ISSUE NO. 66                                                                               DECEMBER 2017 




As 2017 draws to a close I reflect on another year that seems to have flown by at the speed of light.  A party led by Michael Capon represented the Association at the Memorial Service in Yevres – an account of this appears in the following pages.  We had a successful Reunion week-end in Leamington Spa, a town that has so much to offer. The privately owned Angel Hotel made us welcome as always.  It is disappointing that only a handful of members attend.  Unfortunately Arthur Mooney, on his way down from Scotland, was trapped in traffic for 6 hours and had to return home. I missed the main event on Saturday for need of medical attention.  It took 7 hours for a doctor to arrive to treat me because I was not registered with a local surgery.  In future I shall make a temporary registration with a local surgery.  




LAC George Durant passed away on 14 October after a long illness.  As a 5 year regular he served at AAFCE from March 1951 until July 1953 as a Ground Wireless Mechanic, initially at the Caserne Demesme and then at Camp Guynemer. After leaving the RAF in 1954 George was employed in Portsmouth, his home town, by the MOD (N) as a radio electrician before promotion in 1964 to Technical Officer on mobile duties installing Radar and GW systems on newly constructed warships.  He enjoyed his time in the RAF so much that he hoped he might be recalled whilst on the Reserve list.  George retired in 1992.  He loved messing about in boats and for his son’s joined the Tudor Sailing Club in Portsmouth where he lived with his wife Fay.  George is survived by his wife Fay and their 2 children Katherine and Ben.  He is pictured on the right with Alan Lake.  In 2006. The Association made a donation to Alzheimer’s Research. The photo above shows Alan Lake, left, and George Durant right, taken in 2006.  


Tribute from Alan Lake

At lunch time today I had a call from Fay, telling me about George's death.  It was a bit strange really as I had been thinking of him earlier in the day.  I was telling myself when I reply to David's e-mail, I must ask him if there's any news from Fay.  George was such a lovely man.  He was virtually the only member of the Association I remembered from our Fontainebleau days.  Back then we all used to call him "Jimmy" after Jimmy Durante, the American singer/comedian.  We were close friends and I have a number of pictures of him from the 1950s.  The photo was taken in 2006.  P.S. Still ticking over!




Sgt. John Pearce (RAF)


Shortly after John arrived at Fontainebleau, in September 1954, he married Pat the following April but because of his age at the time she was not able to accompany him until October 1956.


John served as an instrument fitter at Melun Airfield, left AAFCE in 1957 and with Pat he attended our Reunions until his health began to deteriorate.  He also made contributions to our Newsletters.  John is survived by his wife Elsie.




Flight Sargent Ron “Dolly” Gray joined the Association in 2000.  Ron arrived at Fontainebleau in Dec. 1964 and was responsible for stores furniture, maintaining and de-furnishing the Married Quarter flats after AAFCE moved to Belgium.  He was one of the last to leave the Base in June 1967.  After 23 years’ service in the RAF he was demobbed in 1969.  Until 1991 Ron was Wages Manager for a large engineering firm and was Welfare Officer for two RAFA branches and was a Hospital Volunteer worker in Doncaster.


Ron’s daughter Denise opened Newsletter 59 whilst browsing our website and she noticed an appeal for members who had slipped off our radar.  She wrote to give me the sad news that Ron had passed away in January 2011.  His wife Doreen died in 1991.  We enjoyed their company at our Reunions until his health deteriorated.  Ron provided copy for our Newsletter.


Ron is survived by his only child Denise, 2 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren, all of whom he was proud. He would have been especially proud of his great-grandson who joined the British Army as a Junior Soldier at Harrogate last February at the age of 16. He is set for further training next year when he joins the Parachute Regiment at Catterick. 



On the right is a photo, courtesy of Mary Mearns, of the eleven FVA members who attended Ron Pole’s funeral in June. Ron would have been pleased that so many had travelled a long way.


From l to r Ted Caton, Tim Hunt, Linda Hunt,  Michael Capon, Hazel Bryant, Clacton Carnival Queen, Terry Bryant, Andrea Gibbons Brian Gibbons, , Mary Mearns,  John Reynolds


Ted Caton writes - Ron would have been pleased that so many had travelled a long way.  Many of the Fontainebleau Vets, along with RAFA members, presumably from the Clacton Branch, formed a guard of honour as the coffin was carried into the crematorium.



