THE TILLER

JANUARY 2009

Newsletter of 115 Squadron Association

Secretary Ian Lucas

. . . . AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR

Thank you for all your cards and telephone calls. In particular it was great to get a card from Susanne and Jacques Rummens in Belgium, one of those wonderful families who tend the graves of the fallen. Harry Rossiter was doing his band bit over the festive season playing in Exeter cathedral and surrounding villages.

Harry also received a surprise Christmas card from Geoffrey Castle, the son of Sqdn. Ldr. Hugh Wilfred Castle, KIA in November 1944 when HK595 and NN706 collided over Leverkusen. Following an earlier contact Harry had been able to provide the family with photocopies of three pages from his log book signed by Hugh Castie.

'I was lucky enough to furnish some valuable visible evidence concerning my Flight Commander, who, with the other collision crew died so needlessly.

'On daylight raids I used to stand looking out of the astrodome as an extra pair of eyes looking out for the Luftwaffe. On more than one occasion' Harry recalls 'I found myself looking straight into the open bomb bay of a Lancaster directly above us and praying the bomb aimer was aware of our presence,'

NEW CO AT WITCHFORD ARMISTICE SERVICE

It was with great delight we welcomed Sqdn. Ld. Nick Goodwyn, 115's new CO, to Witchford on Armistice Sunday. He took an active part in the village church service, reading out the names of those from surrounding villages who had lost their lives during the war, he laid a wreath on behalf of the Squadron, joined in the proceedings at the memorial and went on to the museum.

A BIG ACT TO FOLLOW

Among the letters received after the November Tiller was one from Stanley Holloway - a post-war NS man. He wrote: 'Thank you for keeping The Tiller going, it is much appreciated and a constant reminder of a Squadron I was proud to serve. The news of reformation of the Squadron is also very pleasing. They cannot keep us down for long, can they! Nick Goodwyn has certainly got an excellent kick-start for the new operation, how can it fail to go from strength to strength being founded on our previous tradition. A big act to follow'

Peter Small also wrote on the same topic. 'When we as an Association went out in a cloud of glory at the House of Lords in May we little thought we would be reborn within six months! And in such a prestigious manner.
A great honour for CFS and a great honour for us. When one thinks of the Squadrons they might have revived, it is a tribute that they picked an old workhorse, mainstream squadron. 'But we, of course, were one of Trenchard's four strategic bomber squadrons from the very beginning of the RAF. I cannot adequately express my pride and delight at such news.

FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Orville Blouin wrote from Ottawa. He's 90 now and waiting to move in to a veterans' hotel (450 private rooms). There's plenty of entertainment and activities and his wife will be able to visit as she will be staying in a connected home and they will able to have their meals together. The gardens are a delight. Ray Groom was in contact from Florence (USA) where he is quartered at The Methodist Manor. He was W/Co Shaw's WOP and the only surviving members of his crew, Laurie Jefferies and Bert Pimblett, keep in touch. Ray is in his 94th year, has been twice a widower, but lives 'comfortably and content' in the veteran's home.

Vic White has moved to a new address. He's now at Thresher's Barn, Higher Guscott, Huntshaw, Torrington, Devon EX 38 7 HE

I also received the usual delightful letter (as ever) from Mac Maclean. After penning his festive greetings Mac commented: 'Serve you right if you have snow' and then went on to relate how when living at Aldbury (Hertfordshire) there was heavy snow in two successive winters. 'On one occasion there was shortage of staff and some stupid goon had left the ruddy gate open and 50 sheep were lost: In fact, Mac found the sheep when he noticed breath vapours coming from deep snow against a hedge. Sure enough, there were the sheep: 'They were quite happy in their igloo,' he says.

Mac recently read a copy of the Daily Mail and a headline: "Sixty years late. Bomber heroes will be given a fitting memorial'. It was a good article, well written - but Mac spotted an unforgivable boob! There was a picture, said to be depicting Sir Arthur Harris, but Mac reckons the chap pictured was American General Arnold, and points out 'our Butch' had a bushy moustache and he really doesn't remember him in an American air force uniform, and certainly Sir Arthur never had three rows of medals. Mac has written to the Daily Mail but hasn't heard back yet, observing: 'I'll probably have to wait another sixty years before I hear from them.'

THANK YOU

Thank you for kind donations from R.P. Luckie, H. Hooper and K. Gregory to keep The Tiller in production.

RTB

S. Wood, Wigan. - G. Osborne - D. CuthilI, Delaware

Reunion stalwart Sam Wood and his wife have died as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident on September 5. His niece Linda Harrison tells me Sam's nephews want to make copies of his log book before, at Sam's request, sending it on to the Witchford museum.

THANKS FROM LINDA HARES

As a result of the short item on Sgt Raymond Stanley Boyden Booker (September 2008) Len Ing and Peter Davis (USA) have written to Linda Hares in Swindon with information on her grandmother's cousin and she wishes me to convey her thanks for additional information for the family tree.

Linda is searching for more information, and all we know is they took off from Witchford at 20.37 hrs, target Chemnitz, and the crew is buried in a collective grave at Haveluy Communal Cemetery, Department Nord, France. Like anybody searching for more information its worth a shot at RAF Marham archivist on 01760 337261 Ext.7332.

THE DUISBURG RAIDS - TWO IN ONE DAY

Harry Rossiter noticed somebody asking about the Duisburg raids on October 14 1944 (September 2008). He says there were two raids, and his crew was involved in both ops. "The first took off at 0709hrs and the second at 23.00hrs. 'In the second trip we were in the first wave after the pathfinders' he says. 'I distinctly remember there were fires still burning from our previous morning raid.

TECHNICAL GUBBINS

Phil Racher writes from Horsham enclosing some sheets and pictures of various technical gubbins - the Monica aerial, the Village Inn scanner, the TR9 (later the TR9D) and a TR1196. He also outlines various items:
DARKY a 4-channel crystal controlled W/T and R/T transmitter receiver originally designed for the Fleet Air Arm, later fitted to many RAF 'heavies'. DARKY - Royal Observer Corps stations were equipped with transmitter receivers and were positioned at 10-mile intervals so a lost aircraft could call and be given an approximate position.
GRANITE - ROCs near high ground were equipped with red flares to warn aircraft, later replaced by warning beacon transmitters.
SANDRA - three searchlights forming a cone at airfields to aid lost aircraft.
OCCULT - a 'mobile' lighthouse equipped with a DARKY set to warn of high ground.

PERSONNEL RECORDS

Chris Fleetwood informs me that personnel records have not moved from RAF Innsworth and are now held at Cranwell, the Medals Office remaining in Gloucstershire. You can visit the web-site of Veterans UK at www.veterans-uk.info which provides all the latest information on where to write, together with a down-Loadable form. The fee for each search and a copy of a record is now 30.

The site has lots of useful information and various links to other resources. Thanks Chris.