can run is about five miles
Alan has contacted another Fontainebleau Redcap ,Tony Cross in Australia and informed him about the Association. Alan now lives with his wife Irene in Hornchuch, Essex
On our Veterans' recent trip to Fontainebleau some of the group spent a leisurely day in Paris on the Sunday. Bill Pike and I decided to walk from the Opera House, through the Place de la Concorde and down the Left bank of the Seine to the Latin Quarter; during that time we experienced two vastly different examples of international communication. The first -and most pleasant -meeting happened when I spotted a Blue Peugeot 403 saloon car parked at the roadside in the Place de la Concorde, with the driver inside and a fellow photographing it. As I approached the vehicle my thoughts flashed back immediately to the many trips I had made from AIRCENT HQ to Paris in a similar car from the International Motor Pool, driven at high speed by a young French or German serviceman! I introduced myself to the driver and explained my interest in his car to him and he agreed without hesitation to allow me to take some photographs. Bill Pike took one of Monsieur Andre Reinex and me by the car, which he has owned since about ~ from new! ! It is in remarkable condition considering that he lives in Paris and has carried out the maintenance of it himself. He was a very friendly and interesting character to listen to and talk to. He asked that I should send him copies of the photographs, which I have done, and we have exchanged letters since, expressing our mutual respect and great pleasure in making acquaintance, in unusual circumstances.
The second -and contrasting -meeting with a 'local' Parisian occurred as Bill and I were wandering down the Left Bank, minding our own business and admiring the scenery. Suddenly, I was aware of a tall, dark stranger, probably of Middle Eastern origin, walking alongside me. He asked me, in French, what nationality I was and, without thinking, I told him 'English'. Well, that turned out to be a big, big mistake Maxie! For the next five minutes or so my right ear was subjected to a tirade of anti-American and British propaganda quite obviously involving Messrs Bush and Blair and the recent events in Iraq. Fortunately, me being a good listener and Bill having walked on ahead of us, our silent response eventually got through to the hostile individual and he carried on his way muttering words which were certainly not "have a nice day Englishmen" -but we did any way! !
So, there you have two entirely different experiences, which I shall remember always -both with a smile, one with great pleasure but the other with great satisfaction at our dealing with an unexpected situation in a manner befitting the traditions of our country and HM Forces when abroad! Mind you, on reflection, it would have been reassuring to have had one or two of our Police colleagues nearby -where were you Keith and Terry? It was ever thus in my time: our beloved RAF Police were only ever present where and when we least expected them!
Max Avey (Trowbridge, Wilts)
Due to unforeseen circumstances our plans for touring Europe have been temporarily postponed. In June Peter fell out the attic, badly dislocating his shoulder and severely damaging the nerves.
So this year we wish you a very Merry Christmas from the UK. Hopefully our plans to visit Portugal for six weeks at the start of March will go ahead.
Ruth and Peter Fryer, (Mattingly, Hants)
One of the joys of fontainebleau
There we are enjoying ourselves at Fontainebleau and the next move is the arrival of the wife. See Charlie Collyer he’ll fix us up with some accommodation. Eventually we got some accommodation in one of the villages in the Forest which turned out to be a rundown wing of the local hotel. We got allocated three rooms on the top floor. In fact this was handy because when I wanted to speak to the bod in the rooms beneath mine all I had to do was stick my head in the washing bowl, yell out his name and a reply came back up the pipe, and so we had a conversation.
The next move was to buy a motor car. Talk to the lads and eventually get directed to a firm in Paris. So of to Paris to find a car. This I did with ease, Royal blue Ford Prefect 1948 vintage including leather seats etc. I was very proud of my purchase –but there was a snag -I had never driven a motor car on the roads. Had experience behind the wheel of a 15cwt whilst in Cyprus - up and down the main runway etc., but never on the roads. Oh well take the bull by the horns and off we go. Oh yes this Prefect was fully equipped to carry out the old Kangaroo motion. In other words the driver hadn't got a clue as to how to co-ordinate the throttle and clutch but after a few attempts all was well.
Then it came to the point where the car had to be paid for. Unfortunately the financial dealings were with a Swiss Company with an office in Paris which meant a trip every month to the Office to get my French Francs converted into Swiss francs to complete the monthly payments.
On one trip to Paris I drove up one of the main streets and then took a side turning to the left. Unfortunately this particular day a big ignorant Gendarme had decided to park himself at the point where I needed to turn left. So I signalled indicating that I was going to turn left. The indicator was situated in the centre support of the car. So slow down and we will get round this copper. Unfortunately I got a little too close and found my indicator was now facing to the rear having collided with the copper. Suddenly from nowhere a big head came through the window, luckily it was down at the time, together with a rather large lollipop accompanied by the words "B..….y Englishman" to which the reply was "Stupid French Copper" to which his response was "P... off Englishman". So a sharp right turns to the office to make my monthly payment and homeward bound to normal life in Fontainebleau.
