Reunion – Last Chance
If you have not yet signed up for our next Biennial Reunion to be held in Christchurch from 20th to 22nd March 2009 and you want to go then this is your last chance! Our event organiser is Derrick Hubbard 46th who has put together an attractive programme for our weekend in Christchurch. Derrick has issued a list of those attending and the activities they are signed up for (See page 6) and, so far, a total of 45 attendees have been listed. There are a few of our ‘Trusted Regulars’ who have not registered their interest and if they are able to make it to the Reunion we would be very pleased to see them. The 45 expected is shaping up to be a record and if you haven’t joined us before and would like to take part, you will be most welcome. Our secretary, Ed Austin has pointed out that if we continue to alternate every 2 years between the NI and SI and then meet alternately in Blenheim and Christchurch, it will be 2017 when we next meet in Christchurch!! We would dearly love you to join us in Christchurch in 2009. Hopefully, we look forward to seeing you there!
Time for a Change!
As you will note, this is the 12th issue of the Wheel and the name and format for this newsletter was thought out and put together by me but with the approval of the committee and you, the readers. Inevitably I have made mistakes and have not pleased all of the people all of the time, but I have done my best and that is all that can be asked of anyone. Admittedly, most of the material published has reflected my own opinions and choices, but I have usually invited the committee to check the newsletter before it goes out just in case there is anything that is not appropriate in any way. Similarly, they are under pressure to push the newsletter out and cannot be expected, under those conditions, to analyse the newsletter line by line. If there is anything that does not sit well with you as readers, then we do rely on you to let us know and a letter to the editor, expressing any concerns that you may have, would be good so that the matter can be addressed and answered, preferably in the columns of the newsletter. The newsletter is normally written and put together in a hurry to meet the deadline of the allotted time slot. As you will appreciate, we have never been inundated with articles and stories to call on for each issue, so I have had to be creative and sometimes conjure up articles that I consider will be of interest to our members rather than, like some groups, have a list of minutes and financial statements and association notices etc which, I would think, would not enthral the readership too much. I realise there is generally not a lot of New Zealand content, but unless I get appropriate stuff sent in to me I cannot produce a good NZ bias. Naturally as I spent my service in the UK then most of my memories and past links come from there but I am conscious that it is slanted that way and wish that more NZ content could be published. I do have the advantage, however, that I was in the 68th Entry which had the first New Zealand apprentices and that I visited New Zealand bases in 1955 when I came over with the Valiant V-Bombers on Operation Too Right. NZ articles which I can think of, that would be welcomed from members, would be about the operation of the Sunderland Flying Boats, the role of the De Havilland Devons and perhaps articles about the Canberra and Bristol Freighter operations, together with personal stories of interest. I also would like to know the story behind the Mustang I spotted in the hangar at Ohakea when I was here in 1955. You can be assured that the editor will normally be quite happy to comply with your wishes and change the newsletter in whatever way, but readers cannot expect to get what they want without their own input. Now, having said all that, I believe it is time for a change and for someone else to put their stamp on the Wheel and after being the editor since July 2003 I believe it is time to move on. This will be the last issue with me as editor and your committee would welcome offers from anyone prepared to carry on editing and producing the newsletter. I will sign off now by saying it has been an interesting and enjoyable experience doing this sort of job for the first time and I thank all those who have given their support to me in whatever way and to all those who have written in and supplied letters and/or articles.
Thanks everyone and Good Luck to you all.
David Sykes 68th Entry
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NZ Commemorative Window
Those not on email may be unaware of the proposal that a stained glass window to commemorate the training of RNZAF Brats, be installed in St George’sChurch, Halton.
Strong support was given by
Gus Smart 80th , who emailed a very practical and sensible series of suggestions of how it should be achieved and also by Bill Howell 68th There were other emails of support and, if you were one of them and your name is not mentioned, please accept my apologies. I list excerpts from the various emails here:
David Sykes 68th Editor
I have just received this email from our 71st Entry Assoc. Secretary.
