Entries since the last update are highlighted in Yellow

Bob Hutchinson RIP

John Gardner sent Ivor an Email with the sad news that Bob Hutchinson (681935 Hutchinson R.W.A.  Engines 1Sqn 1Wing) had passed away on Thursday 28th September, after a long illness.

Ivor recalled that it was Bob and Rose that set up the party for John's 50th birthday that eventually led to the 83rd Family being created. At Halton, Bob was a very good side drummer in the pipe band. 

Ivor provided Dot's address for our members to send their condolences and advised that he hoped to get the funeral details in due time.

Authors Note: Ivor is right to note that 'Hutch' was a very good side drummer in the Pipe Band. He was the Station Leading Side Drummer for a time. In the "History of the RAF Halton Apprentice Pipe Band" it is recorded that the Silver Side Drum was awarded to L/A/A Hutchinson at the 28th July 1958 Pipe Band Competition. At the same competition Johnny Walker was awarded Best Piper but it was not until the Band Competition on 15th December 1958  that Johnny was the first piper to get his hands on the coveted Silver Pipes. I recall the events well because I was Station Leading Tenor Drummer at the time.

Hugh Young RIP

Ivor sent our members an Email to advise us that he has to sadly report the passing of another member of the 83rd Entry. 682044 Young H.E. (Airframes) 3 Squadron, 3 Wing.

Ivor had been contacted by Dean Young regarding his father Hugh who died on Thursday, 10th August 2017. Hugh had fallen ill and was in hospital in a coma, eventually discharged but died suddenly at home. He is survived by his wife Chris, children and grand children. Dean spoke of growing up following his father's postings and learning of Halton.

Please see below a note from Bernard Pink who attended Hugh's funeral.

Just a quick update on Hugh's funeral (see attached Order of Service) that  I attended and I was very nervous as I cannot say I knew Hugh other than to nod or say hello, etc. The day turned out to be very emotional for myself and Chris (Hugh's wife) and his son Dean. As the only representative of the 83rd and indeed the Royal Air Force, I was welcomed with open arms and the emotions ran high. Hugh was immensely proud of being "a brat" of the 83rd.

Chris and Dean were overwhelmed with the fact that a member of the 83rd had taken the trouble to attend his funeral. So although it was a very sad occasion I felt very humble (and proud) that I had been able to bring additional comfort to them on this sad occasion. At the wake we exchanged details and the talk of the 83rd, the training at Halton and general service life went on and on. It is very obvious when talking to Dean that the training and experiences that his father had encountered both at Halton and in the service had made a big impact on him. A lovely family. As I write this I have just received your email re Colin Lines. It would be nice if a member of the 83rd could attend his funeral as I am sure it would bring additional comfort to the family etc. Very Kind Regards, Bernard

Colin Lines RIP

We first learned about the sad news that Colin Lines (681557 C A  Lines Engines, 1 Sqn, 2 Wing) had passed away on 4th August in Somerset West, SA; when Ivor received an Email from Tony Gassner in Cape Town. Tony informed us that Colin leaves his wife Christine and son Harry who is soon to qualify as a geologist at Stellenbosch University. Tony recalls that Colin was a true brat and gentleman and regrettably, he was not informed of Colin's illness, and eventually, his funeral early in August. Tony said that his nomadic ways haven't helped but added that Colin went to where all good men go, and he believes in this, so he is trusting in another final reunion. Tony closed by saying he will inform Christine of the good thoughts.  

Christine sent Ivor the following Emails in November.

Dear Ivor,  Greetings from South Africa. I hope this email finds you fit and well and ready for the rigors of the festive season!  It is my very sad duty to write and inform you that after a brave, year-long battle with cancer, my husband Colin Lines, passed away peacefully in August this year.  He was 78 years old.   In recent years, via a friend here in South Africa (Tony Gassner) Colin had ‘reconnected’ with the Halton community and enjoyed reading The Haltonian magazine and looking up old friends and seeing photos on the website and following your emails.  I had hoped that one day we might attend a reunion or get together when visiting England.  Both Colin’s brother and father trained at Halton – his father was in the 3rd Entry I think.   During his Eulogy at his memorial service here in SA, Halton was mentioned.  His training and his time there forged part of his character. He greatly valued loyalty and integrity in his friends and he still kept in touch with one or two people from his RAF days. After Halton he served 14 years in the RAF after which he had a successful career in the oil industry, working for Texaco for 23 years.   We are organising a memorial service in the UK which will be held in Epsom in January. If any 83rd Entry chums wish to have details they are very welcome to contact me via email.   Thank you for all your hard work on behalf of the 83rd entry.   Kind regards,   Christine Lines

