approaching the end of another year that saw an action packed trip to
It is pleasing to write this Newsletter without any obituaries to report, although I heard that Ken King died earlier in the year.
Sgt. Eric Billingham discovered our Association whilst searching for a
site map of
Looking through the rogues gallery on the website, reminded him that "Sir Basil Embry was the boss at this time and that he migrated to W.A. to become a sheep farmer. Anyway he has his autograph on my Certificate of NATO Service".
After returning to the
Eric made the move to
(Australian equivalent to BBC) as an announcer. After turning down an offer to be a news reader at a television station they purchased their own retail business and spent the last 12 years of his working life in the Family Court of Australia in management. Eric retired in 1996 and has been busy ever since and has been writing his autobiography in his spare time for the last three or four years.
Having returned 4 times from trips to the
February 1954 ~ The western Allies reject a Soviet plan for a Pan-European pact to replace NATO
FROM THE POSTBAG
Hope your well, nice to hear the news from the newsletter. l read it out to Tony as he cant read very well after his stroke. l am a lot better now but have to slow down, take care of yourself, pass our good wishes on to (Tim Hunt) Tony’s old drinking mate from France many thanks, be nice to hear from him.
Jen & Tony Almond (Pinchbeck, Lincs)
Hi Just caught your site Looking for the Afcent Badge , I have it on my certificate of service, But I’m In the process of getting My Stationn and Squadron Badges as well as Command as I did some 35 yrs in the RAF.
My Married Life started at
I’ve a good picture of the football team. My first son was born in The French Military Hospital as he was a Caesarian birth.
Ray Brewer (
Well after 34 years we moved from Cooper City,
Florida, on the East Coast, to
When Gail and I put our
Time could not go by quick enough. The movers arrived with our furniture and were at least able to move into the house, no electricity and it was one of the hottest days of the year " 93 degrees." after another week the electric Company made the connection and Gail and I were able to move in no phone yet another five days and the phone was put in along with our fax and computer, so now we are up and running.
Dick Christensen (
Thank you for the newsletter received safely. I am now out of hospital again after third spinal op, and live in hope of some improvements in my health regarding my hands, arms, and legs, we can only hope. Best wishes to you and all our members.
Cliff Clarke (St. Ives, Cambs)
While stationed at
Joe Connelly (
Many thanks for producing another fine newsletter ! Sad to note that we have lost members. Have been appointed Welfare Officer for RAFA Weymouth Branch and attending funerals is becoming more and more frequent. I remember meeting Ken King at RAF Lynton-on-Ouse a few years back, and he promised to join the FVA. Bumped into some people from York RAFA recently who told me that he had died earlier this year. A few weeks ago I was surprised to see Max Avey having lunch with his son-in-law in our local RAFA Club.
Brian Gibbons (
It was so sad to read the latest newsletter to find how many of our team have passed away. Something strange exists amongst us Fontainebleau Veterans that when we lose a member, whether we know the person or not, its another old team mate that has reduced our ranks who we will miss
Even more so when I read in this current edition of our newsletter that the very man I searched for years after leaving the Royal Signals in 1960 , had passed away. We had both trained at Royal Signals, Catterick Camp, enduring a bitter cold period, (snow ice etc ) on the parade ground.
Before I left Fontainebleau in 1960, I trained up my relief over a period of some 3 months to take over from me as a clerk, at THE PALACE, ...this was Signalman Ian McGregor who was made up to full Corporal later on as my replacement
I telephoned his mother a few months back and soon after that she called to say he was on the phone, I waited and she apologised and said he would call me back. His call did not materialise so I can only assume that my friend was fighting some illness at that time. I have lost an old friend and my sympathy goes out to his family.