Ian Cochrane 71st
The email is as follows:
Whilst standing in St. George’s admiring the stained glass windows I noted the NZ contingent was not represented!!
There are just a few spaces left.
Would there be sufficient interest from NZ ex-Brats to consider designing and installing a dedicated window?
Geoff Munge 71st (UK)
Our 70th Entry window was superbly designed by one of our own chaps but we had to commission a professional
glass maker to make it and install it. We raised the money without any trouble from a whip-round in the Entry.
Nick Betts-Green 70th (UK)
I am still the Project Officer for the windows. The window might cost 800-1000 pounds including design, VAT and installation. There are no spaces left in the main gallery but plenty in the chapel gallery. I think a NZ window would be a good idea. We have Polish, Rhodesian, Pakistani, Ceylonese and Burmese windows in situ.
Min Larkin 63rd (UK)
I am all for the proposal. If you look at www.oldhaltonians.co.uk and click on ‘Tribute’ then ‘Stained Glass Windows’ you will see all the existing windows.
We are one of the few groups not represented – even the Toc-H has a window. We should definitely be there and I am happy to contribute.
Peter Thorpe 89th
The first NZ contingents, namely 68th Entry (1951), 71st Entry (1952) and 74th Entry 1953 all had the distinction of winning the Sword of Honour for their Entry and subsequently all became Sword of Honour winners at RAF College Cranwell. As far as I am aware, this is unique in the annals of Halton and Cranwell. I believe that our reputation shone brightly at Halton and should be commemorated.
Bill Howell 68th
Noting that other nations all have their own windows I would be keen to have one of our own and would be willing to make a contribution towards its cost.
Trevor de Stigter 74th Locking
A generous offer by Trevor who was trained at RAF Locking!
I contributed towards the 46th Entry window in the Chapel which was dedicated in August 1998.
It cost around 650 pounds. If the consensus is to install an NZ window then I will be pleased to contribute. Derrick Hubbard 46th
Another generous offer! Derrick was a UK Brat! DS Editor
We need all RNZAF Brats to decide whether we proceed with the installation of a window in St George’s Chapel, Halton to acknowledge the participation of the RNZAF in the Halton Apprentice Scheme. Ideally we want as many members as possible to agree to proceed and I suggest that each entry (ie 68th,
71st, 74th, 77th, 80th, 83rd, 86th and 89th) canvas their members and return the results via their nominated representatives on this proposal; also we need to know who is prepared to manage the project from inception to completion. Go on, take up the challenge!
Gus Smart 80th
If you wish to support the installation of an NZ Apprentices
Commemorative window please let your Entry Representative know. If you do not have a rep then perhaps each entry can organise that among themselves.
A manager/co-ordinator is still required and offers of help would be very much appreciated. In the event that a manager is not appointed, please send any communication on this matter via our secretary (Ed Austin). This issue will be discussed at the Reunion in Christchurch and so, if you wish to give your support, please contact Ed by 18th March latest.
David Sykes 68th Editor
The NZRAFAAA currently has 111 members. 68 members receive The Wheel by email and 42 members receive it by Post. One chap decided he doesn't want to receive The Wheel by whatever means. Was it something we said? If you receive The Wheel by Post but would like to try the email option just let Ed Austin know by emailing email@example.com
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67 Parkview Estate
46 Beresford Street
Ph. 09 2392698
Letters to the Editor
I noticed during the window debate that John Boulter's name came up. On the news this morning he was talking about the Black and White Minstrel show. He was the lead tenor. John, like myself, passed out as an airframe basher with the 57th.
I met up with him in the 70’s in Wellington when he was on a singing tour. If you have his email address I would like to make contact again He may pass this way and we could have a drink together. Pam and I are suffering the pangs of old age and long car trips are very limited now. Pam has had both hips replaced but she can still drive. I find getting into my fishing waders a bit difficult these days, so my trout fishing is very limited. By the way, the 57th already have a window.
