The Association was fortunate enough to secure several places through RBL for the Act of Remembrance at the Cenotaph. For many of us this was the first time we had the opportunity to take part.
I joined the RAF in Aug 1976 as an Armourer mech. My basic training was at Halton and then posted to Coltishall in the Armoury in Feb. '77. A stint at Lossie on the Hunters (2 TWU), fitters course and then posted to 41(F) in May '82. Lots of detachments ensued with the annual pilgrimage to Bardufoss and Laarbruch. Along with varying trips to Villafranca, Deci and Vegas, I was eventually deployed with the Sqn to Bahrain in Oct '90 as part of GW1. After that, detachments to Incirlick living in tents. Although then posted to 6 Sqn in '93 still felt 41(F) gave me the best of times. Favourite parts of being on the Sqn - well I suppose there were too many to mention but living in a fishing hut in Malsevossen cooking up chilli con carn and making oobies comes close to the top. Even GW1 had its perks (as we check-in don't dig in) and getting the jitters because they had run out of John Smiths!!
Sunday was my first time doing the marchpast and as it was I had phoned my Dad the before to tell him I would be marching past with his medals on - (he's 99, captured at Dunkirk and then spent the next 5 years in camps). Shook him a bit I think. Anyway, I think we all did a sterling job at doing military waiting time and trying to keep in step.
I took over as SEngO on 41(F) Sqn in May 1985 following previous Jaguar tours at Lossiemouth and as JEngO on 20 Sqn at RAF Bruggen. 41 Sqn was a very different world to the strike-attack operations at Bruggen – no HAS ops and no QRA to support. However, with 22 Jaguars allocated to us we were always busy, especially with detachments. Highlights of the tour are many, but I would pick out meeting SACEUR, General Bernard Rogers, whilst on exercise in Norway, and receiving a written commendation from C-in-C Strike Command for our performance in our 1987 NATO Taceval in Bardufoss. Taking part in the 2018 Parade made me think not only of the sacrifices in 2 World Wars but also those with whom I served on 20 and 41, aircrew and groundcrew alike, who were taken before their time.
I joined 41(R)TES from the Aerosystems Course in 2014 as the BAE Systems embed at Warton. I took on the role at a time when many of the weapons I knew from my time on the GR4 were being ported onto the Typhoon. It was a unique position to have a first look at the integration work ahead of the Squadron at Coningsby. On reflection it was very gratifying to know that we were all shaping capability for the next generation, something particularly poignant during my last tour.
I had thought that I might get the chance to someday watch the Cenotaph parade from the sidelines, but I never thought for an instant that I would be taking part in the procession. The shear scale of the event was hard to grasp, even whilst we assembled on Horse Guards parade it was hard to judge the enormity of it all until the columns moved off. The silence was all the more stark against the hustle of an absolutely packed Whitehall just moments before. My thoughts turned to those I knew lost in training, on operations and to the scourge of natural causes like cancer.
My RAF career and how I got to 41 Squadron?
I joined the RAF in 1987 as an Aircraft Mechanic (electrical).My first posting was to 41(F) Squadron on Jaguars, then posted to 13 Squadron Tornado as a ‘Junior Tech’ after my Fitters course.
During my time I was lucky enough to go on numerous detachments to Norway, Canada, Spain, Sardinia, Germany, USA and Bahrain.
I left the RAF in December 1996.
What was the highlight of your time on 41 Squadron?
Definitely the month long detachment we spent in Texas, taking part in the WWRAM (World Wide Recon Air Meet) competition. Closely followed, if not equalled by the back seat flight in one of the T2 Jaguars.
What it meant to me to be there on Sunday?
A chance to pay my respects to my great Uncle who was killed at the Somme in WW1. Plus the opportunity to represent the association at the Cenotaph in this RAF100 year.
Joined as direct entrant 1961 as an airframe mech, 1961 Fought the cold war at Honington/Cottesmore working on all three V bombers.
1965 Served at Sharjah on Twin Pioneer and visiting aircraft of all breeds.
1967 At CSDE working in Supply Services Wing on Summary of Component Servicing Requirements.
1971 RAF(G) Wildenrath On 20 Sqn Harrier GR3 and Wittering Major Servicing the same.
1976 Leconfield On Jaguar Gun Mod Programme.
Managed exchange positing to Coltishall and was at formation of 41(F) Des.