Jeff Lester (Oldbury,
Just to say many
thanks for an enjoyable
George and Gloria Brown (Driffield)
Here are a few
photos taken at the
Bob James ( Tamworth)
Thanks for another
We had a
very good day in
George and Fay
It was very sad to hear of the death of Dick Rogers he was a good friend at AAFCE and a great bloke. Les Goddard (Alresford)
Early on Sunday 13 September the fifth and
probably final pilgrimage to
Bright and early on Monday 14 September (it was always bright and early on this trip - well, early anyway) we set off for Yévres, last visited by the Association in 2006, where after 65 years the villagers still remember and commemorate the actions of the pilot of an Avro Lancaster bomber who succeeded in avoiding the village and crashed his stricken aircraft in a nearby field. The 99 year old lady who was first on the scene of the crash was among those who accorded us a very warm reception. Her 92 year old husband found himself wearing a RAF Police beret.
The national standard of the RAF Police Association, in the capable hands of Keith Adams, with escort Colin Hogg, led the parade of the many French standards to the cemetery where the RNZAF pilot and RAF rear gunner are buried. Here, wreaths were laid by Terry Bryant and the Mayor of Yévres and a minute’s silence was observed. A reception in the Mairie (Town Hall), during the course of which Linda Hunt presented two inscribed books to the Mayor who, in return, handed out Eure et Loire Département keyrings to the gentlemen, was followed by an excellent meal in a village restaurant, sadly curtailed somewhat by the necessity for an anxious driver Alan to get on the road to our next destination. The meal was notable for the appearance at the top table via its underside, on no less than three occasions, of the 80 year old organiser extraordinaire, Mme Lucienne Hublier. Her reception was reminiscent of that accorded to a dropped plate of food in an airmen’s mess!
It was an unnecessarily hurried departure from the restaurant as we had a long wait before gaining admission to the FAF base at Châteaudun, where we were shown around the museum hangar by Sergent Smith – and he had an English first name which I have forgotten, but spoke English like a Frenchman! The hangar housed an impressive array of somewhat dusty aircraft, mostly of French manufacture, including Mystere, Mirage, Etendard and Jaguar. We were accompanied by M and Mme Hublier and others from Yévres and were able, after returning them to their village, to spend a few minutes in the Church and admire the stained glass window, donated by the villagers to commemorate not only the two aircrew buried in the village, but also the children of the village who lost their lives in WW2.
Mme Hublier and her husband André are the driving force behind a formal annual ceremony of remembrance, 'Le Souvenir Franco-allies', which takes place in the village in early October. We have been invited to be represented next year when this will apparently be a special two-day event.
Battle of Britain Day (apparently the French refer
to the Bataille d’Angleterre)
dawned a bit wet and we made our way on foot and under umbrellas to the Mairie
We now had a rare hour or two of free time before
Accompanied by the usual French confusion, and not helped at the outset by the attentions of wildly photographing Japanese tourists, the parade and rekindling ceremony ran their usual course. As our Association wreath bearer I marched at the head of the parade with the other bearers, not daring to look sideways at the traffic hurtling around the Etoile being deflected from the parade by a phalanx of Gendarmes. As we approached the Arc I was surprised to find, in addition to the band of the French Air Force, a guard of honour awaiting our arrival. They presented arms as the Standards and wreath bearers passed. Brian Moulding laid our wreath and the eternal flame was rekindled by the UK Defence Attaché, Air Commodore Bryzinski, assisted by (presumably) his two children and a French 4 Star General (name unknown). At one point Ann (Caton) was asked if she was the mother of the children: grandmother maybe but mother, no way!
We had been given the opportunity to attend the reception vin d'honneur at the British Embassy which followed the ceremony but had to decline as a meal had already been arranged at the L’Oree des Champs brasserie to which we repaired on foot in some haste. Fortunately for us all, Tim Hunt had scouted the way and we succeeded in arriving almost an hour before expected. However, all was well and most, if perhaps not all, enjoyed their meal. I believe we arrived back at the hotel at about midnight but the old memory is a bit hazy here.
