(Newsletter No. 37) NOVEMBER 2006
It has been an eventful year with a successful action
packed trip to Fontainebleau and a superb Reunion weekend at Warwick
although for the latter the number present did not meet our expectations.
This did not detract from the enjoyment of those who made it. Many
people travel from miles away and it is disappointing that so many
members who live within a 25 mile radius of Warwick are never seen
at our Reunions. As we shall be celebrating our Tenth Annual Reunion
and Dinner in 2007 it is hoped that everybody will make a special
effort to attend.
Cpl Mike Bole is another policeman
to join our ranks. He served at AAFCE from January 1960 until June
1962 and went on to complete 22 years service in the RAF retiring
in 1978 with the rank of Sergeant. During his latter years of service
Mike worked alongside members of the Royal Family as a member of the
Police Support Squadron. After demob he was employed by the Sultan
of Oman and resided in the Sultanate until 1992 when his wife was
taken ill. Mike who lives on the edge of the New Forest has not worked
since his wife died in 1993. His daughter was born in the British
Wing of the French Hospital in Fontainebleau.
Jan 1960 ~ The Nouveau Franc is introduced
worth 100 old francs
Sgt Brian Russell
was posted to British Public Information Office at AAFCE Fontainebleau
in September 1960 where he remained until March 1963. Since leaving
the RAF Brian has worked as a Brewery Rep., Pub Landlord, Insurance
Sales Manager, Training Manager and a Toastmaster. Brian resides in
September 1960 ~ 344 tickets were issued in
Central London on the first day of parking tickets and traffic wardens.
LAC George Durant served
as a Ground Wireless Mechanic initially at the Caserne Demesme and
then Camp Guynemer from March 1951 until July 1953. After leaving
the RAF in 1954 George was employed 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. Retiring in 1992
George enjoys holidays abroad, swimming and sailing and is a member
of the Tudor Sailing Club in Portsmouth where he lives with his wife
Fay. They have 2 grown up children who work and live away from Portsmouth.
March 1951 ~ Montgomery is appointed Eisenhower’s
deputy at SHAPE
Warrant Officer HG Thorne MBE, BEM
passed away on 8 Feb this year after a long illness, aged 76. George
spent 35 years in the RAF and served in Egypt, France, Germany and
Cyprus together with a number of appointments in the UK. He achieved
Warrant Officer at the age of 38 which at the time was one of the
youngest to reach the rank. George was successful in all his appointments
and this was reflected by the awarding of both the BEM and MBE. His
duties were many and varied and ranged from an Ops Clerk in strategic
Air Plans at RAF Bentley Priory to that of Chief Clerk at RAF Wattisham.
He was also the adjutant of 10 squadron at RAF Brize Norton in the
late 60's. In 1971 he moved to Cyprus where he was the Families Officer
playing a vital role in 1974, during the Greek Army coup which ousted
Makarios and led to the division of the island, in redeploying military
personnel to the Sovereign Base Area of RAF Akrotiri and the planning
for the withdrawal of family personnel.
His last posting was to the Red Arrows where he served
for eight years and remains to this date the longest serving member
of the team. His career was personally rewarding and he had many a
humorous tale to reflect on his varied career in the RAF. Indeed he
always managed to find the humour in any situation. He had the innate
ability to be both outstandingly professional yet humorous at the
same time. Undoubtedly his best tour was his last with the Red Arrows
where he traveled around the world with the team delivering both commentary
and ensuring the meticulous planning necessary to delivering success.
He retired to Cirencester in the 1980s and involved himself in the
local community. He is survived by his devoted wife Maisie and loving
sons Air Commodore Ian Thorne, OBE, Roger and ten grandchildren.
LTO John Jones (RN) passed away suddenly and unexpectedly
on 6 February. John was one of the few Royal Navy personnel attached
to AAFCE where he served between November 1959 and August 1961. He
is survived by Audrey who was serving as Cpl Audrey Britten with the
RAF at AFCENT in the Chateaux.
LAC Bill Bloy passed away in August after a short
illness. Bill spent his time at AAFCE (December 1954 until September
1957) as an airframe fitter at Melun Airfield. He lived in Chichester
and attended one or two of our Reunions. He is survived by his wife
Susan and two daughters.
