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© 2007-2013 The Spitfire Society and respective copyright holders.
Reg. Charity No: 299033


Form 700    No. 59   Winter 2012



From the Chair

General Announcements

A Day in the Life of a Fighter Pilot in WW2

A Ferry Story Part IV

Colin 'Hoppy' Hodgkinson


Spitfire MA298

Flying Scholarships for the Disabled

The Butler / Stillwell Memorial Award

And Finally ...

Commemoration of The Battle of Britain


From the Chair

With the last air show at Duxford now done and dusted we can reflect a little on the year.

The dedication and commitment of our committee and helpers has been as great as ever, perhaps even a little greater and I thank them very much for that. Also many thanks to Peter and Gerard for editing our Newsletter, well done!

Although conditions have been difficult it has been a successful year. The future looks very good.

My New Year’s wish is that the tranquillity prevailing in the Eastern Wing would extend to other areas of our society.

May I now wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very healthy and Happy New Year.

From wherever you have come, or are going to, “Keep the faith”.


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General Announcements

Welcome to Form 700

Welcome to issue number 58 of the Form 700. First of all, many congratulations to Gerard Crutchley who was the recipient of this year’s Founders’ Trophy, awarded in memory of David Green, the initiator of the Spitfire Society, and given to the person deemed to have done the most for the society in the previous year. For undertaking vast amounts of work in a variety of spheres Gerard was deemed to be the most suitable candidate this year and quite rightly so; on behalf of the Eastern Wing committee and membership, well done Gerry, and thank you!

Sadly in this issue we report the passing of two more close friends of the Eastern Wing, Audrey Morgan and Albert George Morgan (no relation) who both died earlier this year; tributes may be found elsewhere in this magazine. We would also wish to take this opportunity to pass on our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Andrew Stillwell-Cox who died under such sad circumstances on the 21st of July; our kindest thoughts are with them.

In this issue of the Form 700 we are very pleased and privileged to present items written by the late Squadron Leader Leonard Feltham DFC; Sqn Ldr Feltham led a varied and frequently hazardous wartime career, serving with 232 and 127 Squadrons, and survived being shot down and badly wounded in the remote Western Desert. His DFC citation stated that he showed “initiative, courage, and determination of a very high order” that he had always displayed in the face of the enemy. Leonard Feltham died in 2009, and the items reproduced in this magazine, written during the war as a Flight Lieutenant, were sent to us by the late Squadron Leader’s wife, Mrs Patricia Feltham, to whom we extend our sincerest gratitude.

Other items include the continuing story by Geoff Bates of his service life as an ATA pilot, and the variety of people and experiences that he encountered. There is also a report on the Pat Butler and Len Stillwell awards, and some splendid items by our very own Vice Chairman Mr Steve Williams; we hope you enjoy them.

In other news, a wreath was laid at St. Andrews Church, North Weald on behalf of The Spitfire Society by Squadron Leader Ian Blair DFM to commemorate Battle of Britain Day; thank you Ian. A wreath will also be laid at the North Weald Airfield Memorial on Remembrance Day in November. Special mention once more to Wing member Eric Horwood for organising the wreaths and his on-going commitment and steadfast support at these and other events over the years; thank you Eric.

Calendar Time!

The Spitfire Society calendars for 2013 are now on sale and follow the same successful format as previously; twelve beautiful colour photographs, with the calendar area presented underneath. Once again the pictures come to us courtesy of Darren Harbar (website: www.focalplaneimages.co.uk) and James Wheeler (website: www.jameswheelerphotography.com) two very gifted photographers to whom we extend our thanks. Anyone who has seen our previous calendars will know how good they are, and if you haven’t I can tell you they are most excellent!

Calendars are priced at £6.10 including postage and may be obtained from Wing Committee member and all-round decent fellow Jason Amiss, whose contact details may be found on the back page of this magazine.

Merchandise Appeal

On the subject of Spitfire Merchandise, we are encountering a lot of problems in getting items to sell on the Eastern Wing sales stand at Duxford and this is having a severe impact on the funds we have been able to generate for the Spitfire Society this year. If you have any books, magazines, videos, DVD’s or artefacts that you feel you would like to donate, they would be very gratefully received.

