I am fairly sure that those reading this will be surprised and (hopefully) pleased that the Entry's website has finally returned to life.
A big "thank you" to all who have contacted me enquiring as to what happened during the past 10 months or so. Its a long story and I will spare you most of the boring details. My Back decided to give up the ghost during the early part of 2015 and I was affected by a nasty bout of sciatica which eventually degenerated into "something else". The upshot was that I was unable to stand, sit, walk or drive and spent most of the time lying flat out on my back feeling sorry for myself. None of the ladies in my life believe me but I am convinced that it really was worse than man-flue. As a consequence, I had to stop the website updates in March last year, apart from a very brief flourish, in September.
Also a big thank-you goes to everyone who continued to access the site, even though it was not being updated. Almost 12.5 thousand visits were recorded since the update in May 2015, amazing! Sadly, one conclusion that springs readily to mind is that the less I contribute,, the more popular the site becomes......
The next points to mention are the recent Christmas festivities and the arrival of 2016.
I hope that everyone enjoyed the festive season and also that the coming Year will be good to us all.
Jim Terry organised another very successful mini reunion down in Kent in October 2015, which was well attended.
Good man that he is, Jim has now organised another lunch-time gathering for the second week of April 2016. If you would like further details, don't hesitate to give him a call on: 01797 - 320279
I've just caught this morning's news and was sad to learn that the well known ex-brat and broadcaster, Cliff Michelmore, passed away yesterday aged 96yrs. Born in Cowes on the Isle of Wight he became a member of the 32nd Entry, reached the rank of Sqd.Ldr. and after the war he began broadcasting on British Forces Network radio and eventually became a mainstream presenter with the BBC.
On 18 February 1957, just a few weeks before we all signed on the dotted line, he became anchorman for what was a new BBC Television topical weekday magazine-show called "Tonight", which ran for eight years and attracted 8 million viewers at its peak.
Arthur Clifford Michelmore, CBE (11 December 1919 – 16 March 2016)
I forwarded an email, from a Spanish gentleman, asking Ian Smith for information (for use in a presentation) about his time as a Flight Engineer on Concorde. Seems to me that Ian's fame is spreading.....
On the 19.Jan.2016, Phil Stephens received an email from Billy Pritchard, who is still living in Texas:
"Glad to hear you are still keeping up the good work. I just turned 75 in December. Every thing is still going well; still playing music 3 or 4 nights a week and had a soccer kick around on Sunday.
Please pass on my regards to all."
I received this email (way back in Dec. 2015, I'm afraid), from Ken Single of the 85th.
"Hello,I'm seeking John C Crapp, ex 85th entry who passed out with the 86th. We were good friends, spending our time together in 2 Wing, until I graduated with the 85th. He was an electrical fitter (air) in those far off days, a Welshman from Bridgend. Any pointers appreciated.
Ken Single 85th".
Unfortunately we have no record of J Crapp in our Entry, presumably because he was not one of our original intake. The chap's name rings no bells with me, I'm afraid but perhaps one of our 2(A)Wing and/or Electrical(Air) guys can help..?
An extract from an email from Keith Wright (received in November 2015) ;
"Our new AVRO Heritage-Centre opened to the public today (Friday 13th!!). It's well worth a visit if you ever venture this far north. You can see what it's like on our website".
Rather a disappointing number of emails have so far been received on the subject of the eventual disposal of Entry funds.
Looking forward to the get-together down in Kent that Jim Terry has organised for next week. Those I've managed to attend to date, have been most enjoyable.
Michael "Tom" Sawyer has a new email address. Contact me if you would like an update.
Richard de Frane has sent in a thoughtful response to the question as to how we might dispose of Entry funds that could exist when the time comes to disband our Entry's Association. I hope there will be a wide-ranging response on this subject from other members of the Entry.
Rather than people having to dredge through various News items to keep abreast of the discussions, I have created a Q & A type page where all related items on this and perhaps other topics will be lodged.
Richard's thoughts have been added to the page, access to which is via the new button, at the top of this page.
Keith Wright has forwarded an interesting contribution to the debate on eventual disposal of Entry funds. (See Discussion Page).
Terry Groves has sent in the sad news of the death of Robin 'Danny' Dayer.
Danny began his time at Halton as a member of the 85th Entry and then was recoursed to us. He became a very popular member of our Entry and was well known for the rich stock of ideas he came up with - almost monthly it seemed - to make his fortune. A smashing lad who l very much liked and will miss. I'm sure that many ex 3(A) Wing and/or Inst(Nav) members will feel the same.
