THE TILLER

November 2009

Newsletter of 115 Squadron Association

Secretary Ian Lucas

Christmas thundering down on us, how the time flies. I don't know about you but Christmas parties have reached a pattern where on arrival there are hugs all round, "Hello. granddad. you're looking well. Red wine isn't it?" And ten minutes later you're talking to yourself, in a chair, in a corner, and everybody's talking to somebody else. The bloody tv's 10ft wide and I can't make out which end of the screen to look at and what's going on at the other end: gunfire can he heard in an upstairs room as an 8-year-old grandson tackles 'Armageddon Mk III', and some b . . .s' hidden the wine. Roll on New Year. Sugar puffs! I've forgotten. they're coming to our place. Must remember to hide wine in strategic places.

COLLEAGUES WRITE . . .

Nice letter from John Canning at Thornbury, Bristol. He comments on his 'failing memory' where he wakes up with a list of jobs to be tackled, and by evening can't remember some of them. We all know the feeling John. But take me - a year ago driving home from work I went round a roundabout the wrong way. Naturally I don't drive any more. This 'blip' came on top of increasing occasions when I would arrive at a destination but not be able to recall any part of the journey. Friends told me they often did it, but I think they were just being kind. Anyway, thank you for your letter John.

Harry Rossiter wrote from Exeter about his trip to Runnymede on Sunday October 4. He went with his granddaughter Gina (28], keeping an eye on him. They went up by train and Harry had with him his 115 Squadron RolI of Honour and checked out the names of those he remembers from those far off days of 1944 . . . Clatworthy, Bell, Jackie Lynch and Tragheim. all WOPS.

He also checked out Sqdn Ldr. Hugh Castle, a popular Flight Commander who, with his crew, died in collision with another of our Flight - Flt. Lt, Davidson and his crew, in November 1944. He also noted Sqdn Ldr. Robert Franklin, who died with P/O James Perry's crew, flying as second dickie and replacement for Sqdn Ldr. McFitteridge who had completed his tour. Jackie Lynch was in the same crew.

"It was all a long time ago," says Harry, "yet is seems but a few years, when one recalls their cheerful, friendly faces and being proffered the odd fag as a sign of camaraderie."

He remarks on the imposing structure bearing the 26,000 names. There is an imposing view atop several flights of winding stone steps which taxed ageing limbs - but he made it. He offers advice if you go visiting. The nearest bus stop is about a mile from the memorial so a taxi is recommended, unless you are going by car. However, by the bus stop is a popular pub - Bells of Ouseley - where you can get an excellent meal at a reasonable price.

Glad to hear Harry made it up the steps as in June he had a little problem with his ticker. He had same pain in his chest which failed to disperse with indigestion tablets, so an ambulance took him oft to hospital where as blocked coronary artery was diagnosed. On to the operating table he went, and within the hour his problem was over.

''They made an incision in my right wrist," he says, "inserted a tube in the appropriate blood vessels and worked a stainless steel kind of tube called a ‘stent' through my system.

"They were bloody marvellous, I was never in any pain and remained conscious throughout. I was only in for three days and released with a formidable stack of pills. Good for another 50 years."

AND FROM RSA

Mac Maclean writes of his intended trip to the D-Day anniversary. He had always wanted to attend this special event and two weeks before the due date he was told he would be sponsored for the trip, an organised visit looking after him throughout. 'Then I heard the Queen had not been invited" he writes. “I could not believe it. I happen to be a Royalist and am proud of the Royal family and for what they have done - basically kept the Great in Great Britain.

'The Queen joined the army and became a driver, Buck House was bombed twice but the King & Queen visited bombed-out families as well as looking after the morale of our forces the visit to Witchford in July 1944. The Duke of Kent was killed in a Sunderland crash in the Shetlands on the way to Iceland; Prince Philip lost a ship (need I say any more?)

"So I decided not to go. I wasn't upset at not going, just b . . . annoyed. I suppose somebody like me living 'in the sticks' will not hear when the Bomber Command statue is erected in Regent's Park! There can't be a lot of us left, and who cares? I swing along in my own tears."

RAF LOTTERY

Did you know the RAF has its own lottery? Apparently it has been up and running since 1993 and was created to provide additional funds to meet requests for help in financing sporting activity and endeavour in the RAF. There is a weekly prize draw. Funds raised provide grants for individuals, units, stations and sports associations.

A lot of former RAF personnel wanted to stay in the lottery loop when they retired so in 2006 the lottery was opened up to retired RAF personnel. I'm not sure if you 'demob' counts as retirement but if you want to know more you can contact the team at Rm. 43 Kermode Hall, RAF Halton, Aylesbury. Bucks. HP22 5PG. Tel. 01296 657131.

SQUADRON HAS BEEN BUSY

In a letter from Sqdn Ldr Nick Goodwyn to our president, Frank Leatherdale, the C.O. pointed out that unfortunately HRH Prince William's flying suit badge did not represent us [The Tiller, July 2009). According to the Sqdn Ldr. the 115 is his Rotary Flying Course number prior to his specialist training as a search and rescue helicopter pilot, "so sadly we do not [yet) have the honour of having HRH on our strength.

The letter went on the describe how the CO and two other officers attended the memorial service for the crew of 4-H at Gannes [The Tiller July 2009) where they met with relatives of the crew. "I hope we made many friends," he said, and they are expecting to arrange a return visit return on a further anniversary in the future.

