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#783 - 02/11/14 05:18 PM Sussex Aircrew Association Autumn Newsletter
JOE123 Offline

Registered: 21/02/12
Posts: 4
Monthly Meetings
As we now have briefings on line after our Monthly Meetings I shall only cover the main items discussed over the last few months.
Attendances have been healthy with numbers nearing 30 on most occasions; this is probably due to some interesting topics from our speakers.
The July Meeting saw one of our members, Alasdair Liddle, on stage recounting his epic voyage in an old schooner from Brighton to Corunna in Spain.
In August Ian Gledhill from the Brighton Volks Railway Association provided a wonderful illustrated talk which was appreciated by all.
At the September Meeting John Cotter gave us a superb talk on his time flying the Hastings culminating in a detailed description of an accident that befell another crew in Libya.
In October Patrick Coulcher covered the Antarctic explorations of Ernest Henry Shackleton and Robert Falcon Scott with some excellent photographs.

Our speaker in November (next Tuesday, 4th November) will be Rob Upward who is a 'USA-phile' and will speak about the Mid-West. We hope to see a good number of you; don’t forget the ladies - they may be interested! A big thank you to Alasdair for getting us such interesting speakers each month.

Sadly we have lost 3 members in the last few months.

Ron Frost
Ron started flying during his National Service in the RAF. After leaving the RAF he joined Marshall's of Cambridge as a production test pilot followed by 10 years instructing at the College of Air Training, Hamble. In 1971 he joined Dan Air and became Deputy Chief Training Captain on the BAC 1-11. He will be remembered as a generous, kind hearted man and a quiet, patient and helpful pilot trainer.

Air Commodore John Langston CBE
John had a distinguished career in the RAF as a navigator. During the war he served on Bomber Command with 630,189, and 617 Squadrons and after the war was Officer Commanding 49 Squadron equipped with the Valiant. This was followed by an exchange tour with USAF and then as Senior Officer Northern Ireland and Officer Commanding RAF Aldergrove. John was a gentle, modest, wise man and a friend to all who met him. John wore many hats in retirement including Chairman, followed by President, of the 617 Squadron Aircrew Association, and President of the RAF Club. He was much involved with the building and future maintenance of the Bomber Command Memorial and attended many of the events with other members of the Sussex Aircrew Association Veterans Group to raise funds.

Mike Nash AFC, QC
Mike attended Eastbourne Grammar School. Seeing RAF & Luftwaffe aircraft during the war spurred him to join the ATC. His first job was with Fairey Aviation as an apprentice. He joined 604 Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force then became an aircraft mechanic before volunteering for aircrew. Initial training was in Rhodesia followed by advanced flying at Oakington. From Venoms he moved to Transport Command on Comet 2's then Hastings in the Far East. In 1964 he completed an exchange tour with USAF on Hercules (C130) then a tour at Lyneham during which he and his crew supported the British Trans Arctic Expedition dropping supplies and operating on ice landing strips for which he was awarded the AFC. Before retiring from the RAF he was on the Handling Squadron at Boscombe Down. Joining Dan-Air he flew Comet 4's then Boeing 727's. Converting to the Avro 748 in 1984 his appointment as Fleet Manager was followed by Deputy Chief Pilot. Retiring from Dan-Air he joined Channel Express as Operations Director to complete his flying career. He will be remembered as a much loved, affable man with a wonderful sense of humour and never had a bad word for anyone.


On the 22nd of October several members attended a Memorial Service with local dignitaries for a young Belgium Spitfire pilot, Arthur Patiny on 349 Squadron Belgium Squadron RAF, who had crashed in the Burgess Hill area on 12 July 1944. The service was in St John’s Church, Burgess Hill, in both French and English. The group then moved to the War Memorial where a plaque in his memory was unveiled.
Pub Lunches
Following the dedication to Arthur Patiny, October's Pub Lunch was at the Woolpack in Burgess Hill. The next Pub Lunch will be at the Half Moon in Warninglid on Tuesday 18th November. John and Bryan will email details shortly.

