SUSSEX AIRCREW ASSOCIATION
WINTER/SPRING 2015 NEWSLETTER
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