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Scottish Saltire Aircrew Association News

7th August 2017

NOTE FROM THE CHAIRMAN
WINDING UP THE SCOTTISH SALTIRE AIRCREW ASSOCIATION

We have all been aware for some considerable time of the attrition of our membership through old age and infirmity and our inability to attract new blood. Furthermore, we now have the situation where three Council Members are on the "sick list" and unable to serve at present: sadly, experience shows that it is very improbable that anyone is likely to volunteer as replacements and we cannot continue to operate without a Council In these circumstances, your Council believes that we have no option other than to wind up our Association and has decided upon the following courses of action:

It has been a privilege to serve as your Chairman for the past 15 years; an experience which I have greatly enjoyed and I thank all those who have served the council for their help and support throughout my Chairmanship. I now stand down and wish you all the very best for the future.

Please note - Thanks to Webmaster Alan Donaldson, website services will continue as normal.

Battle of Britain Memorial Flight

Jack,

I hope this email finds you well? I have a bit of news that I thought you would like to hear, and by all means, you can pass it on to the other Association fellows: I am going to get as close as is possible to emulating some of you as I have been selected to join BBMF as a nav to fly in the Lancaster and Dakota over the summer season this year and beyond! Whilst it pales into insignificance compared to the operational dits that folk recounted to me both at the meetings I attended and those captured on the website library, hopefully I can keep some of your collective adventures alive by flying in and commemorating with such a special aircraft. Should any of you be able to make it to an airshow that BBMF are at (few and far between in Scotland I know!) then don't be a stranger as I would love to show you around some of your old haunts! (Admittedly I know you were mainly a B-24 man, but the Lanc will just have to do!)

All the best - - - Neil

Note: Many members will remember Tornado navigator Neil Whitehead who attended our meetings before being posted to RAF Waddington and who also contributed articles 127, 244 and 247. His offer in above message should add a bit of added interest for anyone attending an Airshow this year where the BBMF are performing. - Jack Burgess.

Aircrew Family Contacts

Last month we described our surprise on receiving a message from Julia Preston referring to the website article about her mother Hortense Damon Clews (see "Hortense - Lady of Courage" website article No.142).

After undergoing such brutal treatment by her German captors, it was remarkable that Hortense survived and recovered sufficiently to marry and raise a family in post-war Britain.

Yet another interesting contact has occurred by means of our website articles attracting world-wide responses.

The latest successful contact comes from Australia and is a response to Vivienne McCulloch's request for information on her father whom she had never met. (see undermentioned news item "The Aftermath - Picking Up the Pieces").

This recent response from Alice Springs, Australia, contains many details concerning Vivienne's father and should prove some comfort to her after all those years without news. Current incoming messages indicate that persons are responding to our website articles, regardless of wherever in the world members of the aircrew family may happen to live. Long may this continue.

1998 Membership on YouTube

Research Details Now Available

To assist those searching for aircrew details of Scottish ACA membership existing in 1998 - look no further!

Several families have already welcomed the addition of 1998 membership being readily available. Simply enter YouTube and select 'Scottish Saltire Aircrew Association 1998' when the details of many of the aircrew association members at that time will be shown. Alternatively, you can click on the link below.

A number of persons have already stated they were unaware of those details, and have voiced the appreciation of family members and others now having access to this information. One young granddaughter who viewed the YouTube film replied 'Really nice to see my Granddad on this, I was only two when he died and never remembered him or his voice.' We hope to receive much more feedback like this where the newly introduced YouTube information has been discovered and found to be helpful in tracing names and events.

Scottish Aircrew Assocation Movie 1998

Act - While Memories Still Exist.

Having recently received an award 'for services to military aviation' in the Queen's Birthday Honours List, our present wish is to continue giving a voice to those previously unheard. Our aim is to create an opportunity for those forgotten, lost voices to express their eye-witness accounts and personal flying experiences in their own words.

Theory or conjecture provides little substitute for eye-witness accounts, and many deceased members of aircrew took their valued memories with them before we commenced this research project in the year 1999.

For a number of reasons, many members of aircrew were reluctant to express their experiences openly, but felt able to contribute an article in written form. It would now be a tremendous help, if family or other enquirers would contact us as soon as possible regarding website library issues before any further memories or details are lost.

