ACA Woking News by Paul Holden, PRO

15 October 2003


reports by Eric Smith, ACA Woking Chairman

Visit to Littlehampton Aircrew Association

The marina at Littlehampton
provided a welcome breath of sea air
Littlehampton yachts
A dozen members of the Woking Branch ACA visited Littlehampton on 3rd September at the invitation of the West Sussex Branch Secretary, Reg Sturt (ex Woking Branch). They meet in the picturesque surroundings of the local Yacht Club.

John Farley's presentation
John Farley
After suitable refreshment and a light luncheon, everyone settled down to a very interesting and professional presentation given by John Farley AFC OBE, who was one of the pioneering Test Pilots on the Harrier.

Middle Wallop Graduation

ACA visitors and their hosts
(Army photograph)
ACA visitors

Dinty More (right)
discussing the finer points of Lynx gunnery
Dinty Moree

Branch Member Alister 'Dinty' More AFC helped Staff Sergeant Jan Cunningham of the Army Air Corps at Middle Wallop to put together one of the most memorable visits for the Woking Branch on 25th/26th September. A party of eight was hosted and accommodated overnight. The first day they were 'bussed' out to the ranges at Lulworth Cove to observe the final qualifying tests for AAC Air/Door Gunners using the Lynx helicopter. Lunch was provided together with unexpected entertainment when gorse on the ranges was set on fire by tracer rounds and six Fire Engines were called in. The happy visitors were then flown back to Middle Wallop by Lynx and were entertained to a Curry Supper by their hosts.

Woking members wore their medals for the ceremony
Woking members wore their medals
The second day started with a very privileged, conducted tour of the Apache Helicopter hangar and then everything became much more formal. Led by the Chairman, Eric Smith GM, everyone put on their best attire and medals and attended the presentation of Air Gunner brevets, to the new Gunners. A very special honour was accorded Alister More, who was appointed to present the brevets. This was particularly appropriate because Alister started out as an Air Gunner, before remustering as an AEO. The Chairman presented a plaque, printed with the "Airmans' Prayer", to the Colonel of the Training Unit.

Les Bigwood behind a gun again after 60 years
Les Bigwood
One of the party was Les Bigwood, a Lancaster Gunner who was very badly injured when he baled out of a crippled aircraft too low for his chute to open. The Army hosts treated him with the greatest reverence and respect and earned everyone's praise for their generosity and kindness.

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