Robin, who had strong personal and business associations within South America, passed away while holidaying in Uruguay.
The Kent 86th brat-lunch, organised by Jim Terry, took place last week. It was up to its usual good standard and a pleasant time was had by the 14 people attending,viz:
Rod Whitehead - Jim & Jean Terry - Colleen & Vic Gardner - Meg & PeteTowse Pete Reynolds - Roger & Tina Harris - Mervyn & Beverly Ellis - Carol & John Grant. Missing from the photo are Roger & Tina Harris - Colleen & Vic Gardner (all four called away on grandparents duty) and Jean Terry (who took the snap).
As you might expect, much of the time was spent putting the world to rights while auditing the draught beer. As far as I could tell, both exercises turned out pretty well.
The subject of Entry Funds was also aired (see Discussion Page).
You may remember that in February 2015, Dave Hunter had to undertake a wheels- up landing in an aircraft he had built himself; the Cvjetkovic CA-65 (Registration G-CFVJ). Several of us had been lucky enough to view this machine when we toured the hangar on his airfield. After the effort it must have taken to complete the build there was some concern that G-CFVJ would never return to the air. Not so; as David explains. . .
"Yes I got the CA65 flying again. Have to confess that the experience of its accident left me lacking any enthusiasm to get back onto it but after nearly a year I regained the urge and got it fixed. It was not too big a job, it is a very sturdily built machine. A new prop of course and checks on the transmission, a new belly flap, pitot head, aileron mass balance arm plus a few minor patches and it was away again. Now I am having problems with the fuel injector which is holding it up but I think it will have to go back to the makers in USA for rectification. After that it should be ready for final approval for a Permit to Fly, the first of its type in UK so after that any other builder of the type will be able to go ahead knowing it will be approved with no delay. I've attached a couple of pics for your interest.
Roger Harris has passed on the sad news that Michael Field, who was one of our 1(A) Wing Armourers, has passed away. Michael became a dockyard radiation safety officer on nuclear submarines after leaving the Service in 1964.
Phil Stephens contributed one of the earlier items on the BackChat page describing a chance meeting with Roy Harper in Blackpool during the early 1960s. Roy started out with our Entry as an Engine Fitter in 2(A)Wing. It seems that his real talent however lay in the field of music rather than aircraft engineering: he left Halton before completing the course and set out to establish himself as a musician.
He started by busking in Europe and North Africa, eventually becoming widely recognised as a talented musician and composer.
A brief article outlining his career and many talents appears on the BackChat page.
Ian Smith's 'presence' keeps spreading. I was talking with Colin Pogue the other day and he informed me that The Concorde exhibition at his local museum (Brooklands) runs a 'constant' video-loop showing scenes illustrating the aircraft's life and activities. Colin recognised a brief flash of Ian manning the engineer's station. Ian must have a very good agent methinks.
Answered my door-bell a week or so ago to discover Frank Turner standing there in all his lycra glory. He was returning from a meeting with his local band of fellow cyclists and decided to call in on his way home.
I have to say that he was looking very well so it would seem that he is still benefitting from all that exercise - I certainly wish that I was as fit as he seems to be.
I have received an email, purporting to be from John Willows, which invited me to open an attached link and discover "something interesting". My security software (ESET) prevented my doing so, declaring that the link is potentially dangerous; so be warned....
John Timney has suggested another recipient for any Entry funds remaining as and when our Association is 'wound-up'; see the Discussion Page.
More information regarding their plans for the establishment of engineering bursaries has been released by the RAFHAAA. Their complete booklet, published with the latest edition of The Haltonion, has been loaded onto the Discussion Page.
The next Royal Air Force Halton Apprentices Association Triennial Meeting will be held at Henderson Groves on Saturday 24th September 2016. You must be a member of the association to attend. I have included a registration form for those who are members but have not received a form and for those who are currently not members of the association but would like to qualify for admission to the gathering.
Roger Harris writes;
"I have a very embarrassing situation on my hands. Unfortunately by some curious reason the news of the death of Mick Field was totally incorrect. The news came to us from my sister in law who had accepted it in good faith from another relative.etc etc.
I have today just spoken with Mick (for the first time since his wedding day) and, happily, discover that he is very much alive and, luckily, was quite amused to find he had been included on our Farewells page. I am terribly sorry to have passed this false info onto the entry website via you but please understand it was in good faith as I had no reason to doubt the authenticity or way to check with other relatives etc.
Best wishes, Roger."
My apologies also Mick. I have, of course, amended the Farewells page. (PT)
(As at 26.Aug.2016)
An uplifting email from a proud father; John Timney:
"So, today, 19th of July 2016 was quite a momentous occasion for me.
