We welcome John Fitzgerald’s return to the fold. Prior to losing his wife John regularly attended our Reunions and he is hoping to join us in October.
Michael Capon is in the process of drafting an article for the Northern Star on the part Melun Airfield played during the years that NATO was based at Fontainebleau. The Air Historical Branch (RAF) was not able to come up with anything. Can you help? His exchange of correspondence is included later in this Newsletter. See Page
FROM THE POSTBAG
We are on the final leg of getting an “Indefinite Leave to Stay” Visa for Andrea. This has taken over 6 years and has been quite costly. I had to supply evidence that we have actually lived together for every year since 2011 and to supply joint correspondence, e.g. Electoral Roll, NHS, bank statements plus a formal statement that she has a minimum of £62,500 in readily available funds I get so annoyed but she takes it all in her stride! Fortunately, she owns property here and in Canada and is quite wealthy. Do Russians, Saudis or Nigerians have problems getting permission to live in the U.K?, let alone those from the 15 ex-Soviet states now in the EC
When I married Claudine and brought her home from Fontainebleau in 1962, I asked Customs Immigration what formalities were involved....”Live happily for ever after”. I was told “and get her a National Insurance number!” Life was so much simpler then....
Brian Gibbons, Weymouth
I can understand your frustrations with loss of historical records. I faced the same thing when my external hard drive crashed and I lost all the contents. I have managed to retrieve a lot of that by other means and am now using "My Heritage" for checking family connections. It is proving a very valuable tool although I have succumbed to a temptation and have actually bought an extension to the basic programme on a monthly basis. Just about every day I receive notifications of family members who have been 'hidden' from me. Perhaps the Huguenots had prior knowledge of the E.E.U. and actually opted to anticipate Brexit by emigrating. Bit farfetched I know but an amusing thought. Did you know that they built a small complex in Rochester, which as far as I know is still used by their descendants, Will look it up - in my spare time. Looking forward to next edition of the Newsletter. Bon chance mon vieux.
Eric & Ruth Billingham, Melbourne, Australia
As a French historian focussing on NATO Air Forces based in France during the Cold War.
I am currently writing a new book, in which I depict the structure of all NATO H.Q.s based in France, before 1967.
To complete aerial pictures of the Guynemer Camp in my AFCENT / AIRCENT chapter, I would like to add a picture of the two maps, one of Fontainebleau in the 60's, and mainly one of Camp Guynemer. I have found these pics on your Fontainebleau Vets website, and would like to ask for your for support, as I am looking for good-300 dpi-flat scans of
these maps. I have another Guynemer-camp map, found on a blog: (http://avoneducationdefense.blogspot.fr/2010/12/lotan-fontainebleau-au-debut-des-annees.html) that maybe you might keep in your archives.
Do you know who posted these maps on the site, and how could I contact him for assistance in getting a good view of the camp Guynemer map? Today, in France, details about the NATO use of this camp have just faded away, and this map would help locate the different HQ and installations.
I thank you in advance for any help you can bring me in my quest.
All the best from France!
Fabrice Loubette, Longeville-lès-Metz France
If anyone can help please contact the Editor.
I acknowledge receipt of Newsletter 65 which I scanned, as always looking for any letter originating with an "army" member. Of course, the number of army staff posted to Fontainebleau was quite minimal compared with Air Force staff. Nevertheless I am always hopeful of finding something relative to our branch of the forces. Unfortunately I have not kept copies of any letters I have written in the past and therefore run the risk of repeating myself. But in order to make sure that we (Army) continue to support your excellent work, I again "put pen to paper" so to speak, even if only for a few lines.
Unfortunately my wife's health makes it impossible for me to fulfil a wish to attend events in the UK The only military function that is logical for us to take part in is the annual ANZAC Day service held here in Ottawa. We have been active in the New Zealand communities of Montréal and Ottawa for over 35 years, striving to ensure that our sons have a good appreciation of the cultures of both parents as well as that of their native and our adopted land of Canada.
