July 2010

Newsletter of 115 Squadron Association

Secretary Ian Lucas

On Sunday June 27 2010 sun blazed down on the famous Plymouth Hoe on a glittering array of high ranking airmen of many of the world's air forces - and our erstwhile south -west England correspondent, Harry Rossiter.

It all began with an 11 am marching on of the standards followed by the first hymn with music supplied by the Central Band of the RAF. The bible reading was undertaken by Wing Commander Peter Milne of the RAAF, commencing with the oft-quoted phrase 'Let us now praise famous men', which is actually taken from the New English Bible translated as 'Let us now sing the praises of famous men.' The service was conducted by senior RAF chaplain Group Captain Nick Barry.

A piper from the combined Devon Scottish Band played' 'Flowers of the Forest', followed by the Last Post sounded By a member of the Central RAF band, who also sounded Reveille after two minutes silence.

The customary words 'They shall not grow old . . . ." etc were delivered by Mr. Ralph Howard-Williams, chairman of Devon British Legion , an ironic coincidence for Harry who recalls that OC RAF Blackpool in January 1941 when he signed up was Air Commodore Howard-Williams. The Kohima memorial inscription 'When you go home tell them and say, for your tomorrows, we gave our today’s was spoken by Mr. Roger Tait of the Burma Star Association.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Stear led the wreath laying by representatives of most European countries including Russia, plus Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India and the USA - and on behalf of 115 Squadron-ex Warrant Officer Harry Rossiter. Two of Harry's adult grandchildren took care of him and duly recorded his wreath laying.

The proceedings concluded with a speech by Mr. Nick Harvey, Minister of State for the Armed Forces.

Wreath layers and guests were entertained for lunch at a local hotel and Harry sat next to the Russian Air Attaché, resplendent in a much gold-braided uniform.

It was a most impressive occasion and I was very proud to be part of it, remembering by pals of the squadron who didn't make it,' says Harry


Pen & Sword books have been busy on RAF - interest publications. They have launched 'Bombs Away', by Martin Bowman. In their promotional blurb they point out how our bomber crews took some of the heaviest casualties during the second World War. Over 60% were casualties and another 9,900 became POW. These numbers, like so many others in war, spiral away to the grim recesses of history to lose their meaning, the men they denote forgotten. 'Bombs Away' seeks to redress the imbalance.

And then there's 'Back Bearings' by Group Captain Eric Cropper whose RAF career began in 1942 and ended in 1974. During this time navigation of aircraft changed from astro, dead reckoning and drift bearings all plotted with pencils on charts, to radar and other advanced systems.

You can contact Pen & Sword on 01226 734222 - 47 Church Street, Barnsley, SouthYorkshire 570 2AS.


Gerry South DSO, DFC on February 28 2010. He was 88. CO at Marham with Canberras. Frequent presence at reunions in the seventies.


There has been a plethora of book signings in the past couple of months as former Bee Gee Maurice Gibb throws his heart and soul in to raising money for the RAF Bomber Command memorial planned for Green Park in London. The idea of the signings is to sell books and on-the-spot are RAF aircrew veterans to add value to the tomes by sticking their monicas on each copy purchased, at a price, of course. They sign also pictures of particular wartime interest.

There have been signings in Wyevale Garden centres in Eton, Twickenham, Bagshot, Bicester and Halton . . . . and the list goes on. In the end it is hoped all Wyevale Centres wilt hold a 'signing', so keep your eyes and ears open and you might get the opportunity locally to take part and help raise money for the memorial.

And among the signees 115 Squadron has been handsomely represented - putting pen to paper have been our President Frank Leatherdale, Bill Farquharson, Jim McGillivray, and Fred Vines. The President was one of 18 signees at the Mosquito Museum at London Colney at a special signing to mark the 70th anniversary of the Mossy. Frank made ten flights in Mossies, but only one during the war.

Poor old Jim's wild fox, hitherto supplied with sumptuous lashings of delicacies in the South Ockendon woods has taken a back seat for a while and has been hunting down his own lunches as Jim's events calendar has been bursting at the seams.

He was down at Coningsby a few weeks ago when 'old' aircrew had been invited to visit the Battle of Britain flight as it has been rumoured the Lanc may be mothballed. Pictures of Jim sitting in the old Frazer-Nash turret were flashed around the world in the Daily Express, and Jim heard from people all over the place - including Nobby Clarke in Australia, all aghast at what the press will do these days to sell newspapers!

Then Jim was off with his long-time friend Harry Irons to Buckingham Palace where the Duke of Gloucester was host to the Not Forgotten Society. Friend Harry forgot his invitation card but security let him in on production of proof of identity. Commonsense at work!

He also met Geoff Payne and Richard Luckie at 514's reunion at Waterbeach. At Duxford at the beginning of July Anglia television nabbed him and he held quite a long spot on the television news. He also flew off to East Kirby from local drome Stapleford for the annual Operation Propellor where 114 aircraft flew in from all over country bringing 'old' aircrew for their annual reunion.

Next on his schedule is the international speedway ‘riders' annual shindig, luckily being held close-by, to be attended by former riders from all over the world, before he zooms off St.Paul's cathedraI in September where 1800 servicemen of all nations and denominations will be gathering. And then we mustn't forget Battle of Britain Day at Westminster Abbey.

You are advised to get your signatures off Jim a.s.a.p. as the price is sure to go up!