The message below was passed by our Sister Association in New Zealand:
What remains of RNZAF WIgram
Built on the out-skirts of Christchurch, it came under increasing pressure from the 'Greenies', 'Noise Abatement chappies' and the ever encroaching demands of those hungering for their little slice of 'God's Own' (back in the day when a timber frame 1000 sq ft home on a quarter acre section was quite normal… and almost affordable).
Its significance today is that it is the home of the RNZAF Museum with two of the hangars still in use for storage and restitution work. A number of smaller 'out buildings' (former Barracks and others) now converted to archives, libraries, photo recovery, study centres and research facilities.
Many of the Station houses were cleaned-up and sold on the open market .Large parts of the air field are now in the hands of developers and are being converted into up-market housing estates
In the centre foreground is the old No 1 Officer's Mess and accommodation blocks. For a number of years it was used as a 'back packers' hostel but when recently sold, was up-graded to an event / conference centre (with accommodation available) and will be the venue for this years 41 Squadron BGM and Reunion - timed for April 12 – 14.2019. Current plans will have the Friday night Meet & Greet in the Mess while the formal dinner on the Saturday night will be held in the aircraft display area of the Museum seen here behind the Mess on the hard standing… abutting part of the old the air field.
In its day the base was the home of the Central Flying School (Pilots and Navigators) as well as 1 TTS (Electrical and Instrument training facilities - later Avionics)
It was an attractive Base and apart from being rather cold during the winter (by NZ Standards) and almost unbearably hot during summer it was not a bad posting.
Our thanks for your salutations, and may I offer our very best wishes to your squadron for the coming year, as the RAF heads off into its second hundred years…we watch with interest.
All the best…
Bryan S Franklin
BAv RAeS ISASI
Vice President 41 Squadron RNZAF Association
The following information was provided by The Royal British Legion:
Call Out to Normandy Veterans - D-Day 75
You might be aware that in response to a reported shortage of appropriate accommodation in Normandy over the period of the D-Day 75 commemorations, The Royal British Legion recently announced that they have chartered a ship via our travel provider Arena Travel, the MV Boudicca, to provide a fully funded tour for 300 Normandy Veterans; each with one carer.
We are respectfully asking ex-Service Associations to help us communicate this opportunity to their respective memberships. Our aim is not to compete with previously arranged travel plans but rather to ensure that every Normandy Veteran is aware of the opportunity to utilise the Legion’s fully-funded travel and accommodation option that includes travel insurance. Ideally, we seek to provide every Normandy Veteran with the opportunity to travel and share time with erstwhile comrades whilst attending major commemorative events marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day on both sides of The Channel.
A comprehensive transport plan has been designed offering the collection of individuals from their respective homes to the Port of Dover and subsequent return at the completion of the tour. Following embarkation in Dover on Sunday 2 June 2019, the MV Boudicca will set sail on the itinerary outlined below, returning to Dover on Sunday 9 June 2019. A programme of activities specific to the Normandy Veterans has been designed that includes attendance at national level commemorative events, visits, demonstrations at-sea by the Royal Navy as well as historical briefings.
There are significant on-board medical facilities and the Legion will provide a cadre of additional, qualified care staff to support those travelling with us. The vessel’s itinerary allows sufficient time for the on-board veterans to take full advantage of what we hope will be a memorable experience for each of them and provide sufficient time for rest and times for reflection.
Below is the current outline itinerary for the MV Boudicca. This is subject to change.
Day 1, Sunday 2 June 2019
They will need to complete the eligibility form in its entirety and return to Arena Travel by Monday 4 February 2019 via post. They will also have access to our Frequently Asked Questions and the mobility policy for the ship from our website.
In the event that applications exceed availability, priority will be given to veterans who participated in the D-Day Landings, with the remaining spaces allocated to Normandy Veterans via a ballot.
If there is no oversubscription on the closing date, then all eligible applicants will be awarded a space on the ship. The results of the ballot will be confirmed by Arena Travel via post before the end of February 2019. A veteran who is unsuccessful in the ballot will have the option to remain on a reserve list in case a place subsequently becomes available.
Please direct any questions or concerns to Arena Travel on 01473 660800.
Cenotaph Dispersal reminder
In addition, we recently contacted all associations and military charities to assist the Legion in conducting a review of participants of the Cenotaph Dispersal. If you have not already done so we encourage you to complete the following survey by the 31 January 2019:
Assistant Director for Commemorative Events
Registered Charity Number: 219279.