Christmas Lunch
At the last Committee Meeting John Bell proposed, and it was agreed, that in view of the many commitments our members have during December, we have our Lunch in January 2015. This proposal to change to the New year, and the venue to be the Dyke Golf Club, was agreed by a majority at the General Meeting. Helen Keeling has made a booking at the Dyke Golf Club for Tuesday, 20 January; please put this date in your dairies! Details and menu choices will be emailed once available.
Remembrance Sunday
A few members and Bob Osborne will lay the SAA wreath at the Burgess Hill War memorial on Sunday the 9th of November. All are welcome.

Visit to East Anglia
In the week commencing the 27th of October Malcolm and Rosemary Burwood led a group of fifteen members on a most enjoyable and interesting tour of Essex and Suffolk. We visited an underground nuclear bunker and then moved on to spend two nights in West Mersea at the Victory Inn.
The next day we drove to an old RFC Aerodrome near Maldon that is gradually being restored to its former glory. The Chairman offered up a couple of members for static display but this was declined! In the afternoon we boarded a Topsail Schooner for lunch and a cruise on the Blackwater channel using both power and sail. The weather could only be described at ideal.
We dropped by the town of Aldeburgh for coffee and then to the Regency hotel in Bury St Edmunds for two nights from which we visited a National Trust House at Ickworth before spending the evening touring the Greene King Brewery in the town who supplied a pub supper and free samples.
The final drive of the 482 mile round trip was back to the Woolpack stopping for a break at an inhospitable pub in Sundridge, run it later transpired, by a retired British Airways Captain! On the way back we visited Chartwell.
We then enjoyed a meal at a very hospitable pub in Burgess Hill called the Woolpack, the landlord of whom who had kindly allowed us to leave our cars there.
Our thanks to Malcolm & Rose for organising and leading a most enjoyable trip.

RAF Wombleton
Who has heard of this wartime airfield? I recently visited the North York Moors and passed by this airfield about 4miles from Helmesley, in North Yorkshire having seen it on a large scale map. It was opened in 1943 and used mainly by the Canadian No 6 Group as a Heavy Conversion Unit for Halifaxes and Lancasters. The concrete runways are still clearly visible from the road, likewise the inappropriate green painted control tower. It was not ideal as the Moors are close by and at least 25 accidents were reported. Part of the old airfield is now used for recreational flying and Europa Aircraft use it as a base for their Swift light aircraft. Good photos and more details on Google.

Joe Overy
2 November 2014

#813 - 04/03/15 10:07 AM Sussex Branch
JOE123 Offline

Registered: 21/02/12
Posts: 4
Monthly Meetings
Attendances have been in the upper twenties for most of our meetings and speakers have been well appreciated.
In December Andrew Jarvis introduced us to early French Aviation and January the talk was by a retired Police Officer, Neil Sadler, who had worked for many years in this area, and was interesting and informative.
We never tire of our own members experiences and Stan Hitchen was no exception when he stood in for Jock Reid, an ex Concorde Captain, in February, who was unable to give his talk. Last April Stan covered his early time in the Royal Air Force. At the February meeting he summarised this but concentrated on his unique post as OC The Queen's Flight and gave us an insight of flying members of the Royal Family and VVIP's plus the organisation of the Flight. Please entertain us again Stan with more of your experiences and anecdotes!
We thank Alasdair Liddle for organising the speakers and he has a good list of forthcoming 'attractions' - next month Jim Rochelle is programmed to speak on 'Radar, the Early History'. We again appeal to any of our members to give a talk
on any subject, especially on their flying careers. Remember we have to pay for outside speakers!
Our Chairman, Bob Osborne, will be away for the March Meeting on Tuesday the 3rd. I will deputise but I am away from 18th February to March 1st so please email me on any points for discussion or items of interest.
Christmas Lunch
John Bell sensibly suggested instead of having our Christmas lunch in December we celebrate in January to avoid clash of dates and other commitments. Just under 40 members and their partners sat down to an enjoyable meal and plenty of conversation at the Dyke Golf Club, Brighton on 20th January. A sum of £46 was raised by the raffle. Well done and thank you Helen Keeling for organising the function.

