ISSUE No. 40 DECEMBER 2007    





We who served alongside other nations in the armed forces

are proud of our association with Fontainebleau

and are justly proud of our place in the history of NATO.


Through our Association we have found old friends and made new ones.

We are grateful for the opportunity to meet together in the spirit of comradeship

which will endure until the last.


To those who are unable to join us and our colleagues who have passed on

Thankfully we will remember them.






We have reached another milestone with this the 40th issue of your Newsletter. So much has happened in the world, not all for the good, since the Association was founded in 1995. During this period we have been reunited with many friends from those halcyon days at Fontainebleau but unfortunately many have been posted to the big airfield in the sky. 


With Christmas approaching fast Seasonal Greetings are sent to all our readers. May 2008 bring you all good health and happiness.



Bennett 1998

Dave Bennett had not enjoyed the best of health since he lost his wife, Zena, in April last year and following a short illness he was admitted to hospital where he received his “home call” at end of September. Dave was the Orderly Room NCO in the RAF Element at Camp Guynemer from September 1956 until February 1959. For many years Dave was an official of his local branch of RAFA and made a significant contribution to the Fontainebleau Veterans Association which he joined in 1996. Having attended all previous Reunions he was admitted to hospital 2 days before this year’s function and was unable to be with us at Warwick. Recently Dave found some happiness with Mo who gave him companionship and support. Dave is survived by his 2 sons Andre and Dean. We shall all miss our dear friend and our sympathy goes out to his family. Donations to the British Heart Foundation and RAFA were made by the Association.





HughesMalcolm Hughes had suffered stoically with motor neurone disease for a couple of years before it finally took him away from us in September. Malcolm was a driver in the Motor Pool at Camp Guynemer from October 1954 until April 1957. Malcolm is survived by his wife Lavinia , son Paul and daughter Irene.





TibbetsBrigadier General Paul Tibbits who will be remembered as the Captain of the B29 Bomber “Enola Gay  that dropped the first nuclear weapon used in warfare over Hiroshima on 6 August 1945 died on 1 November aged 92. Paul Tibbets held many senior appointments including a spell at AAFCE in the early 1950s





On Thursday 18th October, along with Mike and Ann Capon, Peter & Ruth Fryer and Terry and Victoria Vine, I attended the funeral of our friend David Bennett. Following the service at St. Peter's Church, Portishead, we were present at the burial in the local cemetery , where he was laid to rest alongside his late wife, Zena. The funeral had been arranged with the Royal British Legion with whom we participated in forming a Guard of Honour for the coffin draped with the Union Flag.


Thankfully, a bright sunny day helped lighten this sad occasion and we were able to spend time with his sister, two sons and their families.


David was a staunch, loyal member of our Association and responsible for introducing several to our ranks through his tireless efforts. Both very involved with the Royal Air Forces Association, we would often meet at functions. But our friendship goes back a long, long way. At Guynemer, back in 1958, while I was being given the sad news that my brother had died in an accident, it was David, then Orderly Room NCO, who packed my kit and made arrangements to get me to Paris and on the overnight boat/train back to the UK. And much later, during the long weeks that my dear wife, Claudine, lay dying in a Spanish hospital, it was David who stayed in daily contact and was so helpful in keeping me sane.


Although we had spoken on the phone, we met for the first time Maureen (Mo) Pelling David's friend who had shared his final months. Many of us will recall how low and depressed he was last year after losing Zena. But his friendship with Mo gave him a new lease of life. He called me a few times in Estonia, full of enthusiasm and renewed optimism. In spite of his poor health, the two of them went on a lengthy tour of France even managing to meet up with Gordon Lawrie and Josephine and visit Carcassonne. Meeting Mo was a pleasure, it took only a couple of minutes to realise what a charming, gentle and genuine person she is. The thought that David's last few months were spent happily in her company is very comforting to us all.


Goodbye David ! On behalf of us all.........Many Thanks for your friendship !

Brian Gibbons (Estonia)


I was really shocked to learn that Dave Bennett has passed on because it is only a few short months, really, since the Fontainebleau trip when he appeared to be alright but we are all in that autumn phase of life and it is news like that which brings it home to us. It was so good that we all met up again last year.

Elaine Swift (Rotherhan)

Elaine and I are sorry to hear of the passing away of Dave Bennett. Unfortunately we have been away and were holidaying in Cyprus on the day of the funeral service.  We are sorry we were unable to offer our condolences earlier.  Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this sad time. Thank you for advising us of this valued membership loss.

