Planning for 2015 and 2016 Reunions


Ivor reports  that he didn't receive as many replies to his email as he would have liked and the suggestions he got were 2 for Wiltshire, 1 for Lincolnshire and  6 for Portsmouth.  

Today, 28th November 2014, Ivor circulated an email confirming that the 2015 Reunion date is the weekend of 19th September and will be held at the Best Western Royal Beach Hotel in Portsmouth.

Tony and Pam Miles did a great job of initially assessing the local hotels and gave a steer on which to consider; there were two to look at in detail and the Royal Beach won the day.

A recce trip to check-out the Hotel was carried out on Wednesday, 26th November by Tony and Pam, Margaret, Ivor and their son Robert (duty driver). Ivor has since reported that this venue can provide us with the amenities we are looking for and it is very well situated for access to all the many historic and interesting locations that Portsmouth and Southsea has to offer. Importantly, the hotel has offered us a good deal and that's the subject of Ivor's 'e' mail.

Everyone is encouraged to book early so you can make sure of a place at our Reunion Dinner.

One last thing. If anyone would like to arrange an After Dinner speaker then please feel free to do so but let me (John Burt) know what you are planning so we don't end up with more than one speaker. By the way, choice of speaker should not be limited to those people with RAF or for that matter aviation connections. I'm sure the ladies will appreciate something a bit different this next year.


Ivor reports that initially there was some concern as to when the 2016 Reunion should take place so he has advised well ahead of time that the timing will coincide with the 2016 Halton Triennial; so this means the weekend of 24th September 2016. Ivor has taken on board suggestions about having the dates in early Spring to coincide with our time at Halton; but adds that we have previously held our reunions in September. The weather is usually dependably good at this time of year and it means that people can plan an extended weekend break to visit the Triennial and other sites of interest around the area.

Because there is always pressure on getting sufficient room bookings in the Halton area at Triennial time, Ivor has made an early 'tentative' booking with Martin at the Peacock Hotel in Henton for all the rooms to accommodate our group. Smart move I'd say.

John Fenwick RIP

Ivor was informed by Anne, the estranged wife of John Fenwick, 3Wing (Armourer), that 'Ginge' had died on 19th April 2014.

Ivor goes on to say that once Ginge found the 83rd Entry again he embraced us and at that time Ginge was running a business which was involved in the manufacture and distribution of Corporate Gifts. This worked in our favour because at the time we were engaged in developing our Entry Banner and once the basic design had been agreed Ginge produced the artwork and had the Banner made. Those of us who are familiar with the Banner know it to be one of the best; if you've not seen it, there's an example shown in the Reunion 2014 write-up / images. Whilst producing the Banner, Ginge had the Entry Badge digitized and it is this image that Ivor now uses on our letterhead and for other purposes. Ginge also provided us with several 83rd Entry key fobs which were given away at one of our Reunions.

Ginge and Anne came to a few of our Reunions and on one occasion Anne, a College Lecturer, gave an interesting and humorous "After Dinner" speech. One passage that caused much hilarity was when Anne remarked about how RAF Halton had taught Ginge to take things apart without the aid of manuals but had failed to train him to put things back together without manuals and make it work again. As a result, Anne's kitchen always had some item of equipment in pieces on display. Anne's speech certainly captured the imagination of the ladies and there were many murmurs of agreement! However, the men all denied such things ever happened!

After suffering a stroke and spending a period recovering at home, Ginge fell ill again and needed 24/7 care; thus he spent the last few years of his life in a care home battling with dementia.

Ivor remarks that he will always be grateful for Ginge's input to the 83rd Entry and has informed the RAFHAA of his passing.

Tower of London Poppies

Just a couple of amazing images of what must be one of the most poignant commemorations to all those souls lost during WW1. Truly a remarkable sight!

Pat O'Shea - Update from US

It's taken a while to convince Pat that he should send me the images to put on our website that were taken during his 2001 trip to the UK with a US Tourist Industry delegation. Finally, he has dug them out and they are reproduced below with text to explain the events. Also, the images of wildlife around where Pat and Judith live leaves me thinking that perhaps I prefer the wildlife we have here in Surrey! 

