February 2006

Newsletter of 115 Squadron Association

Secretary: Ian Lucas


The reunion this year will be held on Saturday May 20 at The Lamb Hotel, in Ely. The reason for our switch is mainly down to advancing years of many of us, and by congregating everything under one roof we cut out the taxis or driving to and from the Travelodge in the dark. It will cost £50 per head, give or take a few bob the same as the cumulative cost we have been paying. We will have an exclusive room, and those living locally will be charged £15 for the dinner.

Cheques payable to Ian Lucas please, as I will be responsibie for settling your bills except where you take extras - newspapers, bar bills etc. Let me have your 'dosh' as soon as possible. It will be a 7.30pm for 8.00pm in the evening, and we will hold our usual short service at the memorial on Sunday morning before heading home.


Going through my Word programme I discover three pages of text for The Tiller. Why three pages? Believe it or not in the autumn I was preparing a new Tiller when I had a month's break due to leg problems. When I cam back to fitness I forgot those three pages - which is why you have another Tiller so quickly - they are pages 2, 3, and 4. Dummy!


Chris Fleetwood wrote in with two fascinating items. First a cutting from the Journal of Lincolnshire's Lancaster Association which included a photograph of a 115 Lancaster (probably Flt Lt Trevor Peek and crew) taken at Great Wratting in May 1945. The interest was in the ground crew in the picture with the crew - , believed to be Bert Lynn, Dennis Wymark, Ted North, Snowy White and the late Alan Kidner, plus Mason and Smith without Christian names. Emblem on the aircraft is "Tutai Whero". Jog any memories.

The second item was all about a Lancaster called 'Emily', Mk I HK551, written up in the January edition of Model Aircraft Monthly. Included in the absorbing article all about the aircraft's wartime history article is reference to Bill Margerison and Tom Dugdale (regulars at early reunions), apparently still going strong and I noted they have notched up 67 years as church wardens at St. Wilfred's, Ribchester, near Preston.


Aubrey Chard Little, World War II pilot. - Bill Bayly, Newquay - Ronald Strafford Stewart, Norwich - Graham David Smith, Chelmsford


From Mr. M. Brown of King's Lynn comes the following odd-ode descriptive:

Was back in the year of 51
Being almost eighteen, keen and young,
Joined the Air Force, the world to see,
Training over, then, Marham for me.

The Yanks were there, at that time,
With them all we got on real fine.
And in King's Lynn, on a Saturday night,
We would all end up getting tight.

Those were the years of the B29s.
Now looking back, damned good times,
Whilst at Marham I served with pride,
Being on that great Squadron - 115.

The B29 Washington was sleek and clean,
A real, fine-looking, silver flying machine,
Now sadly gone, that wonderful sight
Of B29 Washingtons in formation flight.

Each aircraft had its very own crew,
In WF446 it was that I first flew,
On 115 I had arrived in the November, to good times
Iíll always remember


Mrs. A. M. Brown wrote in June thanking us for sending The Tiller to her youngest son, Michael. Her husband, Gordon, had a heart operation a couple of years ago and it has not proved 100% successful.

Gordon met his wife in January 1946 when she was a nurse in London and he was stationed at Morton Vallence near Gloucester. She had been home during time off from hospital and they met on the train to London (GWR- God's Wonderful Railway).

They have quite a few photographs of people with 115. Gordon had a close friend, Norman Bentley, a gunner, who lived in Tring where his mother had a hotel.

Skipper was Bill Franks. They also have photographs of Harry Hardaker and Sgt. Johnnie Toomer.

Mrs Brown asks if there is anybody living near them (7 Redwing Road, Milborne ort, Sherborne, Dorset DT9 5DB) to share a chin-wag?


Heather Wakefield writes from 15 Gulpher Road, Felixstowe IP11 9DN seeking information on her mother's cousin, Sgt Frederick Ernest Tingley (919073). She enclosed an extract from W. R. Chorley's book "RAF Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War 1941" which records details of the crash in Debach near Woodbridge, Suffolk on June 24 1941 in which Freddie was injured. He died next day.