Tony and Elaine Bowdler (Droitwich)


I was sorry to read that David had passed away, I hope he didn't suffer for too long.

Jean Allen (Lincoln)


Another old team mate/member leaves us.  

Jeff Lester (Oldbury, West Midlands)


Thank you for the two donations received on behalf of my father David Bennett. I know how much it would have meant to him. His  passing happened very suddenly and we are still coming to terms with it. Thank you for your kind words and thoughts which are much appreciated.

Dean Bennett (Bristol)



postboxI have just downloaded Issue 39 Newsletter - very well presented, and thank you for the coverage !  Harry Horn's letter is a masterpiece and clearly he is a budding author.  He has reminded me of some of our mutual chums and I would like to 'phone Harry for a chat.  Do you have his number ? 


Peter Goldsmith has been in touch with me at the weekend, and we enjoyed a long reminiscence - his voice has not changed in 50 years nor his enthusiasm for all things mechanical !  I must say this website of yours must be giving many people much pleasure.

Ian Davis (Horsham)


We had a great visit to Fontainebleau - packed with pleasant nostalgia.  I've just got back from another trip to France during which I read 'Gunner'. I had to write to tell you how much I enjoyed it. I haven't been so absorbed in a book for ages, partly because I knew the background elements of course, but mostly because you made observations and judgments that I wasn't capable of as a callow clerk. You brought those half-century old days back to life for me and shone a penetrating light on them. Unlike you - as expressed in your valedictory letter - I enjoyed my time there - didn't know any better and thought people all meant well. I guess my dumbness enabled me to get through it all without getting as angry as I would now. I certainly agree with so many of your views. I also recognised the sure hand of the Mirror sub there - I was in touch with the newsroom on countless occasions when I worked for Les Perrin and then for myself as a PR.


Thanks for a marvelous piece of work that I'll re-read but won't ever forget.

David Block (London)


Glad the reunion was a success. I expect we will meet up again sometime.  Jack also suggests I come to the next reunion and by then it might be something to look forward to so that I can meet up with everyone again.                                                                                                                                                        Gwenda Millin (Hermitage, Berks)


I am sorry that I missed the last Reunion because I was in USA but I look forward to the next one. Re Sir Basil Embry there is another book about his escape across France called “Wingless Victory”


Peter Argent (Bexleyheath)

Anyone want a Beverley pullover made by Dennis Johnson’s late wife Jean around 1990/91 for my wife - never used - hardly necessary since our move to Queensland in 91!  32" chest or tight 36" dark blue with grey Beverley motif. Email me and I will post it on if you give full address.

Christine and Ronald Fraser, Clairinsh, Tungamull, Queensland 4702

Tel : (07) 4934 4422      E-mail : clairinsh@cqnet.com.au

Christine & Ronald Fraser (Queensland)


The article on the research on Air Chief Marshal Sir Basil Embry struck a cord with me as an RAF Museum Cover Collector, and RAF Escaping Society Cover collector.


On the 21st February 1977 RAF Escaping Society Cover SC16 was issued to commemorate the escape activities of Sir Basil. The cover was taken by car to St Omer and the route of Sir Basil's capture and escape completely retraced as far as Neufchatel.  This was from Devres, Hucqueliers, Contes, Hesdin, Dreuil-Hamel, Cayeux Eu and Neufchatel.


1047 Covers were produced and sold towards funds for the RAF Escaping Society.  I have a copy of this cover and if Les Hills would like to have it I would appreciate his address.


Don Dykes (St. Barthelemy, France)


Thank you once again for a first class Newsletter. Some very interesting letters some of which took me back to my days in Paris in 1945 when Pigalle was a no go area for the same reason as Brian Gibbons described. The letter from Mike Evans about the RMP depot brought back memories. I failed to record the date of the last Annual Reunion. I shall ensure that I do in the future and look forward to meeting members of the Fontainebleau Club.

Dave Keery (Derby)


Well another re-union has come and gone, I must congratulate you and others who make this happen, A lot of work must be done to achieve this success. It was very good, and enjoyable and I look forward to the next one.

                          Malcolm Degville (Birmingham)


Fay and I had a very enjoyable week-end in Warwick and appreciate the time and effort it takes to organise the Reunion. Dinner on Saturday was a most fitting climax with beautiful table settings, a lovely meal and good music to follow. We explored further a-field on the following 2 days and were most impressed with what the area has to offer – there was plenty see and do.

The Hotel informed us that all rooms will be modernized and the heating sorted by next year.


