Library Reference Number: 009
Branch Archives Book Section 2 Introduction
This second part contains aircrew experiences sent in by branch members. It was felt rather wasteful to simply lock them away in newsletter files; they have therefore been extracted from that source to appear in this publication. President Bill Reid,V.C. introduces this section by way of a brief history of the Scottish Saltire Branch.
Looking back through my Aircrew Association files to 1978, I was reminded that all this really started with the Air Gunners' Association. It was then felt the Gunners' Association should be extended to include all aircrew. Taking off with an existing 700+ membership, the new Aircrew Association developed very quickly, with Wool being the Founder Branch, the Chairman then was John Williams. I was already involved with the Air Gunners' Association, as I used to be invited to Dinners and give the members a chat. Group Captain Cheshire and myself were asked to become Life Members of the new Aircrew Association, and eventually we became Life Vice Presidents.
Moving back to Scotland with my family in 1980, I was still involved with the Association, but there was no Scottish Branch. A few of us got together, Iain Nicolson, Harry Beattie, Hamish Reid, Alex Ritchie and myself, all felt it was time to form a Scottish Branch. Jimmy Jones became the first Branch Secretary. It was named "The Scottish Branch" because initially, members came from all over the country. The main intake was from the central belt taking in Glasgow and Edinburgh and meetings alternated between those two cities, occasionally meeting in Perth to accommodate a sprinkling of members from other areas. After a few years with increasing numbers, it was felt efforts should be made to form other branches in various parts of Scotland, and the first of these was Dumfries and Galloway Branch, where Ken Anderson played a leading role. This was closely followed by Tay Branch, which gave access to members living in Dundee and Perth areas. Bill Japp was instrumental in initiating the development of further new branches including Highland and Grampian Branches. I accompanied him to those areas to promote the setting up and development of those new branches. We now have five Aircrew Association Branches in Scotland.
We still have the the Scottish Saltire Branch catering for the central area including Glasgow & Edinburgh. We have tried in vain to separate the two areas east and west, but the general feeling appears to favour staying together - almost like one Squadron with two Flights A & B. We now have Glasgow meetings on 2nd Wednesday of each month, and Edinburgh meetings on 4th Wed with AGMs are held in Polmont, which is equidistant between the two main areas.
We actually increased our overall membership when we split up, presumably giving a more ready access to other areas. We are now losing a few members as ageing creeps up but I feel we are able to hold on to our numbers, as ex-aircrew members are still joining us, and general interest is still increasing - and long may this last!