St Omer Trip – 20 Sept 18

Dear All,

Please see the message below, sent out in an email to all members recently.  It would appear that not everybody had visibility of this so I’m publishing it for you here. If you are interested in attending, please contact Alfie Ferguson or myself.

TABS, Dutch.

 

Dear Member of the IX Squadron Association
 
Four years ago when we completed a most enjoyable 3 day trip to St Omer to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the formation of IX(B) Squadron  (there were about 120 Association members involved in support of serving Squadron personnel), I vowed never to take on something of that nature again. At my mature years I should have known better … never say never … so here we go … again … but on a smaller scale.
 
This year, as we know, the Royal Air Force is celebrating the 100th Anniversary if its formation in 1918, and in recognition of the link with the RFC/RAF in those early days, the St Omer Town Council (with some St Omer Flying Club involvement)  has written to the Chief of Air Staff to formally request RAF involvement in a celebration that acknowledges the 100 years + link.  I have to say at this stage that without a significant “push” from our Nick Hay, Chairman of the IX Sqn Association, this would not be happening. As a serving 1* he has been able to lean on the RAF 100 Programme Team to include this event as part of the wider celebrations. Believe me it was not straightforward, but fortunately Nick has a low key day job and plenty of spare time. As a result, we do now have agreement for some regular RAF involvement, and in particular from the two Squadrons that were formed at St Omer (IX(B) and 16) plus 41 Sqn which flew from St Omer in 1916 and which has the double-armed cross on their crest that also appears on the St Omer town’s arms. 
 
I mention the three squadron link to make it clear that on this occasion the event is not a dedicated IX(B) Squadron celebration. The main event, which is planned for Thursday 20th September 18, will involve serving personnel from all 3 squadrons (to an extent that has yet to be finalised) and the 3 Squadron Associations. I have yet to speak with 16 and 41 Squadron Association project leads. but I am expecting the  IX(B) Squadron Association’s involvement to be significantly greater than the other two – no surprises there when looked at against our remarkable Association strength and commitment. 
 
An outline travel and accommodation plan (can I stress outline)  for the IX Squadron Association involvement is as follows:
 
One coach this time for about 40  Association members rather than the 2 that we arranged in 2014. This can probably be expanded to 50 if needs be.
 
Outbound:
 
Leave from the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, at 0900 on Wednesday 19th September 18. Car parking will be made available as per the last occasion.
One pick up point en-route to Folkstone for rail tunnel crossing. Thurrock Services was successfully used last time. Negotiable for best option.
Travel to Folkestone to Calais on the 1220 train. Arrives in France at about 1400 local time.
To hotel (more of that later) to check in at about 1500.
 
Return:
 
Travel from Calais to Folkestone on Friday 21st September to catch the 1650 train, arriving in Folkestone at about 1630 UK time.
Drive to Duxford via the same stopping off point. 
Friday travel on UK roads not ideal … sorry but not our choice of dates.
 
In France (again an outline plan but given to us by the St Omer Council):
 
Wednesday 19th September 18.
 
Plan for 1800 evening visit to Chapel of the Jesuits, St Omer to see Exhibition entitled: “1918-2018 RAF, born in St Omer”. With English speaking guide.
 
2000 Dinner in Chateau Tilques. St Omer.
 
Thursday 20th September 18. the St Omer Town Council plan is as follows (no specific times given):
 
AM St Omer Cathedral Service of Remembrance 
 
AM Guided visit to La Coupole, a huge bunker that was built by the Germans as a  V2 launch site. The bunker was bombed successfully  by IX Squadron Lancasters, but despite our best efforts it remains remarkably well preserved! In 1977 it was turned into an impressive history and museum centre.   Lunch on site.
 
PM St Omer Cemetery: Wreath laying and start of official ceremony.
 
PM St Omer Airfield: Further ceremony at RAF Memorial at St Omer + displays + flypast planned + local orchestral concert + unveiling of plaque to commemorate the event. Reception.
 
Dinner in Chateau at 2000. tbc depending on nature and content of “reception” planned by our St Omer hosts.
 
Friday 21st September 18
 
0930 Check out of Chateau hotel 
 
1030 (option 1) Visit Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery. In Zonnebeke, Belgium. An hour or so from St Omer, but hugely impressive. 
1000 (option 2) Visit St Omer on a “Douglas Bader Tour”.  Wasn’t aware that he had the privilege of serving on IX … 
 
Lunch as required
 
Travel to Calais to catch 1650 train. Stopping at wine cellar en-route … of course …
 
HOW MUCH ?
 