1981, 6 mths Belize Harrier Charlie Delta Hide.
1982 617 Tornado’s on formation at Marham then 27sqn on promotion in 1985.
1987 Back to Coltishall as Flt Sgt ASF Jaguar Serv Until 1991
1991 Belize as Flt Sgt i/c 1417 Flt
1992 back to 6 Sqn as F/sgt ic A shift
1994 posted to St Athan as WO as an ISO 20001 Assessor
1996 back to Coltishall on 54 F Sqn and retired in 1998
What was the highlight of your time on 41 Squadron
Any detachment was a highlight! Best Focuses were extra special, beating the RAF(G) Sqns in the 1977 Bombing Comp at Lossiemouth was great and extra special for me was to represent 41 (F) Sqn as Red Flag Job Controller in 1981. Most memorable was that the Jaguars did so well in the gulf war and all involved during the conflict came home.
What it meant to me to be there on Sunday
Respect for those fallen in battle (any) and for those who served through any conflict on service and civil duty. I was able to pay respects for my family’s generation .
Moreover I was there to remember my 41 sqn colleagues that had passed on, though not necessarily in service.
From 41 Sqn I remembered John Thompson, Barrie Thompson, Dave Archer, John Mardon, Colin Middleton, George Maloney, Al Mathie, Piggie Ray, Jack Nabel, Wynn Evans and Peter Norriss plus all those who died in the Black Forest tragedy.
At the muster it was very moving to be back in the aura of the service family and of course to get familiar again with some serious military waiting time, how they managed to get us in the parade on time was a credit to all involved?
For me the muster at the parade was a pilgrimage which I was privileged and very proud to attend with my favourite Jaguar Sqn. I will not be able to attend regularly due to British Legion commitments in my own village. We are also very fortunate in my area to have regular Jaguar sqn reunion events but even so it was good to meet so many RAF Mates at the parade.
On the 11th of November this year I had the honour of taking part in the Annual Cenotaph Marchpast in London, this was the first time I’d taken part in the ceremony as a veteran.
In the slideshow above are two photos which I think encapsulate the day quite well. The first one is a group shot of 8 our members gathered on Horse Guards parade before the event. It captures the personal element of the event, in that it allows you to meet old friends for a chat and have some serious military waiting time. On that parade square I bumped into 20 odd old friends in the space of 1 hour, given the number there it seems an amazing number, but after 25 years in the RAF you forget how many people you actually know.
By contrast the second picture shows the collective nature of the event. It is taken from Column C of the marchpast, Graham Howard (a friend and colleague in KPMG) and his larger group are about 15 yards behind us in the same column. I think it shows 2 things, firstly the scale of the event but also the connections we share as a veteran’s community. We chatted easily with the Royal Irish Regiment contingent to our right, bantered mercilessly the RAF parachute jump instructors to our front and in turn took a severe ribbing from the ex-RAF Oman Stations association behind. The severe ribbing came about because of our comparative youth, most of those behind us were 80 years old! Simply put it was like being on parade 30 years ago but with more aches and pains.
Now most people have an intense personal reason for being there, a large number of veterans has their grandfather’s medals on the their left lapel, but for me it was a chance to remember old friends. One of the advantages of being a fast jet pilot in the RAF, aside from it being a darn good chat up line, was the humour within the community. Sadly that humour was, and still is, intensely sardonic and often tinged with a blackness that can seem aggressive and isolationist. But as I stood there looking into beautiful winter sun remembering friends lost, I counted 20 who had died in flying accidents. Bayo, Dickie, Jim, the Staish, Eddie, Spade, Flo, Pete, Dave, Kev, Billy, Des, Colin – and the list goes on. None of those names will mean anything to most of you, but to me they do. I guess many others on the parade had a similar moment squinting into that sun.
You’ll see from the attached photograph that 9 hardy souls from the Association will be taking part in this year’s marchpast at the Cenotaph in London. Given the significance of the date, 100 years to the minute since the signing of the Armistice, I think you’ll agree it is fitting that the 41 Squadron Association are represented.