Moving to Norfolk has been the most traumatic experience and one that will remain with us for a long time. In July we relocated back to West Wiltshire.  We now reside at 58 Hollis Way, Southwick, Trowbridge, Wiltshire, BA14 9PH

Terry & Hazel Bryant, Trowbridge







Greetings from the World’s Most Liveable City (so they say). Firstly I attended the Church Service at Yevres in 1955 to remember the brave airmen and recall that somebody made a film of the parade.  I do not know who it was and have no idea what happened to it but if anybody remembers that occasion and maybe has a copy of the film, I would love to hear about it.


Secondly, the photo of the NAAFI club Camp Guynemer looks very much like the cinema on camp.  Was that correct?  (Please send comments to the Editor?)


Moving on, I must say that the new banner for the newsletter is very impressive.  Thanks from me to whoever created that.  I have finally made the time to read in more detail Newsletter No. 65 and I think I must respond to one or two letters before I try to construct a summary of any interesting news from the Antipodes.  The letter from Linda Hunt rang a very loud bell with me.  A few years ago I was in a similar situation to Tim Hunt with an aortic aneurysm. Thankfully, I was sent to the emergency section of the Epworth Hospital in Melbourne in time to meet again the surgeon to whom I owe my life. My wife dutifully stayed by my side for the whole eleven hours of the surgery for which I am still grateful after all the years which have passed. I am sure Linda will have experienced the same emotions as my wife Ruth did at the time.  What a difference modern surgery has made to the lives of so many of us fortunate enough to have access to such blessings.


 I was equally pleased to see the letter from Les Hills, now living in Western Australia.  He could hardly have a picked a hotter location, but as with myself, I think he is well and truly settled in and could not face the hassle of moving interstate, even to beautiful Melbourne.  We do experience some extremes of weather but nothing to compare with the North West.  Today is the first day of spring and although the temperature has been about 16 degrees, we have been warned that winter is still not totally behind us.  We are thankful for indoor heating systems. Les and I have been in contact although I must admit I have mislaid his address – temporarily! 


It was of interest to me personally to see that there have been a number of Fontainebleau Vets who have lived in Dorset, and in particular in Weymouth.  I moved there in 1965 to an area known then as ‘Southill’, which appears to have been drowned in the new housing estates.  When visiting family a few years back, I returned to my old haunts in the hopes of seeing something familiar but it was not to be.  Even the Promenade had changed so much I thought I was in another town.


Any other ex R.A.F. members living in Melbourne will know that a branch of the R.A.F. Association was established here years ago, but owing to a decrease in membership, it was decided that we would combine with the R.A.A.F. to present a united front, but still hold our own monthly meetings.   No rivalry here I am pleased to report.   But this year we did form up with our own contingent for the ANZAC Day march, so perhaps we will combine with the R.A.A.F. next year.


If any of our members would like to get in touch, they would be very welcome. I can be contacted on

Eric Billingham, Melbourne, Australia


I had a very important anniversary on 20 August.  It was on that date in 1954 that I signed on the dotted line for four years in the U.S. Air force, a young skinny 18 year old. I said to myself - four years, that is such a long time!!!!!!!!  Now I look back 63 years later and say boy that went by quick, but then I think back to those days in Fontainebleau and smile to myself.  Those were very good times and I felt that I was part of History in the making.  Best regards to all.

Dick Christensen, Florida, USA



Thank you for another lovely Reunion weekend.  Pat and I really enjoyed ourselves but were sorry that you were so unwell.  Are you feeling better now?  We would love to come again next year for the Friday night and the Saturday night.  Give our love to Christine and once again thank you for a good weekend.

Jim Howes, Bourne, Lincs.



Brian Simpson reports that he has now just about settled into his new home.  There is much to do to sort everything out - paying the penalty for collecting far too much 'stuff' over the years and not dumping as much as he should have done.  He might, repeat might, be in some sort of order by Christmas!  His new address is:-  19, Booth Gardens, Hay on Wye, HR3 5BH and phone 01497 820114.  The fractured neck didn't help as he was banned from lifting anything heavy so relied on family to shift most of my 'stuff'.


Ron (Jock) and Christine Fraser, who have lived in Queensland (Aust.) since October 1991, have moved 18 miles further north, from Tungamull to Yappoon. 




