Woking and District
President: Wg Cdr Stuart Holmes
Chairman: Ron Hepburn
Committee names and brief service histories
Read about our monthly meetings and future programme
Our PRO records the highlights of recent branch activities
CD and DVDs of aircrew memories
Woking Branch of the ACA was formed in 1988 with just 7 people, but now has grown to approximately 130 members drawn from a wide area to the south west of London.
A very broad range of squadrons is represented. Although the majority of members served in WWII, many with amazingly vivid memories recorded in Upside Down Nothing on the Clock NOW AVAILABLE ON CD-ROM WITH ADDITIONAL VIDEO MEMORIES, there is an increasing number of younger serving and retired members. The branch has also produced a DVD featuring Richard James, Guy Gibson's navigator on night fighters, which is also available for sale. See the memories page.
In addition to regular monthly meetings at Fairoaks Airport, the Branch organises coach outings for members, families and friends. Popular aviation destinations have included the RAF Museum Hendon, Duxford, Old Warden, Brooklands Aviation Museum, Southampton Hall of Aviation, but non-aviation attractions feature as well. Pub lunches several times a year are also very popular, whilst demand for places at the annual Christmas luncheon is so great that early booking is strongly advised.
SITUATION REPORT January 2018
The Association continued its programme of meetings and other activities through the latter part of 2017 thanks to the enthusiasm of its members and the dedication of the chairman and other office holders in organising a full schedule of events.
Monthly meetings at Fairoaks continued despite the uncertainty surrounding the future of the aerodrome and the June meeting, appropriately, featured a talk by Mike Jones on the history of Fairoaks from its establishment in 1935 to the present day.
Another guest speaker, Tim Price, entertained the audience at the July meeting with stories of his visit to the South Atlantic outposts of Ascension Island and St Helena. The scheduled speaker for August failed to put in an appearance and acting chairman, Bill Bawden, gave an impromptu talk on the Malayan Emergency of 1948-1960. The September speaker also came ’in house’ when Tony Rest spoke on satellite navigation and space travel.
Gp Capt Jamie Johnson, Deputy Chief of Staff (Air) at High Wycombe, was the guest speaker at the October gathering to tell the history of RAF Cosford, and evening meetings concluded in November with an illustrated talk by Roger Smith on the evolution of the aircraft carrier from its ramshackle beginnings in the First World War to its pinnacle of operations in World War II.
The 2017 programme ended with a very successful Christmas lunch, held jointly with the the Woking Branch of RAFA, at the Camberley Heath Golf Club. In proposing the toast to the AirCrew Association and the Royal Air Forces Association, chairman Ron Hepburn reviewed the recent events and paid tribute to the great amount of work done by secretary Tony Boxall over the past year.
During this period the ACA was represented and wreaths laid on its behalf at both the Battle of Britain Commemoration Parade and Service at the Brookwood Military Cemetery and the Remembrance Day ceremonies at the Woking War Memorial.
There have, inevitably, also been losses close to home with the deaths of two more members. Geoffrey Packham, who died on 17 October, was the captain of a Lancaster of No 550 Squadron taking part in a raid on Sterkrade in June 1944 when his aircraft was badly damaged by flak and then attacked by a night-fighter. The crew, and finally Geoff himself, successfully baled out over the Netherlands and he was the only one not immediately captured by German forces. Geoff was taken by the Dutch and Belgian Resistance to Antwerp, but there was betrayed to the Nazis and sent to Stalag Luft 1 on the Baltic coast. Freed by the Russians, he returned to Britain in May 1945 and later joined the Belgian airline Sabena and captained aircraft taking part in the emergency evacuation of Belgian nationals from the Congo in 1960. November brought the passing of Geoff Danieli, also an active member, whose experiences on helicopters with No 22 Squadron had been the subject of a talk he gave at Fairoaks some seven years ago.
We also record, with deep regret, the deaths of Elspeth Hepburn and Margaret Thorburn, the wives of the present and of a past chairman. To Ron and John, and their families, we offer our sincere sympathies.
Bill Bawden, PRO
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