We had one or two bits about Debach in earlier copes of the Tiller (1999), so I have sent these on to Heather.


Robert D. Bearman writes from 6 Keswick Close, Tilehurst, Reading RG30 4SD explaining he has been talking to Harry Hooper and would like contact with any 115 Squadron second world war aircrew. He is seeking photographs taken in uniform. He has over 1200 so far. All he needs is copies of these pictures and would like them to be signed. You can send him originals if you like for him to photocopy - but a telephone call to 0118 941 1743 will probably make like a lot easier.

DECEMBER 16/17 1943

Richard Knott of North House, Skipwith Road, Escrick, York Y019 6JT is currently researching event surrounding a raid on Berlin on the night of December 16/17 1943, and is endeavouring to write a book with that focus. He says: "There is, I am aware, an excellent account by Jennie Gray of the night so far as 97 Squadron (my father-in-law's squadron) is concerned, but I am keen to tell the wider story," and this involves 115 Squadron.

Richard says he is particularly interested in circumstances leading up to a series of crashes across eastern and northern England as crews attempted to return to base. We lost one crew that night, P/O Norman Newton DFC, but he was shot down with the total loss of crew. One point I find intriguing is our records state they took of from Newmarket at 17.12 hrs. The aircraft Lanc Mk II DS835 KO-K only had four hours flying time on the clock!

Off you go to your log books and see if there is anything to jog your memory to help Mr. Knott.


Things are moving, but beggars can 't be choosers as it seems that is prepared to help us promote a special page for 115, not only 1939-45, but for all stations until disbandment. Their latest letter warns that an update of the site is in process so conclusion is a few months olf because of the volume of work involved.

Pierre Babin writes from 10 Rue De Villemoisan, Becon-Ies-Granits, France. He is an historian researching British aircraft shot down/crashed in the departement de Maine-et-Loire in western France during the war.

He is looking at two 115 aircraft: Mk II DS668 KO-R. According to our records F/O D. F. P. Brown and crew were on a mine laying exercise in the Gironde area. Homeward-bound they were shot down by a night fighter and crashed at Ingrandes-sur-Loire, 34 km. East of Angers. Brown baled out but landed in the river and drowned: Of his crew Trott and Sheppard were not captured and escaped to England. Pitchford, Davidson, Gould and King went in the bag.

The second aircraft was Sgt Fred Whitehead's Mk II DS663 KO-C which was also on mine laying when shot down, with the loss of all the crew.

Monsieur Babin seeks any information, any pictures.


Dennis Hardy, who served with 115 at Gravely in the latter days of his service is trying to get his hands on a picture of a York in flight. Any help! Dennis started life as an airman (1603382) and ended up as a Flt Lt (173745) and did pilot training in Southern Rhodesia.


Dennis Sawden has completed his research of the life of Douglas Drew, prompted by people from Newton Stewan trying to find out about the lives of those listed on two war memorials in the village. I must say I think the write-up on Drew is excellent, and there's a picture of Drew in his uniform. I am passing the piece on to Barry at the museum.

Dennis made contact with RAF Marham, who were very helpful, and Chantler's crew, Drew was the nav., had a bumpy introduction to operations - crash-landing two miles short of Witchford on their first trip, and four months later running short of fuel after a raid on Berlin and having to land at Tangmere.


Latest missive from Mac McLean in South Africa tells us he raised his glass to 'Absent friends' on the day of our May reunion: "My absent friends included the WAAFs, the Lancasters, my old crew and the crew lads under Chippy Wood, our great groundcrew" he writes.

As usual Mac had lots to say about many things, and I note the tale about the memorial cross outside his town which has had its brass/copper cross sawn off "and has disappeared'. Mac himself is back to nearly normal after his left hip replacement; "Doc allows me to drive now and I only use one stick," he says. "I expect to be fit for my young son's wedding. with relatives joining him from St Andrew's "so I won 't feel a spare-whatever-it-is" at a wedding!