Next year will see the 70th anniversary of the
Wednesday 16 September. Another early start, this
routine group photo was taken at the entrance to the former Base HQ/Support Units Bldg #5 and
by lunch time copies had been made for all the party. Tim Hunt presented a framed collection of 1950s photos of the camp, surrounding a facsimile copy of 'Aircent News', to Col Lapouge who, in return, presented a silver platter engraved with the base title, 'L'Ecole Inter-armees des Sports, Camp Guynemer' to Mike Capon. The AAFCE Badge in all its coloured glory still dominates the wall in the foyer. We were then shown round the museum housed in one wing of the building before strolling around other areas of the camp. Sadly, the RAF airmen’s mess, along with the French and US messes, has been demolished since our last visit in 2006. We were allowed to visit the Piscine which is undergoing a complete restoration. Colin Hogg remembered it well - he worked there as a lifeguard.
Then a first.
We were given access, not to Building #1 as some had hoped (which is now part
of Le Centre des Archives Contemporaines) but to the
Comms Block, Bldg #2 hidden away in the trees.
There was no electricity but with the aid of torches wielded by our
French “guides”, Tim Hunt, who had worked there, gave us - and the French - a
conducted tour. Dick Christensen of the USAF, who had been a member of the
party on our first trip (2000), had very much hoped then to have been able to
visit here as it was his place of work, and will be envious to learn of our
visit this time. Apparently there are plans to refurbish the building and use
it for civilian community purposes. We
were also permitted to visit Bldg #6 for the first time. It was the police/security HQ in Aircent days. It still serves the same purpose today and
the ex-Police personnel on the visit who toured it said it had changed little.
Even the cell, where
The lunch provided in what seems to be a combined mess - officers and other ranks all in one large mess hall - was for some not as enjoyable as it might have been but as it cost only €7 (with wine) we weren’t too unhappy. It was suspected that there were alternative serveries with differing menus of which we were not aware. After leaving the camp for the last time, most of the ladies and the odd gent (by odd I don’t mean 'odd', I mean odd) opted out of the remainder of the afternoon’s visits and some at least spent time in the Chateau gardens and discovered a café not previously seen, the offerings within having, of course, to be sampled.
First afternoon visit was to the Gendarmerie HQ in
where we were greeted by the Commandant, Lt Col Roy, who arrived hot-foot from
a meeting with a group of German Polizei personnel.
Following the presentation to the Col of a framed photo, of a Gendarme on a
motorcycle escorting the UK element of the 2007 Tour de France cycle race, by
Keith Adams, himself an ex-RAF Police motorcyclist, we were shown round the
motorcycle museum by the Commandant and later saw the hundreds of identical
machines used by the trainees from all over France and the colonies. The “hangar” which housed these had been
used by the Germans during WWII and later by the
Final visit was to the Snecma Moteurs aero engine factory at Melun-Villaroche airfield, where the RAF Communications Flight was based in AAFCE days. The group was shown around the museum by M Dominique Blohorn, an enthusiastic former employee who had worked at Bristol Motors at Filton for 4 years It was later joined by the Head of PR, M. Daniel Declerq, to whom a framed photograph of 3 aircraft in flight was presented by Brian Moulding at the conclusion of the tour. Daniel then invited the attendees to join him in canapés and champagne. Now came an especially good bit: because only about half the expected number had gone on to the museum the hardy few were able to enjoy twice the quantity of champagne and canapés provided for the expected larger group. All good things come to those who last the course!
We left Fontainebleau at the unearthly hour of 0715ish on Thursday 17 September and, travelling via one of those (supposedly) cheapo and uninteresting wine stores near Calais, the Pidou Cash and Carry, the Channel Tunnel and some railings on a sharp corner close to the welcome toilets in Tonbridge, where some left the coach, the rest of us reached the Union Jack Club well before the planned hour of 1605.
It had been an intensive and tiring but
nevertheless very enjoyable trip and Ann and Mike Capon (aka Al Capone) are to
be congratulated on not giving up when faced with seemingly insuperable
problems and eventually making it all possible. Even on the tour Mike had a
number of situations to resolve necessitating him to refer back to Legers in
We were made most welcome by everyone we met at all the places we visited. We hope that we left a lasting mark with those people, dignitaries and ordinary citizens, befitting the name of the Association. Although we may never see them again as a Group, I'm sure that if individuals do make future visits, the name of The Fontainebleau Veterans Association will be remembered and ensure a truly Gallic 'Bienvenue' is again extended.