The cost that I have from Galloway Travel who arranged the 2014 event for 1X Squadron’s 100th Anniversary event :
 
What you get:
 
Travel 19th – 21st September 18
Travel in France & Belgium as required
Return Eurotunnel crossing
 
Two nights in Hotel Chateau Tilques – DINNER + bed & breakfast in a twin or double room is £279 per person.
 
Single supplement £60 per person.
 
NB
 
Because we don’t know the detailed arrangements that our hosts in France have yet to put in place, I can’t confirm the precise additional costs which we might incur. However, please assume that participants in the trip will be required to pay for entry into La Coupole (10 euros pp) and the cost of lunch (10-15 euros pp) on 21st September when we are returning back to Calais to catch the train. Depending on the “reception” arrangements at St Omer on the 20th, we may not need dinner at the Chateau Hotel so there’s potentially a discount of the hotel bill of £279 … tbc …
 
WHERE TO FROM HERE?
 
I have a firm “reservation” for 20 twin/double rooms at Hotel Chateau Tilques until 16th May 18. However, that’s the absolute cut off date, and to sort out the other arrangements for this trip, such as payment, can I ask you to let me know if you would like to join the latest IX(B) Squadron travel extravaganza NOT LATER THAN WEDNESDAY 9th MAY 18 – even sooner if possible? 
 
Finally, bearing in mind the huge number of email addresses that this message has been sent, please don’t feel the need to “regret” the invitation to join the group. I just need to know who would like to go based on the information that I have gleaned so far – there will be some changes but hopefully not significant – and I will assume “not interested” if nothing hear by 9th May 18.
 
Can I also apologise for just one coach this year. I know that it’s not ideal for people who live in the north or west of the UK but I am trying to minimise the huge amount of administration that we had in 2014 and I simply don’t yet know how many want to come to St Omer for this shared extravaganza … TABS …
 
Best regards
 
Alfie
 
Alan (Alfie) Ferguson
Vice-President IX Squadron Association

AGM and Financial Report

Association members are reminded of the AGM to be held at the Officer’s Mess RAF Marham at 1100 on the 23rd September.  The Agenda for which can be found in the AGM section of the website.  Members are requested to read the Financial report for 2016/17 and the financial plan for Financial year 2018/19, which are also in the AGM section: members will be requested to ratify both documents at the AGM.

Cenotaph March Past – Nov 17

All,

CENOTAPH MARCH PAST – SUNDAY 12 NOVEMBER 2017

Following the very successful inaugural IX(B) Squadron Association march past of The Cenotaph in Whitehall on Sunday 13 Nov 16, we are urgently seeking Association members to join us again.

Here’s a run through of what will happen on 12 Nov 17:

We will meet at Horse Guards at about 0945. Don’t worry if you cannot walk too far if your “undercarriage” is getting a bit worn, as wheelchairs are on hand and we will provide “pushers”. We may also be able to arrange a free Taxi for you from anywhere inside the M25.

Following a trip to the loos, we will walk onto Whitehall at about 1020 hrs, dressed in jacket & tie, or whatever is comfortable.

We stay in this area watching events on a large screen for 30 mins or so, then come to attention for the 2 mins Silence.

The 5000 vets will then start marching past the Cenotaph in turn. We will hand a IX(B) Squadron Association Wreath to the wreath marshal, then turn right into Parliament Square, then right again into Horse Guards Road, where we will have a Royal salute. We go a little further then return to Horse Guards Parade for the dispersal. After dispersal, some go home, some go to local pubs and some go to Clubs for lunch.

Here’s a few comments from last year:

  • What a very memorable day: meeting up with RAF colleagues; enjoying the banter and friendliness; marching in step and in line (more challenging than I remember!); glorious sunshine; applauding crowds; distinguished company; recalling the past with an emphasis on the achievements of past and current generations.   
  • What a truly magnificent day we had yesterday!
  • What a privilege to join you all yesterday. A once in a lifetime moment, although it sounds like there is an appetite to make it a bit more often than that. 
  • It was an honour and privilege to be with IX Sqn Association for our inaugural participation in the Remembrance Sunday Cenotaph parade.  
  • So glad I decided to attend. It was a truly wonderful day to meet with fellow members and feel the warmth and friendliness that epitomises Armed Forces camaraderie. The sun shone and medals glittered making it a splendid day.