I still have a copy of “Gunner Fights Back” on my bookshelf but sadly few photographs of my military years. The way staffing was structured for clerks in the RASC enabled even two-year National Servicemen to move up the ranks quite quickly but as a three-year regular I was a Sgt. for the last half of my posting! The beauty of being promoted was that Sergeants moved out of Quartier Chateau (sorry if I misspelled the name!) to Camp Guynemer - out of the daily control of the dreaded Regimental Corporal Major who strove (with little success) to make soldiers of the several dozen National Servicemen clerks, drivers, storekeepers, etc. in the Chateau. I hope my brief scribblings might encourage other Army members to write.
Charles Wallis, Kanata, Ontario, Canada
There has been no word for some while. If anyone has any news of their whereabouts of the following please get in touch with Editor whose contact details are the foot of the last page.
Jean Allen - who regularly attended our Reunions. No response to letters or E-mails.
Jeff Lester - who had some health issues but regularly kept in touch by e-mail.
George and Gloria Brown – regular attendees at our Reunions. No reply to E-mails.
Apologies for my omission to include this in Newsletter 66 – Editor
Try as I will I cannot understand how to download your Newsletter, I am hopeless with the Internet. Normally I find it as an attachment but not this time. There is no chance I can make the reunion I just don't drive that much these days, I suppose I must be one of your older members but like to keep in touch, we will all miss Ron Pole no one more than me, he was a great pal, friend and a lot more besides we go back long ways he will always be remembered. I am still trying to work out how my daughter, Heidi Smith, appeared on the website someone must know how these things happen I certainly do not. I am still Cooking and Baking but officially retired from employed work last October turned 82 on Saturday, left Fontainebleau 60 years ago!
There follows a statement of our finances at 31 March. We are in good shape and there is no need to request a further subscription. It is worth noting that apart from the initial subscription it has not been necessary to make a request for a supplementary call.
Opening Balance 1 September 2017 481.23
Balance at 31 March 2018 393.68
The source of our income is derived from raffle at our Annual Dinner.
Our expenditure consists mainly the web fee and a gratuity to our webmaster.
GEORGES GUYNEMER (1894 – 1917)
What do we know about Capt. Georges Guynemer? If truth be known probably very little. Those who served at Camp Guynemer saw pictures of him in H.Q. (Building 1) and another in the Support Unit and that is about it. There is a wealth of his history on Wikipedia from which the following is drawn.
After the outbreak of war Georges Marie Ludovic Jules Guynemer tried to join the French Air Service (Aviation Militaire) but was rejected several times for health reasons. Having a very keen interest in aviation and knowledge of the internal combustion engine through his friendship with the son of the Panhard Motor Company, he was very keen to get into the Air Service. He got an interview at the Military School of Aviation at Pau with the Commandant du Pilotage (Chief Pilot) Capitaine Alphonse Bernard-Thierry. Successful in the interview, Georges started training as a mechanic on 23rd November 1914.Georges (pictured) was absolutely determined to become a pilot and eventually succeeded in being accepted for flight training. His first flight behind the controls was on 26 January 1915. In May 1915 he was appointed to the rank of corporal and on 8 June he joined French squadron Escadrille MS.3 based at Vauciennes near Villers-Cotterets. The commander of the squadron was Capitaine Brocard. The plane he was flying was a Morane-Saulnier L monoplane, which had been flown previously by the pilot Charles Bonnard. Bonnard had named this plane “Vieux Charles” (translates as Old Charles). Guynemer kept the name for this and most of the subsequent aircraft he flew.
In February 1916 the squadron's name was changed to Escadrille N.3. Guynemer was flying the new aeroplanes provided to the squadron, Nieuport 10 biplanes. He was promoted to the rank of Second Lieutenant in April 1916. The Escadrille N.3 was moved to the Verdun battle sector where Guynemer was wounded.
In May 1916 Escadrille N.3 was deployed further north on the Western Front to the Somme battle sector. Joining with Escadrille Numbers 26, 103, 73 and 67 they formed a battle group called the “Groupe de Chasse des Cigognes”, which translates literally as the “Storks Chasing Group”. Escadrille N.3 took part in the Battle of the Somme for six months during the summer and autumn of 1916.