Christine then followed up her original message with the details of Colin’s memorial service as follows:  

The memorial service will be held on Friday 5th January 2018 at 12 noon at the Epsom Cemetery Chapel, in Epsom, Surrey.  It is a very large cemetery just outside of Epsom on the way to the Downs and the racecourse (home of the Derby!).  In the centre of the Cemetery is a small Chapel and that is where the service will be held.   It will be a simple and hopefully meaningful service which will give us an opportunity to bid him farewell and to reflect on our memories of him.

After the memorial service I have arranged an informal lunch in a private room at a nearby restaurant called The Rubbing House. This is also marked on the map. We can relax with family and friends and share memories of Colin.   For those who are travelling a long distance – a number of guests will be staying overnight on the night of the 5th at the Holiday Inn Express which is directly opposite the Rubbing House and I can happily assist with a booking for accommodation if needed.  Those of us who are staying will enjoy dinner together that evening nearby.   Anyone is welcome to contact me for further information or assistance.  I will be travelling to England in early December.  

Colin was a great character – full of life and mischief for all of his life.  He will be sorely missed.   He is featured as a very young lad in the photograph below taken at Halton – he is on the front row on the far left.. crouching down….. I think one of the lads was pretending to be an instructor (identified as Andy Cairns) having ‘borrowed’ an instructors coat!  Some of your contacts may also be in this photo (Author: see Gallery 'Events during our stay at Halton' for the full list of names of those in the photo).      

Here is a picture of him in later years – he bought an Alvis car in the UK and shipped it with us to South Africa. He loved classic cars all his life! This photo was taken when he was 75.    

With kind regards,   Christine Lines

Irene Wray RIP

It was with regret that Ivor announced the sad news that Irene Wray had passed away on 21st February 2017. Irene had been suffering from dementia and it had reached a stage where it was necessary for her to be looked after in a care home. Irene was taken ill in the care home but after a few days in hospital she was released back to the care home in a stable condition.  Sleeping in a reclining chair, Arthur stayed with Irene at the care home until she passed away.  Ivor has spoken with Arthur, who tells him that his daughters have been down to stay with him but they have had to return to their homes. Arthur is coping, but if anyone would like to call him T: 01522 687288.

Michael Merritt RIP

Ivor was informed by Valerie Merritt, that sadly, Michael passed away on Sunday 12 March 2017.   Michael was Engines, 2 Sqn, 3 Wing.   Ivor recalls that he was in the same room as Michael for at least two years. Loads of memories.

83rd (Midlands) Group Dinner

John Cheesbrough reported that the first (hopefully not the only) get together by the "83rd (Midlands) group" destroyed an enjoyable meal at the Black Horse Inn in Great Linford, Milton Keynes last Thursday night, 7th December 2017.  Photo (of destroyed meal) attached (See below). Those present:  Angela and John Cheesbrough,  Sylvia and Jim Waddington, and Maureen and Dave (Bill) Green.   Unfortunately Stefan and Jane Chmielowski couldn't make it, due to Jane still recovering from an operation. The suggestion of a repeat performance, sometime around the end of April, was in the air as we left.   Anyone else in the area would be very welcome.  Meanwhile, a more apposite name for our group is keenly sought.   Suggestions on the back of a ten pound note please. Regards John C

L to R: John, Sylvia, Angela, Maureen, Dave and Jim

RAF Halton Closure in 2020 

Extracted from Ivor's AGM write-up that was circulated to members back in October.

Johnny Walker (Pipey) and Ivor attended the RAFHAA 2017 AGM which was well patronised. Ivor went on to observe that all matters discussed at the meeting seemed to be contentious and it lasted for about 4 hours. Ivor's report covered most of the matters of concern that were discussed, in particular the following extracts about the closure of RAF Halton in 2020. 

RAF Halton

RAF Halton will be no more after 2022, because all units will be gone, having been relocated elsewhere.   