Committee Meeting
Among items discussed at the recent Committee Meeting the handover to Helen Keeling as Treasurer is complete and she presented the annual accounts. These were put to the members at the Monthly Meeting and approved. We still have a healthy balance but of course if the number of Members continues to shrink, so will our financial position. After great persistence, by Helen Keeling, a contact has been made with the Business Department of Natwest Bank. Stacey Oosthuizen attended the meeting and was given an outline of the purpose of our association and how it was set up. It is hoped she can help us to reduce bank charges.
It was also suggested that widows of past members who only attend the lunches pay a £5 subscription from next year.
Yvonne told us that we now have over 45 members (one or two promised cheques still awaited before we can finalise the number). New members such as Charles Avey who has just joined are most welcome as sadly, the change of retirement age for airline pilots from 60 to 65 years effectively cut off our major source.

Excursions/Away Days
Malcolm Burwood has proposed the following trips for this year:
The WW1 Airfield at Stowmaris followed by a Sail Barge trip
Visit to RAF Tangmere and Wildlife Harbour Tour
RAF Manston and B of B Memorial, Capel-le-Ferne
He suggests that this year we should tour between the last week in September and the first week in October. We had wonderful weather last year, but it was risky !!
The question is, where to go? Options are:
Base at Bury St Edmunds and go north to RAF East Kirby
RAF Tangmere and cross to the Isle of Wight, return via Beaulieu
He would welcome suggestions /ideas and those interested to contact him, if you have not already done so.

Pub Lunches
The next Pub Lunch is at the Windmill in Partridge Green on Thursday 19th February. Full details from John & Bryan in the near future. The proposed March venue is the Woolpack, Burgess Hill. Please let Yvonne Aldridge know if you are attending the February get together.

Newsletter Article
Normally I include an article of interest, (hopefully!), in my Newsletters but am a bit short of material at the moment. Forgive me for repeating something I wrote over 10 years ago but quite a few in the Branch were not members then so will précis an incident of many coincidences.

At the Mid-Sussex ACA branch meeting on 5 October 2004, an excellent talk was given by Ray Crisford, one of our branch members. Ray was a Hurricane pilot in 1943, converted to Typhoons for night fighting, and was shot down over the North Sea. He was uncertain how long he was in his dinghy but eventually was picked up by a Belgian fishing vessel with a German guard on board. He spent the rest of the war as a POW and was one of many who were marched, initially eastward, then westward by his captors to avoid the Russian advance.
Following the talk I was speaking to a group of members, among them Ian Brownlie. He had also been a POW and was signing a book John Beck, a branch member, was preparing to present to a lady called Elizabeth Mitchell who was at school in Germany during the war. The book was called ‘Beware of the Dog at War’, a history of 49 Squadron. Elizabeth had recently translated some documents a 49 Squadron bomb aimer, Len Bradfield, had been sent 50 years ago by a German concerning the shooting down of a Lancaster over Nuremburg. Because Len was expecting to pay for the translation, he mentioned this to John Beck, (also on 49 Squadron), on one of their regular phone calls. He suggested Len send the documents to him as he thought he could get the translation done by a friend. He casually mentioned this to his local butcher in Brighton who said one of his customers was German and would ask her if she would be prepared to do the translation. She agreed, but half way through, gave John a ring, and he detected slight scepticism in her tone. John decided to see her and it transpired that Elizabeth, with other school children, had actually gone to the site of the crashed aircraft next morning, 11th August 1943. Some of the children were ordered by the SS to pick up any paper, documents, clothing etc from the crash site.
John Beck was showing me the page from the book, which detailed the tragic incident, Len Bradfield being the bomb aimer of that Lancaster. Apart from the pilot, Johnny Moss, ( who I knew) , all the other crewmembers perished.
Len Bradfield, the bomb aimer, was able to escape from the aircraft before it exploded having been attacked by Ju 88’s. Johnny was ‘ejected’ from the cockpit in the explosion, still in his seat but was able to undo his harness, allow the seat to fall away, and deploy his parachute. He and his bomb aimer, Len, like Ian Brownlie and Ray Crisford, were captured, spent the rest of the war as POW’s and suffered the same ordeal of the march across Germany. However Len was at school with another boy called Bert Cole and they both joined up together and were posted to 49 Squadron. Bert was shot down over Nuremburg the night before, (9/10 August) and they both met up in the same POW camp. On ‘The Last Escape’, the march across Germany, Len suffered badly, lost the use of his legs and Bert carried him many miles on his back. Regrettably Len had to have both feet amputated due to gangrene and he is now blind, but still has a very active mind.