Responses to our large repository of library articles already come from Australia, Canada, as well as from Europe, and where possible we shall be pleased to continue dealing with requests concerning those articles.

Unless otherwise requested, all queries and correspondence regarding website library content will continue to remain within our policy of complete confidentiality.

All website correspondence to: jack.burgess1@btinternet.com which will receive prompt attention.

Central Church of the Royal Air Force - St.Clement Danes

St.Clement Danes is thriving after its recent renovation, and Chairman Group Captain Mark D. Heffron CMgr FCMI RAF states in his letter 'It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to the autumn 2016 edition of Oranges and Lemons [the church magazine] and commend to you the articles we have put together in this edition.'

One of those articles mentioned being another taken from our SSAA website library. On this particular occasion it is website library index No.112 "A POW Air Gunner" by Albert Gunn, where Part 1 covers seven pages with Part 2 due to appear in next edition of the RAF Church magazine.

Interesting to note that although we receive responses to our website articles from all over Europe and North America, our website library is also still widely read in UK including Magazine Editor Iza Seabrook and staff of the Central Church of the Royal Air Force in London.

To visit St Clement Danes in all its glory today, it's difficult to imagine that the church was almost destroyed by German bombs during the London Blitz on 10th May 1941 when the interior was gutted by fire.

The Aftermath - We Are Still Picking Up the Pieces

One would have thought that for many persons, traumatic events that occurred many years ago would have become distant memories with very little bearing on current daily life as it exists today. However, it seems that the horrors of war are not so readily forgotten, and leave behind scars not easily eradicated from a person's' memory. From the many responses arising from our web library articles, it would appear that it is the uncertainty and sheer lack of information that delays closure on loss of friends or family that is most difficult to bear.

For example, Vivienne McCulloch writes "I have just visited the Aircrew-Saltire website, and see that you were in Ceylon in 1945. Did you by chance know my Father - Robert William McCulloch, a pilot there in 1944? He was born in Scotland but brought up in Australia and was therefore with the RAAF."

"His plane went missing on 30th Dec 1944 about 30 miles from returning to base. All the crew were missing and presumed dead. The rest of the crew were W.A.Manyluk (pilot Canada), P.J.Maika (Canada), J.K.Welburn (UK), A.W.Robinson (Australia), M.J.Gordon (Australia), J.Sutcliffe (UK), and L.Cain (Australia)."

From operational records we were able to determine that F/Sgt Robert William McCulloch (age 20) did indeed set out with his crew from RAF Minneriya in aircraft Liberator 354 'K' EV942 on 30th December 1944. I knew this airfield in Ceylon well for I was also based there at that time. On failing to return from this mission two aircraft searched for several days, and with no sightings of any wreckage or any other signs it was assumed that all members of this crew were lost and their names appeared on the Singapore Memorial. This Memorial records the names of all those persons lost in South East Asia area that were missing with no known grave.

Incredibly, despite Robert McCulloch's name appearing on the Singapore Memorial it seems he somehow managed to survive the fate that befell other members of his crew. One theory is that having been shot down by a Japanese submarine or surface ship, he may have been rescued from drowning by the enemy, taken as a prisoner of war and suffered torture in order to gain vital information. This was a known practice with POWs.

Vivienne recently stated "I only found out a few years ago of his background and war service. I don't know which POW camp he was in but know that he was ill and in solitary confinement. He may have gone to a field hospital to recover when he was liberated. My Father did survive but never mentioned being in the RAAF, or living in Australia, or his time as a Japanese POW, and did not let his parents know he had survived."

It is possible that Robert McCulloch like thousands of others at end of hostilities suffered from PTSD when little was known of this condition and therefore suffered in silence with little or no help.

Vivienne McCulloch has decided to forgo any thoughts of anonymity in this situation and makes this request to any other possible POW survivors. "If you did happen to know him I would love to hear what memories you have of him and the crew. My father disappeared when I was a baby and I have no memory of him. I have tried to find my father but can find no trace of him."

Among other replies to our web library articles another person responded but this time on behalf of a close friend. On this occasion assumed names have been used for obvious reasons.

"I have just read an extract from Gilbert Gray's article about the night of 7th/8th May 1944 by 106 Squadron on your website. This was of great interest to me since I have been friends for over 40 years with a lady who was engaged to a member of Cyril Bartlett's Lancaster crew. [Note:- See Library Index No.34].