Cpl Robert Leslie Drewett
It is with regret that I write this obituary to Robert, or Bob, as
he was invariably known. Bob was born in Mitcham, Surrey, on 6 Sep
38. He grew up like many of us, as a 'war baby', with his elder sister.
His father was killed serving in the North African campaign. His mother
remarried and the family settled in Lydd, running a grocery shop.
Bob became a chorister at Lydd Church, known as The Cathedral on the
Marsh. His childhood left a lasting love and memory of the marshes.
Whilst Bob was serving in the RAF
his sister introduced him to her friend Janet. Initially, there was
no chemistry between them although Janet did think he was nice looking.
Eventually, romance blossomed and Janet was a regular commuter up
to London to see Bob, who by this time had left the RAF, and was working
in the capital. Jan remembers tottering around London in her 3½"
stilettos, clutching her long slim umbrella and journeys back to Tunbridge
Wells on the 'milk train'. They married in 1966, when Jan was 25,
settling in Tunbridge Wells. Bob was then working at the Piccadilly
Hotel. He later worked at Shell Petroleum HQ at Waterloo. Jan recalls
for many years he
was like a lodger, travelling to town early in the morning and returning
home late at night.
When he was only 33, Bob had a heart attack. He was found to be suffering
from a rare heart condition which required open heart surgery, then
a massive operation. Guys Hospital treated him as a guinea-pig and
the treatment was successful, although Bob was unable to work for
some years. Jan became the family's breadwinner and worked nights,
running a rest home, to look after the family which by this time included
their four sons, Jonathan, Simon, James and Richard. Although Bob
was unable to take part in the physical activities a father enjoys,
and his young sons were acutely aware of this, he tried to make it
up in other ways. He became a good raconteur and was always ready
with a story. When Bob was again able to work, he did so in Tunbridge
Wells, in a local restaurant, a food factory and with a friend providing
a catering service for celebrities.
However, Bob's condition worsened and in 2004 he was again in hospital,
this time Kings College in London, where he was fitted with a pacemaker.
He was back there again, in Oct 2005, and spent some months undergoing
various treatments, including a hip replacement. He was making sufficient
progress to consider attending the Reunion at Warwick in Oct 2006.
However, it was not to be. Although he had returned home for short
periods, he had further stays in care homes and in the local hospital.
In 0ct 06, he was admitted to a nearby hospice. Whilst Bob was in
hospital, Jan was also hospitalised. With this, all the travelling
to visit him and caring for him, she found it very hard.
Bob served at Fontainebleau from 1957-60
as a Cpl Chef in the Airmens' Mess. He and the other staff tried their
best to produce attractive, tasty repasts, from rations that were
principally 'compo packs'. Even the bread served in the mess was baked
in RAOC bakeries somewhere up in Germany. By the time we got it, you
can imagine what it was like! The food served in the American mess
was beyond our wildest dreams and it was rumoured that even the French
mess served more fresh food than ours - including bread! One of my
enduring memories of Bob is an energetic, committed, professional
chef who was always immaculately turned out in his whites: even up
to his chef's hat. Part of Bob's duty was to issue rations to the
RAF Police NCOs who were going onto night duty at Melun airfield.
He always let us have the best rations available and we never went
short when he was on duty. Mind you, on occasion he would have cause
to chase us out of the storeroom - before we 'nicked' too much! Even
off duty, Bob was always smart, a fact commented upon by Jan, from
when she first met him and throughout their life together. In their
early days, he would buy a new shirt and change on the train when
he went out with her.
Some of you will remember Bob's last
attendance at a reunion. It was at the Courtyard Hotel, in 2001, when
he acted as our MC, toasted The Queen and Jan drew the raffle. He
and Jan really looked forward to being with us again, but unfortunately
did not make it. Bob died in the hospice on 30 Oct with Jan and family
around him. In addition to Jan and their sons, he leaves four daughters-in-law
and seven grandchildren who adored him. Pam and I were able to visit
Bob, convalescing on the South Coast in 2004, and a number of times
whilst he was in Kings College Hospital. He was always cheerful, never
losing his sense of humour, notwithstanding his situation. Fortunately,
I was also able to visit him in the hospice, a few days before he
died. On that occasion he enjoyed an omelette for lunch and had numerous
visitors. Bob will be sadly missed by family and friends alike. Terry
Bryant said of Bob, in a tribute he wrote and read at the funeral
service in Christ Church, Tunbridge Wells, on 9 Nov, "Bob Drewett
was forever a Gentleman".