If you would like to join us on 12 November 17, we need your name ASAP.

Please contact Dicky James ASAP

 

Air Vice Marshall Desmond Hall CB CMG CBE AFC

Dear All,
 
This morning I received a letter from Mavis Hall, wife of Desmond Hall. She was passing on the sad news that Des passed away, peacefully, in his sleep on 23 April 2017. She said that Des loved reading TABS, cover to cover, but that his quality of life was deteriorating. She thinks that he felt it was time to make his exit and that he planned it well – Mavis said she was in hospital with pneumonia at the time, so wasn’t around to talk him out of it! Mavis asked that I/we raise a glass to Des sometime, as he would like that and to pass on her regards to those who remember her and Des. “They were such happy times” We most certainly will Mavis, as usual, at the Reunion in September.
 
The following is paraphrased from an email I received earlier from Air Cdre Spike Milligan, who knew Des well:
 
Air Vice Marshall Des Hall CB CMG CBE AFC was a Flt Cdr on IX Canberras at Binbrook in the 1950s, when Sqn Ldr George Bastard was OC IX(B) Sqn. His DoB was 3 June 1925, and he joined the RAF in WW2 by fabricating his age. At the end of WW2 in 1945, he was just 20 and had earned a load of campaign medals, including the Burma Star. He got found out when he, as an Air Cdre, received his retirement papers, and then confessed. Instead of a bollocking, he got promoted to AVM and posted to the BHC in Canberra, from whence he finally retired!
 
He was a great guy, and we served together at Gaydon (Valiants) and Marham (Victors). When he was Stn Cdr Waddington, he flew a Vulcan to visit us on IX Sqn at Akrotiri on 3 Mar 1972. We had a photo taken in front of the Tirpitz bulkhead and he and I are members of the select group who did all three ‘V’ aircraft. He was always highly enthusiastic about IX(B) Sqn, and was very popular.
 
Rest in Peace Sir
 
TABS

Flying Officer Roy Amerena

We are sad to inform you that Flying Officer Roy Amerena passed away on 21 April 2017, aged 93. Roy was a Navigator on 149 and 9 Squadron and flew many missions in Lancasters during WW2. Following the war he stayed in the RAF and converted to Lincolns.

Roy’s Funeral was held in St Andrew’s Church, Steyning on 2 June 2017. 9 Squadron and its Association were represented by Mr Richard James and Mr Chris Fleming.

Flt Lt Denis Mason

We are sad to inform you that Flt Lt Denis Mason DFM passed away on 11 May 2017. Denis was a Bomb Aimer & Air Gunner on Wellingtons and Lancasters. Denis completed two tours on 9 Squadron during WW2 and survived 66 missions.

In November 1942 he had already amassed 65 bombing missions, but was still only twenty years old. He was posted as an Instructor in Oxfordshire, and whilst waiting at the railway station for transport to his new camp, he met a 17 year old WAAF called Yvonne, who he chatted to. They subsequently married on 6 January 1945 and were married until his passing 72 years later.

At school Denis was nicknamed “Mickey” and whilst he was on 9 Squadron he was called “Tiger”. Later in life, Dennis wrote two books under the pseudonym “Mike Dee”. His books were “The Third Son as Night Bomber” and “Sequel to The Third Son as Night Bomber”.

Denis’s Funeral was held at All Saints Church, Sherburn-in-Elmet, Yorks on 30 May 2017 and 9 Squadron and its Association were represented by W.O. Richard Lyons.

Flt Lt Allan ‘Jock’ Richardson

I am very sorry to have to pass on the news that ‘Jock’ died peacefully in his sleep on Good Friday at the age of 97. I would normally write a little bit about Jock but I think the following letter from his son-in-law to the Association Secretary in 2011 sums Jock up much better than I can. This is reproduced by kind permission of the family:

 

 

 

“My father-in-law, Flt Lt Allan “Jock” Richardson, started WWII as a Sgt Weapons Operator/Air Gunner on Wellingtons at RAF Marham. During the war he was commissioned, went through pilot training and ended up flying Lancasters on a Pathfinder squadron. He and his wife, Triss, live in Swaffham. During a party at Swaffham Golf Club to celebrate Allan’s 90th birthday in 2009, Dicky James, representing the Stn Cdr presented him with a signed print from all at RAF Marham. It was a personal touch that was much appreciated.