Because I have had a life time in aviation I was intrigued to know what became of my friend's fiance. and there didn't seem to be much to find other than the Squadron he belonged to and where he served. In fact just a few years ago I travelled to Metheringham to plant a rose tree in the little memorial garden there on behalf of my friend Dorothy.

My friend was 90 yesterday, fit and well and always a pleasure to be with. Occasionally over the years I have known her she mentioned her great loss and the effect it had on her. They were so young, Dorothy did go on to marry, but I know the pain of losing Robert never really went away.

Through the power of the internet I put the village where the aircraft crashed into a search engine, and was astounded as a result, to find Gilbert Gray's article detailing very clearly what had happened. What a tragedy. It is something I shall probably never share with my friend, a bit too harrowing, but I shall certainly make my own pilgrimage to Ouzouer-Ie-Doyen and lay flowers there, also at the cemetery at Orleans where he rests with the rest of his crew on my friend's behalf, hopefully later this year."/p>

"Thank you for the missing pieces."

"Yours sincerely, Joan B."

RAF Disclosures Section

According to the regular flow of responses to our website articles, it is pleasing to note that viewers appear to be rapidly increasing in number. In which case, we continue to do our best in meeting the various requests and supplying relevant information where possible to those who respond.

In addition to seeking squadron and individual aircrew members' details or even adding information to our library stories, many messages also arrive with requests for service records of deceased former members of the RAF.

In the past, we have attempted to deal with service record queries on an individual basis, but now direct help is at hand. Caroline Louth, RAF Disclosures Deputy Head FOIA, has kindly supplied a hyperlink to the correct page on the gov.uk website. This will enable a direct approach to be made for required information within the present parameters of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

The RAF Disclosures Team is still dealing with all requests for service records from the families of deceased service personnel. The Team also deals with enquiries from the general public and will release specific parts of the service records to them depending on how long the subject has been dead.

The service record is not a day to day biography but rather an administrative record listing movements and promotions. There is a charge of £30 to all applicants unless they are the parent or spouse of the subject. There are separate forms for Next of Kin (family) and General enquirer (general public). To secure a copy of application forms and information sheet simply click on the following hyperlink.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/requests-for-personal-data-and-service-records

Special Message from Webmaster Alan Donaldson
Aircrew Saltire Website

Last year, many of you will recall my offer to take the Aircrew Saltire website under my wing, so to speak, and where the Committee subsequently agreed to the proposal. Since then, I've given serious thought as to the long term preservation of the website.

In that respect, I recently renewed our annual subscription and domain registration for one year but it afforded me the ideal opportunity to discuss the long term options available.

Whilst several companies were happy to offer three years or five years, the best offer came from the same company we've been using since 2001. Last week, we finalized the deal and in which I have been able to buy an additional decade of hosting and domain registration.

What that means in practice is that, irrespective of anything happening to me or the SSAA, the website shall remain on the Internet until at least November 2026 and where, if I'm still around, it'll be possible to renew the registration and hosting again.

I trust this is in keeping the promise to all those who contributed and to the SSAA in entirety.

Merry Christmas in advance to you all.

Further Responses to our Website Articles

Because the large majority of responses to our members' website aircrew experiences are family related, it would be inappropriate to publish them simply as news items. Having regard to personal sensitive issues, it's sometimes extremely difficult for some persons to discuss harrowing military events within a family setting. For example, one Glasgow member asked for an extra copy of his contributed article to allow it being read by his family at home. He had never been able to disclose to his wife and daughter that after being shot down he had spent three years as a prisoner of war. Had our member not been able to convey the information to his family by this method, the facts may never have become known. Several other website articles come within this rather sensitive category.

However, outwith the realm of confidentiality and family matters we've had equally remarkable responses more generally suitable for publishing in this news section. For example there was the reply from the crew member of a German U-boat who responded to Jerry Dawson's story "Flying Boat versus U-Boat" (No.204). Then we had another message from Germany, this time from 94 year old Gerhard Stroehl who was a sailor on the German collier ship SS Insterburg. Gerhard confirmed the brutal and atrocious treatment suffered by Rowland Maddocks on that ship along with other prisoners of war described by Rowland Maddocks in website story No.208.

