No 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron
Farewell Bill Brown
This issue has been overshadowed by two losses, both of which, in their very different ways, have had a big impact on our Association. Firstly, it is with great sadness that we report the passing of our oldest member, Bill Brown, who died a matter of weeks before his 104th birthday. A truly remarkable man whose long and varied life was a constant source of fascination to those lucky enough to meet him. He was a consummate raconteur, always cheerful and great company. A most affable and kindly character, Bill was universally popular and remained an active member of this Association right up until the end of his eventful and long life. I will leave it to others to pay tribute to Bill later in this issue. Suffice it to say, he will be sorely missed by family, friends and members of our Association.
The second loss caused grief of a different sort. We must come to terms with the fact that never again shall we have sight of a Vulcan in the air. The fact that XH558 was acquired and restored to flight was remarkable in itself. She enthralled so many for so long at air shows throughout the country and that she achieved such a niche in the public’s affection is a fitting tribute to the drive and enthusiasm of Dr Robert Pleming and everyone at the Vulcan to the Sky Trust. The aircraft remains a shining example of British engineering at its best. Conceived during the heady period of intense technological progress in the immediate post-war years, the Vulcan was a bold and distinctive design, immediately recognisable anywhere in the world. The big delta was innovative, powerful, graceful and became a symbolic reminder of the Cold War years. Sadly the technical authorities, BAE Systems , Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group and Rolls Royce, collectively decided to withdraw their support at the end of the 2015 display flying season and without this mandatory third party involvement, the Civil Aviation Authority would not sanction further flying operations.
Returning XH558 to flight was an ambitious and complex undertaking and although the aircraft has now landed for the last time after a spectacular Farewell to Flight season, it is not the end of this successful project. After flying for eight joyous years, 558 will become the centrepiece of a new type of education initiative. The Trust is working closely with the Aviation Skills Partnership (ASP) to develop plans for a Vulcan Aviation Academy & Heritage Centre at her home at Robin Hood Airport near Doncaster. Although, sadly, the public has been denied the privilege and pleasure of seeing the Vulcan in the sky, the aircraft remains accessible at Doncaster and can be viewed by arrangement with the trustees.
Annual Golf Match
As a precursor to the 2016 Reunion, the annual Association golf match will take place at Belton Park on either 27th or 28th April. The committee felt that by de-coupling the match from the reunion weekend itself, more members should be able to take part. The plan is for players to meet at 10.30 am at Belton Park for coffee before teeing off at 11.30 am. The organiser and tournament director is once again Kevin Lawry; anyone wishing to play in what promises be a very enjoyable event should contact him or the Secretary directly. The closing date for entries is 15 April 2016.
The next reunion will take place over the weekend 6th, 7th and 8th May 2016. Once again we are indebted to the Station Commander for his generosity in welcoming us back to our spiritual home at RAF Waddington. Please complete the enclosed booking form to secure your place at the various events and send it with your remittance to the Secretary as soon as possible.
Friday 6th May: The opening event, the Meet and Greet, will be held at the Officers’ Mess, starting at 7.30 pm on Friday evening. A barrel of beer (or possibly two) will be set up to alleviate the arrival crush when the coaches disgorge their thirsty occupants.
Saturday 7th May: At noon we will reconvene at the Mill Lodge for a light lunch before moving on to the nearby International Bomber Command Centre to view progress at the memorial on Canwick Hill. We will be given a tour of the site and an opportunity to view the spire and the memorial walls. The Chadwick Centre is unlikely to have been completed in time for our visit but we should get a good idea of what the completed project will eventually look like. We are hoping for a flypast by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight sometime between two and three o’clock. The BBMF are very accommodating with our requests but their participation will depend on the weather and other commitments that afternoon. Saturday’s programme will conclude with the Annual Dinner in the Officers’ Mess at RAF Waddington. The timing, as last year, will be 6.45 for 7.15 pm.
Sunday 8th May: At 11 am on Sunday morning there will be a Service of Remembrance at Dunholme Lodge Farm followed by a lunch at the Farmers at Welton Hill. We are very grateful to the Wykes family at Dunholme Lodge Farm for the warm welcome they always give us and the facilities they provide for our service. Musical accompaniment will be by RAF Waddington’s Station Band.
The membership of our Association is in decline; not dramatically, but year by year the numbers are slowly dwindling. We need to arrest this decline and one way of doing so would be to encourage more ex-44 Squadron personnel to join. Could we elicit your help by asking you to trawl through address books and whenever you come across anyone who has served on the Squadron, contact them, extoll the virtues of the Association and encourage them to join. New applicants for membership will be warmly received by the Secretary.
The Secretary is still waiting for a number of annual subscriptions to be paid. Could I remind members that subscriptions were due on the 1st November of last year?
Change of Address
The following members have changed their addresses:
J E M Jenkins
Please see the Members’ Handbook, or contact the Secretary for details.
Mr C H Hattersley
Mr A A K Mills
Mrs C P Teagle
President: Air Commodore S A Baldwin MBE
Chairman: Group Captain J Laycock (Ret’d) BA
Secretary: Squadron Leader H M Horscroft (Ret’d)
9 Church Lane, Eagle, Lincoln LN6 9DJ
Telephone: 01522 868 653
Editor: Squadron Leader P J Leckenby (Ret’d) MBE
The March 2016 Newsletter Quick Links