The Station Commander made it very clear that the MOD Department responsible for disposal / revenue from the estate is charged with getting value for everything. During the planning and execution of the Halton estate disposal the MOD are required to work with Mandatory Partners who are, The Vale of Aylesbury Council along with the local District / Parish Councils and this is to ensure that infrastructure, schools, medical facilities, etc. are correctly planned. This brings in any assets that are protected in any form / heritage / listed buildings and so on.  

Min Larkin (63rd Entry, Archivist and a mainstay of the RAFHAA since its formation) is a local councilor, so the RAFHAA has a watching brief and should be well placed and able to provide valuable input to the discussions and negotiations.  

St. George's Church

There is already some support locally that the windows that adorn St. Georges Church make it a place to preserve.

The Apprentice Tribute

The tribute is the Apprentices Memorial that was opened by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. It is located outside Kermode Hall by the road side. It has to be borne in mind that the Ashes of several ex. Apprentices have been scattered around the memorial. It would be an area that people passing may wish to stop and see what it commemorates, However, what happens to the memorial will need to be in the plan.   

Trenchard Museum

Currently, the Museum is housed in the Henderson and Grove old gym and is manned and maintained by volunteers who are mainly ex-apprentices.

Where could this go? The RAF Museum at Cosford is a possibility, maybe. However, the general consensus is to put the artifacts and records in St George’s Church once the unit closes; bearing in mind what the Station Commander stated, "there is value in the property / land". Putting the museum in the Church has merit because it was stated that the museum is the third most popular attraction in the Vale of Aylesbury.  

The Halton Grove

The Halton Grove is plot 40 at the National Arboretum. The 83rd have a paver dedicated there.

The question is, what arrangements can be made to ensure its future? There is already a reduction in the volunteer group that currently help keep it tidy for visitors.

RAFHAAA & Triennials 

The RAFHAA is not planning any more Reunions at RAF Halton. The intention is that the RAFHAA as it is now will cease in 2020 and a ceremony is planned to be held at the National Arboretum in 2020 to mark the passing.  

The Haltonian

A discussion was held about current subscription income and the annual costs of producing the journal. To produce, the Haltonian costs about a £5 for UK members and £10 for overseas. It was suggested and agreed that the Council request current life members to pay the amount mentioned. You may hear from the RAFHAA if they go ahead with the plan.  

RAFHAT- (RAF Halton Apprentice Trust)

Charity Commission rules, etc. apply to the RAFHAA funds. Much time was taken up at the AGM discussing how the Council had arrived at setting up the Trust. Several months ago, there had been discussion on how the legacy of the RAF Halton Apprentices could best be preserved for the future and it was decided that the funds of the Association would provide a Legacy fund to support bursaries for young people within aero-engineering.

The first person attended a week at RAF College Cranwell undertaking various exercises. He is now in the process of applying to join the RAF. There are three more candidates already selected to undertake testing, including young ladies. The actual detail of the bursaries can be obtained from RAFHAA and there is in the order of £200K  already set aside in the Trust.

  RAFHAA Chairman / Council Vote

There was a challenge to the current Chairman. A secret ballot was taken and the current Chairman, Dennis O’Brien won 55 / 54. You can now see why the AGM was so fractious! The challenger is to join the RAFHAA Council and the current Council will continue for 3 years. Looking ahead, the Council have to consider the eventual demise of the Association  and what commitments the RAFHAA will have beyond its demise. These are varied and will need actual money.  

Ensuring there is an 83rd Entry Legacy

Ivor's sent members an Email in October to address the important question of an 83rd Entry legacy. As is always the case with providing a legacy, it will require some money to make it happen.

Ivor suggests we should be looking for something that will stand the test of time and be situated in a place of relative security (e.g. vandal proof) and his suggestion is a metal park bench incorporating our entry badge. Ivor's choice of location for a memorial bench would be in the Halton Grove at the National Arboretum.

Ivor notes that the challenge is for the members to decide. He went on to note that the Entry Window and the Entry Banner both took a lot of time to agree, plan, fund and complete  these projects in order to end up with  superior products and something to be proud of. Ivor says he is confident our members will come up with some excellent idea.

In a note to Ivor in October, Dave Stone remarked that as for the 83rd legacy, I like the suggestion of a memorial bench at the Halton Grove in the National Arboretum. It has the comfort of being a venue for the long term.