Gerhard Stroehl and his ship's crew had been disgusted at how the Germans had forced the RAF prisoners to be confined in the dark filthy hold for three days and nights without food or water. When released, one prisoner felt he couldn't take any more and leapt over the side of the ship. He was immediately riddled with bullets by guards.

Rowland Maddocks' business partner George Dick was well known to us as one of our members who attended the Clarendon Hotel when our meetings were held there. Both also being known as Maddocks and Dick Ltd whose ties and service badges were made in Edinburgh Royal Mile and sold world-wide.

A Belated Welcome Home

News during the past few months has included details of World War Two 70th Commemorations. The original VJ was such a personal non-event due to arriving back in UK fourteen months after it occurred, with people saying "Where the heck have you been? Didn't you know we had a war on?" With such a dismal background to the welcoming home affair, and with the help of first class rail and London taxis, I decided to attend the 70th Event.

Much to my amazement, The Royal British Legion probably due to all their previous experience, had turned the Horse Guards Parade into a veritable international spectacle. Those attending included the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall, Prime Minister and many overseas guests. It was surprising to find so many Burma Star/Pacific Star veterans had survived and managed to attend - more than had ever been expected.

The event commenced with arrival of a number of Bands including the Royal Marines, Coldstream Guards, RAF Regiment and the Pipe Band of Royal Regiment Scotland. Actor Charles Dance read The Road to Mandalay. Following a Drumhead Service, what used to be described as 'the aircrew shuffle' took place from Horse Guards Parade passed Whitehall and Cenotaph the route being lined by Gurkhas to Westminister Abbey for a Reception.

Leaving by Admiralty Arch we were overwhelmed to find the route crowded by thousands of cheering, shouting and applauding spectators crowded behind barriers. Led by wheelchair veterans, the pace was so slow that frequently I managed to go over to children who had been pushed to the front. I explained briefly those actions happened long ago to give them a better future, we then shook hands for good luck. This must have been well received by parents and friends who also shot out an army of hands to shake as well. This action was however not so well appreciated by the police who intervened occasionally as it was causing crowd disruption.

During the Westminster Abbey Gardens reception, I was approached by Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach who introduced himself and lady wife. During quite a lengthy, interesting conversation, he said he had taken the salute at the Edinburgh Royal Military Tattoo the previous day, and was surprised that so few ex-Far East aircrew had attended this 70th VJ Commemoration. However, it was very pleasing to see so many forgotten 14th Army veterans had managed, including former prisoners who had survived so many atrocities and appalling conditions. The Royal British Legion deserves many congratulations on hosting such a successful and memorable event.

I should welcome news of any former Far East aircrew members I missed at the above event, and of course any further responses to our website library articles. Please contact: jack.burgess1@btinternet.com

Recovering Polish Records

Described by a former Commander of the RAF Polish Wing as our staunched Allies in our darkest days, aviation-minded people need little reminding of the huge part Polish fliers played during World War Two.

Former Polish pilot Eddie Sanetra lived with his wife in North Berwick and was a popular member who regularly attended all our Edinburgh meetings and ACA Reunions. Having ACA membership No.3969, we always regretted failing to record his experiences in time, for Eddie died suddenly at home in the early hours of 16th November 1993. All was not lost, however, for by a remarkable coincidence we have regained some of our missing records.

Polish Air Force historian Peter Sikora was recently reading through our web library stories when he noted that in article No.236 by member Jack Jarmy, a Polish co-pilot was mentioned in the narrative. For Peter’s records, could Jack Jarmy recall the name of this Polish crew member? Fortunately this was confirmed, and in return, Peter was able to provide us with details of Eddie our late member’s records as follows.

In January 1939 Edward Sanetra was a pilot of the 2nd Air Regiment in Krakow, and then in September 1939 he moved to Romania and from there joined the Polish Air Force in France. In March 1940 he was posted to Chateauroux and trained on Potez 56 aircraft. He subsequently moved to Tarbes in June 1940, then a further move to Marseilles, and finally flew to Algeria before escaping to England.

Arriving in UK as a battle experienced pilot, Edward Sanetra joined 289 Squadron and after serving at various RAF Stations including Leuchars, East Fortune and Turnhouse, married, and lived post-war in North Berwick.

Not only did historian Peter Sikora provide us with Polish service records of our former member Eddie Sanetra, but he has also contributed an interesting Polish aircrew article which shall soon appear in our website library.

