ACA Woking News by Bill Bawden, PRO

20 March 2012

A New President

New ACA Woking President, Jimmy James
Recent health problems have obliged the president of the Woking & District AirCrew Association, Air Commodore Tom Bennett CBE, to relinquish the post he has held with distinction for many years.  Tom has never been content to be a figurehead and there has rarely been a meeting or other function at which he has not been present.  Members have paid tribute to Tom’s dedication and leadership, expressed their thanks for his great contribution to the ACA and hope for his full and rapid return to health.

As the successor to the presidency, past chairman, Squadron Leader ‘Jimmy’ James  AFC* DFM, was the natural choice.  However, because of his own health problems, there was some hesitancy at first in approaching Jimmy on the subject, but such delicacy was misplaced.  With the same enthusiasm he has shown in every previous Woking ACA activity or post he has held, Jimmy accepted the appointment and members have heartily welcomed his accession to the top position.

March Meeting

Peter Frewer (L) and Barry Hall
Meeting again after a short winter break, members made up for lost ground by having two guest speakers to entertain a full house at Fairoaks.

Barry Hall, a former Meteorological Officer, described his experiences during a spell in the 1970s at Gan, an RAF staging post located on a remote atoll in the Indian Ocean and then a vital link for Transport Command aircraft en route to and from the Far East.

The travels of the second speaker, Peter Frewer, took him to Gan on many occasions during his career as a captain of a VC10 and he told of his affection, and that of other crew members, for this remarkable aircraft.

The Vickers VC10 was built at and made its first flight from Brooklands in 1962 and in a few weeks time will celebrate fifty years in the air.  It will remain service with the RAF until at least 2013 and its popularity and longevity is a tribute to those who designed and constructed this outstanding airliner on our home patch.

New Book’s Acknowledgements to ACA

A recently published novel, ‘A Day in June’ by Colin Beazley, tells the story of an RAF crew member who is shot down and escapes from occupied France.  The author has undertaken considerable research to ensure the historical accuracy of the background to the action and has drawn on material supplied by members who served on Special Duties operations.

The book contains acknowledgements to the Woking ACA and to the individual members for their assistance.  More on this may be seen at

John Austin

We regret to record the death on 12 January 2012 of Sqn Ldr John Austin who served with great distinction throughout World War II.  John flew on Special Duties operations delivering SOE agents and supplies to the resistance movements in no less than eight occupied countries and his exploits, which resulted in the award of the DFC and bar, the Croix de Guerre and Dutch and Polish decorations, were extensively covered in the Daily Telegraph on February 28th.  Members represented the ACA at his funeral at Woking.

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