Movers and Shakers

Pictured with Prince Philip - The Prince remarking on Pat wearing an RAF tie, said  " Americans do not know what it is and sometimes buy them at Selfridges". After Pat's reassurance that he qualified, the Prince offered and gave Pat a conducted tour of Windsor Castle. He also asked where the delegation was going next and when advised it was Chequers to meet the PM he said, "Another man living in a tied cottage".  Commenting on the wood paneling in Windsor Castle the Prince said " now, that is pear wood. Most people would not know that, but I am a fund of useless information"   Pat concludes with the statement that "he found all of the Prince's quips quite amusing, and they were all delivered instantly and with good humour.

Meeting with Tony Blair at Chequers. A pleasant meeting and he seemed genuinely interested in resolving the loss of US tourists to the UK as a result of widespread foot and mouth disease in the country. Security was very impressive. The PM showed us around and then also showed us two interesting artifacts that are kept there. Queen Elizabeth 1's signet ring and Oliver Cromwell's death mask. Both brought to Parliament to prove that they had passed on.  Snacks were served by RAF staff from the RAF Halton Catering School. The next day was a visit to Number 10 where the delegation met several Cabinet Ministers and Mrs. Blair. 

All of these visits were arranged by Lord Colin Marshall, Chairman of BA. Colin Marshall had been President of Avis when Pat was a Vice President of Budget. Pat recalls that he was a really good guy who started out age 16 as a cadet with P&O so they had similar backgrounds. Colin passed away in 2012. At that time all facets of the tourism industry in the UK accounted for about 11% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product), far more than most people would have assumed; so a 50% drop in Tourism due to foot & mouth disease crisis was a major setback for the UK. Swift action within the industry and the BTA enabled the UK to get back on track. 

Meeting Chancellor Gordon Brown at the UN -  Pat  was on the British Tourist Authority Advisory Board and there to persuade the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer to increase BTA funding. As someone who had lived in England, Scotland (Leuchars) and the USA, Pat spoke all the languages so was nominated as spokesman! First Pat mentioned he had previously lived in Gordon Brown's constituency and that broke the ice and the Chancellor remarked that at one time Fife controlled a large part of Scotland and part of Scandinavia. So, with an election coming up Pat mentioned that maybe he would have a future opportunity. He liked that but couldn't understand the negative press in the USA and the linkage of Foot & Mouth disease with Mad Cow disease. They agreed on the ignorance of most journalists and Pat advised him that the BTA needed the funds to buy advertising and the nasty pictures of dead animals would soon disappear. The Government passed a special bill that night for a substantial BTA advertising fund increase.

Many years ago - one of Pat's Air South aircraft at Kennedy Airport with PanAm aircraft in the background. All gone now!

Florida Wildlife

Now for some wildlife pictures from the US. Pat remarks that these wildlife images from his neighborhood are not quite the same that Tony Gassner has to offer in  Africa, especially the bigger beasties in Zambia. The captions are appropriate though!

Those big eyes are watching you !!! No, it's not a log...

And then he shows himself - in the Wekiva river. A 9-10 foot alligator. Fast movers on land or in the water-dogs are just great for lunch

The bear, just too big.  200 pounds, in the tree in our driveway


This one came for breakfast - 300 pounds.


Trash Monday and Thursday so he gets there before the garbage truck

Maybe this would make a tasty snack-but it's a fast mover

But it moves too fast... trash day is easier 

And this buzzard will take whatever is left over !