Webmaster: A Thank You, An Apology And A Proposition

Dear Sirs,

I am once again humbled to accept the honorarium given to me for services rendered during the past year and in respect of the Internet web site care and maintenance on behalf of the Scottish Saltire Aircrew Association. In truth, it has been a pleasure to undertake such duty and where I respect your appreciation. You are all, each and every one of you, members of a true 'League of Gentlemen' worthy of such title. I Thank You!

By sheer coicidence and serendiptity, your aid comes at a time when my company, Advision Professional Services better known as Advision ProServe for short has been engaged in a major refit of technology on a scale never undertaken before in our fifteen year history. In large measure, it has been a consequence of these changes that has delayed my thanks and I offer my apologies for that. Until now, the Scottish Aircrew website has typically used a software package designed and published by a company called SJ Namo currently based in the City of Pheonix in the US state of Arizona. Although later variants of the software was available, I kept with the 'reliable version' until the company departed from this field of activity circa 2009. In this current refit of technology, I was compelled to seek out a new software system to help me maintain the Scottish Aircrew Website and some monies of your contribution was expended towards that purpose. The fact that that you are reading this is proof of that investment

I won't bore you too much as regards the new system details - 8 Gigabyte DDR RAM, Dual Core Microprocessors, 1 Terabyte Hard Drive with matching back-up and more - other than to say that its suitable and highly sufficient to undertake the task of long term storage and maintenance of the website well into the future and for as long as I'm likely to remain alive! It's a leap of technology far from the days when I qualified as an electronic engineer and started my apprenticeship in an age of thermionic glass valves!

Getting to the pragmatic bottom line: it's been welcome and nice to receive your gratitude in terms of hard cash and I freely admit there were times when I desperately needed it but it's obvious that the challenges of the future must demand changes. I was sorely tempted to return the cheque on this occassion but then felt it better to recognise it as an investment for the future.

Overall, the Scottish Saltire Aircrew Association website has outgrown its International parent and so many of its children. It's grown so much larger than initially envisaged and remains as a guardian of first hand witness accounts that ought to teach downward generations, remain as a resource to University and College Libraries everwhere and maybe influence opinion in modern times. It's just too valuable to lose and allow this website to fade into the ether!"

Consequently, I propose that the Scottish Saltire Aircrew Website should come under the entire management wing of my company, Advison Professional Services, with a long term view to maintenance and updating insofar as possible without further need of financial assistance of any kind from the Scottish Saltire Aircrew Association organisation. No domain charges or hosting charges of any kind! Zero cost yet still offering the update services for new material when and if available.

All it needs is a meeting and acceptance of my proposal! Happy Valentine's Day!

Aircrew and Air Forces’ Extended Families

True to the international nature of our original parent body (ACA), our news and views are not merely restricted to RAF aircrew. This continuing policy has evolved due to aircrew members and families of other Air Forces requesting news, details and information. Alternatively, numerous requests have been directly related to articles within our website library. The following brief examples indicate RCAF, SAAF and RAAF involvement.

A young Canadian researching war in the Far East for her Masters degree at Calgary University, consulted a Canadian aviation historian. He gave her our website address and following a weekly question and answer situation this resulted in a visit to Scotland for personal first-hand discussion. Her grandfather had served as an RCAF Navigator in the Far East, but suffered from advanced Alzheimer’s condition before he died in 2002. He had therefore been unable to recall any information for his family, but our website library article No.173 had already described how returning from a long-range operation in March 1945 his B24 crew had ditched in the Indian Ocean.

G. Tzemis - noted several SAAF articles written by member Ernest Wall in our website - “My Grandfather was a South African with No.22 Squadron in Gibraltar around 1944.” Any others based there at same period?

G.F. Gevisser - After reading SAAF articles in our website wrote “My father was a fighter pilot with 11 Squadron.” We were able to supply information that 11 Squadron SAAF was reformed in 1944 and served in Italy until 1945. It was not all one way however, as our RAF members Gavine Renton and Ernest Wall had flown with SAAF Squadrons in the Mediterranean. From Australia, Bob Livingstone has also been helpful in supplying information relating to Royal Australian Air Force aircrew members and operations.

