THE TILLER

JULY 2007

Newsletter of 115 Squadron Association

Secretary Ian Lucas

Our May 5 reunion at Witchford was most enjoyable, with most of the hard core brigade all present and correct. It was held at the Witchford Playing Fields Hall in BedweIl Lane, led by our President Frank Leatherdale.

We were delighted to see Chris Broadmeadow, former Squadron C.O. in the late sixties, on parade. He also dropped in to 'debriefing' at the Travelodge, where conversation was mainly concerned with medical conditions, but he lightened the proceedings with the odd anecdote about bowler hats, for which many of us remember him, and how a young officer was always able to keep the quality of his bowler at the highest standard by the occasional 'swap' at a mess table covered with them! Sounds just the same wheeze we remember from exchanging brollies when we went to church on Sundays.

Most of the party gathered at the memorial on Sunday morning for our own intimate service led by the President, before heading home - Exeter, Glasgow, Blairgowrie, Wigan and Kent being some of the far-off destinations.

FUTURE OF THE TILLER - HOW YOU CAN HELP

Although the reunion was nominally our last The Tiller will continue. We raised 'dosh' from the raffle and received kind donations from Lord Mackie, Herbert Walker, Harry Hooper, Ken Gregory, Peter Small - and Peter Davis from Tiburon across the pond in the USA has weighed in with a contribution. Thank you all. Just a footnote here, we send a copy of The Tiller to each of the groups involved in 115 aircraft memorials on the Continent.

What we would like you to do is this. Many who I talk to comment about So-and-so, 'he was my M.U in 1944', or 'I served with him at Benson'. 'met up with him a couple of years ago' . . . please, please let me have the name and address of all these guys. Every single one of them. We must make everyone aware of The Tiller and our existence. I will write to them all and get them on board with the usual s.a.e. If we can get this to spread around the 115 Squadron fraternity who knows what we may create. Those who served in the sixties and seventies are in the retirement watershed now, perhaps they would welcome contact with 'old pals' again.

Just send me every name and address you can think of. Iíll do the rest - and keep you posted. Just remember how our old recruitment letters began: 'The association exists to enable former colleagues to keep in touch ... .' I don't think that is pressure selling!

THE JOHNSTON WAR DIARY

Brothers Bruce and Scott Johnston of Ontario have successfully concluded transcribing there father's war diary. Dad, that is Bruce senior, served with 115 squadron at Witchford in the summer of 1944. The compilation is now on a website:

www.lancasterdiary.net

and who knows you may spot a reference to yourself. The Johnston brothers would welcome feedback and comment on the site, and maybe you may have a titbit of information which could enhance the entire project. There is a Guestbook on the site for you to complete.

THE LOSS OF DAVID MOIR AT ISTRES

Those you who have kept your Tiller over the years might like to turn to Vol 12 No 3 and the reflections of Don Cameron on the fate of Squadron CO David Moir on an exercise to Egypt. Apparently they were returning to Britain when an engine failed over the Alps so they turned back to Istres, unfortunately crashing on landing and hitting a hangar. Seven were killed;
Sqdn Ldr. D.T. Moir, Flt Ltd Smith, F/Sgt S. Wallace, Signaller G.I. Walton, A/C P.A. Knapp, Nav. C.G.W. Carter and engineer Atter. Three escaped.

Now the exciting part of my tale. At the beginning of May, just after the reunion, came a telephone call from Ken Shirgwin of Romford, who had been on the trip to Egypt. He has a photograph of the incident, with the letters KO-G clearly marked on the side of the aircraft.

I have put Ken in touch with Barry so, all being well, we will be able to see the picture when we next visit the museum.

GIVERNY

A commemorative 'brochure', printed in colour, recording the special service on January 20 at the Cemetery de l'eglise Sainte Radegonde de Giverny, for the crew of P/O Ronald Maude which was shot down by a night fighter on June 8 1944 (Lanc Mk I - LL864 A4-H2), arrived in March.
There was a tremendous turnout from French government officials, plus Guy Colmbel, Mayor of Giverny, with many of his staff. On the cover is a beautiful colour picture of a most delightful stone memorial with plaque.

There is a puzzle! In attendance was 'invites d'honneur' Squadron Leader Charlie Flint! Has Charlie been conning us all these years? Has he been infiltrating the ranks pretending to be just a Sergeant? Charlie deny this. And it wasn't his son. So we are on the trail to discover who is the real Charlie Flint.

RTB

Red Sherwood - Len Ing writes to inform us of the death of his former skipper, Red Sherwood, of Penticton, British Columbia, on May 18 at the age of 92.

"Red was the captain and pilot of the Lancaster I flew in as bomb-aimer in 1944-45," he recalls. "Red wrote a book which was published last year, perhaps a reminder to these of us who have not written or recorded our memoirs that our experiences need to be preserved not only for the present but for future generations."

One reason we should remember Red is his provision of the 115 Squadron Grace for reunions. It included a sketch caricature of Red. It has recently resurfaced and will be sent to Barry for the museum.

Hl AGAIN TO HARRY

Harry Somerville was on the phone the other evening. A reunion regular at one time he still lives in Frilford, Abingdon. He has regular contact with his ex-skipper W.O. Douglas Cameron, who, at the moment, is in hospital with a damaged ankle and wheelchair bound. If you have time I am sure Doug would welcome letters addressed to him at 1325 Kamloops Street, Vancouver V5K3V6, Vancouver British Columbia.

"HEROES OF BOMBER COMMAND-NORFOLK"

President Frank Leatherdale has just read the above book and there is mention of 115 Squadron scattered throughout, on a couple of a dozen pages no less! The book is one of a series, the first dealing with Lincolnshire. It is published by Countryside Books ISBN 1 84674 0002 and is priced £9.99.

"Like so many aviation books these days it is not without its mistakes,"says Frank" and it's mostly wrong identification in photo captions, but they are not so numerous as to detract from its readability."

TRAGEDY OF DECEMBER 16 1943

Talking of books Pen & Sword have just released "Black Night for Bomber Command" by Richard Knott, relating the disastrous night in 1944 when 328 aircrew lost their lives - because of bad weather, not through enemy action.

The book is available from the publisher at 47 Church Street, Barnsley, South Yorkshire S70 2AS, price £19.99. ISBN is 978 184415 485 2

MUG SHOTS

Harry Rossiter took pictures of our group at the Witchford reunion and has very kindly offered to send a copy to anyone who would like one. If you would like to order a copy please send a donation for the Museum fund to the secretary and I'll pass the money on to Barry Aldridge, advise Harry how many copies are required and post them off to you.

e.mail from France

Jack Emery has emailed from France seeking any items of interest concerning two 115 Lancasterís which crashed in Le Chenay on August 16 1943, and the other which came down at Le Mans on May 20 1944.
Contact jacky_emery@hotmail.com