A Very Special Birth-date

On November 7th 1912 aviation legend Alex Henshaw was born and so this year he would have been one hundred years old. Alex, who died in 2007, was already a household name before the war in the exciting and popular field of air-racing, gaining numerous victories including winning the 1938 King’s Cup and breaking the London-to-Cape Town endurance record, both flying the diminutive but deceptively lively Percival Mew Gull.

During the war the great Jeffrey Quill appointed Alex as Chief Test Pilot at the mighty Castle Bromwich plant near Birmingham where Lancasters and Spitfires were assembled; it is estimated that Alex himself tested around ten per cent of all Spitfires built.

His evocative books Sigh for a Merlin, Wings Across the Great Divide and Flight of the Mew Gull - which puts the reader firmly in the cockpit with him on his astonishing flight to and from Cape Town - are aviation classics.

A great aviator and an inspiration to many, Alex was a Patron of the Spitfire Society and a particular friend to this region, so it was of course only right that we make note of this special day and remember with fondness a great man.


 Back to Index


A Day in the Life of a Fighter Pilot in WW2

By Flt/Lt L W Feltham

Midsummer meant a long day for the fighter pilot, with dawn at four o'clock and dusk not until as late as nine or ten at night. At three thirty I'm awakened with a cup of sweet tea. The half dozen of us in the tent don't talk. Just sluice the face with cold water, dress in battle dress, flying boots, Mae West, an inflatable life jacket in case you come down in the sea, and off to dispersal where the Spitfires are waiting, re-armed and re-­fuelled and warmed-up by the dedicated ground crew.

We wait for the briefing - that is, the target or whatever duty we have been assigned on this dawn sortie. It might be as high escort to bomber squadrons attacking armament factories, a sweep at twenty thousand feet to try to lure the enemy's fighters up for a scrap; or we may have a target to attack ourselves with the 500 pound bomb slung under the fuselage and a 250 pound bomb under each wing.

It's a dive-bombing trip to eliminate an enemy stronghold which is holding up the advance of our own infantry. Take off is at five fifteen.

We climb aboard the aircraft, strap ourselves in, pull on helmet, oxygen mask, gloves, test the control surfaces - the ailerons and rudder, and wait. My mouth is dry and I can feel my heart pounding. Then from the control tower a green Verey light is fired and we start up. We taxi out and take off in pairs and quickly form up into three sections of four in line astern. Once the action has started the apprehension disappears.

We climb to ten thousand feet and, as we near the target, only about twenty minutes flying time away, the commanding officer gives the order 'echelon starboard'. We're now in an attacking formation. We see the target, pass over it. All is quiet. Then the leader peels off in a dive and the remaining eleven pilots follow him, gun button switched to on, bombs primed, gun sight, which we'll use to aim our bombs, switched on.

By now the anti aircraft fire has opened up. You can see the balls of tracer bullets floating up gently towards you and when they reach you they flash by at great speed. They look quite pretty, like Christmas tree lights and not dangerous at all.

There's no turning back now. Regardless of the flak, you're on your bombing run and that commands your whole attention. We will dive in a near-vertical dive from ten thousand to six thousand feet, gun sight on the target, pull through the target and release the bombs then pull back on the control column at full power to get out of the flak. Then we go in to rake the stronghold with cannon and machine gun fire. We turn for home.

There's been no action from enemy fighters this time. But there probably will be next. We form up in squadron formation; we're one missing.

Approaching base we peel off for landing, taxi in and switch off. The ground crew are eager for news of the sortie. So is the intelligence officer whose task is to assess the effectiveness of the operation. We pilots gather in the mess tent, subdued because a fighter squadron is a very close-knit unit and the comradeship between us and affection is very great. Losing a fellow pilot is all too common.

But, life has to go on. We're ready for breakfast. It's just after 6.45. There will probably be four or five more sorties today if the weather's good. But by about seven in the evening we are 'stood down'. No more ops for today. So we're off to the mess for a hilarious evening, when we drink more beer than we should.

And about eleven, the telephone rings. The mess falls silent. Someone answers; puts the phone down. "Briefing four thirty tomorrow".


I Have Been Alone

Flt/Lt L W Feltham 1944 Aged 23


When sullen clouds prolonged the night

And held impatient day's onset,

The Spitfire stood, a silent silhouette

Against the distant hills, its dappled wings all bright

And glistening in the rain.

Sweet, sleek aeroplane …

Yet with a viper's sting concealed amid her grace.