The next move was to make driving legal. Talk to the lads and the gen is to apply for a provisional U.K. driving licence. Off with the application and eventually I became the proud owner of a provisional license. The next question is can or how I get a full U.K. licence. "Easy" was the reply -just ring this number at the Chateau and speak to Captain.” Now this gentleman was in the R.A.S.C. and was qualified to issue full driving licenses to Army personnel. Ring up "Yes Sgt. I'll give you a call when it is convenient -will a morning be suitable?” “Certainly Sir.” A few days later the dreaded call and off to the Chateau to pick up the Captain. On arrival I was greeted with the request "Will you please drive me up to the NAAFI.” Without any more thoughts off to the NAAFI to do some shopping.
Shopping completed back to the Chateau and the Captain’s Office. "That’s O.K. Sergeant I think you are perfectly fit to drive.” Whereupon the hand came across the desk containing the obligatory pink form showing that I had passed a driving test to U.K. Standards. So with the Pinky moving back across the desk with the right hand, the left hand proceeded to move across the desk and at the farthest point of no return a deposit of 200 liters of cheap petrol was put on the desk. This 200 liters was made up of x number of coupons of cheap petrol to which we were entitled.
With one last salute and a thank you Sir, close the door on the way out and get back to work and as quick as possible, send off the Pink form to U.K. for a full U.K. driving licence. So from 1953 to January 2004 we are still on the road and thoroughly enjoying it.
Dickie Rogers (Gloucester)
Combined Services Weekends - Yorkshire Air Museum - 4/5 September 2004 AND 3/4 September 2005.
Notwithstanding the efforts that have gone into organising and presenting the Battle of Britain Commemoration Service and Parade over the past eight years, it was felt by many that this event in the next two years should focus on commemorating the events 60 years ago that led to the liberation of Europe. This, of course, builds on the results of that Battle but the commemoration now should widen and incorporate the full panoply of WW II and subsequent conflicts.
If one considers that during the Battle of Britain, many countries supported that great battle for air supremacy, by ensuring their aircrew flew, in many cases, alongside our own aircrew. Countries such as Australia, France, Canada and Poland, but to name four, who took part with UK forces during WWll, have lost many people during the 60 year period between the Battle of Britain and the current Iraq conflict. We should remember also those conflicts such as Korea, Suez, Belize, and the Falklands. It is also appropriate to look further forward to 2005 when we are to address activities around the VE and VJ days. It is because of the involvement of many nationalities, including our own Forces that we are now preparing for the largest ever Combined Services Weekend at Elvington.
The Saturday will be given over to the Naval and Land Forces, whilst Sunday is set aside for the Royal Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force, French Air Force, Royal Canadian Air Force, Polish Air Force, and a number of other countries who took part in the events leading up to and during the Second World War, heading towards the victories of the VJ and VE days. Of course we also hope that the Airborne Forces, will join us for both days, with, hopefully, Air Drops. Many local, national and international Ex Service Associations will also be invited to take part and will include the Cadets from all three Services.. Flypasts by various military aircraft are also being considered, including the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, with the Dakota.
The Band of the Royal Marines, we hope will be giving a Concert on Saturday evening, and the Central Band of the Royal Air Force, are both being invited, - just two of the musical sections being currently considered. We also expect that senior figures from all three Services to be present, taking the salutes at the various March pasts on both days.
The whole point of both the 2004 and 2005 events in September each year, is that many of our veterans groups could disband in the near future, and we want to provide a suitable and memorable event that commemorates the 60th Anniversary that veterans will remember for the remainder of their lives.
We hope that you will give your wholehearted support to this venture. If you have any ideas you would like to be considered, please contact the writer.
John H Allison/Brian Trench. Joint Event Liaison Officers (Military).
The Royal Signals squadron based at Quartier Laribrossier went to Gien every year for their summer camp. We pitched our bell tents on the grass alongside the River Loire and although we carried out some military training much of our time was spent in canoes on the river or generally making use of the river and the surrounding countryside.
I'm not sure how many bars there were in the 1954 -1957 period whilst I was there but it is possible the same elderly gentlemen have been using this story to con drinks out of unsuspecting squaddies for a number of years. I do recall there was a most attractive young lady behind the bar and somewhere in my souvenirs I have an ashtray from the bar. Anyway, the story as Tony tells it is certainly the information we were always given prior to going to Gien and the people of Gien were always very thankful and appreciative to the RAF and military personnel from the UK.
Andrew F. Andrews (Cpl. Royal Signals)
"Oh" Mr. Porter (or Around Warwckshire in 80 minutes)
On a pleasant weekend in October Barbara and I arrived at the Honiley Court Hotel on Friday afternoon in anticipation of what proved to be a truly memorable reunion.
It was marred only by our "interesting" experience on the Saturday. The day started well with an excellent breakfast and we decided to visit Warwick city centre. It went wrong. First error we decided to avail ourselves of public transport to Warwick Parkway rail station to take the train into town thus avoiding expensive and unseen car parks. I purchased two return tickets to Warwick at a total cost of £5.00 (including all day parking) and enquired of the ticket clerk where I could board the appropriate train. He informed me that it was the next one to depart from Platform 2. We proceeded to Platform 2 and boarded the next train. When the ticket inspector checked our tickets he informed us that in fact this train was bound not for Warwick but Birmingham. We were advised to alight at the next stop a small place called Dorridge. Fortunately we were able to pass the 45 minutes before a train was due in the direction of Warwick by having a cup of coffee and reading that day's newspaper .