Also from Australia, it has been possible to give family members of RAAF aircrew shot down in South East Asia Command some information, although perhaps not much comfort due to the harsh nature of this war zone.

Coming nearer home and still pending, the update on website story No.193 where Bill Campbell is awaiting confirmation of a reunion when he recalled going down on the helicopter wire to rescue a Faroes fisherman in 1985. We are grateful to Bill Campbell for passing on this update of one of his remarkable ASR experiences.

Responses to our members’ website articles are immediately conveyed to the respective member’s last known address. It is at that point, a decision is reached on preserving anonymity where the response is a family matter or considered to be of a confidential nature. It is only with each member’s express consent that results will reach this news section and when considered to be of general aviation interest to others. More news results in pipeline, and we look forward to more articles and requests during 2015. Best wishes.

Previously untold Military Aircrew Experiences

Although many areas of UK suffered severe damage and loss of life through enemy bombing during world war two, the Channel Islands remained the only part of the British Isles to be actually “occupied” by invading forces. It may therefore be difficult for those who had no experience of living 24/7 with the constant threat from ruthless enemy occupation forces to fully understand the seriousness of those life or death situations. However, during those dire and desperate conditions, strong bonds were forged between members of those occupied countries and the Allied personnel who contributed towards their freedom and eventual release from enemy oppression.

Evader Harry Fisher returned to post-war France to thank his French Resistance ‘helpers’ and only recently an author has requested permission to extract information from Harry’s website contributions (notably Index No.148).

Several members including George Thomson, Louis Wooldridge, Anderson McCormick, Gilbert Gray and Bill MacDonald have over a period been invited to attend ceremonies in France, Holland and Belgium. Numerous contacts have been made in the past, while currently, website articles written by Bill Campbell, Harry Fisher, Jerry Dawson, and Gilbert Gray have prompted responses from persons expressing a special interest in subjects those members have described in their website accounts.

A Dutch researcher currently working for a Netherlands Foundation whose objective is to present documents and educational material to schools thus enabling factual eye-witness accounts being kept alive for future generations, has reviewed stories in our website library. In giving a very positive and appreciative approval of members’ accounts in our library, she expresses her feelings on the subject in a very clear and unequivocal manner. “My generation (mid 40 years) is the last generation who heard about what happened from the people who lived then. Our children don’t have this opportunity. We want to keep the stories alive. We think that if you hear a story told by someone who was a witness and when you recognise where it happened, you will remember better than when you read it in a history book.” – Marjo Post, Researcher, Monumenten Spreken, Netherlands.

Many previously untold military aircrew experiences have been lost through lack of contact with our website facility, and we urge members to send in eye-witness accounts. Even sent in note form -- editing can be arranged. Members contributed articles are certainly not restricted to the world war two period however, and we look forward to receiving present-day military aircrew experiences, several of those we have been assured are in the pipe-line.

George Clooney Film “The Monuments Men”

Amidst all the hype and publicity surrounding the above film, critics have questioned the motives of senior Nazi leaders who had ordered paintings and artistic artefacts to be stolen and stored on a massive scale; critics have also queried the role and effectiveness of the Allied Army Units set up to protect and save those international historic and cultural treasures for posterity.

One of our members played an active role in the above proceedings while they were actually taking place during world war two, but due to utmost secrecy at that time he was not fully aware of all the implications involving the fate of 6,755 items of the world's greatest works of art that had been looted and stored by the Germans as they swept across Europe.

Bill Leckie was aircraft captain of Halifax JP254, No.148 Special Duties Squadron,RAF. In his personal account contributed to our website library Bill reported "We took off in Halifax `T' for Tommy at 23.45 hours in bright moonlight on Sunday 8th April 1945, from our base at Brindisi in southern Italy. In addition to my crew, also on board we carried four SOE agents, our only remit being to drop them in a precise spot; unaware at the time we were involved in Operation Ebensburg.”

“I now wonder what my feelings would have been then, if I had known one of my 'passengers' was a former Luftwaffe paymaster who had defected to the French Resistance. He was a native of the area to which we were now heading, and had discovered from relatives, the Nazi plan to conceal massive collections of art treasures in this area which was well known to him from childhood. Albecht Gaiswinkler, in addition to informing the Allies of the location of this huge repository, seemed to be the ideal person to receive specialist training in England to become one of the four special agents I was now transporting to the site of this clandestine operation."

