Aircrew Association Surrey branch history

It was on the 25th April 1983 that six members of the Aircrew Association (ACA) met at the offices of WS Atkins, Woodcote, Epsom, with the intention of forming a local branch of the Aircrew Association. They were Fred Bartlett, Barney Davis, George Fuller, Cyril Goddard, Douglas Pidgeon and John Peaty. Thereafter monthly meetings of interested ACA members were held at the Banstead Village Club.

The number of potential members gradually increased until by Tuesday 27th September, 1983 the official formation meeting of the Branch was held with eighteen members in attendance, and apologies for absence being received from four.

Cy Goddard was elected Chairman, George Fuller as Hon. Secretary/Treasurer, and then Ted Neville, Fred Bartlett and Barney Davis were elected as Committee Members. A resolution was passed that the name be the Surrey Branch of the Aircrew Association. During the evening Danny Boon (General Secretary of the ACA) was in attendance and gave his guidance.

The members attending this formation meeting were:

Chairman: Cy Goddard
Secretary/Treasurer: George Fuller
Ted Neville
Fred Bartlett
Barney Davis

Together with:
Cyril Frazer
J ‘Dixie’ Deans MBE [editor - James Dixie Deans was a hugely respected PoW Camp leader and a founding member of the RAF Ex-POW Association]
Ron Dunne
Mac Hamilton
Douglas Holloway
Ed Jobling
R ‘Johnny’ Johnson
Cyril Pearce
John Peaty
Doug Pidgeon
John Potter
Ray Searle
D Taylor
with apologies from John Erricker, A Longworth, F Munro and D Short.

In 1984 Ashley Webb took over the Treasurership from George Fuller and was succeeded in 1986 by Maurice Leven who held that office until 1988. At the 1989 AGM Ted Neville was elected as Treasurer, which he remained until Arthur Swain was elected to that post at the 2004 AGM. Arthur handed over that position in March 2008, when Gordon Tripp succeeded him.

George Fuller continued to act as Secretary of the Branch until the AGM of October 1987, when John Peaty was elected as Secretary and continued in that office until 1990. Eric V Richman then took over at the 1990 AGM (still acting as Speaker Seeker) and carried on as our Secretary until elected Chairman in March 2007.

The post of Chairman was relinquished in 1987 by Cy Goddard, when Douglas Holloway was appointed and carried on till 1990. He was then succeeded by Guy Underwood who served for the next seven years until 1997. Then in 1998 Len Norris was elected and remained as our Chairman until his death on 1st December 2004. He also acted as PRO. A Service of Thanksgiving for the life of Len Norris was held at All Saints Church, Banstead on Dec 14, 2004. He was succeeded by Air Cdre Norman Jackson CBE RAF(Retd). From March 2007 our Chairman was Mr Eric Richman, Our last two Chairman were Gordon Tripp and again Norman Jackson.

At the following AGM Norman Jackson was elected as Chairman, a position he held for two years. At the March 2007 AGM Eric Richman was elected Chairman, retiring in March 2009.

Norman Jackson again took over until March 2012, when he was succeeded by Gordon Tripp who also remained as Treasurer. Norman yet again took over on Gordon's death in November 2012. Reg Davis took over as Treasurer.

When the Committee members were assigned specific duties in 1990, Cyril Pearce, who had been one of the Entertainment officers became the Luncheon Organizer, a position his widow Doreen took over.

The position of President was created in 1988, and was held by Cy Goddard until his death in July 1997. Douglas Holloway then became President up to the time of his death on 1st November 1998; John Peaty was appointed in May 1999, he died in 2011.

Mac Hamilton DFC, was our Vice-President from 1989 until his death.

Jim Wright did valiant service as Care Officer and then Speaker Seeker until 1997, when he stood down due to poor health. John Gibson had the task of seeking out Speakers for our meetings from 1998 until he handed responsibility to Frank Haslam. Frank - an Associate Member - also served in the roles of Newsletter & Website Editor and Registrar.

Care Officers have been Stan Wheaton, Jack Trotman and latterly John Potter, though this role was broadly carried out by all members following John's death.

Branch group at a Remembrance Sunday wreath laying at Leatherhead War Memorial
L-R: Eric Richman - Harold Rhoda - John Puttock - Gordon Tripp - Ken Richards

When Gordon died in 2012 Norman Jackson stepped back into the Chairman's role.

Mrs Doreen Pearce continued the work of her late husband Cyril in organising our monthly Lunches with our Ladies.

In 2013 members were consulted in the future of the branch. It was decided that we would wind down the branch with dignity but make every effort to preserve members' stories on the internet. Our final branch meeting was held on 29th May 2013.

We arranged two events to celebrate 30 years of the branch and 'go out in style'. On 25th June 2013 some of us gathered at the RAF Club in London before paying our respects at the Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park, after which we adjourned to the Club for refreshments.

On 17th September we had a lunch at the Duke's Head at Tadworth, at which our Chairman Air Cdre Norman Jackson CBE RAF(Retd) encouraged us to continue to meet for lunch there on the second Tuesday of the month.