The Angel Hotel welcomed 26 members who gathered at The Angel Hotel in Leamington Spa on Saturday 14 October to enjoy our Twentieth Reunion. The hotel staff, from the Manager down, could not have done more to ensure that we had a good experience.  The town has so much to offer when we are “off duty.”


A.G.M. held at the Angel Hotel, Leamington Spa on 14th October 2017


26 members were present with David Rogerson in the Chair.


Minutes of AGM held at The Angel Hotel, Leamington Spa on 14 October 2016 were tabled and agreed.


Apologies tendered by Jim Gunn, Malcolm Degville, Arthur Mooney and Don Conning


The Balance Sheet as at 31 August was tabled and agreed. It was suggested that we sell the remaining stock of coasters and place mats on e-bay. This had already been tried and there were no takers. It was agreed to deplete our stock by adding them to the raffle prizes at next year’s reunion.


Remuneration of Roger Cornwell our webmaster, who has no connection with FVA, was discussed. Previously Michael Capon had given him wine. As Roger no longer drinks it was suggested that to show our appreciation we give him cash. It was agreed that Michael Capon and the chairman come to an accommodation.


It was agreed that we hold the 2018 Reunion Dinner on Saturday 13 October.


The meeting closed at 5.35 p.m.





Sir Basil’s aeroplane is featured on the web:


The Association’s Website is:






1.    The Angel Hotel has reserved rooms for our next Reunion. The rates are: £70.00 per person per night for Dinner, Bed & Breakfast sharing a twin or double room and £85.00 per night for single occupancy.


  1. There is a lift to some floors so when you book specify if you need a lift.


  1. Individual deposits are not required.


  1. Extensive and varied menu ~ choice from 3 starters ~ 4 main incl. vegetarian option ~ 4 deserts. Coffee and mints £1.50 extra. Menu details will be circulated later. Please advise me if there is any dish that you would like to see included for the dinner on Saturday evening                                                                             


  1. The Angel is located in the centre of town and is close to the railway station and shops.


  1. The hotel has acquired an overflow parking facility.


  1. Dress is informal ~ smart casual is fine


All bookings to be made through the editor.




Do not accept a friend’s request from a Christopher Davies or Jessica Davies. They are hackers. Tell everyone on your list because if somebody on your list adds him, he’ll be on your list too. He’ll figure out your computer’s ID and address so copy & paste this message to everyone even if you don’t care


Please tell all contacts on your list not to accept a video called the "Dance of the Pope". It is a virus that formats your mobile. Beware it is very dangerous. They announced it recently on the radio. Forward this warning to as many as you can.




When I was discharged from the Spinal Unit at Salisbury in 2012 Social Services installed a hospital bed. It served its purpose but with a thin foam mattress it became uncomfortable and I decided to search for something more comfortable. From three beds demonstrated the mid-price bed supplied by Oak Tree in Bristol was selected. I ordered two one for me and the other for Christine. They were delivered after four weeks.


The beds can be profiled and a massager can be installed. The teething problems were resolved quickly by Oak Tree. I have no hesitation in recommending this company if anyone wishes to upgrade their sleeping arrangements. Oak Tree also supplies armchairs that recline etc. over all the U.K.



They can be contacted on the address below


Oak Tree Mobility, St James Court, Cannon Street, Bristol, BS1 3LH

Tel: 0800 999 6739



YEVRES MEMORIAL SERVICE OCT. 2019 by Arnaud Theron  - Pictures by Michael Capon


Translation of local newspaper report.


In spite of the rain, the public was numerous in Yèvres on Sunday morning to participate in the 73rd Franco-Allied Ceremony that honours the act of bravery of Sergeant Norman WILDING and Lieutenant Noel STOKES in 1944. The procession, escorted by Harmony of Brou, first went to the War Memorial, Place of the PEACE, for a wreath laying before the one made on the two tombs of the young heroes who gave their lives in directing their burning aircraft out of the inhabited areas of the township. Brian WILDING, brother of the missing sergeant, and his son Andrew were present to gather on the two graves.

Remember the bravery of the two heroes.