PS. Sadly, Len Bradfield died in November 2005, John Beck in January 2011, Ian Brownlie in August 2012, and Johnny Moss in July 2013.
Joe Overy
February 10, 2015

#836 - 15/11/15 02:18 PM SUSSEX BRANCH BRIEFING NOTE NOVEMBER 2015 [Re: JOE123]
ACA Webmaster Offline

Registered: 05/07/07
Posts: 169
Loc: Fleet UK
The original speaker for the Tuesday meeting was unable to attend because of car problems and the standby couldn't be contacted. Alasdair was obliged to ask the Chairman to give a talk on NICE and the NHS. By ensuring that the access doors were bolted from the outside the twenty members were retained within the Conservative club and all of them managed to restrain their excitement.

Next month it will really be the ex-Navy chappie recounting his Sea going experiences. (Hopefully!).

The "Christmas" lunch will be in January, as last year. Helen is working on the details and will communicate them when she has them.

The November lunch will be at the Half Moon in Warninglid on Tuesday the 17th and I hope to introduce one or two new members. December's will be on the 10th of the month at the Woolpack in Burgess Hill.

Bob Osborne

#837 - 08/12/15 10:49 AM SUSSEX BRANCH BRIEFING December 2015 [Re: ACA Webmaster]
ACA Webmaster Offline

Registered: 05/07/07
Posts: 169
Loc: Fleet UK
December Briefing.

A reasonably well attended meeting today with Commander Roger Paine talking about his times in The Royal Navy.

We still have two members in Hospital, Daphne Brownlie in the Kleinwort Centre for post-operative rehabilitation and Bunny Mason in the Hurstpierpoint ward at the PRH. Both would appreciate being visited.

The December pub lunch will be at the Woolpack at 1200 on Thursday the 10th of December preceeded by a Committee meeting there at 1100.
Our bi-annual lunch will be at the Dyke Golf Club


TO BE HELD ON TUE 26 JANUARY, 1200 for 1230 HRS


Helen has sent out the information with the menu and would appreciate your response as soon as possible.

If we are to continue the lunches we do need your support to make the events viable.

We have been fortunate in attracting some new members and hopefully, they in turn, will bring along their aircrew friends to take a look at us and even join our numbers.

Our next speaker, on Tuesday the 5th of January, will be an ex Policeman Neil Sadler on the subject of “A policeman’s lot…the “beat” goes in".

Bob Osborne

#854 - 21/06/16 01:26 PM Re: SUSSEX BRANCH BRIEFING May 2016 [Re: ACA Webmaster]
ACA Webmaster Offline

Registered: 05/07/07
Posts: 169
Loc: Fleet UK
Dear Members,

A good attendance of some 23 members at today’s meeting where we heard a talk on the History of Brighton Trams from the days of horse drawn versions to the later electric ones.
Our treasurer Helen has again offered to arrange a Summer Lunch at the Dyke who looked after us so well for the Christmas lunch. This will be in July and the details will be passed on once all the negotiations have taken place.
The next speaker will be one of our new members, Peter Taylor, on the subject of his time in the Fleet Air Arm. A brief description of Peter’s life is below:
I was born in Crowborough, educated at Skinners, left school at 16 to become a Royal Navy Artificer Apprentice, specialising in ordinance fire control - primitive analogue computer. Tour of duty in the Med, including the Cyprus problem, on a destroyer and qualified as Chief Petty Officer. Joined the Fleet Air Arm in 1959 and the rest …… come to the talk on June 7th. This will be an enlivened (I hope) by cine films I took at the time.