In May of 1916 the idea had been put forward to paint an easily recognisable symbol on the fuselage of each French aircraft in the Somme Battle Group so that the pilots could recognise other members of their own squadron in the air, especially when they had to regroup after a fight with the enemy.
The suggestion to have the French cockerel, a national and patriotic French symbol, painted on the aeroplanes was overruled and the Commander of the Battle Group, Capitaine Brocard, suggested the image of a stork for the new insignia. The stork was a national symbol of the province of Alsace. These large, majestic birds have figured in everyday life in the region over the centuries, arriving each spring on their annual migration to build large nests on the gatehouses of walled villages and the roofs of half-timbered Alsatian houses. Alsace had been taken by Imperial Germany as a territorial prize after the defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71.
When the First World War was declared in August 1914 Escadrille MS.3 (later renamed N.3) was in Belfort near the Franco-German 1914 border under the command of the French Army of Alsace. For the two years it had been there from late 1912 the flying machines of this squadron had already been likened to the symbolic annual arrival of the storks flying into Alsace. The squadron had flown in action during August 1914 and the early French encounters with the Seventh Imperial German Army at the Battle of Mulhouse and the Vosges mountains. The stork became a symbol for the French people of their great desire to liberate Alsace from German rule.
Capitaine Brocard's suggestion for the image of the stork for Escadrille N.3 was to be viewed from the side whilst in flight with its wings down. Escadrille N.3 became known as the “Cigognes” or “Storks Escadrille”. The link between the famous pilot Guynemer and the stork of Escadrille N.3's emblem meant that this particular stork badge became known as the “Guynemer Stork”. Capitaine Brocard suggested that the other squadrons should use the symbol of the stork also, but they would distinguish their emblems from one another by placing the bird's wings in different positions.
Modern French Air Force Stork Emblems
Today the French Air Force still carries the stork emblem on the three squadrons of the Groupe de Chasse 01.002 “Cigognes”.
The three modern fighter squadrons in this Groupe de Chasse are:
SPA3 “Guynemer” displaying the low-winged stork emblem
SPA103 “Fonck”, after the French Ace Capitaine René Fonck, displaying a high-winged stork
In 1940 the French Postal Services issued a 50f stamp, above, to honour their Air Ace.
"Lexophile" is a word used to describe those that have a love for words such as "you can tune a piano, but you can't tuna fish", or "to write with a broken pencil is pointless."
When fish are in schools, they sometimes take debate.
A thief who stole a calendar got twelve months.
A dentist and a manicurist married. They fought tooth and nail.
A will is a dead giveaway. A boiled egg is hard to beat.
When you've seen one shopping centre you've seen a mall.
Police were summoned to a day-care centre where a three-year-old was resisting a rest.
Did you hear about the fellow whose entire left side was cut off? He's all right now.
When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds.
BRITAIN AT WAR
The Daily Telegraph
And Morning Post
London, Monday AUGUST21 1944
ALLIES OVER SEINE: ENCIRCLING PARIS
BRIDGEHEAD ACROSS RIVER EXTENDED
TANKS AT VERSAILES AND FONTAINEBLEAU
ARMMOUR SWEEPS THROUGH SHATTERED 7TH ARMY
Troops of General Patton’s Third Army were last night on the Seine above and below Paris in an encircling movement.
One body, which reached the river between Mantes and Vernon on Saturday, had according to German official statements, forced a crossing and its bridgehead had been reinforced.
An Allied announcement just before midnight stated that American troops were operating near Corbeil on the Seine 17 miles south of the centre of Paris.
Tank patrols said a despatch from the front were operating in the vicinity of Versailles, west of the capital.
They were also in the neighbourhood of Melun, an important road junction on the Seine eight miles south-east of Corbeil and near Fontainebleau, also a nodal point of vital highways, 10 miles south of Melun.
A further patrol was 20 miles east of Orleans in the direction of Montagis.