Reunion 2017 Latest Information


So far this year the following members of the Entry Family have booked their place at the Reunion, to be held at the Golf Hotel in Woodhall Spa, Lincs

Mike & Mary Powell, Stefan & Jane Chmielowski, Arthur Wray, Dave Sexton, Mal & Ann Wood,  Dave & Maureen Green,  Derek & Shelia Bye,  Ted & Jean Butcher,  John & Rose Gardner,  Bryan & Sue Canton,  Jim & Sheila Waddington,  Dave & Heather Stone,  John & Angela Cheesbrough,  Tony & Pam Miles,  Brian & Maureen Fairclough,  Dave & Angela Taylor,  Dave & Jean Smith,  Pat & Connie Butcher,  Ivor & Margaret John and Janet & John Burt.

If you are not on the list and are planning a late booking then you need to contact Ivor as soon a possible because the rooms that were being held specifically for the 83rd Entry Reunion have now been released back to the hotel.


For the month of August Ivor needs everyone to complete their menu choices for the Reunion Dinner on Saturday,16th September. It's simple, choose your Starter, Main and Dessert. Note the red alphabet letter against each and respond as follows:-   Peter:  A,E, I  Penelope: A,G, H.   Any special attention such as gluten etc., please make a note on your mail response.


A Soup - Lincolnshire root vegetable, served with warm crusty roll

B Smoked Haddock Fishcake on a bed of leaves with a sweet chilli sauce

C Chicken Liver Pate on a leaf salad served with toast


D Roast Beef with Yorkshire pudding, dauphinoise potato, roast potato, seasonal vegetables and a pan gravy

E Oven Baked Salmon Steak on a bed of mash with lemon butter and capers

F Char Grilled Sirloin Steak with chips, cherry tomatoes, flat mushrooms, onion rings and a sauce of your choice (cracked pepper, mushroom, or red wine)

G Supreme of Chicken served on a bed of mash with a port sauce


H  Cheesecake - White chocolate and raspberry

 Sticky Toffee Pudding with a toffee sauce and ice cream

Fresh Fruit Salad with Coconut Ice Cream

Cheese Board with Port, Tea / Coffee

International Bomber Command Centre (IBCC) Tour

Specifically to coincide with this year’s 83rd Entry RAF Halton Apprentices Annual Reunion weekend we have been able to arrange a guided tour of the International Bomber Command Centre, near Lincoln on Saturday, 16th September 2017 commencing at 11.00. The address is: Canwick Hill, Lincoln, LN4 2RF.  

As many of you will be aware, the IBCC is still under construction for a planned opening in December 2017 (See their website http://internationalbcc.co.uk ). However by mid-September, although still officially a construction site with some of the facilities still to be completed, the Memorial Spire and Walls, Memorial Gardens, car park and TOILETS, etc. will be accessible. Things to consider for the tour are in the Email already circulated by John Burt.

So far (as of 6th August) we have a party of 30 assembled and Tour Guides will be on hand to greet us, and take us on the tour of the Memorial. There is still time to book your place on the Tour. If you want to join us then please get in touch with John Burt.  There is no charge for the tour. A further £1.5 million is needed to complete the IBCC Project so donations will be much appreciated.

Spitfire LF XVIe - TE476 by Ivor John

Whilst at RAF Northolt (July 1977 - May1980)  as i/c the Visiting Aircraft Section, I had the above aircraft to maintain as the Station Gate Guard.

The servicing's were monthly, tyre pressure, general inspection, wipe down (bird guano), etc. Eventually a re-spray was required and this was a major task as it had to be towed to the North side of the airfield for hanger space.

Work commenced and I had a call to tell me that one of the paint colours was not now available. I contacted BBMF to see if they could help, “No” was the answer. I tried the LPO route but the Stores Officer stated there was a recommended near colour alternative and he could not approve the LPO. So at this point my boss had to be brought into play but he ended up with the same result. a decision was made to proceed with the alternative colour because it was “Only a Gate Guard”.  

At this time at RAF Northolt, VIPs would come from London along the A40 and the police motor cycle outriders would block off the London bound traffic to allow the VIP to swing in past the gate guard to the departure lounge. This entrance no longer exists and everyone has to enter from the north side along the A4180 leading to Ruislip.  