We will endeavour to provide some photographs afterwards, but for those watching the parade on TV we are in column C and expect to pass the Cenotaph at about 1140. You never know we might get even a mention.
Further Information: RBL Website
The timings for the day are as follows:
The following article was originally published by Leonardo MW Ltd.
Last week saw the conclusion to a spectacular series of events that marked the Royal Air Force’s Centenary, RAF100 - a campaign which Leonardo has been very proud to support. The campaign has been ongoing since 01 April, the date on which the Royal Air Force was formally created in 1918.
On 20 September, a Leonardo team representing sites from around the UK, attended a series of poignant First World War commemorations in St Omer, France, and the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ieper (Ypres), Belgium.
St Omer is known as the ‘spiritual birthplace’ of the Royal Air Force with its operational base for most of the First World War on the outskirts of town, the Bruyères Aerodrome next to the local race course. Four current-day RAF squadrons, represented on the day, trace their beginning directly to the aerodrome.
Our team attended a service of commemoration at the St Omer Cathedral, a local exhibition, then a memorial service at the Commonwealth War Grave Cemetery, during which schoolchildren laid flowers at the RAF and other air service graves. The day closed with a dedication ceremony, unveiling a plaque at the Aerodrome in the presence of ministers, personnel of all ranks, and The Viscount Lord Trenchard, the grandson of 1st Viscount Trenchard, the ﬁrst Chief of the Air Staff and the ‘Father of the Royal Air Force’. The strength of the UK - France relationships then and now were demonstrated by the warmth of the hospitality from the local community, and by the fly-pasts by both Air Forces.
RAF100 ceremony at the Royal Air Force’s very first operational base at Bruyères Aerodrome, St Omer, on the anniversary of the last aircraft from 41 Squadron leaving in 1918
Leonardo team attending the RAF100 celebrations in St Omer, ‘spiritual birthplace’ of the Royal Air Force.
Left to Right:Eddie Wilson-Chalon, Josh Sleeman, Sam Orr, Lynda McVay, Douglas Meikle, Yolanda Bullen, Arvind Mahendran, Jack Hempsall, Mark Gunning, Aran Bains
On the following Saturday and Sunday the Imperial War Museum at Duxford hosted its Battle of Britain Air Show with aircraft from throughout history thrilling a total of 50,000 visitors. It was an amazing flying programme which included the season finale of the Leonardo sponsored, RAF Typhoon Display Team, and 18 Spitfires flying, each with its own story told to the crowds.
There was even more for visitors to see in the Museum’s hangars, including iconic aircraft from our company history including the Airco DH9a, the Westland Lysander as well as the Westland Whirlwind and Wessex helicopters. Also, following its first appearance at Farnborough Air Show this year, the concept model for the UK’s next generation combat air system, Tempest was on display.
The Air Show reflected the RAF100 themes of Commemorate, Celebrate and Inspire. Continuing Leonardo’s work in support of the Inspire theme, our team of STEM ambassadors from across Leonardo’s Apprentice and Graduate community once again did a fantastic job engaging the public with a range of exciting, interactive activities. Highlights included our Eurofighter VR Maintenance Training competition, seeing youngsters battling to beat the clock in preparing e the aircraft for flight, our ever popular thermal imaging technology, Leonardo Helicopters’ aerodynamic wind table, as well as our ‘future selfie’ kiosk all of which successfully drew in the crowds!
The finale to the Centenary celebrations was played out in spectacular style with a stunning flying display by the RAF’s Red Arrows, which had visitors truly spellbound, and marked the end to what has been a remarkable and poignant campaign.
Thank you to everyone in Leonardo who has contributed throughout this year.
RAF100 celebrations in St Omer
Imperial War Museum's Aircraft Display including Westland Whirlwind (on the right)
Concept model for the UK’s next generation combat air system, Tempest
Leonardo's UK STEM ambassadors inspire youngsters
Many of us will be aware that on Sunday 1 April the Royal Air Force launched RAF100, a national campaign to mark its 100th year.
