THE TILLER

July 2008

Newsletter of 115 Squadron Association

Secretary Ian Lucas

National memorial and campaign medal

There is considerable furore surrounding pressures to have a nationalBomber command medal and Memorial. My thanks to Ken Gregory for paperwork which included Winston Churchill's speech to the house of Commons on Tuesday August 20, 1940. I think It says it all:

"The gratitude of every home in our island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the whole world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out the British airmen, who undaunted by the odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the War by their prowess and by their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.

'All our hearts go out to the fighter pilots, whose brilliant actions we see with our own eyes every day after day, but we must not forget that at all times, night after night, month after month, our bomber squadrons travel far into Germany, find their targets in the darkness by the highest navigational skills, aim their attacks, often under the heaviest of fire, often with serious loss, with deliberate, careful discrimination, and inflict shattering blows on the whole of the technical and war making structure of Nazi power.

"On no part of the Royal Air Force does the weight of the war fall more heavily than that of the daylight bombers who will play an invaluable part in the case of invasion and whose unflinching zeal it been necessary in the meantime on numerous occasions to restrain."

Sgt R.S.R. Booker

Iíve had a letter from Linda Hares (36 Hunters Grove, Swindon SN2 1HE)seeking any information there might be on her grandmothers cousin Raymond Stanley Royden Booker, a sergeant engineer in F/O Edward Slogrove's crew, which crashed on operations over France on February 15, 1945.

It was Lancaster Mk III LM725 KO-X which took off at 20.37 hrs., target Chemnitz. Little is know of the downing of KO-X in which F/S Kenneth Freakes (Nav), Sgt Gerald Anderson (WOP), F/O Francis Hegan (BA), Sgt. Leslie Davis (MU) and Sgt Robert Eckford (RG) died. All are buried in a collective grave at Haveluy Communal Cemetery, Department Nord, France.

Any snippets of information please get in touch with Linda, in her pursuit of her plans to enhance her family tree.

RAF 90TH ANNIVERSARY MEDAL

We've heard from Tower Mint Limited of their production of an exclusive commemorative medal to mark the 90th anniversary of the RAF. It has been officially licensed, and from the sample they sent it is a very attractive boxed item. It is 38 mm thick nickel silver with the RAF logo stamped on the medal together with three planes representing the 90-year period - an SE5, Spitfire and Typhoon. The reverse is emblazoned with the RAF badge.

If you are interested in having one of these medals send me a cheque for £9 (made out to Ian Lucas), this includes VAT and the cost of posting it to you in its gilded presentation case. Originally Tower Mint was looking for 50 as a minimum order but I explained how the Association is a dwindling organisation and they are happy for you to order single medals through me.

Part of the proceeds from this medal sale will contribute to the preservation of the UK's unique and extensive aviation heritage by supporting the work of the RAF Museum.

VETERANSí BADGE

President Frank Leatherdale has forwarded an address for you to contact if you are interested in obtaining the Veterans' badge. You qualify if you served before December 31, 1994. Bomber Command Association (RAF Museum, Grahame Park Way London NW9 5LL) will send you an application form, but please enclose s.a.e. On the other hand you could ask your grandchildren to visit http://www.veterans -uk. info/vets badge/vets badge. Htm

PROPELLOR A GREAT SUCCESS - AGAIN!

Over 100 light aircraft descended on Old Warden airfield (Bedfordshire), the largest grass aerodrome in England, on Saturday May 30, as Operation Propellor swung in to Life again, for its ninth consecutive 'reunion' of former aircrew from all over the British Isles.

The concept of Propellor is brilliant, today's pilots flying former aircrew in light aircraft to an annual get-together, this year to view Old Warden's Shuttleworth Collection. Because of the very wet spell in the week prior to the event there was some doubt the ground would be too soggy for landing, but it dried out, and it was only when aircraft made ready to leave (one every 40 seconds) was the occasion al bit of muscle needed to get the wheels rolling.

Jim McGillivray flew in from Stapleford (Essex), Harry Hooper from Blackbushe and Ian Lucas came down from Halfpenny Green (Wolverhampton). It was great to see Alan Goldby again, he lives just round the corner in Luton, and although a reunion regular in the past had not been able to attend in the past few years as he no longer drives.

Should you want to know more about Propellor , and perhaps join in the 10th anniversary celebration in 2009, get in touch with the sec.

GREAT DAY AT THE HOUSE OF LORDS

What a super day we had as Lord 'George' Mackie's guests at the House of Lords on Friday May 9. Everybody turned up, and we didn't lose anybody. Twenty-two people made up the party and we spent four-and-a-half hours enjoying a tour of The Prince's Chamber (where HM The Queen holds her functions), and also the Lord's Chamber . . . . and most of us took the opportunity to sit on at least one of the pews in the great Chamber, simply to be able to say: "I sat in the Lords".

We dined in the Attlee Room. A sumptuous feast. Champagne and oodles of wine, with brilliant speeches from George, Farquy, and our President Frank. Ages ranged from Chalky White's 93 down to the more modest youngsters of only 86 and 87. There were a lot of stairs, but we managed them all. A great 'finale' to our reunions which began 60 years ago with a modest party of eight buying an LNER railway group ticket to Ely. What a lot of great evenings we've had since then.

ROSSITER IN KANSAS

Hardly had Harry Rossiter got back home after the House of Lords visit he was packing his bags again - this time off to Kansas to meet up with his wartime pilot David Jenkins.

He crossed the pond with his son Phil and wife Amanda, flying from Heathrow to Chicago International, and then on by hire car to Kansas City, stopping at Rock Falls overnight. David Jenkins had booked them in to a plush hotel - The Raphael.

David Jenkins is a retired doctor and pathological surgeon, unfortunately suffering from Parkinsonís, but nonetheless retaining his sharp wit which Harry remembers vividly. There was much to talk about from the 1944 days.

Harry and party was taken to see local Kansas attractions, including a renovated stage coach staging post, and were treated to an 'uncomfortable ride' in a preserved stage coach as seen in all the Westerns. They went on to St. Louis and at the top of the Gateway Arch, 630 feet up, enjoyed magnificent views across the city.

They also had a trip on a replica Mississippi river boat, complete with stern paddle (purely cosmetic because the boat's engine was a powerful diesel).

Harry is brass band fanatic and plays tenor horn in the City of Exeter Railway Band, so it was no surprise he grabbed the opportunity to join up with the Fountain City Brass Band during their rehearsals, playing cornet ('I just happened to have my cornet mouthpiece in my pocket' says Harry)

REMEMBER RENEE COOPER AND CREW?

A letter has come in from Mrs. Jean Gallimore of Manchester seeking any information on her late husband Kenneth Robert Gallimore (2210201) who served with us at the end of the war.

Kenneth, at the time living at Astley, Tyldesley, Lancs., enlisted on May 25 1943 and went on to become an air gunner, joining 115 later in the month. He went to 75 Squadron, then 61, before ending up at Bruntingthorpe where he was released in April 1947.

Whilst he was with us he flew in ME836 and Jean recalls his pilot was Renee Cooper.

If you can help out on information please contact Jean at 6 Springfield Road, Atherton M46 9RZ

KEEP THE STORIES COMING IN

The Tiller will continue, "Despite the Elements" , but only if you can let me have stories, anecdotes and news