One morning I was in my office when a very smartly dressed Army Captain rushed in and informed me that the Chief of the Defence Staff would like to see me “immediately”. I was directed to the Spitfire where I was introduced to Marshal of the RAF, Sir Neil Cameron, then Chief of Defence Staff. He enquired if this aircraft was my responsibility and I replied  “Yes”. He asked me whether I knew the paint scheme was wrong and I answered “Yes”. He then enquired why one colour was incorrect so I gave him a brief resume of what had gone on. He promised to get the correct paint and someone would contact me.

At this point I just had to enquire why he would be so concerned about a slight colour variation. He just stated “It's in my bloody Log Book”. With that he shook my hand and then I saluted him. About 6 weeks later the paint turned up.  

The RAF eventually sold the aircraft and according to a later Flight International article, it was bought by an American who restored it back to flight. Further information: http://www.warbirdregistry.org/spitregistry/spitfire-te476.html

Brian Fairclough visit to the Taj Mahal

The following images were taken by Brian's daughter on 23rd March 2017 during their trip to India.

The RAF Cranwell Tiger Moth by Ivor John

This article is about some members of the 83rd Entry who helped to form the RAF College Cranwell Flying Club during their first posting after graduating from RAF Halton.

Eight members of the 83rd Entry were posted to RAF Cranwell in the Spring of 1959. In 1959 Cranwell also had a new Station Commander, Group Captain Lynch-Blosse and he was very much pro-airmen. Ivor always remembers the Saturday morning parades when the CO would roll up in a lovely old Humber limousine and then proceed to the dais with his shoes squeaking. They were crepe soled.

On arrival, the new Station Commander had the traditional photographs that adorned most SHQ’s at that time removed from his SHQ and replaced with pictures of the successful shooting team, football team, etc. To cap that, when an airman reached the age of 21 at Cranwell, as Ivor did, you got an official birthday card signed by the Station Commander. Ivor still has his and does remember that in those days you became a man at 21 and the card congratulated you on reaching your “majority”.

On Wednesday sports afternoon all sorts of activities were permitted in the widest sense of the word. The motor cycle club was allowed to gather at their club and do whatever they needed or wanted to do. What we 83rd members didn’t know at that time was the Station Commander had convinced the Officers Mess, the Sergeants Mess and the President of the Service Institute (PSI) on the Unit to commit funds to buy a Tiger Moth aircraft from RAF Abingdon so a Flying Club could be formed and flown from the North grass airfield. There was just one problem, the aircraft was not airworthy and fit for flight.

The aircraft bought was registration G-AOBH. In its RAF days it was T7997.

What happened is that over the winter of 1959 / 60 the aircraft was completely stripped and serviced with a local CAA Inspector coming in to do stage checks and give advice. My hangar Warrant Officer was appointed i/c Engineering but it was our Flight Sergeant Duffield who would choose (and  I use those words carefully) those who would form the nucleus of the servicing team.

I can remember Airframes (Tony Miles, Mal Wood and Jock McLaren), Engines (myself and David Stone) being part of the team that brought the aircraft back to life. In May 1960 the Club became functional and was formed to provide and promote flying for the airman on the unit. Up to the rank of Corporal there was a heavy subsidised flying rate. Sergeants and above had to pay full fee. There was a system where Flight Sergeant Duffield had a roster of an airframe fitter and an engine fitter who would go down to the hangar at 1600hr to do the Before Flight so he could sign it off ready for flying to commence as near as possible to 1700hrs.

Instruction was given free by QFIs from the RAF College Cranwell. I personally completed about 10hrs towards my Private Pilots Licence (PPL) and was about to go solo when the RAF intervened. I had recently married Margaret and an overseas posting to Seletar came up. So I spoke to my QFI who pointed out that a PPL would take at least 36 to 40 hours and I could not complete the hours before posting. So I saved the money instead.

Flight Sergeant Duffield was the first person from the club to be awarded a PPL. He was a very experienced glider pilot and due to some of the airmanship / navigation skills he already had, he could accelerate through the process. However whilst I was there, there was a Nav Inst Corporal who his QFI thought had exceptional aptitude for flying and recommended he be put forward for RAF pilot training. I was told later he succeeded and became a Canberra pilot.