Then I, with parachute and flying boots encumbered

Climbed awkwardly aboard. Yet slumbered

The world, indulged in dreams of peace,

Till I exultantly

And triumphantly

Caused the engine's sweet snarling roar

To burst upon their eardrums. Rude

Awakening to a war-filled day. The Spitfire stood

Shiv'ring in impatient ecstasy, eager to soar

Above the earth

And show her worth.

Slowly she rolled, then gathered speed and rose

Into her element the air, and left behind the land

While I caressed her with a lover's hand.

Contented now her voice, but eager set her nose

Towards the cloud.

Swift and proud

Into a strange and solitary place flew

She and I.  How soft the mist that round her furled

Swirled and eddied in a lonely world.

How distant seemed that other world below.

And other men

And then …… and then!

Gradually pale light began to stray

Into that darkened eeriness. Dawn

Began to break and, suddenly forlorn,

The clinging clouds dropped away

Far, far below

In splendid show.

White-gleaming in the sunlight's glare

And stretched unceasing to the end of Time.

A wondrous sense of happiness achieved climbed

Aboard my heart. For only she and I were there

In harmony.

Yet an ecstasy

I felt, a Presence close at hand, deafened

My heart with song; unspoken words did say

That I was not alone.  I think that on that day

I touched the fringe of Heaven.


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A Ferry Story

Part IV

Geoff Bates

If you have not read Part I, II & III, you can find them here:

Part I

Part II

Part III

The Landlady and Cross Green Bowling ...

Whilst at the Holding Centre at Morecambe we were billeted in private housing. Four of us were allocated to one house, a tall tenement house with a cellar, three floors and two small attic bedrooms which were allocated to us. Our party comprised two officers and two warrant officers.

As soon as we arrived the landlady lined us up in the hallway. “I don’t care how many Jerries you’ve shot down, you’ll do as I say when you are in my house,” she informed us in a way which would have made a drill sergeant proud. She then proceeded to tell us the rules of the house. One was that we were not to have any women in the house at any time, “not even your mothers.” The times for meals were stipulated. If you weren’t punctual you didn’t get a meal – it was as simple as that. The front door would be locked at 10.45pm; if you were late you would have to find somewhere to spend the night. Nobody was to come downstairs to let in a latecomer. No smoking at any time. Lights out at 11pm. “I don’t know how they expect me to feed you lot on what they pay me!” The list was a mile long. When it was all over you expected her to say “Squad, attention! Right turn! Dismiss!”

One chap apropos of our having to find someone else to spend the night with if we were not in by 10.45pm said he thought of asking our landlady if she knew of any good addresses; I said the subtlety of the question would have been lost on her. On my demob leave I went to see the play ‘Worm’s Eye View’ in London. I’m positive it was based on our landlady!

Whilst in Morecambe we used to play bowls. In that part of the country they play crown green bowls which is played diagonally across the green which has a crown or arched surface. We were not at all popular with the locals who took their bowls very seriously. First of all we were novices and hadn’t a clue about the bias on the woods and whether we should use finger or thumb bias. Secondly, we used to hit the local’s woods or we would pitch our jack in the middle of the green, which really mucked up things. I’m sure they were delighted when we were posted after three weeks.


Soon after my return from the holding centre at Morecambe a very forceful character joined us. In 1938 he was a cadet at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, but lost his right leg in a mid-air collision the following May.

Doctors were fighting to save his remaining leg when he heard about the exploits of the legendary Douglas Bader. Hoppy wrote to Bader whose reply inspired him to return to flying, but it would necessitate having his badly-damaged left leg removed; this he readily agreed to.

He was fitted with artificial legs which were not the sophisticated ones of today; the tin legs were attached to his body with numerous leather straps which made a squeaking noise as he walked by throwing one leg after the other. He had been over six feet tall and was a very broad fellow with red hair. When first fitted with the legs he kept falling over. The only way he was able to walk successfully was with the reduction of the length of the legs, so that his height was reduced to about five foot eight inches. He made such a good recovery that he re-joined the Royal Navy, but after attempts at deck-landings, he told The Admiralty that the rigours of carrier flying presented too many problems, and he was transferred to the RAF.

On the 23rd November 1943, during a high-level recce with 501 Squadron, his Spitfire developed engine trouble obliging him to attempt a forced landing. Blasted by flak, he passed out and crashed some 40 miles from St. Omer where Frenchmen pulled him from the blazing wreck.