Au revoir. A bientôt, ~ Ted Caton
I am reading an excellent book - Tail-End Charlies (The Last Battles of the Bomber War 1944 –1945) written by John Nichol (a Flt. Lt. whose Tornado bomber was shot down on a mission over Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War. He was captured and became a prisoner of war) and Tony Rennell, an author. It is a gripping account and includes memories from many brave aircrew who survived the dangerous missions to bomb German towns and help the land forces advance after D Day.
56 gathered at the
After a splendid dinner music for dancing was provided by Bojangles punctuated by the raffle that raised £325 for the Associations funds.
The Annual general Meeting was held during the Saturday afternoon. The main points are :
This moving tale has been doing the rounds on the Internet and was forwarded by Dick Christensen.
Let us remember those real heroes while there are still some left to remember! We hear a lot today about big splashy memorial services. I want a nationwide memorial service for Darrell "Shifty" Powers.
Shifty volunteered for the airborne in WWII and served with Easy Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, part of the 101st Airborne Infantry. If you've seen "Band of Brothers" on HBO or the History Channel, you know Shifty. His character appears in all 10 episodes, and Shifty himself is interviewed in several of them.
I met Shifty in the
Making conversation, I asked him if he'd been in the
101st Airborne or if his son was serving.
He said quietly that he had been in the 101st. I thanked him for his
service, then asked him when he served, and how many
jumps he made. Quietly and humbly, he said "Well, I guess I signed up in
1941 or so, and was in until sometime in 1945 .. . . " at which point my heart skipped. At that point, again, very humbly, he said
"I made the 5 training jumps at Toccoa, and then
I told him "Yes, I know exactly where
He said "I
also made a second jump into
I helped Shifty get onto the plane and then realized he was back in Coach while I was in First Class. I sent the flight attendant back to get him and said that I wanted to switch seats. When Shifty
came forward, I got up out of the seat and told him I wanted him to have it, that I'd take his coach. He said "No, son, you enjoy that seat. Just knowing that there are still some who remember what we did and who still care is enough to make an old man very happy.." His eyes were filling up as he said it. And mine are brimming up now as I write this.
Shifty died on June 17, 2009 after fighting cancer.
There was no parade. No big event in
Let's give Shifty his own Memorial Service, online, in our own quiet way. Please forward this e-mail to everyone you know. Especially to the veterans. Rest in peace, Shifty.
Chuck Yeager, Maj. Gen. (ret.)
Cash Balance at 30 Aug 08 700.86 700.86
Reunion 2008 wine 238.00
Reunion 2008 raffle 310.00
Merchandise sales 25.00
Total Income 598.00 1403.16
Postage & Telephone 114.92
Reunion 2008 Gratuity & Corkage 323.00
Reunion 2008 Music 120.00
Web Fee 49.91
Trip to France 2009 353.80
Total Expenditure 1121.63
Cash Balance at 31 August 2009 117.23 318.14
14 Ties 96.60
9 Blazer Badges 82.00
29 Table Mats 88.16
45 Coasters 65.70
15 Mouse Mats 69.60
117 Enamel Badges 145.00
8 Books 64.00
Total value of stock at cost 751.06 785.65
Balance ~ cash & stock 928.29 1103.79
Marshal of the RAF McEvoy saluting during Last Post with colours dropped in salute
FAF and RAF marching into position at War memorial
RAF Contingent at the cemetery
French Assoc. and RAF entering church
French Assoc. and RAF entering church
Grave of RAF aircrew killed during WW II at Yevres
RAF Element filing into church
THIRTEENTH ANNUAL REUNION 8 & 9 OCTOBER 2010
A firm booking has
been made for our Reunion at the
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