In July nine members of the Squadron staff went to northern France on a battlefield airpower tour to develop their service knowledge. As part of their research they are tracing the footpath of 115 Sqdn. In World War I, and Sqdn Ldr. Goodwyn gave a brief on the squadron activities at St. Inglevert, near Calais where we were based in 1918. A wreath to 115 Squadron was laid at the RAF's memorial at Arras.

WELL SPOTTED CHRIS

Bright-eyes Chris Fleetwood spotted the 115 badge on HRH's overalls and very kindly sent me a cutting from an internet article explaining what it was all about. HRH is at Shawbury and if he successfully completes his course will serve as an operational pilot at one of six RAF Search and Rescue stations around the UK, or possibly in the Falkands, by 2011. RAF SARF crews are regularly employed to assist in civilian emergency operations, including mountain rescues and severe flooding. He starts his training on the single-engined Squirrel and will complete an initial period of training to refresh his previous skills followed by a package of instruction which will enable him to join Sixty ® Squadron where he will fly the Griffin, the RAF's twin-engined advanced flying training helicopter.

LEGEND OF THE LANCASTERS

Chris also mentioned in his letter the Martin Bowman book "Legend of the Lancaster’s" (The Tiller July 2009), and although there is not many mentions for 115 Squadron it is an excellent buy. The normal price is £40, it is a very large book, but Chris bought his copy from "ukpaperbackshop” and it only cost £27.06, including postage.

FALDNE ALLIEREDE FLYVERE 1939-1945

This book published by 'The Veterans of the Danish Fight For Freedom" is an absolute delight, containing as it does a list of Allied airmen who were buried in Denmark as a result of their operations in WWII. Almost 300 allied aircraft crashed in or near Denmark in the course of these operations. During the period 1940 - 1943 allied air personnel were given a military funeral by local German authorities (Iots of photographs in the book). This included a service by the German army chaplain, a salute fired by a platoon of German soldiers, and a wreath. But later directives from the Germans removed the chaplain, the religious element went too, and the salute and wreath-Laying seems to have fizzled out by 1943 . . .

Some of our boys are in the book. Sgt. Alfie Fone was the pilot of Wellington MK III X3633 KO-Y (Page 20 in the Roll of Honour) which was shot down by a night fighter. It crashed near Over Jerstal. The crew was buried on May 6 by the German naval chaplain from Flensburg. In 1947 a stone memorial was erected by local people. The crew is buried in Aabenraa cemetery.

On September 14 1942 Wellington Mk III BJ693 KO-J had engine trouble on a raid on Wilhelmshaven and crashed in the North Sea. Two bodies were washed ashore - Sgt. Kenneth Warner (2nd pilot) and BA Sgt. Laurence Shepherd, and were buried in Esbjerg (Fourfelt) cemetery.

On August 30 1944 Flt. Lt. Edward Chatterton (RCAF) set off in Lancaster Mk I KO-G to Stettin but was shot down and crashed at Ovbe, near Hobro. He, along with his crew - Sgt. Bernard Farndale FE, P/O William Sankey (nav), Sgt. Leslie Taylor (WOP), F/O Anthony Kadaicha (RCAF-USA) (BA), P/O John Reeb (MUG) (RCAF), and Sgt. Donald Bullock (RG) are buried in a collective grave in one coffin in Ove churchyard.

Also in the book, written in Danish by the way, is an eulogy by the chaplain at the burial at Tornby on June 9, 1945 of one airmen, washed up on the sea shore:

We do not know the suffering he came through and have no information on the lot bestowed upon his colleagues. Every time the crews gathered to fly they had an apprehension that now perhaps they would not return. It was with their lives at stake that they performed their want to create peace and liberty in the world again, in their country and ours.

That realisation may be a habit for somebody, but habit does no drive away fear. Any man indeed however courageously and cheerfully he goes to his work knows the fear of the unknown that meets him, also the fear of death.

This man must fully realise that all of life is hanging by a thin thread and the wIll of protecting and defending all that we love, makes it a duty for him. This airman too has been ready to sacrifice everything, sacrifice his life on earth, and if he loved life on earth together with his fellow creatures, we think he did it gladly . . . The soldier loves his life, he wants to live long like other people and live fully with the people he was placed amongst. He understood the fight had to be fought to make life decent again - a peaceful, tree and happy life he fought to win for himself and others who needed his help.

ARMISTICE SUNDAY

Imagine our surprise when Filip Doms and Erwin Sollie appeared, all the way from Belgium, to attend our Armistice Sunday gathering. They arrived in Witchford at 4.00 am via the ferry from Calais to Dover - and after joining our party for refreshments at the Village Hall had to scoot back to catch the 18.10 hrs ferry home. Wonderful and thank you so much the pair of you.

The CO, Sqdn Ldr. Nick Goodwyn was there with three colleagues and laid a wreath, along with Witchford ATC, Filip and Erwin, Barry Aldridge, and Aubrey Howell on behalf of the Association. The service was led by our friend the Revd. Theresa Dixon.

Among the gathering of some 30 people were regulars Jim and Hilda McGillivray and Charlie Flint, and it was great to see Bunny Heffer and her son Richard too.