Ceremony.  In spite of the rain, the public was numerous in Yèvres on Sunday morning to participate in the 73rd Franco-Allied Ceremony that honours the act of bravery of Sergeant Norman WILDING and Lieutenant Noel STOKES in 1944. The procession, escorted by Harmony of Brou, first went to the War Memorial, Place of the PEACE, for a wreath laying before the one made on the two tombs of the young heroes who gave their lives in directing their burning aircraft out of the inhabited areas of the township. Brian WILDING, brother of the missing sergeant, and his son Andrew were present to gather on the two graves.







IMG_0221-1.JPG (1080×1920)                               


Michael & Ann Capon, Pam Adams,

Suzie and Richard Arnold Pam’s daughter

 and son-in-law. and  Mary Mearns represented the Association



50th Anniversary of NATO leaving Fontainebleau – submitted by Michael Capon


In 1967, NATO and thousands of soldiers left the town after 20 years of presence.  Diego Ruiz Palmer, a researcher in history, reminds us of this forgotten episode.  Half a century ago, in the spring of 1967, NATO brought back its colours one last time to bid farewell to Fontainebleau, ending nearly twenty years of uninterrupted allied presence, leaving Fontainebleau for the town of Brunssum, near Maastricht, in the Netherlands, the headquarters of the Central European Allied Forces (AFCENT).  General de Gaulle made the decision in March 1966 to withdraw the French forces from NATO on 1 July 1966, while maintaining France in the civil organization of the Atlantic Alliance and to ask the Allied General Staffs to leave French territory before 30 April 1967.  The first presence, allied with Fontainebleau, dates back to the autumn of 1948, when the Western European Defence Organisation, created by the Brussels Pact a few months earlier.  This  brought together France, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the UK and installed the staff of the Committee of Commanders-in-Chief, presided over by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery. The United Kingdom and France shared the responsibilities of the command, Marshal Jean de Lattre de Tassigny assuming the leadership of land forces General Staff at the Henri lV Court.


Detachment de garde alle Cour Henri IV and Garde d’honneur at camp Guynemer


The creation of NATO in April 1949 and the extension of the common defence to the whole of Western Europe, from Norway to ltaly, resulted in the creation of an integrated military structure from April 1951. A General H.Q. of the Allied Powers in Europe (SHAPE) was established at Rocquencourt, near Versailles, while Fontainebleau received two subordinate commands for the Central and Europe Allied Air Forces, the first at the orders of the General Alphonse Juin, and the second to those of the American Gen. Lauris Norstad.  Juin and Norstad were both subordinates of General Dwight Eisenhower during the World War II with Eisenhower assuming the supreme command of SHAPE at the same time.  Juin installed his staff in the Henry lV Court and the Princes' Wing in the Chateau, relieving  Montgomery, who had gone to Rocguencourt to become Eisenhower's deputy.  Norstad, taking advantage of the largesse of the U.S. Air Force, moved into a brand new headquarters at the edge of the forest, between Fontainebleau and Avon - Camp Guynemer, a European replica of a US base. The early French, Belgian, British, Luxembourg and Dutch soldiers  and their families were quickly joined by their American and Canadian comrades.


The French set up their logistical support element at Damesme Barracks and the British at their own in Quartier Chataux, while the Americans took their quarters at the Lariboisire barracks.  A circle of Allied officers opened its doors in a private mansion on Rue Royale, now owned by INSEAD, while modern homes for Allied military families were built in the La Faisanderie district, commonly known as "Village of SHAPE".   In 1955, an international lycee welcomed their children. For a video of the parade visit




Between 1951 and 1955, when the volume of infrastructure in the town destined to accommodate an increasingly large international population expanded beyond the military domain, Fontainebleau's commandments had gained momentum.  ln August 1953, General Juin, who had become Marshal of France, assumed extended joint functions with the title of Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Forces Europe (AFCENT) and the upper hand on subordinate commands for land forces (LANDCENT, Air (AIRCENT) and naval {NAVCENT) aircraft.  Juin thus became the most senior French officer in NATO and Fontainebleau a key element of the allied device. The staffs of AFCENT and LANDCENT were co-located at the Chateau, those of AIRCENT and NAVCENT at Camp Guynemer.  A protected centre for the conduct of air operations throughout Western Europe, from Denmark to northern Italy, would be located at the north-west corner of Camp Guynemer.


ln preparation for an East-West conflict, which fortunately is unlikely to happen, a secret war command post was set up in the fort at Camp de Margival, near Soissons, in the Aisne, built by the army.   During the Occupation. Margival was complimented by an advanced command post in Trier, Germany, and by a spare rear post in the cellars and out- buildings of the chaeau of La Magdeleine in Samois-sur-Seine.  As a result of the Federal Republic of Germany's entry into NATO in May 1955, in the Spring of 1957 the French and Allied soldiers were joined by their comrades in the newly-established West German Army - the Bundeswehr.


