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ISSUE 1, JULY 2003.

The Rattan Chair
Songs for Halton
Apprentices at 1952 SBAC Air Show
RAF Pensions
Court Bloopers
Taupo Reunion
Blenheim Reunion
New Members
Committee Members


Welcome to the first edition of The Wheel. The title presented itself in my mind at some ungodly hour of the night, (The way these things always do!) but whether a publication already exists under this name, and my subconscious mind had gratefully scooped it up for future use, I do not know. Anyway, if any of you know that this title is in use elsewhere please let me know. If anyone has what they consider is a better, or more appropriate, title then please come forward with your ideas and we can then all decide what we would like to name this newsletter. As you can see from the previous paragraph, it is considered that this newsletter belongs to all of you, and you should feel free to express your opinions and contribute to these columns whenever you get the urge to do so and so, from the next edition onwards, there will be a Letters to the Editor column. It is my hope and best intention to make this publication as dynamic and as interesting as possible, but to do this I do need active support from all of you in the form of contributions. With having been trained in a first class Service, and then collectively serving throughout the world, there must be many unique and interesting stories to tell and experiences to talk about, so let's have 'em. An example of one of these experiences is published in this newsletter and was inspired when Bill Howell recounted to me at Taupo of how he saw the DH 110 crash at Farnborough. It so happened that I was on the same bus trip as Bill and was able to recall many of the same memories. I suggested to Bill that he should write his story, so here it is! If any of you have something to offer, but do not like writing, then feel free to call me and give me details over the phone. I will write it for you and send it for your approval prior to print.
David Sykes 68th


Perhaps some of our more senior members could give information about the early Apprentice uniforms. I have heard of material called 'Boy's Blue' and one of my Squadron colleagues described how he was dressed in his uniform with a high dog-collar, trousers, like jodhpurs, with puttees to just below the knee, and, indeed, he would not have looked out of place on Sunset Boulevard opening the door of Gloria Swanson's limousine. Now this mate of mine; let's call him Pete; entry unknown; had met a very nice young lady in the Halton area. The relationship was proceeding steadily and he hadbeen invited to her home for the first time. He was faced with the nerve-racking experience of taking Sunday afternoon tea and meeting her parents. As he reached for his own pair of the aforementioned 'jodhpurs', he noticed that a few threads had pulled in the crotch area. Instead of reaching for his trusty housewife, with the HMP Wormwood Scrubs arrow logo, and quickly repairing, he decided that, as time was short, he would carry on.Tea was being served in the Conservatory and the nervous Pete was ushered towards a number of chairs, which he could choose to sit in. In his embarrassment, he backed into a rather low, and well loved, Rattan Chair. As he lowered himself into it, he felt a large number of threads give way in the seat of his trousers and two of his most treasured possessions made a spirited dash for freedom, ably assisted by the wide leg of 'pants-cellular'. Unfortunately, the well- worn chair had a jagged hole directly below the escape route and the matched-pair fell through, only to be imprisoned at their 'equators' by the fragmented, sharp ends of the rattan weave. From then on Pete had an agonizing time, and, each time he reached for one of the offered 'goodies', he was spitefully spiked by the ensnaring mesh. His hosts looked at him curiously, and could not understand Pete's waning appetite and strange behaviour. Meanwhile, Pete was petrified that his 'secrets' might be revealed when the time came to depart. He need not have worried, because, despite the painful 'drag' when he arose, his 'undercarriage' retracted perfectly, and no one was any the wiser! The moral of this story is that 'A stitch in time saves more than an hour of agony!'
David Sykes 68th
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OOPS !!!

