Woking and District
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 and peaked at over 140 members, many of whom were WWII aircrew who now sadly have passed on. Current membership is now approximately 50 drawn from a wide area to the south west of London and open to those with a keen interest in aviation as well as former military aircrew.
A very broad range of squadrons is represented. Although quite a few 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 and others with an aviation interest. 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 December 2018
Monthly meetings at Fairoaks continued in August with an illustrated talk by guest speaker Chris Scivyer, chairman of the Handley Page Society. Chris told the story of Britain’s first publicly-traded aircraft manufacturer and its production of the 0/400 bomber of World War I and of the company’s base at Radlett from 1929 until 1990. During this period it produced the HP42 airliner, the World War II bombers the Hampden and Halifax and the post-war Victor V-bomber together with other civil and military aircraft.
A film show was scheduled for the September meeting, but this had to be cancelled due to illness. Tony Rest bravely stepped in at very short notice to deliver a talk on several subjects including his uncle’s exploits during the First World War, a return flight to New York on Concorde and the history of John Rest, a possible ancestor, who was Lord Mayor of London in the 16th century.
In October John (‘Smudger’) Smith of the Blenheim Society told assembled members of the origin of this aircraft from the sponsorship of Lord Rothermere in the 1930s and the production by the Bristol Aeroplane Company of a high-speed bomber for the RAF. John’s involvement now is mainly in the restoration of the last surviving example, a Canadian-built Bolingbroke version of the Blenheim Mk IV, to flying condition following severe damage caused in a crash-landing.
This month also brought the sad news of the death of our president, Wing Commander Stuart Holmes. Members of the Association attended the funeral service at Easthampton Crematorium and the reception at Camberley Heath.
Members took part in the parades and services and wreaths were laid on behalf of the ACA at the Battle of Britain commemoration at Brookwood Military Cemetery and at the centennial Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Woking War Memorial.
To replace the November meeting, a party of members travelled to Lasham airfield for lunch and to visit the Glider Heritage Centre.
There was a splendid turnout for the Christmas luncheon on 10th December, held in conjunction with the Woking Branch of RAFA, at the usual venue of the Camberley Heath Golf Club. Chairman Ron Hepburn said the Grace and later proposed the toast to the Woking Aircrew and Royal Air Forces Associations. He particularly thanked secretary Tony Boxall for his hard work during the year and for organising the lunch and, together with Ann Hudgell, the raffle that followed. David Jackson proposed the loyal toast and, in the absence due to illness of Bill Moore, Bill Bawden proposed the toast to the ladies and guests to which Lee Williamson responded. The toast to ‘absent friends’ was proposed by Rod Finn of the Chiltern ACA.This brought our programme for 2018 to a conclusion and, despite the reduced membership numbers and the uncertainty surrounding the future of our base at Fairoaks Airport, the Woking and District AirCrew Association looks forward with confidence to continuing our activities through 2019 beginning with lunches at The White Hart in Chobham in January and February.
Bill Bawden, PRO
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