THE TILLER

AUGUST 2006

Newsletter of 115 Squadron Association

Secretary: Ian Lucas

We enjoyed an excellent reunion at Ely on May 30. There were quite a few new faces, and some absent ones. It was 'unlucky for some' - Reg Brown did himself an injury and had to pull out, Alan Brunsden did the same, and Josephine Millett made it three of a kind. Eric Wilkin had booked himself in for an extra day but was doomed not to make it from far-flung Blairgowrie being diagnosed with polyneuropathy in his feet, legs, hands and arms. "It's a neurological disorder characterized by progressive weakness end impaired sensory function in the legs and arms." he says, adding that he finds half a dozen whiskies will do the same!

Roger Young end Terry Paveley, Cottesmore lads, came to their first reunion, and Harry Rossiter was on his first visit too. He was enjoying himself so much he rang his pilot, David Jenkins, in Kansas City, Missouri, during the proceedings to tell him what a great 'do' it was.

Madge Baxter, who helped her mother run the village shop in Witchford during the war was present, along with her friend Sybil Salmons. Jean and Ray Plumb were there, he being a former instructor at Witchford and Mepal, plus Colin Cater whose late mother worked in the Witchford control tower.

Cynthia Nicholson came across from Trumpington. Her claim to fame was being a parachute packer at Little Snoring, East Wretham and Witchford. She told us one of the nicest things was to get letters of thanks from 115-ers in the bag.

Geoff Payne made it from Edinburgh, this time by plane. He flew Air Berlin, but swears he didn't 'apologize'!

It unfolded that Fred Vines had a flight booked from Brize Norton on May 23, six hours on a refuelling flight, but there was great hilarity when he claimed he would be at the base at 6.00am for take-off! (He did make it on time).

Lord and Lady Mackie were their effervescent selves and we were all delighted to see them. He told a cracking joke about an atheist in the jungle!

The Loyal toast was proposed by Jim McGilivray, and the Toast to Absent Friends by Eric Billson. Our President, Frank Leatherdale proposed the toast to The Association, with a reply from 'you know who'.

Although Jock Milne and Alan Wilson have RTB, Alan's son Stewart gathered together notes made by them about Jock's wartime experiences. They recorded his life from the outbreak of war to the finish. Absorbing reading, all 26 A4 pages. At the reunion copies were available at each table and will be posted round. If anybody would like a copy posted to them, please let the secretary know.

LIBERATORS' MEDAL

Geoff Payne revealed at the reunion that he had been awarded a Liberators' Medal presented by the government of the Netherlands. In his letter from the Netherlands Defence Attaché the medal was presented 'on behalf of the people of the Kingdom of the the Netherlands as a thank you to Canadian and allied forces,

'This medal is awarded to the liberators of the Kingdom of the Netherlands as a token of gratitude of the Dutch people to those servicemen and women who actually took part in liberating the territory.'

If you would like to know more you can drop a line to Geoff (2d Campbell House, Berryhill Road, Cumbernauld G67 1LX) or contact the Netherlands Embassy dick.wip@minbuza.nl

PICTURES IN UNIFORM

Faillat Jean (13 Allee Aristide Briand 946000 Choisy le Roi, France) has written explaining he is very interested in WW2 history and all allied units involved. His principal interest is the war in the air, stemming from his own posting to a French air base at Berlin-Tegel.

He is looking for photographs of airmen in their uniforms, and would be very grateful if you would sign them.

CINE-FILM

Barry Aldridge would like to get his hands on any cine-film footage of Witchford during the war. He has heard stories of film being made, mostly unofficial. He would be prepared to pay any cost for transferring film to DVD.

And now the fruit and veg story. Barry recently was presented with a large ledger originally owned by Dan Ward, a Witchford farmer, who provided fruit and veg to the station. There's an invoice for 43 Bramley apples - 14/4d, 3 cucumbers at 1/-, 12lb tomatoes 10/-, 14 lb of pears 14/- and so the list goes on.

JOCK MILNE'S HISTORY

I mentioned on the front page Jock Milne's biography and I've just had a letter from the President in which he says he found Jock's story interesting, particularly' his early days flying as a staff pilot in Prince Edward Island in Canada, a I was at No 32 Air Navigation School at Charlottetown at the same time. ‘President goes on to say he checked his log book but Jock was never his pilot.

Frank has picked out one error in the story, as he was in the civilian hospital at Charlottetown at the time one of their Ansons made a forced landing on the ice in the gulf of St. Lawrence. However, the crew was rescued not by a Norseman aeroplane but a Fairchild Argus of Maritime Central Airways. Like the Norseman, the Argus was a single engined high wing monoplane which usually flew with skis in the winter months. It was chartered from MCA and flown by its civilian pilot in making the three rescue flights. I seem to remember the skill was recognized with some award.'

Frank's first flight in Charlottetown was on 12th December 1941, and his last on 16th February 1942, after which he went in to dock for many weeks. Whilst he was incarcerated things changed and in October he went on No 5 Air Observer School in Winnipeg.

MISTAKEN IDENTITY

Raymond Lapotre of 10 Rue des Serpettes, 89260 Thoringy- sur-Oreuse, France, has been trying to sought out information on Wellington III KB-H which was shot down by a German fighter on December 9 1942. Four Canadians and a Scot jumped out and landed near Compigny in the north department of Yonne.