We re-joined the train in the Warwick direction (which with hindsight I should have noticed did not stop at Parkway-but more of this later). In due course we arrived at Warwick Town station and obtained directions for pedestrians to proceed to the town centre. Here we spent a couple of pleasant hours visiting the large street fair and enjoying a quiet pint. We then decided to return to the hotel to prepare for the evening festivities.
We returned to Warwick Town station and being cautious I enquired where and when the next train for Parkway left. I was informed it was the next train from this platform. Once again we duly boarded. Imagine our horror when we found that it proceeded in the right direction but did NOT stop at Parkway. This time we left the train at Ratton, an unmanned and deserted two platform halt. We again crossed platforms and caught the next Warwick bound train, which by now you may have guessed did not stop at Parkway. We got off at Warwick and being somewhat stressed I invested a further £5.00 in a taxi fare to the Parkway station. The only saving grace was that I got back to the hotel in time to consume a large whisky while seeing the final five minutes of England’s Rugby XV trouncing South Africa, much to the delight of our group and the dismay of the bar staff who were mostly South Africans.
The moral of the story is: Never trust a ticket salesman in a peaked hat and preferably avoid public transport.
Doug Chennell, (Spencers Wood, Berks)
PS: In spite of the above Barbara and I feel this was the best re-union we have attended so far. .Congratulations to all involved in the organisation.
I remember being summoned by the Provost Dept at AAFCE to go on a mission to the British Embassy in Paris to represent and act as a bodyguard to HRH the Duke and Duchess of Windsor which was done with much flair smile the Duke had on a tweedy rumpled wool suit but with his usual flair he had beautiful white shirt and tie, beautiful brown shoes polished to a highly polished and of course the Duchess was dressed in a silver lame evening gown dripping with diamonds to compliment her tiara. After the ball was over we went to a bar on the West Bank for a beer prior to returning to AAFCE. The friend of mine who was with me, moved in on a woman to the right of him in the bar, and after a dance with said lady he came back mortified. I asked him what happened? His reply “let’s leave, the woman I was dancing with was a man”. I again asked him how he knew?? he said when you dance as close as we did you know? Anyway enough said - we laughed all the way back. Looking back on that episode I must say I enjoyed seeing the Royal couple and the latter incident was worth the trip. Brian Williams (Ohio, USA)
Extract from the programme of movies showing in Fontainebleau cinemas in March 1959
Brian Samways (Poole, Dorset)
Wishing all the Veterans a happy Christmas and a good New Year. The Maple tree is growing well.
Lt Col Saint-Bonnet (Commandant, Camp Guynemer)
7th ANNUAL REUNION and DINNER
This Annual function is fixed for Saturday 16 October at the Honiley Court Hotel on the outskirts of Warwick. If last year is anything to go by we are in for a super weekend. The cost for Dinner, Bed and Breakfast is £50 per person per night (no single supplements). A deposit of £10 per person is required. To avoid confusion do not book direct with the hotel. Make your reservation through D M Rogerson and book early to avoid disappointment. If you wish to join in the fun complete and return the form attached to this Newsletter. Dress for the dinner is Lounge Suit or smart casual.
COACH TRIP TO FRANCE ~ SEPTEMBER 2004
Due to insufficient support the planned 5 day trip to Rouen and Paris will not go ahead. Where are all those who put up their hands at the Reunion last October? As an alternative our Tour Operator has offered a two nights 14 and 15 September trip to Paris sailing via Dover staying in a Camponile hotel in Senlis near Chantilly, just north of Paris. This will enable us to participate ion the Parade at the Arc. The price for bed and breakfast and all travel is £139 per person (single supplement £48) in a twin room. This does not include the dinner at Josephine’s in Paris on 15 September. Pick up points on the outward journey are as previously, Waterloo, Sevenoaks and Dover. If we are to proceed we need to firm up quickly. You will need to carry insurance. Cover under the Tour Operator’s scheme is available at a premium of £12 per person. If you are interested please complete the attached form and return it to D M Rogerson quickly with your cheque for £40 per person as a deposit.
Reginald Wheeler submitted the following article printed in his local newspaper in December.
He won schools and Essex amateur titles and during five years in the RAF , picked up more trophies including RAF Flyweight Champion from 1959 to 1963, Imperial Services Flyweight Champion in 1959 and 1962 and Allied Air Forces Central Europe Flyweight Champion in 1960, 1961 and 1962. He was given the freedom of Braintree in 1960 in recognition of his success. .
I continue to receive Newsletters after they have completed their circuits with insufficient postage paid. This results in having to pay the postage due plus a £1 administration fee and involves a trip to the sorting office 2 miles away to collect the letter. Please ensure that you stamp with adequate postage ~ if in doubt err on the generous side. Letters up to 60 gms will go for 2nd or 1st class postage up to 100 gms need 34p (Second) or 42p (First) (correct at time of going to press)