Hoppy was repatriated to the UK in September 1945 and, after plastic surgery, joined No.12 Ferry Unit where we he was known as Hoppy to his face. Hoppy left the RAF in June 1946. He was the subject of a ‘This is Your Life’ programme in 1958 but, alas, I missed it.

I can’t vouch for this story although I could well believe it, that thanks are due to Hoppy for the fact that disabled drivers – and I am one – can park on yellow lines. He also wrote a book called ‘Best Foot Forward’ which I enjoyed - having known him – when he wrote that he was a very shy person, particularly as far as women were concerned!

He always liked to tell the story of Douglas Bader when he was invited to talk at a famous girls’ school about his experiences as a POW. He started by recalling how, flying Spitfires, he and other members of his Squadron  were returning from a sortie when three Fokkers dived out of the sun, pouncing on him and his colleagues. His aircraft was severely damaged by cannon fire and he was forced to bail out. He was captured and taken to a POW camp. The Headmistress interjected to explain that Fokkers were German fighter aircraft, whereupon, according to Hoppy, Bader replied “The Fokkers were actually Messerschmitt 109 fighters”. As the reader can well imagine, I could write screeds more about Hoppy. He certainly was a character. (see next article for more on Hoppy)

I was posted home in February 1945, although the war in Europe did not finish until May 1945 and the Japanese war went on until mid-August 1945. We were now concentrating on getting aircraft out to the Far East as quickly as possible for after the Germans surrendered we did not know how long the Japanese would try to resist the advance of the Allies. Had it not been for the atomic bombs I feel sure that the Japanese would have fought on longer.

The A.B.U.’s had now become Ferry Units. We used to fly a medley of aircraft (Tempests, Corsairs, Hellcats, Vengeances and Spitfires) either to Cairo for No.1 F.U. to ferry to No.2 F.U. in India to fly to squadrons fighting the Japanese, or we would take them all the way to Karachi or Nagpur in Central India. There were other places that we did one-offs, e.g. taking aircraft out to Malta. Then followed Martinets to Pau not far from the Pyrenees where they were going to be used to train French pilots. This was quickly followed by taking Argus III aircraft to Prague where they too were going to be used for training pilots.

No sooner back than off to Silloth near Carlisle for more Argus aircraft; this time the destination was Oslo. The Argus doesn’t carry much fuel, so we had to make frequent stops. First night stop in Eindhoven in Holland; next night stop Copenhagen. Here the Tivoli Gardens were being prepared for opening to the public, and one could have free rides, provided the authorities were not held responsible for any accidents!

                                                                  To be continued…

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Colin 'Hoppy' Hodgkinson

This article appeared in a recent edition of The Spitfire Association newsletter (our colleagues in Australia) and is reproduced with their kind permission.

The famous Douglas Bader was not the only legless pilot to engage the enemy from Biggin Hill and other RAF Airfields. A lesser known pilot, Colin Hodgkinson, born in Wells, Somerset in 1920, of excellent pedigree; the son of decorated soldier and airman Gerard William Hodgkinson. Colin was accepted in 1938 for pilot training as a midshipman in the Fleet Air Arm. During his training, his aircraft was involved in a mid-air collision; grievously injured, Hodgkinson had to have both his legs amputated.

During the long period in hospital, the famous plastic surgeon Sir Archibald Mclndoe operated on one of his eye sockets and Hodgkinson was subsequently accepted into the Guinea Pig Club founded by Mclndoe for burned pilots. Inspired by Douglas Bader, Hodgkinson was determined to return to flying and to fly the Spitfire. He managed to obtain a transfer from the Royal Navy to the RAF as a Pilot Officer.

After training on Spitfires, Hodgkinson was posted on 7 December 1942 to No 131 Squadron at Westhampnett, Sussex. When his squadron left, he obtained permission to remain in the Tangmere Wing and joined No 610 Squadron (OC 'Johnnie' Johnson). In April 1943 he shot down a Fw 190 that crashed into the sea off Brighton Pier. Hodgkinson was later posted to No 611 Squadron at Biggin Hill, equipped with Spifire Mk IXs. In August, when flying from Coltishall, Norfolk, Hodgkinson was escorting American B-26 Marauders bombing Bernay airfield when his squadron came under attack by more than fifty Fw 190s.