I am much indebted to Jan, for her
help in the sad task of compiling Bob's obituary.
NINTH ANNUAL REUNION AND DINNER
The turn out this year was below expectations
but this did not detract from our enjoyment of a cracking weekend
at the Honiley Court Hotel near Warwick. On Saturday 57 members including
wives and partners took part in the proceedings. Colin Hogg provided
music for dancing after dinner.
At the AGM the Income and Expenditure Accounts for
the year ended 30 September 2006 were discussed and approved. These
are included on page 9 of this Newsletter.
It was also agreed that we meet again next year at
the Honiley Court Hotel on 12 and 13 October. However a big wedding
has been booked for this weekend with guests staying overnight. In
the circumstances we are booked for 28 and 29 September. Full details
are below. And a selection of photographs taken during the weekend
appears as a supplement to this Newsletter
TENTH ANNUAL REUNION AND DINNER ~ 29 SEPTEMBER 2007
Terms for our Reunion at the Honiley Court Hotel have
now been settled with the hotel management. The cost remains the same
as this year ~ £59 per person per night for dinner bed and breakfast
and there are no single supplements. For non-residents attending the
dinner on Saturday the cost is £20 per person payable in full
in advance. If we take our own wine the corkage charge is £5
per bottle. A £50 voucher to spend in a Folio Group hotel will
be donated by the management as a raffle prize. Contracts have been
signed for our function on 28 and 29 September.
You are urged to book early by completing the booking form attached
to this Newsletter and sending it as directed with your deposit for
£15 per person. As previously deposits are refundable for cancellations.
Cheques will be held until nearer the time when the deposits are due
for payment to the hotel. Please do not make any arrangements direct
with the hotel as this only leads to confusion.
OLD COMRADES ~ It
was good to read in the June edition of the Newsletter that Ken Jackson
has joined us. I was at detachment to Dover House in Whitehall when
he joined us in ACOS Intelligence in 1951. I returned to Fontainebleau
in December 1951, so did not see his arrival. When he left us, his
replacement was Ralph Foster, with whom I have been in touch. It was
also good to learn that Ken, like me enjoys the Caravan lifestyle.
Ralph and his wife were also into the Caravans but gave it up, or
did it give them up. I must ask them sometime.
Stan Bone (Baldock)
The date for next year’s Reunion is certainly OK with
me, I will be there whatever is finally decided. Thoroughly enjoyed
myself at the Reunion. Pleased with the service, the room & the
food. I am in Weymouth staying a couple of nights with Les Hills.
Flying back to Estonia on Monday 16 October but expect to be back
mid-November to look after his flat through the winter.
Brian Gibbons (Weymouth)
Vera and I want to say thanks to Christine and yourself
for organizing such a superb Reunion weekend. We had a most enjoyable
time including a visit to the Children’s Animal Park with Brian and
a few others.
Geoffrey Callaghan (Shrewsbury)
When I visited Bob in Fontainebleau way back in 1957
I stayed with M and Mmme. Evauttre at 25 Rue des Pleus. Unfortunately
I lost touch with this family who were so kind to me during my times
with them. Does any reader know what became of the Evauttre family
or know their present whereabouts.
Gill James (Tamworth)
Just a few lines to say thanks for all your work over
the months. We thoroughly enjoyed the Fontainebleau trip ~ taking
a trip down “memory lane” As ever the reunion was good and it’s so
great to meet up with friends again. Some people travel many miles
to get there, which proves that they think it’s worth the effort ~
rewarding for you as well. It’s almost impossible to believe that
next year’s reunion will be our 10th. I remember so well when you
and Ted were trying to contact people at the start and now look at
the list of members.