George Durant (Portsmouth)


In June Gwen and I were having lunch at Dunkerswell Airfield, near Honiton when some diners behind us were talking about Fontainebleau. I ventured to ask the three gentlemen and one lady when they had been there. To our surprise they were in the coach party we ran to France in 2002. We do meet in the most strange places.

Gilbert Wilkins (Yeovil)


Just a quick one to congratulate and thank you for another great reunion. Ann and I have no complaints. We arrived back at about 4.15 after enjoying some hospitality with Pam and Keith in Stevenage.  They really are two of the best.

Ted Caton (Chelmsford)

One evening just before our 46th wedding anniversary on the 12th May last the telephone rang. My wife answered and a voice said this may seem strange but is your name Maureen and is your husband Brian? My wife replied yes the voice then said I used to stay with you when I was about 7 years old, to which my wife replied “and if I am not mistaken your name is Chantel and your mother is called Monique” She agreed this was a very nice surprise and wonderful to hear their voices again.


This all came about because Monique receives the Fontainebleau Vets Newsletter and recognised us from our photographs as new members after nearly 46 years a surprising and welcome voice from the past.


Whilst serving in Fontainebleau we lived at 30 Rue De La Parroisse and the concierge there was Monique's mother and father (Lucien and Leon) who we got on with very well - they treated us  like a son and daughter as we where just married when we moved into the apartment. This is how we met Monique.


Finding the Fontainebleau Veterans web site purely by chance brought about this great event and reunion after so many years.  


Arrangements were made and we agreed to meet the following Saturday which was exactly 46 years to the day when we first arrived at the flat so we drove down to Hitchin. Chantel showed us around RAF Henlow married quarters to see how it had all changed since we where there. Then it was time for lunch after which  the photographs came out and we chatted over old times. Before we knew, it was 9.00 pm and time for us to leave to return to Coventry. We hope to return another day as we keep in touch as old friends have been re-united. Thank you for making this a great re-union day.


Brian Bursell (Coventry)


My letter in SAGA magazine about HM Customs ripping apart a young National Serviceman's clothing to find a diamond ring which he had already given to his fiancee (she had asked him for the box, from Paris) had a reply from a former Customs officer throwing doubt as to whether his fellow officers would treat a young soldier like this, and I have found this gem, in Road To Resistance by  George Millar, M.C., D.S.O., Croix de Guerre, Legion d'Honneur:

 "I wandered up to the Rock Hotel, and met Alan Moorhead and  Alex Clifford, now war correspondents (they  were Paris correspondents for the Daily Express in 1939).  They, too were leaving Gib for London that day, in the nose of Eisenhower's Flying Fortress.

 "The Sunderland was nearly empty. My fellow passengers were two brigadiers and two senior officers in the female nursing corps. 

 "In Poole Harbour HM Customs hated the sight of me, in my foreign clothes.***  The Brigadiers had a few bottles of sherry between them, whereas I had sherry, brandy and elastic.  Everybody had told me, both in Madrid and Gib to buy elastic, declaring it to be the one thing every woman in England craved.

 "HM Customs loathed elastic.They demanded from me in duty what seemed like a month's rent in cash.  I said that if they gave me a cheque I would make it out.  No, was the answer.

 "Now see you here," one of the brigadiers interrupted. "This young officer has just completed a trying flight.  We are not going to see him bullied by you, are we Jim?"

 "Absolutely not," said the second brigadier.

 "Here's your cheque form then," the head Customs officer said angrily.  "And that will be twopence for the stamp."

 "I haven't got twopence."



But the first brigadier paid it.  The second customs officer reappeared.  "Field Security, London, asking for an officer named Millar.  Oh, it's you, is it?  This way, then, and look sharp."

***  Lt. Millar, of the Rifle Brigade, wounded and captured by the Afrika Corps, had his leg cured by a German doctor, and he was introduced to Rommel in his tent to show him "the kind of men we are fighting."  The blonde, handsome Millar was a prisoner in Italy but jumped train in Germany and escaped through France, crossed the Pyrenees to Barcelona, Madrid and Gibraltar .

He parachuted back into France to train the Maquis with explosives to smash the whole railways system being used by the Germans to reinforce in Normandy.   After the war, in Paris with his yacht and his new wife, he was taken to see General de Gaulle, who told him he had read his book Maquis and had visited the men who had worked with him near Besancon and contacted others in the group who were serving in Germany.

"Another point, Emile" the General said, "at Vielley, do you remember the main street had a name, the street under which you hid in a sewer?    Well, it's now the rue Charles de Gaulle.  Amusing, is it not?"