Having never been back to the Alma Mater, I was invited, as a guest, to a graduation parade at RAF Halton, small beans you say?
The Graduation was No 573 Course, Douglas Intake of new recruits, a 10 week course preparing the recruits for further training and entry into the real RAF.
So what was momentous?
The Reviewing officer was my son in law, Group Captain Tony Keeling, OBE, MDA, Ma, BEng, FREeS, RAF, having graduated with 149 entry at Halton, and of course myself as a guest a reminder of past glories.
The recruits were a credit to the Force, and to their trainers, standing proud in 34degrees C, the hottest day of the year, and making their parents and families as proud as they should be.
Proving that Halton, as ever, is still producing quality, whatever the task.
I had a tear in my eye as they marched past, remembering that day in 1960, when my parents were as proud, and I was as chuffed to have made it."
Frank Turner has made the excellent suggestion that this website publishes a list of members who want to attend the triennial - along with their area of domicile - with a view to enabling some car sharing to be arranged . I am happy to do this but I will shortly be going off-the-air for a while - so let me know if you will be attending, asap.
Attendees to date: Frank Turner - Letchworth area.
Jim Terry & Roger Harris - Kent area
From Tony Freeman (extract from an eMail to Phil Stephens)
"Well I am up to my eyeballs in attempting to help my golf club overcome some testing challenges, most of them associated with planning major projects and seeking grants and financial assistance to fund them. I was elected the club’s Vice President a year ago and that keeps me fully occupied. It really has become a full-time (but voluntary) job. This week I have six conforming and three non-conforming tenders to assess before selecting a preferred tenderer and a reserve for our 27 hole course irrigation upgrade project. The current system is dying (it is 35 years old and such systems are usually lifed for a maximum of 25 years) and replacing the system is urgent – it must be done in 2017. So lots of lobbying of MPs, councillors as well as federal and state agencies, writing an RFT and generally planning the whole thing. My involvement is such that there is little time available for other matters, including playing some golf. So my handicap is shot! However there was a 3 and a half week period in August when I could take a brief holiday trip back to the UK and at very short notice we booked the flights and on 5 August arrived at Manchester. We had several ancient relatives to see and sadly a couple of them are about to topple off their perches. So our trip was timely in that regard but we had to arrive back in Sydney on 30 August. We flew with Qantas and Emirates in Airbus A380s on each of the four sectors. The aircraft is impressive and makes all other passenger aircraft seem noisy. Ah well we enjoyed our trip although there were 2 overriding impressions from our stay, mostly in York: the number of tourists and and the vehicle traffic density is mind boggling. It seems to us that grid lock is not too far off. We will see how things develop next year!
I am sorry I cannot attend the final Halton Triennial later this month. Even if I had known the date a little earlier I could not have delayed our trip dates from Australia to the UK and return to enable me to attend. So I am disappointed I cannot be there but will be with you in thought and spirit on the 24th. Assembling in No 1(A) Naafi will doubtless bring back a flood of memories of our early days in the Service at Halton. At the time the course seemed unending but when you look back we saw boys grow into men in three short years and our training at No 1 School of Technical Training gave us a very good grounding for both our future Service careers and life thereafter. So I for one will always be grateful for the start in our professional lives Halton provided to all of us in No 86 Entry. I would be very grateful Phil if you would kindly pass on my regards and very best wishes to members of No 86 Entry attending the Triennial.
Take good care of yourself but please have one for me at the Triennial. Tony."
Ray Helliar, who manages the Entry's accounts, sent me the following information during the middle of last year. This is the gist of his message;
"In five years we will have reached our Diamond Graduation Anniversary and most of us (will be) in our 80’s.
We have over £900 the bank, which could be spent on a grand dinner and overnight stay on the weekend closest - or could be spent on a good cause such as the Battle of Britain memorial and church at Biggin Hill.
The rules governing our own Entry Association funds currently dictate that when it is "closed-down" any monies still held should be donated to the RAFHA association. However, as time reduces the number of volunteers whose tireless efforts keep the RAFHA going the more likely it becomes that the RAFHA itself will close. It would therefore seem prudent to discuss the options open to us.
Ray has asked me to canvas your views . It will take some time, I know, but help to start the ball rolling and I will update you with the responses.
Paul Fidler has thrown his hat into the ring for the prize of: The Youngest Rook. He bases his claim on the fact that is date of birth was 13th January 1942.
I have added his name to the list of claimants (Members page: Old/Young) but the winner still appears to be Derek Paul whose date of birth was 25th January 1942.