Jock Colston 57th
Have just received the latest Wheel and read with interest the article on 'The Vulcan'. XH558 should have appeared in the skies above Bournemouth but it went u/s, however, there was an interesting piece in the local BBC Dorset website on XH558.
Keith Smith 68th
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It is with sadness that we record the deaths of the following members. We extend our heartfelt sympathy to their family and friends.
Peter (Doc) Graham 77th (L)
Peter Magnall 67th (C) UK
Deryck Milne 17th
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Obituaries and Comments
Peter Graham was a RNZAF Apprentice at Locking and died of a heart attack last November. Friends wishing to contact the Graham Family should write to Peter’s son, Andrew at
193 Kingsford St, Burwood,
Gordon Smith 77th
Peter Magnall was a UK Apprentice at Cranwell and then Locking and died on 22nd September after a short illness. Peter had written to ‘The Wheel’ giving valuable information regarding the whereabouts of ex-Cranwell and Locking Apprentices in the UK. Peter’s helpful assistance will be sadly missed.
David Sykes 68th (Editor)
Deryck Milne died last year and was our most revered senior member from the 17th Entry. Deryck went to Halton and left NZ, at age 16, aboard the Rangitiki in December 1929 and it was not until 1938, when he was granted 2 months long-service leave, that Deryck returned to NZ for the short time of what was left between his sea journeys. He spent much of his early service in Singapore and also the North West Frontier of India, which he was not very impressed with, but he was able to return to NZ in 1939 when he was loaned to the RNZAF. Deryck had an eventful life and his son Dennis has sent a Eulogy from which the above has been taken and we thank him for it. Deryck was involved in flying and crashed in the jungle when flying north from Singapore towards Thailand. He and the rest of the crew were unhurt and survived the jungle trek. Deryck’s brother Cecil (Snowy) was also at Halton as was his nephew Gordon Smith 77th Deryck was chairman of the works committee of the Papakura Borough Council for 19 years and was Deputy Mayor for 5 years. He was appointed a JP in1980 and was involved in court traffic offence duties until 1989.
David Sykes 68th (Editor)
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The P-51 Mustang you saw in a hangar at RNZAF Ohakea in 1955 would have been either one belonging to 42 Squadron, or alternatively, one belonging to No 2 Wellington) TAF Squadron who based their machines at Ohakea. Basically the RNZAF regular Squadrons never operated P-51’s but the four Territorial Air Force Squadrons did. These aircraft had been delivered to NZ in 1945 but not issued because of the sudden end to the Pacific War. Placed into storage they were issued to the four TAF Squadrons in 1951-2, and used by them until withdrawn in late 1955 when it was decided that a highly trained Regular Force was sufficient. Thereafter the four TAF fighter squadrons trained on Harvard aircraft until their final disbandment on 1st August 1958, along with No 6 (Maritime) Squadron at RNZAF Hobsonville. I was present at Ohakea in 1957 (June/July) when the last flight of an RNZAF P-51 was undertaken by F/O Andy McLeod who flew the sole remaining aircraft from Ohakea to RNZAF Woodbourne. Most of Ohakea personnel were outside watching in anticipation of a final beat-up, but sadly for them the aircraft departed off Runway 27, climbed straight ahead to about 1000’ and then turned left on to track direct for Woodbourne and disappeared sedately into the distance. Andy McLeod became at a later stage Chief Pilot of Mount Cook Airlines.