Peter Kinsley (Peckham)





The following article appeared in the Warwick Courier on 28 September and is reproduced here by their kind permission.


MEMBERS of the Allied Air Forces Central Europe Association, who served in Fontainebleau, France from 1945 to 1965, will meet for the 10th annual reunion this weekend. The event starts today (Friday) and runs until Sunday, September 30.


The men were handpicked from the Royal Air Force who, together with the founder members of the NATO countries, worked to defend Europe during the Cold War years.

The Association was formed 10 years ago and has brought together old comrades, some of whom had not seen each other for years.


Mrs D A Hogg, one of the member's wives, said: "In those dark days after the second world war, it was the skill and dedication of these hand picked serving airmen and officers that provided vital intelligence to the free nations of the western world, and their work was rated highly top secret.

"These veterans now have their own Association, badge and necktie and wear them with pride.

"Members come from all over the UK and the membership even includes the widows of the ex-servicemen who served there, such is the camaraderie that still exists among these select few."


She added: "The group has returned to Fontainebleau on a number of occasions and such is the high esteem that this special group is held by the French that they are the only group allowed to march up the Champs Elysee to lay a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier in memory of those who didn't return from various theatres of operations that they were involved in."

The reunion and dinner dance will be held at the Honiley Court Hotel, Honiley.



It was reported in the Oct – Dec issue of Air Mail that George Millington collected the grand sum of £1736 over 4 days for the West Bromwich Branch and was awarded the Sheldonian Shield for the highest individual collection of the year. George trained as an RAF medical orderly and served in France, Germany and the Far East. He has been helping the branch for several years in conjunction with Lewis Evans, Wings Appeal Officer.




"Decorations & Honours Register" <admin@honoursregister.co.uk>


The Decorations and Honours Register is now accepting registrations for the Commemorative Edition to be published in the spring of 2008.


We believe that many of your members are eligible for inclusion and we would welcome their entries in this new and unique book.


Registration is free of charge and painless, via our website

www.honoursregister.co.uk http://www.honoursregister.co.uk or by simply sending in an individual's name, list of medals, decorations and/or honours with dates awarded, to us by post to the address shown below. The closing date for registration is 29 February 2008.


Please see our press release http://www.honoursregister.co.uk/PROct07.pdf which contains all the information your members should need to participate in this new reference book. Perhaps you may kindly print it off and post it on your member's notice board or mention the Register in your member's magazine or newsletter.


The Register has been featured in the Daily Express, the Daily Telegraph, the British Legion magazine and Medal News. Our Editor, the honours expert Charles Mosley, was recently interviewed on BBC Breakfast and SKY television.


If you would like any more information please do not hesitate to contact the writer.


Adrian Checketts (Director)

The Decorations & Honours Register

KBC Bournemouth Exchange

23 Hinton Road

Bournemouth  BH1 2EF    E-mail : admin@honoursregister.co.uk        Telephone 01202 201405




You may wish to note my new address  : p.a.johnston2007@btinternet.com

    Alan Johnston


Please note my new email address for all RAFA, RAFPA and personal email, effective immediately:   adams@deci.orangehome.co.uk

Keith Adams (Stevenage)


This is to let you know I am back on line again - Mwoolton@aol.com  Not totally out of touch now. Spoke to Terry the other week. Was hoping to go to France but didn't go in the end.


Mike Woolton (Kingston-upon-Thames)


Terry Byant’s new e-mail address is : terry.hazel@tiscali.co.uk

Terry Bryant (Warminster)






This is the item you have all been waiting for! 


On a bright sunny week-end at the end of September after we had a group photograph take by the Warwick Courier snapper 73 people sat down at 7 p.m. to enjoy the Tenth Annual Reunion Dinner at the Honiley Court Hotel near Warwick. Sadly Dave Bennett who attended all the previous Reunions was an absentee due to his being admitted to hospital with a condition from which he did not recover. Keith Adams displayed the French Tricolour taken down from the Fontainebleau Town Hall on a night out in the 1950s. Gordon Lawrie came over from France and a few others traveled from the far corners of the UK. We expect to see more members who live in the Midlands joining us.


The fare was first class and the music provided by Mr. Bojangles had most of the Veterans and their wives and partners on the dance floor. Unfortunately Colin Hogg was unable to perform this year due his stroke.


Thanks to the generosity of the members in providing prizes the raffle generated £375. It was rewarding to see so many new members attending their first Reunion.