I always wondered what happened to Tiger Moth G-AOBH (T7997) so I set about tracking her down. She is currently flying at Eaglescott Airfield, Devon.

The lead picture shows Tiger Moth G-AOGH (T7997) in tandem with Turbulent G-ARCZ flying over RAF College Cranwell Hall, circa 1960. The RAF Cranwell Flying Club still exists today but now operates much like any other flying club, no subsistence for the airmen.

Ivor John - July 2017

Entry Lunches - Southern Branch

Just four us made it  for lunch at The Owl in Kingsfold on the 14th June

L to R: John and Janet Burt  - Maureen and Brian Fairclough

On 3rd August eight of us travelled to Worthing to visit Brian and Maureen Fairclough and have lunch at Harry Ramsden's. This was followed by a visit to the Pier 'Penny Arcade' to enjoy past memories of seaside visits in our youth. Sadly, on this occasion Ivor and Margaret were unable to join us.

Of particular note was the weather.  It was predominated by very strong winds blowing in excess of 35 - 40 mph which clearly precluded the usual walk along the promenade after our meal and pier visit. Needless to say, we all used our bus passes to get to Harry Ramsden's which ensured we had sufficient energy to battle against the wind coming in off the sea.  

L to R: John Burt, Angela Taylor, Dave Taylor, Maureen Fairclough, Pam Miles, Janet Burt, Brian Fairclough and Tony Miles

Heads down at the 'Penny Arcade' on the Pier

Windswept on the end of Worthing Pier.

John's Mustang Flight

Thought I'd share my great and exhilarating experience on 31st October 2016 when I had a flight over the South Coast in a P51 Mustang. The flight with the Boultbee Flight Academy out of Goodwood Airfield in West Sussex was a gift from my younger brother Roger and witnessed by him, Janet and Si Jones (Fleet Air Arm), a good friend mine who took the photos.

The trip lasted about 40 minutes and we took off from Goodwood heading south toward the coast . We then flew over the sea following the coastline down to Portsmouth where we did a couple of loops and wingovers over the Dockyard before heading back inland toward Goodwood doing another couple of loops and wingovers before lining up for a nice landing. My pilot John is a BA 787 pilot in his day job and he flies the Boultbee Mk 9 Spitfire and Mustang for fun!

My brother Roger had his flight in the Mk 9 Spitfire a month earlier. I was there taking the photos and you should have seen the huge grin on his face when he landed.

The RAF Thor IRBM Missile Program

For those interested in learning about the only fully operational RAF Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile that was a key part of the defence of this country during the Cold War period, in particular during the Cuban Crisis, there are a couple of very good books that give an excellent and authoritative account of the program from start to finish. Both books have been very well researched and written by John Boyes,  Treasurer of the RAF Historical Society and financial controller of the Bomber Command Association and responsible for the financial management of the Bomber Command memorial in London.

Just a quick 'heads-up' to say that I am 'chuffed' to be listed in the Acknowledgements for John's second book, The Ballistic Missile. John contacted me back in 2014 having discovered on this website that I had served on Thor. I was able to help him out with some of the technical stuff because fortunately, I still had all my BCSMS (Bomber Command Strategic Missile School) training notes in the loft and could still recall quite a bit of the detail!

The following 3 books are a very good source of factual information for how this weapon system was conceived, established and operated in the UK by a small number of people.

Project Emily - Thor IRBM and the RAF is published by the History Press. Thor Ballistic Missile - The United States and United Kingdom in Partnership is published by Fonthill Media Limited.

The RAF Halton Aircraft Apprentice Scheme

by Gp Capt Min Larkin CBE MRAes

To all of you that think you know everything about Halton, have a look at this excellent piece of research done by Min Larkin. It is 16 pages long and covers the beginning, the middle and the end of the Halton "Brat".  Go to  http://www.oldhaltonians.co.uk/pages/news/Halton%20Story.pdf  It's an excellent read for all ex. Brats and anyone else with an interest in the formation of the Royal Air Force.

Planning for the 2017 Reunion

On the back of another very successful 83rd Entry Reunion / RAFHAA Triennial in 2016, planning is already well under way for our next reunion in September 2017.