Halton Awards - Airfield Squadron Trophy

I recently received an 'e' mail from Brian Spurway, the 81st Entry ‘factotum'. Brian went on to say " I’ve recently opened up an extensive History page on the 81st website and an outcome of doing so was a message from one of our guys because, although I had devoted a section of the page to the awards won by our brainiest, I’d omitted his ‘Award’ (he wasn’t one of the aforementioned!!). He had been the first recipient of an award called the Airfield Squadron Trophy (see first three photos [reproduced below], the winner is centre right of group) which I certainly have no recollection of – do you? The reason I ask is because one Ken Nicholas (see fourth photo), who was medically sent down to the 83rd from the 81st, also received this award. Two Kens, both riggers and both from the same Entry (well, originally anyway!) some coincidence, eh?  I asked Ken 2 if he also had photos to record the presentation but he could only produce the one below with his name on – so do you have any relevant record / photos / or whatever amongst your Entry memorabilia? Does anyone amongst your membership remember the trophy being presented. I’d love to hear from you if you can add anything – or even if you can’t!   Best regards, Brian ".

I replied to Brian that I had circulated his note to the riggers we are in touch with and he replied "Thank you John – just one small point: There’s no suggestion that this award was only for riggers, just happens that the two I know about, from the 81st and the 83rd, were of that illustrious trade"!

For the record: I had a reply from Tony Miles saying he could not recollect the award. John Walker likewise replied but couldn't add anything to the story. Does anyone else have any information to offer?

Farnborough 1954

For a nostalgia trip please click on the image below.


A memo to  No: 3A Wing Duty Senior NCO from OC 2 Squadron on 22nd May 1957 - Click-on Defaulters Parade

Another  Day Out in Worthing

Every few months Ivor, Margaret, Brian, Maureen, Janet and me get together for lunch and, when they are not away on a caravan trip, we are joined by Pam and Tony. We all live within easy reach of each other so it's easy for us to arrange to meet up. This time, on 2nd October, we met up at Brian and Maureen's home in Goring and we all enjoyed an excellent lunch at The Swallow in Worthing. Afterwards as is the norm, we took a stroll along the 'promenade' to enjoy the sea air with the sun shining upon us before returning to Brian and Maureen's home for tea and cakes. It doesn't get any better than enjoying quality time with good friends particularly as Pam was scheduled to go into hospital the following day for her knee operation (I'm delighted to report that Pam is now back on her feet and running around after a successful procedure).

The following images were taken on our day out:

L to R: Brian, John, Tony, Janet, Pam, Margaret, Maureen and Ivor

This is what oldies do at the seaside - isn't it? This image was taken by a young lady who was passing by with her young daughter and was intrigued to know what was causing such hilarity amongst the older generation! A brief explanation of our long and close friendships that were forged from our days at RAF Halton nearly 60 years ago, seemed to have tremendous resonance with both mother and daughter. Smiles all round - Nice one!

What a beautiful end to our day by the sea!

Wings & Wheels 2014 at Dunsfold

(including the 2 Lancaster's in formation and the Vulcan)

Wow! - that's a bit close

Not for the faint hearted!

Dakota taking off

B26 Mitchell getting airborne

Unique and very moving sight combined with the beautiful sound of 8 Rolls Royce Merlins. Probably not a sight that we will see again in the UK !

BBMF and Canadian Lancaster's in formation escorted by a Hurricane and Spitfire Mk 19 - 10 RR Merlins this time!

Another unique formation with the Dakota and B26 accompanied by a Mustang and Spitfire Mk9

More our era - Hunter T7 chasing a Canberra PR9

Couldn't resist sharing this shot - Mustang and Spitfire Mk9 in 'very' close formation

Say's it all really - The venerable Vulcan escorted by a Folland Gnat

These are just a selection from the 400+ images I took on the day. It was a brilliant day out at Wings and Wheels at Dunsfold on 23rd August. It has to be one of the best air displays I have seen for years and I've been to quite a few! There were long flying display sequences so there was plenty of time and many options for getting good images. Highly recommended.

Frank Vickerman RIP

Ivor (our long serving and diligent Entry Secretary) recently advised me that he still tries to locate members that we have not yet found and one of those he has spent a bit of time researching is Frank Vickerman (1 Wing, Engines). He thought some years ago that he had a possible lead to Wellingborough, Northants but eventually it went off search, although this was where he lived. Recently, with Bill Green's help (he was a close mate)  Frank's story can now be told.