“PARATROOPS GAINED BRIDGEHEAD”
The thrust from Dreux to the Seine near Mantes was made at a point where the enemy were hastily assembling barges to ferry their fleeing forces across the lower
According to the German Official News Agency, the Americans, after an abortive attempt to establish a bridgehead across the Seine near Mantes, landed a parachute and airborne troops east of the river.
“Allied tanks” it was added “subsequently crossed the river under the protection of these troops. The bridgehead and the airborne troops were immediately attacked.”
A German High Command announcement last night said that the Americans then brought up reinforcements from the Dreux area to widen their bridgehead and “a grim struggle went on through Saturday night.”
Advances were reported yesterday along the Canadian and British front from the sea to a point south-east of the pocket, where the remaining enemy troops were herded closely into a box about 10 miles long from east to west and six miles wide.
British Recce units reached Gace on the Alencon-Rouen road 15 miles beyond Trun, and were thrusting toward the Seine, closely followed by the main body of troops.
In the north Allied troops were nearing Vimoutiers, had liberated Livarot and had advanced to within four miles of Lisieux against strong resistance. A British Force crossed the Dives River near Dozule, five miles south-east of Caubourg, on the western side of the river’s mouth. Caubourg itself was under attack.
The Germans, according to a correspondent at Shaef last night, were crossing the Seine in considerable numbers at from 12 to 20 crossings, between Vernon and the sea. They were using pontoons, barges and anything they could lay their hands on. At one point where the Seine is 200 yards wide, enemy troops swam the river.
From: M Capon To: Air Historical Branch (RAF) 17 February 2018
The Comms. Flight at Mel-Villaroche served the R.A.F. element at HQ Allied Forces Central Europe until NATO's enforced departure from France in the late 1960s. The Fontainebleau Veterans Association has been asked to provide an article for the "Northern Star” (the official magazine for NATO Headquarters JFC Brunssum, Netherlands) but we are short on many details.
Are you able, please, to provide details of the date of opening and closing of the facility, a list of all aircraft based there and the name of the last Commanding Officer of the unit? Any other details you are able to provide to add to the personal memories of those who served there would be very much appreciated. It would be interesting to know too of the official tasking as it is known that not only was the flight used for R.A.F. purposes but flew also the likes of the British Ambassador to France and senior NATO officers of other nationalities.
Any help you are able to provide on the subject will be very much appreciation.
From: M O D Air Historical Branch To: M Capon 2 March 2018
Thank you for your e-mail dated 17 February 2018 regarding the R A F Communications
Flight which was based with the RAF Element Air H.Q. Allied Forces Central Europe. I have checked our records and unfortunately we do not hold any details on this.
It may be possible for you to discover more about the activities of this unit by consulting the Operations Record Books (ORB) for HQ Allied Air Forces Central Europe (HQ AAFCE) when they were based at Fontainebleau. ln accordance with the British Public Records Act, the ORBs of RAF Commands, Group, Stations and units for that period are now deposited at The National Archives (TNA) at Kew , in London, where they may be inspected by members of the public. These books detail the activities of the units concerned including flying sorties by aircrew (who are listed as crews) together the aircraft involved. The quality of ORBs is variable, with some containing more information than others. For information about opening times of TNA and other useful information you should consult their website at www.natiollalarchives.gov.uk
Their Catalogue of Holdings is also accessible through this website. Their address is;
The National Archives Ruskin Avenue, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU
For persons unable to visit themselves some documents are available on line. It is also possible to employ private researchers who can undertake the work
A list of, researchers is available on the TNA website by following the link “Help with your research. Fees will be charged by researchers.
There are listings for HQ AAFCE support units at Fontainebleau 1956–1960 and 1963 – 1966 under the reference AIR 29/3573 on the TNA website, however I am unable to confirm how much detail is contained in these documents or if they will include details on the unit you are researching.
TWENTYFIRST ANNUAL REUNION – 10 OCTOBER 2018
At the time of writing this only 21 members, including wives, have booked for the event of the year at the Angel Hotel in Leamington Spa. The Angel is privately owned and always offers comfortable accommodation and excellent and friendly service. It is disappointing that so few attend. Full details are attached. So let us be having you!