Ann Caton (Chelmsford)
The Fontainebleau trip was thoroughly enjoyable and
I would recommend it to anyone who has not yet been. The after Parade
event didn't go exactly as planned but this was precipitated by the
Parade time changing. However everything turned out well in the end
and we had some interesting drives round some colourful north Paris
streets in addition.
The Beverely Association Reunion for 2007 is to be
the 2nd weekend in October subject to finding a new venue as the R.A.F.
South Cerney venue seems to be finished. Who knows I could be driving
back up to Honiley again! Even if they have to change the date to
the last weekend in September the Fontainebleau Reunion has first
call this time so I shall be with you.
John Reynolds (Farnham, Surrey)
Les Hills will be leaving for Perth,
Australia at the end of the year to be with his Bernadette his fiancée.
They plan to marry in 2007.
Max Avey and Ron Pole took part in
the Annual Veterans’ Parade at Weymouth is June and sent this photograph.
FONTAINEBLEAU SEPTEMBER 2006 A VIEW FROM THE
by Max Avey
Day 1-Tuesday 12 September
The first of a few surprises on my fourth trip back
to Fontainebleau –I was joined at the Union Jack Club, Waterloo by
16 other 'early birds' for the 0615 coach. We were too early for breakfast
at the Club so emergency rations were taken on board. We then proceeded
to the Coach Station at West Kingsdown to pick up 22 less sleepy people
before collecting the final three passengers from their overnight
accommodation outside Dover, making a total of 42. We left Dover on
the 1005 ferry and arrived at Calais at 1230 (both local times), after
a calm sea crossing.
Our Sardinian coach driver Paolo then displayed his excellent driving
skills coping with the unusual and unexpected maneuvers of the French
drivers between Calais and Fontainebleau in his calm and assured manner!
We stopped twice, once for lunch and once for a 'comfort stop' before
arriving at the Ibis Hotel in Fontainebleau just after 7pm, where
we were joined by the two remaining members of our party...... ..and
so to bed, after a long day - although one or two did take the longer
route via the bar to check out the stock I believe.
Day 2-Wednesday 13 September
The first Continental breakfast on these trips has
always had its funny moments and this year was no exception as members,
including the half-awake writer, wandered up and down the self-service
counter looking for various cutlery items and working out the coffee
machine, which gave you either half a mug or a mug filled to the brim!
However, on a dry and sunny morning we left the hotel for Camp Guynemer
where we taken around the base in our coach, walking to the various
main points of interest, i.e. the Airmen's Mess (still unused but
now fenced off), the sports area and swimming pool, the MT and Stores
complex, the accommodation blocks, and the Support Units block, now
the Base HQ. The latter has a new superb Museum depicting the history
of the Fontainebleau Sports School, which was originally located in
the town and is now a National facility used not only by the military
but also by the French Olympic team.
Some Association members, assisted by the Base Commandant
and his staff, planted a tree on a green
adjacent to the HQ in memory of Flight Sergeant Charley Collyer. The
previous tree presented to the
Base by our Association in 2003 and planted on the nearby green is
healthy and growing well. A framed photograph of a previous Association
visit was then presented to the Commandant. This year's whole group
was photographed in front of the HQ building by a French photographer.
Drinks and lunch were taken in the Base Restaurant after which we
boarded our coach and went back into Fontainebleau to visit the Gendarmerie
School in Quartier Chateaux, where students are trained for duties
in the CID and motorcyclist branches. A short video presentation was
given by the Commandant followed by a tour of the site, including
the Motor Cycle museum (which included British BSA and Norton machines),
and the large stock of the current training road and cross-country
bikes. Surprise number 2 on the whole trip was to see our Union Flag
flying on the flagpole in the main square during our visit - a very
A presentation was made on behalf of the Association
to the Commandant for the School and Museum, before we went to their
new location at a former US base nearby for a short visit. So ended
a very interesting day, particularly, I hope for those of our party
who were making their first return visit to Fontainebleau since their
service there many moons ago. So, back to the hotel and cafes for
Day 3-Thursday 14 September
Little was known beforehand about our trip to Yevres
where an RAF Avro Lancaster bomber crashed near the village on 28th
July 1944, except that whilst the RAF was stationed at Camp Guynemer
a detachment paraded every year at a ceremony to honour the two aircrew
members who died in the crash and were buried in Yevres cemetery.