Further details of Bill Leckie’s account may be seen in our Website Library Index No.158.

Evacuation – 98 Squadron, B.E.F. 1940

A letter sent to one of our members the late Andrew Jackson, has recently come to light. In a similar way to how news of the sinking of the ‘Lancastria’ was concealed from the British public in June 1940, Andrew in granting permission to publish the letter some time ago, had requested we defer publication until after his death.

In accordance with Andrew Jackson’s wishes the story has been withheld until recently, but now coming up to the 74th Anniversary of Britain’s Greatest Maritime Disaster a survivor’s eye witness account appears in our website Library Section, (No.238). A member of 98 Squadron gives a vivid description of events at that time.

NATO Air Training Plan

Many of our members completed world-wide flying training under the auspices of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) during WW2. When the risk of being shot down during a training exercise subsided, it was still felt necessary to continue with an efficient post-war flying training programme, but this was confined only to Canada. Under the auspices of the RCAF a ‘NATO Air Training Plan’ was implemented for the purpose of improving NATO air power, and this operated between the years 1950-1958. Member John Nish took part in the NATO Air Training Plan and gives an interesting description of what took place in Library Index No.239.

A Recent Mission to Poland and Germany

A few years ago when member and former Spitfire pilot Willie Comfort contributed his account of being shot down over Italy and captured in 1944 (Story No.29), little did we suspect that Willie’s family would later decide to travel to former prisoner-of-war locations to research conditions their father endured during World War Two.

On 3rd September 2013, four members of the late Willie Comfort’s family set out on a mission to visit the former location of Stalag Luft Vll and Stalag lll and points between where the infamous ‘Long March’ took place. Their report is contained in Library Index No.240, and we can only imagine what it must have felt like to witness and observe the location where their father was incarcerated. They also described walking along a very small part of the route taken by their father being one of 30,000 Allied PoWs forced to undertake the sudden evacuation from Stalag Luft Vll, Bankau, Poland, during the most severe winter conditions for over twenty years.

Louis Wooldridge DFC – New Publication

When our member Louis Wooldridge sent in his story “From Singapore to the Ruhr” (index No.209) little did we realise that Louis had an even larger aim in mind. This came to light when coming across a new publication on the Internet “Day Squire - Knight Flier” by Louis Wooldridge published by Austin Macauley. This book covers the formation of RAF squadrons prior to World War One right up to his own experience of flying in Halifax bombers in World War Two where he completed two operational tours with RAF Bomber Command. Those who have read Louis Wooldridge’s account (No.209) in our website library should have some idea of what to expect within his newly published book which runs to 283 pages and is priced at £10-99 at Amazon and major booksellers.

Royal British Legion (Lyon Liberation Branch)

Ronald Currie, Vice-President of above RBL Branch has been contacted by friends in the Lyon RAFA Branch to seek our help in obtaining information about the loss of a Lancaster aircraft serial No.W4118 based at Syerston during the night of 3rd-4th February 1943. To assist in the commemoration of the loss of this aircraft in a small village of Valsonne (some 30 km NW of Lyon) any information would be helpful. Captain of this aircraft was Sgt.D.L.Thompson, RAF. The local French authorities are still remarkably faithful to the memory of their British Allies and would be grateful for any additional information.

U-boat 642

A totally unexpected message arrived from the radio operator of U-boat 642 which had brought down one of our members in the Atlantic during World War Two. Günter Labude stated he was surprised to receive a reply, but not nearly as surprised as we were to receive his message in the first place. Günter also expressed concern about any survivors of the Catalina they shot down and wishes them a long peaceful retirement. (refers to story 204).

Wing Commander Derek Martin OBE MID BSc

We felt very privileged to receive permission to include excerpts of his long service from Wg Cdr Derek Martin, including his account of the Battle of the Atlantic and being a founder member of the RAF Guinea Pig Club. The following are the Index numbers of Wg Cdr Martin’s contributions in our website library Nos.211, 213, 226 & 227.

We also consider ourselves extremely fortunate to have those first-hand eye-witness aircrew accounts which have been donated over the years. Those are now coming into their own as reference points and a catalyst for many questions regarding the aircrew experiences of family members which have hitherto been unclear. Over 200 of those contributed articles now appear in our trilogy of books now available. (See separate announcement).

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