I DIDN’T KNOW THAT
A SHOT OF WHISKEY In the old west a .45 cartridge for a six-gun cost 12 cents, so did a glass of whiskey. If a cowhand was low on cash he would often give the bartender a cartridge in exchange for a drink. This became known as a "shot" of whiskey
THE WHOLE NINE YARDS American fighter planes in WW2 had machine guns that were fed by a belt of cartridges. The average plane held belts that were 27 feet (9 yards) long. If the pilot used up all his ammo he was said to have given it the whole nine yards.
BUYING THE FARM This is synonymous with dying. During WW1 soldiers were given life insurance policies worth $5,000. This was about the price of an average farm so if you died you "bought the farm" for your survivors.
IRON CLAD CONTRACT This came about from the ironclad ships of the Civil War. It meant something so strong it could not be broken
RIFF RAFF The Mississippi River was the main way of traveling from north to south. Riverboats carried passengers and freight but they were expensive so most people used rafts. Everything had the right of way over rafts which were considered cheap. The steering oar on the rafts was called a "riff" and this transposed into riff-raff, meaning low class.
SHIP STATE ROOM Traveling by steamboat was considered the height of comfort. Passenger cabins on the boats were not numbered. Instead they were named after states. To this day cabins on ships are called staterooms.
SLEEP TIGHT Early beds were made with a wooden frame. Ropes were tied across the frame in a criss-cross pattern. A straw mattress was then put on top of the ropes. Over time the ropes stretched, causing the bed to sag. The owner would then tighten the ropes to get a better night's sleep.
SHOWBOAT These were floating theatres built on a barge that was pushed by a steamboat. These played small towns along the Mississippi River. Unlike the boat shown in the movie "Showboat" these did not have an engine. They were gaudy and attention grabbing which is why we say someone who is being the life of the party is "showboat”
OVER A BARREL In the days before CPR a drowning victim would be placed face down over a barrel and the barrel would be rolled back and forth in an effort to empty the lungs of water. It was rarely effective. If you are over a barrel you are in deep trouble.
BARGE IN Heavy freight was moved along the Mississippi in large barges pushed by steamboats. These were hard to control and would sometimes swing into piers or other boats. People would say they "barged in".
BARRELS OF OIL When the first oil wells were drilled they had made no provision for storing the liquid so they used water barrels. That is why, to this day, we speak of barrels of oil rather than gallons.
OBITUARY – AIR- VICE MARSHALL DERYCK STAPLETON - CBE, CB
The passing of Air-Vice Marshall Deryck Stapleton aged 100 years was reported in detail in the Daily Telegraph on 30 March. He flew numerous missions during WW II and he was praised for his courageous leadership, skill and daring.
After tours at HQ Fighter Command and at AAFCE at Fontainebleau. In March 1955 he was appointed Station Commander at RAF Oldenburg in Northern Germany. With further promotions he served at Bomber Command and in the Air Ministry.
BIRTH OF THE RAF 1APRIL 1 APRIL 1918
The order to scramble had finally come and the ever eager Squadron Leader led his team of Spitfires and Hurricanes in a fast climb into the sky over Southern England. It was the slaughter of 18 London School children in a German bomber air raid that led,
100 years ago to the birth of the RAF.
The RAF was formed on 1 April 1917 – hence they were dubbed Royal April Fools. Their exploits during World War II are legendary. The picture below shows the aircrew, led by Douglas Bader, after their first raid.
The magnificent men: No. 1 Squadron photographed near Ypres on 3 July 1918
Do you have any memories of your life in the Armed Services that you would like to share with our readers? If so please send them to the editor. That way we can widen the interest to our readers.
Just as I put this Newsletter to bed a lengthy letter from Ron Fraser was received with some photos of his new residence in Australia. This will be featured in newsletter No. 68
Editor : DAVID ROGERSON, BROOKWOOD, HUNGERFORD, BURSLEDON, SOUTHAMPTON SO31 8DF
TEL 023 8040 2846 E-mail; firstname.lastname@example.org