It is always difficult to improve on the hospitality and atmosphere we enjoy at The Peacock Inn at Henton because over the years, The Peacock has become our spiritual home when we are staying in the area close to RAF Halton.

However, as we do, before Christmas Ivor asked the family to come up with ideas for 2017 and it appears that the choice is between returning to Southsea / Portsmouth or heading up to the Lincoln area; so Ivor has been looking at suitable hotels in those areas.  Ivor initially reported as follows:

Naturally for Portsmouth I have contacted Davina at the Best Western Royal Beach Hotel where we stayed in 2015. She is checking on how rates have changed since our visit. The date would be Saturday 16 September.  

Lincoln proved to be more difficult. There was not one reasonably priced hotel that could accommodate us in the immediate area of Lincoln. However, I have made contact with the Golf Hotel, The Broadway, Woodhall Spa, LN10 6SG. They can accommodate us on the 16 September. I am now awaiting some pricing, etc. having stated our case. The 83rd Management Team have not vetted the Golf Hotel and prior to any final agreement we would do so.

The hotel is about 14 miles from Lincoln City which operates a Park & Ride system in the area. The hotel is situated near to Coningsby (Battle of Britain Memorial Flight) and the East Kirby Aircraft Heritage Airfield at East Spilsby, where they are restoring a Lancaster back to flying condition. Also, on 14 September 2017 the new Lincolnshire Bomber Airfields Memorial area officially opens. The RAFHAA have been working with them to ensure our "Brats" that flew from Lincolnshire are remembered and particularly those that made the ultimate sacrifice.   I just wanted to get the email out so you can start thinking about the Reunion.   Hopefully I will have some further reporting to give you in the next week or so once the hotels have come up with their prices.

Update on 19th January:

Having secured competitive pricing from the Royal Beach Hotel in Southsea and The Golf Hotel near Lincoln Ivor has fixed the date for our Reunion  for the weekend of 16th /17th September 2017. It's now a case of members deciding where they want to go and Ivor will advise us which place it will be depending on the majority choice of members. So, watch this space!

Update on 5th February:

The majority of members (9:2) have chosen Lincoln as their first preference for this years reunion. The numbers exclude Ivor and me because we are happy to go along with the majority. So, the Management Team (Ivor, Janet, Margaret and me) have booked to see the management of The Golf Hotel, Woodhall Spa and do a full recce on Thursday 16 February. Ivor will report back on the recce and our meeting so don't 'jump the gun' until we have confirmed that the hotel and its facilities, etc. measure up. If not then we will need to consider an alternate venue or simply return to Portsmouth. Assuming all goes well, the Reunion Dinner evening will be Saturday, 16 September 2017 so you might want to start thinking about the number of nights you are planning to stay.

Latest Update on 21st February:

The Management Team travelled up to Woodhall Spa with Janet and John staying overnight on Wednesday 15th February and then meeting up with Ivor, Margaret and Robert late  morning on Thursday16th, for our meeting with the hotel owner. We had a very good meeting with Rajesh (a very nice chap) and Ivor raised all the usual admin and house keeping requirements for our reunion. Without exception, Ivor got all the answers he wanted from Raju. No surprises there, because Raju and his family have owned the hotel for the past decade and they are very much part of the Woodhall Spa community, regularly involved in local events and hosting RAF functions / reunions, etc.

After the meeting Raju took us on a tour of the 3* hotel which is set in large grounds within the village. Internally the hotel is well laid out, tastefully decorated, very comfortable and has a high food hygiene rating of 5. It also has a large car park.

Having stayed overnight Janet and I can testify that our room was clean, well appointed and comfortable and dinner was a real treat with delicious food that was well presented. The full English Breakfast in the restaurant on Thursday morning was equally well cooked and presented. So, needless to say, we have no qualms at all about returning in September for a longer stay. Just 'click-on' the image below to get a bit more information about the hotel and its amenities.

After the recce and having reviewed our options, etc. the management team are pleased to say that our 2017 Reunion will this year be held at The Golf Hotel in Woodhall Spa.

For those members planning to attend the 2017 Reunion, please remember that it is very important to keep a look out for Ivor's emails giving instructions about room bookings, etc. Please respond as requested in Ivor's emails to ensure the reunion admin runs smoothly.