We knew before setting out from Fontainebleau that we would be welcomed
by the Mayor, who would have a reception with aperitifs followed by
a lunch in a local restaurant and that we would be able to lay a wreath
on the grave of the two aircrew. All that actually happened but on
arrival in our coach we were greeted by the Mayor, his wife and other
local people plus a line of six Standard Bearers from various Veterans'
Associations - surprise number 3! - and a little overwhelming on first
sight. However, once the introductions were over the entire Anglo-French
group crossed the road into the cemetery and lined up around the Commonwealth
War Graves Graves Commission's joint-grave alongside which, placed
in a triple stand, were the flags of the UK, France and New Zealand.
The six Standard Bearers stood behind the headstone whilst our Association's
poppy wreath was placed at the foot of the grave by Sid Beaver, a
Lancaster pilot who was shot down during the war losing two of his
crew. Vases of flowers and posies were also placed on and around the
grave by a number of local people followed by a period of silence
during which the Standards were lowered - and, coincidentally, an
aircraft (which sounded very much like a Hercules to my RAF Lyneham
ears), flew at some height overhead! This was a sincere and emotional
ceremony in which the genuine gratitude of the villagers to the aircrew
who gave their lives to avoid crashing on Yevres was so obvious. It
is appropriate to mention here two locals who were involved directly
after the aircraft crashed. A lady now aged 95 years helped to remove
the airmen's remains from the wreckage and assisted in their temporary
burial nearby; secondly, a gentleman 80+ years old who was one of
the first to arrive on the scene and help search for survivors who
had baled out. It was an unforgettable experience and privilege to
talk with these brave people who risked their own lives in the face
of the enemy, also searching in the vicinity.
Following the Mayor's reception and a very good lunch
the party went by coach to the French Air Force base at Chateaudun,
a few kilometers away from Yevres, where we saw a hangar display of
FAF aircraft which have flown out from the base over the years. During
World War II it was taken over by the Luftwaffe and subsequently recaptured.
We then returned to Yevres to look inside the church of Our Lady of
Yevres which has the stained-glass window, installed in 1952, commemorating
the two aircrew and local children who died during the war. Additionally,
Flight Lieutenant Noel Stokes RNZAF and Sergeant Norman Wilding RAF
have had village streets named in their memory in 1968 and 2002 respectively.
We said our farewells and expressed our appreciation through Madame
Hublier to the Mayor and all those people of Yevres who had welcomed
us so warmly throughout our time with them and contributed so much
towards our memorable day. Then homeward bound to our hotel and cafes
for more refreshments!
Day 4 ~ Friday 15 September
On a damp day we had a free morning before setting
off after lunch for Paris to join the Veterans Parade and Rekindling
of the Flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior at the Arc de Triomphe.
Despite an overcast sky and the threat of rain, it remained dry throughout
the ceremony. Here we encountered surprise number 4. There were two
Parades to be held ours was first. Allegedly this change of format
was for 'security and financial reasons' and certainly increased security
measures were obvious with crowd barriers in place behind the participants.
This meant, unfortunately, that our ladies who normally stand behind
their men on parade were not able to do so. escorted across to the
opposite side from us – Well done! My apologies to those ladies who
didn't make it; I could not find the usual Parade Marshal who arranges
this for us. A number of wreaths on behalf of the Royal Air Force,
RAFA and French Associations were placed on the Tomb, Ron Pole laying
one on behalf of our Association. As in the past, it is an honour
and a privilege to participate in this unique ceremony on Battle of
Britain Day, which is held in Paris every year on the 15th September,
and we thank the Paris Branch of RAFA for this opportunity. It is
hoped that those of our members who paraded for the first time here
experienced the same personal emotions of pride in our Service and
country as those who have been before. After signing the Remembrance
Book at the end of the Parade, the party left the Arc for dinner at
Josephine's restaurant. Unfortunately, we were delayed by a Canadian
group who were late finishing their meal. Paolo again showed his patience
and skill in driving the coach around the city streets to kill time.