The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier gave lectures in London and Edinburgh to launch the campaign, and there have been some great interviews and programmes on the BBC over the last week, including with our customers at RAF Stations throughout the UK.
Reflecting on its proud record of serving the nation, the RAF100 campaign focuses on 3 themes which will: COMMEMORATE the service and sacrifice of those who have gone before; CELEBRATE its service men and women who continue to aid and protect people around the world; and INSPIRE the next generation, helping them to fulfil their potential and their future aspirations.
Leonardo is proud to be an official partner of the Royal Air Force for RAF100. We have a strong heritage over the past 100 years of helping the RAF maintain operational advantage through innovation in the design, development and production of airborne capability. Many people working within our business have either joined us following a career with the Royal Air Force, or they continue to serve as Reserves or active members of their local Air Cadet Squadrons.
Centenary events, activities and initiatives will run nationwide from April to the end of September 2018. The enduring intent of the initiative, to inspire young people towards careers in aerospace and engineering, will run well into next year and beyond. This is obviously something that our business is already very active in supporting. We look forward to celebrating this very significant milestone with direct participation in initiatives and events throughout 2018, including:
RAF100 Parade and Fly Past – London – 10 July
100 aircraft, representing the RAF’s history, will fly over Buckingham Palace and thousands of servicemen and women will take part in a parade through London.
RAF100 Augmented Reality Flypast App
From May, an app will become available enabling people to 'collect' aircraft and build their own flypast. More information to follow….
More information on RAF100 can be found on RAF100 the Royal Air Force website: https://www.raf.mod.uk/raf100/
Please find below just a few of the projects through which we have supported the RAF over the years:
The RAF Cosford Air Show will be making an enclosure available exclusively to members of Squadron Associations for the 2018 event on Sunday 10th June 2018.
Details are listed below and further information will be promulgated closer to the event.
In the year of RAF100 RAF Cosford Air Show are making this year's air show the most spectacular yet. With 100 RAF Aircraft on Static, 6 hours of flying and 5 hangars full of exhibitions we will be showcasing the best the Royal Air Force has to offer. The showground will be split into 4 villages each with their own eras. Our ‘Policing the Empire’ zone will cover WWI up to the start of WWII, the ‘World At War’ zone will cover the end of the 1930s to the beginning of the 1950s and the ‘Age of Uncertainty’ zone will span the 1950s to 1999 where you will enter the ‘New Millennium’ displaying the RAF in its current capacity.
£50 per ticket. This includes:
-Entry to the show (currently priced at £25 per ticket)
-Marquee and furniture
-Food and drink available to purchase
-Hosting by RAF Cosford Personnel
-Souvenir Programme (£6 each)
-Goody-bag provided by one of our Media Partners, Key Publishing
The Enclosure is located alongside the RAF Cosford Families Enclosure next to the Air Traffic Control Tower.
Both the Disabled parking and Coach parking are connected by hard-standing taxiways. To reserve an electric scooter or manual wheelchair you can book on line at www.eventmobility.org.uk, print out an advance booking form from the website or contact the office on 01386 725391 to request a form to be posted to you. The charity asks £25 for an electric scooter and £10 for a manual wheelchair. Disabled toilets will be available within the enclosure.
Food and Drink
Food and Drink can be purchased on the day in the enclosure.
We occasionally have contact from other Air Force Associations, not just from the UK, but around the world. The most recent was the Avionics and associated trades reunion committee (RNZAF), who next year are commemorating the 80th anniversary of the establishment of their training school.
Electrical and Wireless School
As a result of the 1937 expansion of the RNZAF the first “Signals” persons to be trained in New Zealand commenced Wireless Operation Course No. 1 (W1) at the new Electrical and Wireless School at Wigram on 4 January 1938. The Total School staff numbered one – Sergeant R.J. Gibbs who was Commanding Officer, Instructor, and Clerk. Three such courses were conducted in an old hangar, long since demolished, and formed a useful nucleus of Signals personnel for the RNZAF before WW2 broke out. Several RNZAF trained wireless operators and mechanics were actually in England at the start of the war, having been sent to collect the RNZAF’s new Wellington bombers.