Commandants allies AFCENT en passation de commandment a la Cour Henri IV (Archives OTAN)

France's decision to withdraw from NATO's integrated military command had profound consequences for the structure of AFCENT, beyond its re-establishment in the Netherlands.  On 1 July 1966, in the Henri lV court, LANDCENT's commander, German General Johann Graf von Kielmansegg, succeeded French General Jean Crepin as commander-in-chief, the British commander of AIRCENT, Air Chief Marshal Sir Edmund Huddleston, becoming his deputy.  For the sake of simplification and economy, on 2 November following, the headquarters of LANDCENT and AIRCENT were dissolved, the headquarters of AFCENT assuming their responsibilities.  Between May and July 1967, France would recover control of all facilities made available to NATO and the Allies.  Camp Guynemer would host the Ecole lnterarmees des Sports and the various barracks and neighbourhood the School of the Gendarmerie.  On Monday, 31 July 1967, the Post Office of the Armed Forces 1 99, installed in the Lariboisire quarter in support of the French and Allied contingents, will close its doors, thus putting an end to the Allied presence in the city.  Fifty years ago, AFCENT left Fontainebleau and France.  For nearly twenty years, an allied presence of several thousand soldiers and their families had punctuated the life of Fontainebleau, which had become an international town almost unexpectedly and a hub for the defence of Europe during the first two decades of the Cold War.  Today, the traces of the presence of NATO in Fontainebleau have disappeared or become anonymous. The sole survivor of this period was a German military liaison delegation to the Armed Forces General Staff in Avon, near Camp Guynemer, as part of Franco-German military co-operation.  ln addition, an alliance of former allied soldiers stationed at Fontainebleau based in Great Britain - the Fontainebleau Veterans Association - actively maintains the flame of remembrance through a website and an electronic newsletter.





When the history of Camp Guynemer is written, I can quote from a statement by Air Chief Marshal. Sir Basil Embry in his book, "Mission Completed"; it was the finest military establishment that he had served in: in no small part done by the United States Air Force and General Lauris Norstad. I would now like to turn to my own 3 years there and my off duty time spent in the craft centre.


The Craft Centre was run by an English civilian employee, Ray Craggs, who was chief instructor. Opening times were from 2 p.m. until 10 p.m.  If your interest was photography you could book an enlarger for a period of 2 hours and all materials for photo developing were provided free of charge with the only personal expense being for printing paper. This could be purchased from Ray or, if you had American friends, from the American PX.  Other activities included any form of wood work and there were facilities for metalwork, including enamelling for jewellery making, leather work, e.g. handbags and belts, and silk screen printing.  At weekends, there were periodic trips to Paris to photograph street scenes, famous buildings and the like.  Ray also ran a competition for "Photograph of the Month" which, when selected, appeared on a notice board in the lounge. There was keen competition for this accolade. The lounge was equipped with the latest audio equipment, fitted with armchairs and coffee ingredients were also provided.

The photograph below was taken by me in 1957 and shows Jnr. Tech. Ken Miles from the Dental Centre but unfortunately we do not have the name of the USAF Staff Sergeant. When I looked at this picture a few years ago I wondered if it might be possible to get in touch with Ken Miles again. My only clue to tracing him was his trade of dental technician. I then contacted the School of R.A.F. Dentistry at R.A.F. Halton and spoke to someone in the archive centre. As soon as I mentioned Ken's name the person to whom I spoke immediately knew sf him which was quite a shock to me, His next words were "you have come too late!" Ken had died in March 1998 and I was sent a copy of the obituary notice taken from a civilian dental magazine.






With very best wishes for 2018, may it be trouble free. Stories of your time in Fontainebleau are eagerly awaited to enhance the next Newsletter. I struggle to find suitable copies. 







TEL 023 8040 2846 E-mail;