The fact that the function was such a success is due the contributions from Colin and Daisy Hogg who decorated our tables, Mike and Ann Capon purchased and brought back the champagne and wine from cross channel trips to France and provided NATO magazines etc, not forgetting Pam Adams and Hazel Bryant for selling so many raffle tickets.


During the afternoon the Annual General Meeting was held. The main points arising were:


The approval of the 2006 –07 Accounts (included in the last Newsletter),

Agreement to run a coach trip to France in September 2008 subject to sufficient support.

To hold the next Annual Reunion Dinner on Saturday 27 September 2008.


A selection of photos taken during the evening is attached in the supplement.


REUNION ~ 2008


The Honiley Court Hotel is booked for our Reunion next year on Saturday 27 September.


The cost is £63 per person per night for dinner, bed and breakfast. The hotel did not impose an increase for this year’s function so their offer was accepted although the point was made that the increase is above the rate of inflation.  It is worth noting that we have the use of the Warwick Room free of charge ~ normally £60 per day. Moreover single supplements are not applied. 50 rooms have been provisionally booked for the Saturday and there is no penalty if we do not take up the full allocation. The Honiley Court has always looked after us well and is very flexible in its approach.


A deposit of £15 per person, irrespective of the number of nights, is payable. Cheques should be made payable to D M Rogerson and will not be presented until payment is due to the hotel next April


A booking form is attached which you are requested to complete and return.





Subject to sufficient support we shall run a 5 days 4 nights coach trip to France through Palmers Travel leaving on Friday 12 September and returning on Tuesday 16 September. This will enable us to attend the Parade at the Arc on Sunday 15 September. Provided the number travelling on the coach is 42 or more two seats will be free and this will help to subsidise the single supplements for those travelling on their own.  Sadly French hotels will not waive the single supplement.


The terms quoted are as follows :


5 days (4 nights) Fontainebleau and Paris - Departing Friday 12th September 2008

Staying at the Ibis hotel, Fontainebleau , all rooms are air-conditioned and have en-suite facilities, colour television and telephone.


COST:- £295 per person sharing twin/double room.

v  Single room supplement £115

v  4 nights bed and unlimited buffet breakfast accommodation

v  All executive coaching, 49 seats with on board toilet & beverage bar.

v  Short sea crossing

v  Tour of Paris

v  Use of the coach for excursions while in Fontainebleau.

v  Free car parking is available at the rear of our office at Sevenoaks


For those not wishing to join the coach in England, 2 days coach travel and of course the ferry charge has been deducted and the cost to them would be would be £250.

The price is based on 40 full paying passengers, should we have more than 40 then seats 41 and 42 will be provided free of charge. Provided we can reach this number £590 will be available to make a contribution to the single supplements and to provide some money for extras in France.


A deposit of £30 per person is required at the end of December. Travel insurance is required for this holiday and if you do not have their own policy our tour operator can provide cover for a premium of £24 per person, premiums must be paid with deposit.  There is no need to send your deposit at this juncture.  A booking form is attached.



Booking forms for the 2008 fontainebleau trip and 2008 Annual Reunion can be printed from this link (CLICK)





Peter Kinsley's four hardback novels can be bought for £12 each, (free p & p in UK) - special price for members of the FVA.


1. “The Shy Pornographer” : a comedy set in Ibiza, New York, Hollywood, Minneapolis


2. “The Gold Bidet” : reveals France's darkest wartime secrets and exposes a political scandal that French collaborators and their descendants have long tried to keep secret.    


3. "To Catch a Paedophile" : provides an insight into the minds of the characters involved - the victim, the attacker, the police, and the crime reporter. It gives a behind the scenes look at the whole detection


4. “The Cambio Killing” : The perfect crime, an airline heist, from the criminals side.


Peter’s memoirs of the French Midi, "The Valley of the Butterflies" in paperback £7


Sorry, but "Gunner Strikes Back" set in Fontainebleau in the early 1950s is sold out.


Roger Northam enlisted as a  National Serviceman in the RAF in 1956 and has written about his experiences at Cardington, Hednesford, Compton Basset and Aden recalling his memories in his entertaining book “When the Golden Eagle Calls” ~ a must read - available in hardback with illustrations at £15 incl. p & p


Roger, a natural writer with a warm sense of humour, has also written an amusing book of true stories of village cricket and its characters in the Bristol area.  Hardback with illustrations price £15 incl. p & p





Your news and tales of your experiences whilst at Fontainebleau are needed to enhance the Newsletters. So get cracking and put pen to paper and send some copy to the editor.


Enjoy the festive season and have a good New Year.