Wigram could not initially accommodate the large influx of recruits at the outbreak of the war, so while a new school was being built, staff and trainees moved to Canterbury College and were accommodated at Rolleston House from October 1939 to January 1940. The new school expanded rapidly with the wartime demands for personnel. 5,290 airmen and airwomen were trained on 288 courses through the war years.
Many new Signals trades had been created – Wireless Operator, Telegraphist, Direction-Finding (DF) Operators, Teleprinter Operator, Radar Operator, Wireless Mechanic, Radar Mechanic, Electrician, Signals Clerk and Cypher Clerk. The School also trained mechanics for the Army and Navy.
Post-war, Signals trade training quickly reduced but the School facilities were put to good use for a variety of courses including some aircrew training – Signallers, Navigator (Wireless), and Morse and Wireless Manipulation courses for cadet pilots. Rehabilitation courses were also provided for aircrew entering civil aviation. The School was also used for several non-technical trade courses – Cooking, Stewarding, General Service Training and Physical Fitness.
Instrument Training School
A Technical Training School had been in existence at Hobsonville from 1934, initially providing Fitters and Riggers courses. In 1936 the scope of training expanded to include the Instrument and Equipment trades. The training of Fitters and Riggers moved to Rongotai in 1940 and in 1943 the Instrument Training School moved to Ebbetts Motors premises in Hamilton. However, this move was short-lived, as it moved back to Hobsonville in early 1945. An instructor in 1943 was Graham Gilmore (NZ42612 GILMORE G.H.), who had completed No 12 Instrument Course in 1942.
In January 1956 the School moved again, this time to Wigram. The first course conducted at Wigram was Instrument Assistant (IA) 1, with course members Murray Brown, Dave Pellett, Perry Shephard, Rod Gates (all Boy Entrants) and a number of Compulsory Military Trainees (CMTs). Senior Instructor was Flight Sergeant Bob Lewis. At the completion of this 14-week course, which had been hampered by a lack of training aids (still in their packing cases from Hobsonville) the CMTs dispersed and the four Boy Entrants were given the task of setting up the School. This they found to be quite a challenge as they went through a very steep learning curve, it being a case of ‘learn as you go’ as they unpacked and set up the training aids. One of the more interesting tasks was to set up a theaterette complete with screen projector sound system and seating. Having set up the School, the four Boy Entrants commenced IM1, a 26-week course with Sergeant Cleaver as Instructor.
No. 2 Trade Training School
Due to the variety of trades now being trained at the Electrical and Wireless School, its name was changed to No. 2 Trade Training School on 4 August 1952. Over the following four years, with the introduction of a large variety of new radio and radar equipment into service, increased numbers of mechanics and fitters courses resulted in many of the non-technical courses being displaced to other schools.
No. 2 Technical Training School
The transfer of the Instrument School to Wigram prompted a further name change for the Trade Training School, which became No. 2 Technical Training School in January 1956. Training continued in the operator trades of Telegraphist, Communications Operator (later Telecommunications operator) together with the technical trades of Electrical, Instrument, Radar, Communications Air and Communications Ground. Communications Operators from the Civil Aviation Division of the Ministry of Transport were also trained at the School from 1948 – 1976. Officers were trained on lengthy Junior Signals Officers Courses and Junior Communications Officers Courses. In March 1975 a Technical Assistant course was provided for six airwomen, and in July of that year four airwomen joined the Electrical Mechanics course. From 1976 airwomen were employed in all areas of the Avionics trade.
The wholesale restructure of the RNZAF Technical trades in September 1976 resulted in the five technical trades trained at 2TTS to be merged into the single Avionics trade. As a consequence, major training changes were required and the School was reorganised to cope. Coincident with the start of Avionics trade training in 1977, operator training moved to the new Navigation, Air Electronics and Telecommunications Training Squadron at Flying Training Wing, Wigram. In February 1980, Photographer training was transferred to 2TTS from Ohakea.
As well as Avionics and Photographer trade courses, the School also provided Avionics short courses for Armourers and Flight Engineers, and post-graduate courses in High Reliability Hand Soldering, Microprocessor Maintenance and Navigation Principles.