Eventually, we sat down in slightly less than comfortable circumstances
for our meal with two live musicians as company, before departing
Paris for our hotel.
Day 5 ~ 15 September
Left Fontainebleau 0930 local time, arrived Calais
1600, sailed 1655, arrived Dover 1730 local and London 2010 all safe
and sound. My thanks to all those in our party for their patience
and humour throughout the trip. It was a pleasure to have your company
and I hope that particularly those on their first return to Fontainebleau
will have found it interesting and enjoyable. It certainly was up
This an appropriate place to thank Max for his organization
during the trip and to pay tribute to Brian Moulding our Fontainebleau
resident who worked hard preparing the ground for the various visits
prior to our arrival and for looking after the party while we were
there. A selection of photos from the trip is included as a supplement
to this Newsletter.
It is unlikely that we shall drum up sufficient support
for another coach trip next year. As a number of you have expressed
a desire to attend the Parade at the Arc on Saturday 15 September
you may wish to consider making your arrangements to travel by Eurostar.
The RAF Wings Travel Agency Tel: 0845 3316677 will be happy to make
travel and accommodation arrangements for you. For a 2 night stay
in Paris at a 3 star hotel they have indicated a price of £240
based on 2 people sharing a room. Single supplement £110 The
actual price is dependent on the level of hotel accommodation you
require. The above is an indication only, based on today’s tariff
and exchange rate. Travel out by Eurostar will be at off peak times
on Friday out and Sunday return. Would those who arrange to meet up
in Paris and attend the Parade please let the editor know so that
the Paris Branch of RAFA may be notified.
CHARLES COLLYER BEM
Geoffrey Callaghan was one of the first airmen posted
to AAFCE, Fontainebleau and submits this piece on his early encounters
with Flt. Sgt Charley Collyer.
Try, dear Reader, to cast your mind back to the beginning
of the 1950's when there was a real fear that Stalin would launch
his superior forces to conquer the democratic countries of the West,
including Britain. It was that fear which led the United Kingdom,
France and the Benelux countries to form the Western Union Defence
Organisation. The political will was made a reality with the locating
of the military echelon at Fontainebleau; the three specific sites
adopted were: Chateau Fougeres for the Commander-in-Chief, Cour Henri
IV was the main Headquarters building whilst Quartier Chataux was
set aside for use as the HQ UK Support Unit and as barracks for those
of the three services, under the rank of Sergeant. It is at this location
that the story of Flight Sergeant Charles Collyer MBE really begins.
When the Writer arrived at Fontainebleau in February
1950 the earlier men had already done much to make Quartier Chateau
reasonably comfortable. Gatehouses had been converted to Sick Quarters
and Guard Room , stables had been converted to NAAFI and Airmen’s
Mess and the Army Kinema Corps had a roof but still had an earth floor
and no heating. All these buildings were destined to feature in one
of the many legends of the activities of our hero!
Having already served in Europe since shortly after D-Day, Charley
was amongst the tiny few who paved the way for the main influx of
the UK services into Fontainebleau. That he spoke fluent French was
an asset especially when he was helping the married ones to find decent
accommodation. But my concern is more with the legend rather than
cold appraisal. One's meeting with Charley for the first time brought
two surprises: first, in the Gateway Guardroom, there were present
two RAF Policemen, one visiting Redcap Lance Corporal and one prisoner;
all four were watching Charley polishing a part of the floor which
was below his exacting standards!! Then Charley himself got a chair
and invited me to sit down and fill in the usual Official Secrets
form. He peered over my shoulder and exclaimed: "So your name
is Geoffrey? That's nice." Bearing in mind my limited experience
of flight sergeants and calling upon my father's warning about over
familiar SNCOs my first instinct was to back into the nearest corner!
One soon came to realise that this was a sign of genuine concern for
Whilst some Charley Collyer stories might be somewhat
apochryphal, others were witnessed, e.g: in public view, sidling up
to an LAC notorious for his curly locks, then whispering to Lofty
X: "the CO thinks you need a haircut", which brought a reply
intimating that Lofty had no money that he was "skint".