Where we met

For many years we met in the hall behind the Conservative Club (later the Constitutional Club) in Linden Road, Leatherhead. In 2010 we moved to the Royal British Legion Club in Upper Fairfield Road, Leatherhead. Meetings were always on the second Wednesday of the month, except December.

An idea of our activities

Until age curtailed attendance for many, in addition to the branch meetings there were often trips organised to places of interest and to air shows, for example Middle Wallop Air Show and Shoreham. The ACA Families Day service at Runnymede usually had a group from the branch. A Christmas lunch was popular.

As for the activities at branch meetings here is a summary of the latter years:

In 2013 we had Peter Collis on his father’s last op, with 300 Sqn, taken PoW and on the Long March; we entertained each other with Our Favourite Funny Stories; Ken Tamkin, a guest, spoke on being a Lancaster Flight Engineer and Norman Jackson spoke on the Evolution of the Jet Engine; Frank Haslam brought along a large collection of big photos of aircraft.

In 2012 we had talks on It’s amazing what you find in books; Brian Hennegan spoke on his book on the Kingston Road part of Leatherhead between the railway bridge and North Street (written with Goff Powell); Tony Page talked about training as a pilot, but remustering as an Air Gunner when spare pilots were being redirected to be mineworkers. He does duty in the RAF Club’s Library; Jack Watchous will gave us another talk related to Aviation in the Post; we had a couple of Bring Alongs; Frank Haslam spoke on the Dedication of the Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park; Tim Crooks spoke to us - he rowed in the 1972 and 1976 Olympic Games, winning a Silver Medal in the men's eight in 1976. He was part of the crew of the Royal Barge Gloriana which conveyed the Olympic Flame along the Thames and was invited with other British Olympians to the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony; Gordon Tripp spoke on the crash of the Airbus 330 Air France Flight 447 into the Atlantic on 1 June 2009; Jack Watchous spoke on the aircraft designer Claudius Dornier and his legendary Dornier X flying boat.

In 2011 we had talks or presentations on: NIGHT FLIGHT; US tv news reports made about RAF training in the other Miami; The QUANTAS A380 & its exploding RR TRENT 800; a Bring Along; ESCAPE AND EVASION; Do you love your garden – or hate gardening?; My early days in the RAF; Early Airshow Postcards and Air Mails; The life of the late Gp Capt Ian Keppie AFC.

In 2010 we had talks or presentations on: Training at Falcon Field in Arizona in 1944; Mementoes of an attack on the Tirpitz;Two young people and a night operation .. ; What it was like to run an RAF Station in the mid 1970s [RAF Sydenham, now Belfast’s main airport]; the book MUD, BLOOD AND POPPYCOCK – a fresh look at some long held views of WWI; 47 Squadron and more stories; Our Stories website.

In 2009 we had talks or presentations on: Some Amazing Stories; a Quiz; a DVD evening; The Sopwith Camel; Some stories behind Local War Memorials; a Print Evening - bringing a print or picture to tell us about it and why got it; An Evening with our Chairman; My Travels in South Arabia; History of the RAF video; First Steps – all invited to share their memories of their first few days in the RAF.

In 2008 we had talks or presentations on: Neville Lyons on the Joe Lyons & Co Story;Supplies from the skies; The Greyhound Trust; Aircraft from another perspective; Losing all four engines on a 747!; The BBMF; The Chinook; My first crew; a couple of Bring Alongs - members were invited to bring along an object and talk to us about it for five minutes.

In 2007 we had talks on: Fighter Command’s Black Saturday - 26 Sep 1942; The Wesseling Raid June 21/22 1944 - loss rate 28%; Brookland’s Hurricane from Russia; From Bouncing Bombs to Concorde – the life of Sir George Edwards OM; Bravo Delta Models - Aircraft Models for the RAF and others; Leatherhead Aviation Services; a Bring Along - members were invited to bring along an object and talk to us about it for five minutes; The Raid on the Panzer Depot at Mailly le Camp, 3/4 May 1944; Headley Court

In 2006 we had talks on: Stories from the Houses of Parliament; Croydon Airport - its place in the development of Civil Air Transport to and from the UK; Torpedo Squadron (47 Sqn); Videos on Flying; An Introduction to The University of the Third Age; The story of My 18 Years In Beirut; Roald Dahl's Most Interesting War; Concert of Recorded Entertainment; A Fish Merchant's Tale

In 2005 we had talks on: Humour in Uniform; Some of my life as an aviation writer; Working on Aircraft Restoration at Brooklands; Everyone's War; Life in the RAF yesterday; Policing the Derby; Glider Pilots; Ruth Ellis - my sister's secret life; a visit from thee OC Battle of Britain Memorial Flight; Britain's Cold War Superweapons - The V-Bombers

In 2004 we had talks on: Billy Ruffian at Trafalgar; Medicine in the Clouds; The History of Royal Flying; Life as a Staff Officer; Test Flying given by Captain Eric 'Winkle' Brown; The Empire & Commonwealth Games

last updated 20 Oct 13