THE NATIONAL MEMORIAL ARBORETUM
A few weeks ago I was looking through some old paper copies of our newsletters. In the November 1998 edition was a full page piece by a former member and treasurer, Frank Diamond, about the, then new, National Memorial Arboretum. It says that a plaque was paid for to commemorate the member squadrons of The Mildenhall Register at that time. These were XV, 149 and 622 Squadrons. I didn't know that this existed as I wasn't a member at that time, but was determined to find it if I ever visited.
That opportunity came on June 19th, when I was asked by some residents of our little village of Gosberton to take them to the NMA for a day trip. Armed with the information above, but with no idea where the plaque and tree might be, other than in the RAF area, I set off. It was a pleasant 2 hour drive, which we all enjoyed and we duly arrived. Having dropped two others off to search the Far East section for their relative who survived the Burma Railway, I walked off to the RAF area.
As described in Frank's article, there are many trees in the patch, all with dedication plaques, but where to start? Deciding the best approach was to walk the many lines and curves of the tree settings was probably the most effective search pattern, I began.
No success in the first grove, I moved across to the second section of 'the wings'. Before long I had discovered the plaques relating to Sgt Slatford of 218 Squadron, all those who served with 75(NZ) Squadron, Wing Commander George DFC of XV Squadron and one dedicated to those who served on XV Squadron, but the Mildenhall Register one was elusive.
With our agreed lunchtime meet looming, I began the last line of trees. It looked like I would need some help after lunch if this row netted nothing. Then there, two trees from the end of my search, was the plaque I'd read about and finally found. I took two photographs just in case!
So here, with the other plaque photos, is the one corresponding to the newsletter article and an image borrowed from Google Earth showing where these can all be found, should you ever pay a visit. Sadly I didn't discover any for XC Squadron, but the others cover all our member squadrons.
I'd thoroughly recommend it. It is still expanding and, to see everything, one really needs to spend all day there. We did and were very happy with our results. Geoff Reynolds
FROM STEVE SMITH - INFORMATION ABOUT THE 218 (GC) PLAQUE FOR SGT SLATFORD AS SHOWN ABOVE
The following information is known about this crew. Like so many they did not last long on the squadron. There is no posting in date for the crew or details in the ORB regarding OTU, or CU training.
However, what I do know is that the crew, including Sgt F H Slatford, were skippered by twenty-four-year-old A/F/Lt Arthur Wyn Ideal Jones of Carnavonshire and arrived on the squadron some time in early May 1942, more than probably via 218’s own Conversion Flight.
The crew undertook their first operations on May 17th 1942, a mining sortie aboard DJ977 HA-F, this was quickly followed on the 19th by a operation against Mannheim in Short Stirling W7535 HA-C. The squadron did not operate again until May 29th when 11 crews were detailed and briefed to attack Rhone engine factory situated at Gennvilliers, north west of Paris. Only experienced crews were selected for this operation, timed to start at 01:00 hours. By the time of the operation, Jones had been promoted to acting flight lieutenant.
I would deduce from this he had some considerable operational experience prior to his arrival on 218, the fact that he did not undertake any 2nd dickie trips and was selected for this operation would seem to confirm this. Stirling W7535 HA-C departed RAF Marham at 00:10 hours. This was a brand new aircraft on only it's second operation having arrived on the squadron on May 13th. The Stirling was loaded with 8 x 500 + 6 x 1000 pounders, these bombs were never destined to reach the target. On the approach to the target the aircraft was brought down by flak crashing a few short miles from the target area in the suburb of Colombes killing all the crew. I have a picture of the wreckage in my files. The bomb load can still be seen. The crew were initially buried in the Dugny Cemetery, 3 miles east of the target area.
A short and tragic stay on the squadron.
No.218 (Gold Coast) Squadron Association Historian
No.623 Squadron Historian
ST CLEMENT DANES CHURCH, LONDON by Geoff Reynolds
Last week on a visit to London Debbie and I were able to finally visit the RAF church of St Clement Danes. A visit that was long overdue. I had arranged for the Roll of Honour containing the name of my Uncle Raymond Geoffrey Norris to be opened so that I might see and photograph it.
I also wanted to photograph the new slate plaques that were replaced recently for both XV and 622 Squadrons amongst all the others embedded in the floor there.
You will notice, I'm sure, that the one depicting XV Squadron is actually marked 15 on the crest. I'm not sure why, but am making enquiries. I'd always been led to believe, that like XC(90) Squadron, they were always referred to as XV. Anyway, it was great to finally get to see them all and take some pictures.
CAUGHT NAPPING! by George B Thomson
This story covering my attempt, with our Flight Engineer, to walk out of Germany after being shot down may be of interest, or may simply be for the archives. I can say that I was asked to give this as an after dinner talk at RAF Lossiemouth some years ago, curiously on the occasion of their annual Battle of Britain Dinner. This was also read this out with a Q&A session too, after the AGM dinner at the Mildenhall Register reunion at RAF Mildenhall in 2017. George B Thomson
AN ORPHAN AIRMAN by Geoff Reynolds
This book sets out to tell the story of a family member. It would not be complete without inclusion of the crew that he flew with and others that they all served with. These men epitomise to me those that Sir Winston was talking about. The crew came from varied backgrounds and countries. Two came from England. Four more came across the globe from Australia and another one from New Zealand to fight for the cause. Who were these people? I felt I needed to know about this man whom I was named after. Research the service history that led to his death. Who were the crew that he flew with and what aircraft they had flown in? It was my personal search for this information that led me to the families of all of the crew and the details behind their untimely deaths.
Click on the files below to open them. They may appear at the bottom of your screen. If so click on the arrow next to it and then click 'open'.
AIR WAR OVER FLEVOLAND, THE NETHERLANDS by Lenie Bolle (translated by Shellie Tietema-Price)
This is an interview with Gerrie Zwanenburg, former Dutch Salvage Officer, which was recorded in Sept 2009 and conducted by Lenie Bolle about the so called “Flevoland Memories”. Lenie was born lives on Urk, the former island in what used to be the 'old Zuydersea'. An appropriate place as it was a wellknown 'pinpoint' for many Allied Airmen flying over in WW2. This is a historical interview, mainly intended for schools, and those Dutch who were born after WW2 to tell them what the aircraft, flying over night and day meant for the Dutch, and people in other German occupied countries - the sound of freedom!
Click on the pdf file below to read this.