During World War 2 I was on an R & D Unit in India. We modified a Spitfire Mk 8, installing a series of thermocouples around the outside of the engine, under the cowlings. These were wired to gauges in a panel behind the pilot'sseat. A cine camera, wired to the gun button, was to be mounted to record the readings. I saw the aircraft away on its hour and a half duration test flight. Walking back to the hangar I met an Instrument Basher carrying a cine camera. Out of curiosity I asked him where he was going?? Oh Dear!! There was the test pilot flying around merrily pressing the gun button, but without a cine camera and, worse still, no radio to call him back as this had been removed to facilitate the installation of the cine camera. When the Spit returned, I marshalled it back to its park, but left it to the Engineering Officers to do the explaining!!!
Bill Cowham 44th
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At the Taupo Reunion, Ed Austin announced that a book of these songs had recently been donated to the association and he enquired whether anyone knew anything about them. Well I put my hand up because I once found a 'stash' of abandoned copies when I took over a hut, at Halton, which was to be used by myself and other members of The Halton Velo Cycling Club. I grabbed them eagerly because it was traditional for club cyclists to sing songs as they cycled back home on their Sunday Club Run. The book had lots of traditional songs, which we could use. I found these books in 1952 but their published date was 1935, as is the one in our possession. The original songs were written for the Comic Operas and Revues which were staged by the Halton Society. Here is one line of a song sung to the tune 'I dreamt that I dwelt in marble halls'
I was flying along at a thousand feet,
When I heard a sudden hissing
My heart it stopped on the very next beat,
For a cylinder was missing.

Try practicing this in the shower and find out who your friends are!
David Sykes 68th
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In the Summer 2001 Edition of The Haltonian there was a paragraph addressed to those who served in the RAF between the years 1946 and 1975, and whose service exceeded 5 years but did not reach the 22 years qualifying time for a pension. It went on to say if you fall between these guidelines then you may be entitled to claim a pension.I contacted the Bristol firm of Solicitors mentioned in the article and found that these lawyers had already taken a litigation action against the MOD, arguing that the rate of pay was based on the fact that a pension may be paid at the end of service. The action failed and an appeal is to be lodged at a hearing in the first week of November. To be eligible for a pension you are required to pay a 385 poundsMembership fee before the hearing. There is no guarantee the appeal will be successful. Further information can be obtained on www.richmondsolicitors.co.uk or by contacting:

Martin Bailey,
Richmond Solicitors,
34 High St,
Bristol BS31 1DQ
Tel 0044 117 986 5715

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What gear were you in at the moment of the crash?
A Tracksuit bottoms andReeboks!
Q Did you blow your horn before the accident?
A Sure, I played for 10 years!
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This is a copy of Bill Cowham's report of our 2003 Reunion which was sent to The Haltonian for publication:-This year we held our biennial reunion at Taupo on the shores of Lake Taupo, which is world famous for its Trout Fishing. We assembled at the Suncourt Hotel on Friday 11th April. The next morning we went for a bus tour to view the local sights. The bus was a double-decker, painted red and originating from Dorset, but if my memory serves me right, its original colour would have been green. It is many a year since the majority had travelled on a double-decker. In the afternoon we went for a cruise on the lake; a very short trip in comparison to the size of the lake (619 sq Km).From a total of 90 ex-Brats on our list, we average a total of 26 at our reunions, each gathering consisting of a different mix of faces, depending on the location. A total of 44 members and wives sat down to the Reunion Dinner on the Saturday night, which was the usual rowdy affair with everyone talking at once! Sunday morning dawned with everyone still talking and vowing to be at the next reunion in 2005, which will be held in Blenheim, and which will be our second visit to the South Island.
Bill Cowham 44th

Thanks Bill, Yes, lots of enthusiasm to be on the top deck of the bus and we tried to climb the stairs as we did when we were seventeen (We all hoped nobody was looking!) and it's a wonder it didn't fall on its side. We called in at Huka Falls, Craters of the Moon and a Honey Emporium. All the stops were very welcome!
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To be held in Blenheim at Easter 2005. We are planning to attend the Easter Air Show whilst there. Gus Smart has reserved all 28 rooms at the Criterion Hotel
Tel: 03-578-3299 or 0800-552-299, Fax: 03-578-2861 or email Criterion.hotel@xtra.co.nz
Make your booking early. It's on a first come - first served basis!
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We welcome:
Ken Waltham 47th, Halton
Tel: 09-298-5389
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Bill Cowham
Tel: 06-327-6066

Vice President

Monty Firmin
Tel: 09-476-1161


Ed Austin
Tel: 09-266-8900

Newsletter Editor

David Sykes
Tel: 07-576-0970
Please note that my email was recently changed to damarsyk@clear.net.nz

All donations to the next Newsletter will be gratefully received.
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