For a number of years we have been trying to get Allan to visit RAF Marham on the afternoon of the IX(B) Sqn reunion so that he could re-acquaint himself with the Lanc. He has steadfastly resisted. However, this year Viv, my wife, had driven down to Swaffham from our home in Cheshire to collect her parents and bring them back to stay with us for a week. We were due to return them to Swaffham on the day of the reunion. So, a little bit of subterfuge was called for! During the week prior to the reunion I was in contact with Dicky and he kindly arranged for me to bring my vehicle on to the Sqn HAS site (subject to a tyre FOD check) and drive up close to the Lanc.

As we drove my in-laws back towards Swaffham I told Allan that we needed to call in at RAF Marham to see someone about the reunion dinner that evening and he said that would be fine. As we drove towards the Sqn HAS site I tried to sound surprised when I said to Allan “Oh look, there’s the Lanc parked up”; “So it is” he replied. We drove up and parked near the aircraft and I said “come on out and have a closer look”. As we approached the Lanc there was clearly some dust in the air as Allan’s eyes got a little misty!

I was able to get him on board where he was treated with great affection by the BBMF crew. He also displayed great nimbleness for someone in his 90s as he scrambled over the main spar. Coming backwards down the ladder at the end of his visit Allan found a little more difficult. When he finally got his feet back on the concrete he declared “that was worse than going on Ops!”

As the Lanc started up prior to the wonderful display Allan said “T, M, P, F, G, G, C, B, P”.

“What was that Dad?” said Viv.

“The Lanc pre-take off checks, of course” came the reply.

“Can you remember them?”

“Yes! Trim, Mixture, Pitch….” and he ran through the whole lot to the last P, saying “Power – leading with the port throttles for take off”.

Allan’s verdict on the display? “Bloody marvellous!”

After the display we repaired to the Sqn HQ, where Allan was clearly interested in the many pictures on the wall. After a while in the corridor upstairs he suddenly shouted “bloody hell, that’s me!” Sure enough there is a picture of a Wellington with a group of aircrew in front of it, Allan is in the group and he can still remember many of the other names. It was taken after return from the first bombing raid on Berlin mounted by RAF Marham. Allan has since looked in his logbook and found details of the mission.

As we drove them home later in the afternoon Allan said “If I die tomorrow I’ll die a happy man”.

Rest in Peace Jock.

Reunion 2017

This year, your Association will be holding it’s Annual Reunion over the weekend of 22/23/24 September 2017. The format will be similar to previous years and dinner will be in the Officer’s Mess, RAF Marham on Saturday evening. This is an All Ranks event and all Association Members are welcome. For current Association Members, you will soon receive our Annual magazine, TABS, and the relevant forms to fill in if you wish to attend. Please complete and return to me, The Secretary, as soon as you can.
 
For those of you who are not yet Association Members, you will be very welcome to join us (numbers permitting and Assn Members will take priority), but please be aware that this event is subsidised by the IX(B) Sqn Association and therefore you would be expected to pay a higher cost. Alternatively, you can join the Assn for the princely sum of £10 a year and make the most of our Treasurer’s generosity on the evening!
 
If you would like to become a member of the IX(B) Sqn Assn then please email me at association.sec@9sqn.co.uk for more details.

Wg Cdr (Retd) D Legg MBE RAF RIP

“A funeral service for Wg Cdr (Retd) D Legg MBE RAF will be held at St John’s Church, Long Street, Devizes, Wiltshire, SN10 1PA, at 1300. All attendees are to be seated by 1240; dress for the funeral for military personnel is No. 1 SD (or single Service equivalent) with medals.  Black armbands are not to be worn.

The family welcomes anyone who knew Darren to the funeral which will be followed by a service for the family and close friends at the crematorium.  The family welcomes all attendees of the funeral service to join them at the Corn Exchange, The Market Place, Devizes, Wiltshire, SN10 1HS from 1400 for refreshments.

The family have requested donations in lieu of flowers be made to the charity ‘Heads Together’, in the name of Wg Cdr (Retd) D Legg.
For further information please contact the Liaison Officer, Plt Off A Furlong on MoD telephone: 95261 7119, BT telephone: 01491 837766 EXT 7119.”