Bill Howell 68th
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In 1965, I was working in the UK on a squadron of Avro Vulcan bomber aircraft. Our planes were often on stand-by to quickly go and vaporise the “enemy” by dropping nuclear bombs upon them. The squadron was administered and controlled from the Squadron Operational Office (SOO), where all the secret operational orders and files were kept. The SOO was normally manned from Monday to Friday, from 8am to about 4.30pm, so presumably war and such-like hostilities were more likely to occur at those times. Just in-case the “enemy” made a sudden move outside of office hours, I was occasionally required to sit alone in the SOO, where I learned to type and read adult magazines. I was shown the secrets cabinet and told that in the event of “something big” I would get a phone call which would tell me where to find the key and authorise me to open the secrets cabinet and initiate the instructions it contained. As it happened, nuclear war was postponed indefinitely. I never saw the secrets cabinet key until one day, when walking past the SOO window I noticed that, with the curtains drawn back, the key and its ID label could clearly be seen taped to a table leg. I always hoped that our “enemy” was every bit as daft as we were and prayed that they would not feel in any way obliged to vaporise us and especially not at a weekend.
Ed Austin 80th
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The Halton Buckler
About 3 years ago I received an email through ‘Friends Reunited’ from a David Montgomery asking me if I had any information on the Buckler Racing Car, registration number PBH1, which was built at Halton, by Apprentices, in the 1950’s. David, who was never a Brat, chose my name quite at random and was hoping that I would know something of the fate of PBH1. I did some investigation but was not able to come up with anything significant that advanced his knowledge, however, those of you who are members of the RAFHAAA and receive the ‘Haltonian’ will recall that a very informative article appeared about the building and racing of the Buckler in the latest issue (Winter 2008). As a postscript to the article, a statement by a Mr Fred Loxton appears which contained the following paragraph: ‘In the late 1960’s I was posted to RAF Bicester and lived in Brill. The owner of the local grocery shop asked me if I knew anything about a car he had in his lock-up. It turned out to be the Buckler! Who knows, maybe it is still there today?’ (Brill?? Isn’t that where Ronnie Biggs and the Great Train Robbers were holed up in a farmhouse after the robbery? My advice when you find the car is ‘Check the boot!’) Now back to the main story – David Montgomery sent me material about the Buckler, including an article from the, now defunct, Boys Own Paper and I reproduce some edited excerpts below:
The Halton Buckler
The Interview with Air Commodore Tindall Carrill-Worsley
The Air Commodore explained that in 1953 he was racing at Silverstone when he spotted a bunch of Halton apprentices in the stand. Four months later he was posted to Halton as the Commandant and one of his first tasks was to organise a group of suitably gifted and interested Brats to build a reasonably cheap racing car. He posted notices to recruit suitable candidates and he whittled down the numbers applying until he was left with those he considered the best for the job and he selected a total of 12. Presumably this was the birth of the RAF Halton Car Racing Club. He decided to use a Ford engine and a chassis designed by Derek Buckler but I note that the Haltonian article states that the design was by Mike Buckler of Reading and this was delivered in August 1954. (When the 70th Entry would be Senior Entry) Components had to be bought outside, but the assembly, welding and tuning and the construction of the dashboard were all carried out in the workshop in the evening and, presumably, weekends. The engine was basically a Ford 10 but it was modified by fitting a special camshaft and the flywheel, pistons and con rods were lightened and the compression ratio was raised to 9:1. the result was a 10 h.p engine capable of 90 mph and 45 m.p.g on the road! The article stated that the Air Commodore was loath to single out any individuals when the whole object was to create a team but he named C/A/A M.J.Evans and L/A/A D.P.May as those with most responsibility. (Does anyone remember these two and know which entries they were from?) TCW explained that he did not expect to win races. “I wanted to produce a really smart car, attended by well-turned-out, disciplined and well behaved Apprentices!” (Remember this was written by a Boys Own Paper reporter!) This same reporter asked who the car belonged to and who drives it in races? TCW answered that the car belonged to him because he had paid for it and explained that he could not afford to give it to the school but that in a year or so he hoped to have demonstrated that the project was really worth while and he hoped to find a sponsor to finance him so that he could leave the car when posted away and according to the Haltonian article he did leave the car to the Halton Society. He also explained that only he and Wing Commander Lane drove the car but that the apprentices could not “but they get an enormous thrill out of travelling in it as passengers!”
David Sykes 68th (Editor)
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