The Wing turned for home and the in the furious dog-fighting that followed, he shot down a Fw 190 that was about to attack his wing leader, 'Laddie' Lucas. Hodgkinson then joined No 501 Squadron as a flight commander but in November 1943, during a high altitude weather reconnaissance detail, his oxygen supply failed, and he crashed into a French field. Badly injured and minus one of his metal legs, he was dragged from his blazing Spitfire by two farm workers.

Captured and placed in a PoW camp, he was repatriated ten months later. On returning to Britain he was again treated for his injuries by Mclndoe. He resumed flying towards the end of the war as a ferry pilot based at Bristol Filton Aerodrome. He was released from the RAF in 1946 but returned to military flying three years later flying de Havilland Vampires with Nos 501 and 604 Royal Auxiliary Air Force squadrons until the early 1950s.

Civilian life presented fresh challenges, and he plunged enthusiastically into the post war regeneration of advertising and public relations. From the agency Erwin Wasey he moved into PR, learned the ropes and broke away to establish Colin Hodgkinson Associates. With the drive and press-on spirit carried over from fighter days, Hodgkinson prospered, and attracted a mix of prestigious and solid industrial accounts.

Hodgkinson also tried politics, standing as a Conservative in the safe Labour seat of South West Islington in the 1955 general election. He made an impressive debut and rediscovered his youthful boxing skills in a punch-up with Labour supporters. Articulate and a fluent writer, Hodgkinson was briefly air correspondent with the fledgling ITN. In 1957 he published Best Foot Forward, an entertaining account of his life until then.

In 1986 he moved permanently to his holiday home in the Dordogne. He married first wife June Hunter, a former fashion model. After her death he married Georgina, a Frenchwoman, who survives him. Colin 'Hoppy' Hodgkinson died on 13 September, 1996 aged 76.

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Audrey Morgan

In February this year we lost another dear friend when Audrey Morgan passed away.

Audrey had been a supporter of our region for many years, joining up with her husband John in the early days of what was then the Eastern Region.

When John died Audrey carried on with her support as she had become such an integral part of the activities of Eastern Region. Right up until the last weeks of her time with us, Audrey was as active and committed as ever – working hard for hours on end at the air show sales stand, selling raffle tickets at our Annual General Meetings, supporting our committee meetings, visits, activities and countless other things. The amount of money that Audrey’s hard work must have generated for the Spitfire Society over the years is beyond calculation, but of greater value must surely have been the impression she left on the general public as an ambassador for our society, always giving time to share her wisdom, knowledge, experience, kindness, compassion, wit and gentle, wry humour with everyone she met.

During the Second World War, Audrey was a member of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, during which time she had a few close shaves with enemy action, being right in the thick of things performing vital work at key fighter stations such as Hornchurch and Hawkinge. It was as a WAAF that Audrey first became acquainted with the Spitfire, and with John.

It seems hard to imagine our region without Audrey – the memory of the cheerfulness that she brought with her, even under very difficult personal circumstances, and her heart-warming kindness will be remembered always by those lucky enough to have known her.


A fascinating article that Audrey wrote for the Form 700 in 2008 may be found in the 'Archives' section of this website.


Albert George Morgan

The early part of 2012 was a sad time as we lost another of our good friends when on Friday the 4th of May, Albert – or George as we knew him – Morgan passed away.

George was one of our most reliable and consistent helpers on the regional sales stand, attending numerous air shows at Duxford throughout recent years. Resplendent in his smart blazer, George was always a big hit with the people who approached the stand – his memories of life in the wartime RAF, his evident affection for the Spitfire, a ready sense of humour and a sincere interest in other people combined to make for a man that was a great pleasure to work with.

As well as putting in countless hours representing the Spitfire Society at air shows, George also supported our various other activities such as social occasions, visits and outings.

I remember some years ago at one of the special Spitfire events at Duxford, George was helping us look after some of the aeroplanes. Sheltering from the afternoon heat on a chair strategically sited under the port wing of a Spitfire, George found himself on a number of occasions being asked to emerge and pose for photographs with members of the public in front of the legendary aircraft, a duty which he readily undertook with his usual good grace and modesty.

George was a lovely man, one of a kind and a real gentleman; we will miss him very much.