At this Charley dug deep into his pocket and handed Lofty a 200 franc
note with the injunction "pay me back on Payday"!!
Those with long memories will recall Charley's special
help whenever the Unit Concert Party put on a play or a Variety Night.
Invariably dressed in his immaculate 'best blue'. Charley would be
a superb programme seller. When guests arrived, especially senior
officers from our and foreign services, Charley would offer them a
programme and, when asked the price, Charley would say "Whatever
you think fit, Sir!" the Visitor's were rewarded with that famous
Collyer salute. Without fail, he would hand in takings for two or
three times the face value of the programmes. To the best of my recollection.
Charley appeared in only one production - in the pantomime Cinderella.
At the appropriate moment there was a flash, a bang and a big puff
of smoke; as this cleared there was Charley sitting in a Landrover
asking Cinderella to sign a 658 to get to the Ball. To this day I
have no idea how the scene shifters got the vehicle on the stage.
One story that I can only quote second hand. as the
witness is no longer with us, relates to the opening of the new HQ
at Camp Guynemer. To protect the very shiny and polished new flooring
in the corridors the planners had thoughtfully provided cans full
of sand and plainly marked 'BUTT CANS': clearly provided to take fag
ends and cigar butts both to cut down fire risk and to protect the
new floor. Along comes Charley, sees a cigarette in a can and still
burning and - without hesitation - he picks up the fag end drops it
on the floor and crushes it with his hobnailed boots
and then says proudly: "That might have started a fire".
Perhaps the best story of Charley's exploits took
place on the day that Field Marshal Montgomery himself came to Quartier
Chataux to make his informal farewell on leaving to move to Paris
as NATO got started. As the men of all three services assembled -
in platoons and flights - on our tiny Volleyball Pitch cum Parade
Ground, "Monty" , accompanied by the late Squadron Leader
FHA Campbell, Unit CO, wandered through the barrack rooms and the
services buildings. Charley was in his glorious element some how managing
to be at every door or point of interest to give his famous salute
as the Field Marshal both arrived and left. As our VIP visitor called
for informal photographs he was heard to remark to the CO: "Jolly
nice turn out; however you do seem to have an unusually large complement
of Flight Sergeant Policemen!! Doubtless, there are many other incidents
that some remember and might wish to relate to us one day. For myself,
I offer these words out of a high regard for a genuine personality
who took a real and practical attitude towards the communal service
life and its vagaries. From conversations with Charley in 1966 and
2000, and from more recent correspondence, one knows that he was well
aware of most of the anecdotes and could have added a few of his own.!
I can only conclude by quoting a comment recently overheard: "Charley
was the best welfare officer the RAF ever had!"
FRANCE TRIP & 9TH REUNION DINNER
The reproduction of these photographs
are rather poor due to the fact that I do not have access to the originals.
Having said that you can view them by clicking on the following links.
TRIP 1 - FRANCE TRIP 2
FRANCE TRIP 3
REUNION 1 - 9TH REUNION 2
9TH REUNION 3 - 9TH
There is a good stock of blazer badges, ties and enamel badges in
stock in addition to the table- mats, coasters and mouse-mats all
INCOME & EXPENDITURE ACCOUNT ~ 12 MONTHS to 30 SEPTEMBER
Not one person volunteered or expressed an interest
in acting as Deputy Webmaster.
The 2000 plus hits on the website is encouraging.
However only 37 members have put their details on the Members’ Gallery.
You are all encouraged to send a potted history of your time at Fontainebleau
and afterwards to the editor for inclusion in the Gallery. This may
result in your being re-united with erstwhile comrades.
Having sent a number of round robins recently to those
members with an e-mail facility a number bounced because the intended
recipients had changed their address. This accounts for the small
number of acknowledgements received from messages advising that the
Newsletters are on the website. An attempt is being made to transfer
those whose messages bounced to the distribution lists for this Newsletter.
If people will advise me of their new arrangements it will make my
task a lot easier. If any members join the dot.com brigade their details
with the e-mail address will facilitate communication and save postage.
Moreover news travels faster via e-mail.