Whilst on our visit we took the time to obtain some brochures telling us about various local places and events of interest within easy reach of Woodhall Spa. We last did a trip into the area back in 2014 and covered quite a few RAF related things so we already knew that in Lincolnshire, there are many interesting places to visit with lots of things to see and do. Ivor produced a rough guide of the aviation related sites to visit in "Bomber County" plus Lincoln City itself and he emailed this to those members attending the reunion. Please look up the websites to fully acquaint yourself with what is on offer.

If you happen to be in the Woodhall Spa area on 15th and 16th July this year (2017) and find the local through road (The Broadway) is closed, then you will have come across the Woodhall Spa 1940's Festival. The Golf Hotel is a key sponsor for this event and is at the centre of what takes place. Last year's Festival proved very popular and they say 20,000 people attended over the 2 days. To see a video clip to get a flavour of what happened at The Golf Hotel go to https://vimeo.com/176754519 . For further details go to the website 16e below.

Below is a map from a brochure that pretty much covers all the RAF related visitor attractions in 'Bomber County'. Listed below are brief descriptions to go with the numbers.

1. Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Visitors Centre, RAF Coningsby, Dogdyke Road, Coningsby, LN4 4SY - www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/bbmf

2. Cranwell Aviation Heritage Centre, Heath Farm, North Rauceby, Sleaford, NG34 8QR - www.heartoflinks.com

3. Grantham Museum, St.Peters Hill, Grantham, NG31 6PY - www.granthammuseum.org.uk

4. Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre, East Kirkby Airfield, Spilsby. PE23 4DE - www.lincsaviation.co.uk

5. Metheringham Airfield Visitors Centre, Westmoor Farm, Martin Moor, Metheringham, NG31 6PY - www.metheringhamairfield.co.uk

6. Newark Air Museum, Drove Lane, Winthorpe, Newark, NG24 2NY - www.newarkairmuseum.org

7. RAF Digby Sector Operations Room Museum, RAF Digby, Scopwick, LN4 3LH - www.raf.mod.uk/rafdigby

8. RAF Ingham Heritage Centre, Middle Street, Fillingham, DN21 5BU - www.rafingham.co.uk

9a and 9b. RAF Sandtoft and RAF Kirmingtom - www.nlaviationheritage.com

10. RAF Scampton Heritage Centre, Lincoln, LN1 2TR - www.raf.mod.uk/reds and www.raf.mod.uk/rafscampton

11. RAF Waddington Heritage Centre, Lincoln LN5 9NB - www.raf.mod.uk/rafwaddington/aboutus/heritagecentre.cfm

12. International Bomber Command Centre, Canwick Hill, Lincoln, LN4 2RF - www.internationalbcc.co.uk

  13. RAF Wickenby Memorial Museum, The Old Control Tower, Wickenby Airfield, Langworth, LN3 5AX - www.wickenbymuseum.co.uk

14. RAF College Cranwell Heritage & Ethos Centre, Cranwell Village, Sleaford, NG34 8HG - lee.adamson256@mod.uk

15. Squadrons Memorial Rooms, Elsham Wolds, North Lincolnshire - www.rafelshamwolds.com

16a. Thorpe Camp Visitor Centre, Woodhall Spa Road, Tattershall Thorpe, LN4 4PS - www.thorpecamp.org

16b. Dambusters Memorial, Royal Square, Woodhall Spa - www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g1055128-d7733363-Reviews-Dambusters_Memorial-Woodhall_Spa_Lincolnshire_England.htm

16c. Petwood House (former 617 Sqd Mess), Woodhall Spa - www.petwood.co.uk/about/history

16d. Woodhall Spa Airfield Nature Reserve, Woodhalll Spa - www.lincstrust.org.uk/woodhall-airfield

16e. Woodhall Spa 1940's Festival, 15th -16th July 2017 - http://woodhall-spa-40s-festival.com/ 

16f. Woodhall Spa Golf Club - www.woodhallspagolf.com

Apart from all the RAF related sites in 'Bomber County', within easy reach, there is also an abundance of other historic and interesting place to visit not least the City of Lincoln with its fine Cathedral and Castle.

For those with a game of golf in mind, the National Golf Centre at Woodhall Spa is a just short stroll from the Golf Hotel and boasts a full range of facilities to cater for every golfers needs. More details are on the above website.

Watch this space for further updates:


John Burt