Please see details  received by Bill in correspondence with Frank's widow Linda. Linda has kindly allowed her note to be forwarded to members.    

Hi Dave or Bill if you prefer,  

 Received  your letter about Frank, he was indeed my husband and sadly died as you discovered some years ago. I am not sure if you are aware he was medically discharged from the RAF in 1959 as a result of a  motorbike accident ( a hit and run incident). He had serious head injuries and was in Ely Hospital for some time. He recovered and worked for some time in London for Kellogg, a petro/ chemical business and I met him during this time. I lived near his parents in Irchester, we married and had three  boys. Frank eventually worked locally in the Civil Service.

Unfortunately in later years he developed  problems relating to the old head injuries and was eventually medically retired in his 50's and, as  you know, he passed away in 2001.

He never really came to terms with having to leave the RAF and had a lifetime interest in aircraft, cars and trains !  He owned an Aston Martin which he had completely rebuilt including the engine. He was a Warrant Officer with the Air Cadets for some time and was active in our local RAFA branch as the Welfare Officer for a number of years. We visited many air shows and indeed went to Halton once. He always spoke very fondly of his time there and of his fellow apprentices.  Flying model aircraft and  hockey matches were mentioned; perhaps you played also ... in fact somewhere (I have moved house a few times!) I have his flying log and  a number of photos from his time at Halton.  

Hope this brings you up to date, thanks for your interest.  

Regards, Linda Vickerman

Halton Ode by Charles T Kimber

I found this file among my many bits of digital memorabilia and I haven't got a clue where my original is so that I could obtain a better image for you. All the same, I would like to share it with you because I'm sure you will fully appreciate these fine words by Charles T Kimber, the Author. Simply Click on the following link images/Halton Ode.pdf

Service Slang and it's Origins

Close contact between French and British troops in WW1 resulted in a number of slang expressions borrowed from French, often with humorous Anglicization of spelling and pronunciation. Some are very much associated with the war and did not make their way into mainstream colloquial English but were commonplace during our apprenticeship at RAF Halton and subsequent service careers.

For example no bon (English no alongside French bon, meaning "good") and napoo (from il n'y en a plus or il n'y a plus - "there is no more"), which was used in the war to mean "finished", "no more", or as a verb to mean "kill" ("Poor Bill got na-poohed by a rifle-grenade yesterday.")

Others, such as toot sweet (from tout de suite - "immediately"), are still in use. Toot sweet is, strictly speaking, not a WW1 coinage, as examples are found in English from the early 19th Century, but it gained widespread currency only during the war, and the heavily Anglicized form the tooter the sweeter ("the sooner the better") is certainly a WW1 phrase.

Another word which may have been borrowed from French is skive, first used as a military slang term during the war before passing into general usage. The etymology of skive is uncertain, but it may have derived from French esquiver ("to escape, avoid") - if so, the word would be the most prominent addition to English from French resulting from WW1.

After the introduction of conscription in 1916, the distinction between soldiers and civilians became less clear, and vocabulary passed readily from one group to the other.

This is the case with a number of words borrowed from Indian languages by the British military in the 19th Century, perhaps the most well-known of which is Blighty. The Urdu words vilayat ("inhabited country", specifically Europe or Britain) and vilayati ("foreign", or "British, English, European") were borrowed by the British in the 19th Century. Both are still used in South Asian English. But it was the regional variant bilayati - rendered as Blighty in English and meaning "Britain, England, home" - which really took off in Britain. Although it was first used during the Boer war, it was not until WW1 that Blighty spread widely and developed new meanings. A blighty wound was a wound sufficiently serious to merit being sent home, and one might also be hit by a blighty bullet inflicting such a wound.

Similarly, cushy ("easy, comfortable") was borrowed from Urdu kusi in the 19th Century, but spread to civilian use only in WW1. In modern times cushty, a derivation of cushy, was immortalised by Del Boy in the TV series "Only Fools and Horses".

John Burt