There are many other D-Day events being held in the UK and Normandy. Here is a snapshot of key D-Day 75 event involving the Ministry of Defence, The Royal British Legion and Portsmouth City Council:
41 Squadron was once a Bloodhound Missile Unit. The hardware behind this part of our history is cherished and restored by Bloodhound Missile Preservation Group (BMPG).
The BMPG was formed with the objective of restoring items of the Bloodhound MKII missile system that are in the group’s possession. Currently these are a Bloodhound Launch Control Post (LCP) and a Type 86 (T86) radar.
Our sister Association in New Zealand has a rather large artefact undergoing restoration at Aerospace Bristol, Filton.
Reposted from Aerospace Bristol: http://aerospacebristol.org/freighter
Aerospace Bristol has returned one of the last remaining Bristol Type 170 Freighters home to Bristol from New Zealand in January 2018.
Designed and built by the Bristol Aeroplane Company, a total of 214 Freighters, and its passenger variant the Wayfarer, were built and used by airlines and air forces across the world. Sadly, only 11 complete Freighters survive in the world today, and this is the only one to be located in Europe.
The Goldfish Club is an Association exists to keep alive the spirit of comradeship arising from the mutual experience of members surviving, "coming down in the drink".
If you wish to find out more about this unique Association you can visit their webpage: http://www.thegoldfishclub.co.uk or contact them via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Information taken from: https://www.rafbf.org/
The RAF Benevolent Fund is the RAF's leading welfare charity with a proud tradition of looking after its own. We are there for all serving and former members of the RAF as well as their partners and dependent children.
The following information has been taken from the RAFA website:
Recent research has found that isolation and loneliness is particularly acute within the ex-military community, with one in six individuals reporting relationship/isolation issues.
Tackling loneliness is a key part of the RAF Association’s mission for the 21st century. Research indicates at least 170,000 RAF veterans could be living alone, or experiencing isolation issues. According to the Campaign to End Loneliness, it’s a bigger threat to life than obesity and more dangerous to health than smoking. The lonely are more likely to need medication, suffer from depression or dementia and end up in residential care.
Our befriending service pairs volunteers with veterans and their families who suffer from loneliness and isolation.
The first recorded use of a mobile darkroom, the forerunner to the military Mobile Photographic Units (MPU), was employed by a famous photographer named Roger Fenton who supported the British Army during the Crimean war in 1853.
Not until World War One did we see the use of MPU's on the battlefield again, which during World War Two became known as Mobile Field Photographic Sections (MFPS) and later transformed into Mobile Field Photographic Units (MFPU) during the Cold War and again to Reconnaissance Intelligence Centre (RIC) in the 1970s. This remained until 2003, when the RICs were united into the Tactical Imagery-Intelligence Wing (TIW), which finally converted to 1 Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaisance Wing in 2016.
"RICs" from the past, starting in WW1 then on to 2011. (Ian Stannett)
Tactical Reconnaissance Units (Ian Stannett)
The mobile MFPS. The Trailers were known as J Class Trailers and all the vehicles collectively were called the Blue Train. Named after a blue train that ran across Europe similar to the orient express before the war.
As you can see there were Processor and Printer trailers along with many support vehicles.
The Tractor pulling the J Class trailers were generally Austin K5 3 Ton GS or Bedford OYD 3 Ton GS. (Ian Stannett)
Photographic Interpreters (Ian Stannett)
Ian Stannett successfully raised enough money to facilitate the refurbishment of 6 ATREL cabins, used by the RIC. (Crowdfunder).
You can follow regular updates from the project via Facebook.
The Squadron hold very little information covering the years that it operated the Bloodhound Missile (1965-1970). Fortunately the Bloodhound Missile Preservation Group (BMPG) have an excellent resource of information on their website and YouTube channel. Read more below:
The Bloodhound MKII missile system, as operated by 41 Squadron, was a key part of the integrated UK air defences during the Cold War, a wholly British designed defensive weapon to counter nuclear armed, high flying bombers at long range.
Bloodhound MKII became operational with the RAF in 1964 and continued to be improved as new technology became available with its operational role continually enhanced to include the countering of low level air strikes.
The missile system was withdrawn from RAF service in 1991, at the end of the Cold War.
You can learn more about how the system worked through the following reports
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
Updates and news direct from the Committee