Lapotre says they left East Wretham at 17.37 hrs with 226 other aircraft on the Torino (Turin) operation.

Sgt Sydney Smith, Pilot - RCAF - R90805
Lifting the silence Sydney Percival SMITH More info on evasioncomete.org (French written)

and Sgt Hawthorn Dalrymple (Jock) Reid, Nav -
Hawthorn Dalrymple Reid More info on evasioncomete.org (French written)

managed to get back to the UK via Spain and Gibraltar, while

Sgt Larry J McCosham, W/O Air Gunner - RCAF - POW
Larry J. McCoshamPhoto IN MEMORIAM

Sgt R. McDevine, Rear Gunner - RCAF - POW

Sgt Warrent Off Class I, J. Roy Tolmie, Bomb Aimer - RCAF - POW Stalag 8B. He escaped tree times from different camps.
Roy Tolmie
His story, Salesman's silent survival - BY GRAEME BRUCE

went in 'the bag', first in France and then Germany.

Our roll of honour says the plane was X3393 KO-R. It seemed to pop back and forth to the Squadron, first arriving on November 22 1941 before doing five ops. then went on the 425 Squadron, then back to us as KO-G on August 26 1942 when it did nine ops, then to 1483 Flt and BDU as KO-H for five ops, before being shot down in December.

RTB

Gordon Brown - A Needs

UP-DATE

Ken Cheese has written in with an up-date' on Lancaster MkI PD276 KO-X. Although the aircraft is still officially recorded as 'missing', he believes it was shot down by anti-aircraft fire over Essen, on a daylight raid on October 25 1944. and crashed near Mutterhaus der Barmherzigen Schwestern von der Heiligen Elisabeth convent at Mulheim, a suburb of Essen, and although it occurred in daylight the wreckage was not found until the next day. The crew died in the crash, except F/O Edwin Kay Lovell Langton who was alive when they found him but died later in hospital.

Ken says he has had a good response from Australia and Canada in his searchfor information "but as usual, the British authorities have been far from helpful, hiding behind the Data Protection Act", Sgt. Mason was the grandfather of a friend of Ken's. but he's still stuck with little information on Spiden and Templeman.

The crew was with 115 for only a short while from September 30 to October 25 1944, and their operational life was only seven days from October 19 to 25, during which time they took part in four operations.

Three of the crew were fathers - Langton, Wilson and Mason, which Ken's thinks is 'rather unusual'. So, dig deep dear readers can you remember anything of Sgt. David Christie Spidzen, of Duns, Berwickshirxe, and Sgt. William Jack Edward Templeman of Walthamstow, East London.

Mission Ramrod 1347 on 25 October 1944, 508 Lancasters, 251 Halifaxes & 12 Mosquitos were despatched to the Krupp Werke in Essen, Germany. The crew was,

F/O Paul Alfred Stuart, Pilot age 20 - RAAF - 418309
Sgt David Christie Spiden, FE age 27 - RAFVR - 950495
F/O Edwin Kay Lovell, Nav age 28 - RAAF - 426462
F/S Eric Eyles Birch, WOP age 20 - RAAF - 429445
F/O Victor Henry Wilson, BA age 30 - RCAF - J37822
Sgt John Frederick Mason, MUG - RAFVR - 1881521
Sgt William Jack Edward Templeman, RG age 27 - RAFVR - 1811207
REICHSWALD FOREST WAR CEMETERY

WHO REMBERS PORTHOUSE?

Mr.J. Porthouse writes from 17 Mountain's Road, Corpusty, Norfolk NR11 6PN seeking information an observer John Porthouse, his uncle. He has done some research in Norwich library, establishing his uncle set off in Wellington 1C Z8835 KO-U from Marham on August 12 1941 at 21.27hrs, target Essen.

Our records show the aircraft was shot down by Fw Kalinowski II/NJG1 and crashed at 00.49 one Km SW of Grafeal and 16 Km SSE of Bremervorde. Five of the crew are buried at Becklington, Saltan, but Sgt. Ralph Keighley has no known grave. Porthouse is buried in grave 26C. Any additional information please contact Mr.J. Porthouse as above.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

The Royal Air Force Museum has written an intriguing letter. Apparently a Mrs. Le Quesne from New Zealand lent the Museum her father's log book for microfilming and then asked for them to be sent on the 115 Squadron for its history room.

When the Squadron was disbanded the property was supposed to have been divided between the Association and the RAF official store at RAF Quedgely. When the latter closed all various property boxes went to RAF Stafford - but, l and behold, there is nothing of 115's at Stafford! Secretary Ian did not have any contact with the Museum at the time of disbandment. knows nothing of property boxes at Quedgely end was always under the impression that our stuff went to Marham. Can anybody help?

MEMORIAL PLAQUE

A memorial plaque to the Birnie and Eddy crews shot down in the circuit and featured in our Witchford Museum, will be unveiled in Coveny in the church of St. Peter Adv Incula as part of their normal communion service on Sunday September 3. The service will be led by priest in charge Malcolm Cooper.

President Frank Leatherdale will be attending and the service will be supported by representatives from R.A.F.A and the British Legion.