The Talk Title:- FLY NAVY - FLYING IN THE 1960s.

Malcolm Burwood still has vacancies for the trip to the Somme in late October should anyone be interested.

The May pub lunch will be at The Woolpack in Burgess Hill on Tuesday the 17th at 1200. Anyone wishing to suggest an alternative Pub may, of course, do so and please note parking and disabled entrance is very important. Please send suggestions to Bryan and /or John Bell at: johnbell6197@sky.com or labryanbaker@gmail.com.

Funeral in Berlin:
As you may remember, some years ago I was asked, by a lady we met in the Woolpack if I could find anything out about her late father, a mid-upper gunner on 156 Pathfinder squadron who was killed over Berlin before she was born.
I eventually found out much of his history and presented that to members in a talk. I found that the wreckage and human remains had been found in East Berlin in 1976 but the MOD were reluctant to pass e much information because I was not a Next of Kin.
Finally, this has been resolved and last Wednesday the 27th of April 2016 a Ceremony to remember the crew of Lancaster JB 640 and was held in the British War Cemetery in Berlin. This was combined with a similar event for the crew of a Halifax that had also been found.
I was invited to attend, but, not being a relative it was without the logistical support that would have made it really possible. I have, however, been promised a copy of the Service in due time.

If you are interested here is a hyperlink to a video clip from the Forces TV that covers the event. You will be interested to hear that the Grandson of Sgt. F.E.Woolven who speaks on Camera lives in Shoreham where his Grandfather enlisted from.


and from one of the Captain’s family ( FgOff Jack Cromarty)
Here are a few photos that my friend took and I have a copy of the order of service which I can copy for you if you would like?

All your hard work rewarded.

Best wishes


#855 - 21/06/16 01:28 PM Re: SUSSEX BRANCH BRIEFING June 2016 [Re: ACA Webmaster]
ACA Webmaster Offline

Registered: 05/07/07
Posts: 169
Loc: Fleet UK
Dear Members

The meeting on the 7th was well attended with some 21 present and four apologies.

One of our members, Peter Taylor, gave the talk on his experiences as an Observer on Helicopters in the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm in the 60’s and 70’s.

Malcolm Burwood still has a few vacancies for his Somme tour between the 24th and 25th of October so please contact him if you want any further information.

June’s pub lunch on Thursday the 16th at 1200 hours will be at the Thatched Inn in Keymer which we attended some years ago when it was a favourite of the Stirling group. The address is as follows:-

The Thatched Inn, Grand Avenue, Hassocks BN6 8DH. There is good disabled access with handrail, for those wishing to avoid a few steps. The pub is very popular and therefore we have been asked to give expected numbers. Please let Yvonne know if you plan to attend. Don’t worry if later you cannot join us it is best to have enough seating together than not!

The Dyke summer lunch draws nigh so if you haven’t let Helen know your menu choice and passed on your cheque, please do so soonest so that she can book and complete arrangements.

The next meeting with be on Tuesday the 5th when the speaker will be Tony Turner on the subject of Sid Cotton and his Air Force. You may remember that Sid invented the famous “Sidcot” suit that was worn by aircrew from 1917 until 1952. Even more interesting was his work in Air Intelligence along with Frederick Winterbottom who posed as a British Air Attache in Germany until the French kindly informed the new Nazi regime that he had a small sideline as a spy.

I offer a free drink to the first member through the door wearing his old Sidcot suit! Helmet and Boots are optional if the weather is warm.

Should you be wondering whether to attend, try Googling Mr Cotton.

Rita Nash is still recovering in hospital and still does not want any visitors.

I make no apology for yet another reminder about the need for prompt action should you or anyone you know starts to display any symptoms of a Stroke as listed in the acronym “FAST” .
Face, Arms, Speech …Time to act!


See you at the lunch.

Kind regards,

Bob Osborne
Your suggestions welcome
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