Aeronautical Training Squadron
With the closure of RNZAF Base Wigram in 1995, all trade training was consolidated at the new Ground Training Wing at RNZAF Base Woodbourne. The aircraft trades are now trained at the Aeronautical Training Squadron, which consists of two flights: Electro Technology Training Flight (ETF), and Aircraft Training Flight (ATF). The ETF is responsible for the training of the Avionics, Telecommunications and Armament trades. 2TTS closed on 28 July 1995, and those courses already underway transferred to Woodbourne. The first course to start at ETF was 95/3 Avionics Mechanics, on 13 November 1995.
In 1951 the RNZAF sent five airmen (three Radio, one Instruments, one Electrical) to join the 68th entry of RAF Apprentices. The Electrical and Instruments tradesmen went to RAF Halton, with the Radio trade training starting at RAF Cranwell, then moving to RAF Locking. Over the next seven years a further 26 airmen attended RAF Apprenticeship Courses, with the eighth and final intake graduating in 1961.
The location of Apprenticeship training moved a bit closer to home in 1960, with tradesmen being sent to Australia. In that year two Radio tradesmen undertook training at the RAAF Radio School at RAAF Point Cook, with one Instruments and one Electrical tradesman going to the RAAF School of Technical Training at RAAF Wagga.
Altogether 61 RNZAF Electrical, Instruments and Radio tradesman attended apprenticeship Courses with either the RAF or RAAF between 1951 and 1975.
In 1962 the RNZAF introduced the New Zealand Certificate of Engineering (Telecommunications) or CET scheme as it became known for Radio tradesmen, so from that point only Electrical and Instruments tradesmen (and Armourers) undertook RAAF Apprentice training. With the change from the single trades to the Avionics Trade in 1976, all further apprenticeship training was discontinued.
Other Services and Civilians
Of course, not all those who have served in some capacity in the Avionics Trades and their predecessors were trained by the RNZAF. Over the years many Commonwealth servicemen have joined the RNZAF either under recruiting schemes or as individual immigrants to New Zealand. They too have made a contribution that is worthy of recognition.
Patron – AIRCDRE Mark Brunton
Chairman – SQNLDR Jon Irving
Secretary: FLTLT Michael Shepherd
Treasurer: WO Nikki Brown
Committee Members: Mr Brian Gamble, Mr Graeme Francis
Christchurch Local Contact: Mr Ken May
Reunion Advisor: Mr Jim Greenslade
Web Master: CPL Thomas Goodman
Originally posted on the website of the Bentley Priory Museum
This blog entry has been made possible by Mike Bradbury.
Over the last few months in and around Shrewsbury there have been two functions with Eric as a big part in his memory.
The first one held on March the 3rd at Bayston Hill, the village of his birth, when a stained glass window was unveiled in his memory by Flight Lieutenant Laura Frowen 41 Squadron, Wing Commander Steve Chaskin OC 611 Squadron and Rosemarie Jones, Eric's niece.
On the 24th of June Shrewsbury held it's Armed Forces Day, at 23 30 on the 23rd running up to this a light show was put on, this covered pictures starting back as far as the Boer War up to present day of people from Shropshire who served in the armed forces. These images were projected onto St Chads Church and a large part of this show was devoted to Eric, and for just this part I did the voice over telling just a short part of his service with 41 and 611 Squadron's and his life story.
On Tuesday 23 May 2017, former members of No 41(F) Squadron Phantom era and their ladies and guests held a re-union lunch in the RAF Club. Present included Peter Gover (former CO) and Pam Lemon (widow of Brian Lemon (former CO)), Peter Riley and John Collier (former Flight Commanders) and 9 other former aircrew. There were toasts to the squadron and a good time was had by all. The event was organised by Ben Laite.
Images and text from Paul Briggs, 41 Retro.
Well organised by the Spirit of Coltishal Association, a service to remember the victims of a bus crash, which happened during a squadron exchange with 421 Sqn, RCAF. A big thank you to 41(R) Sqn for the support they gave to the event, with a Typhoon flypast, presentation of a new plaque for the memorial and the laying of a wreath presented by 41 Squadron personnel.
Updates and news direct from the Committee