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Spitfire MA298

Steve Williams

A long preserved, but seldom mentioned Spitfire is MA298 in the Danmarks Flymuseum at Stauning in Denmark. This aircraft was built as a Mk Vc, but converted to a LF IX by Rolls Royce at Hucknall, which makes it a very interesting survivor. I believe it to be the only complete example of such a conversion.

The first three dates on the AM Form 78 (Airframe Record Card) are:

27/5/1943   Rolls Royce

03/7/1943   39 MU

14/7/1943   234 Squadron

However, 234 Squadron was never operational on Mk IX's so why the allocation? The answer, I think, lies in a little known episode of World War II.

No. 246 Group was formed on the 3rd July 1943 as the air component of a force that was to intervene in Portugal, presumably in the event of a hostile reaction to the planned Allied take over of that country's territory in the Azores.

The Groups' units, No's 96, 98, 130 and 234 Squadrons assembled at Honiley later that month. Sadly no Record Book (Form 540/541) appears to have been completed by 234 Squadron during this period, no doubt due to the fact that only the pilots were sent to Honiley, the ground staff being posted to No.1 P.D.C. (Personnel Despatch Centre), West Kirby, so that those eligible could be equipped for overseas service. Fortunately the records of 130 Squadron do exist so we can get a good idea of what 234 was doing during this period.

Most of July was taken up by the performance of numerous consumption tests. Clearly the idea was for the Beaufighters of 96 and the Spitfires of 130 and 234 to fly across the Bay of Biscay escorted by the Mitchells of 98.

The perceived danger having passed, the assembled units dispersed and No. 246 Group was disbanded on the 9th August 1943. No. 234 Squadron reformed without aircraft at West Malling on the 5th August, and on the 7th collected an outfit of Spitfire Mk V's from 122 Squadron which had re-equipped with Mk IX's.

What then happened to MA298? At present I do not know. A lengthy search through many documents has, so far, failed to locate it serving with any unit during the remainder of 1943.

The next date on the record card is the 17th March 1944 when it is shown as being allocated to RAF Milfield and I assume this was for the Fighter Leaders School which was based there. It should be noted that there were five other Rolls Royce Spitfire LF IX's with similar histories (JL107, MA645, MA646, MA651 and MA657), albeit without a mention of 234 Squadron.

If anyone has information regarding any of these aircraft during this period I would be more than pleased to hear from them.

The rest is simply told. In June 1945, its flying career over, it was placed in store, and, in 1948 was passed to Denmark as an instructional airframe. Since 1951 it has been either stored or on display at various locations.


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Flying Scholarships for Disabled People

Steve Williams

As many of you will know, we have again sponsored a place for a person on the 2012/13 course under this scheme. The charity was set up in 1983 in memory of Group Captain Douglas Bader and selected candidates are given the opportunity to learn how to fly. This includes 35 hours flying time, relevant ground school and supporting exams.

In July David Williams and I were invited to RIAT at RAF Fairford to meet ‘our’ student, Mr Zan Marseilles, and to be present at the award of the scholarship certificates. Zan was very seriously injured in a motorcycle accident but certainly seems to have a remarkable outlook on life.

The certificates were awarded by the charity's patron, His Royal Highness Prince Faisal of Jordan, assisted by Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton.

We would like to wish Zan and all the other students the very best for the future.


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The Butler / Stillwell Awards

The Eastern Wing Annual General Meeting was again held in the Princess Charlotte Suite at Old Warden this year. The meeting followed on as usual from the Pat Butler Memorial Awards in which two outstanding cadets are chosen by the Officers Commanding, London & South Eastern Region, Central and East Region Air Cadets and presented with their awards - a cash bursary plus a certificate and membership of the Spitfire Society.

These awards are presented in memory of Pat Butler, who flew Spitfires from 1942 onwards serving first with 1435 Squadron in Malta followed by 130, 256 and 153 Squadrons in North Africa, Sicily and Italy. Pat was one of the original members of The Spitfire Society and the founder of Eastern Region. He died in 1993.

The Pat Butler award was this year joined for the first time by the newly inaugurated Len Stillwell Award for Most Promising Cadet. Len flew Spitfires in Italy with 92 Sqn and was wounded in action, an injury that caused him great pain right up until his death. Len went on to serve on our regional committee for many years and along with his wife Dot (herself a former WAAF, working on bomber airfields in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire) was a dedicated member of our sales stand team, getting up in the middle of the night and travelling up to places like Duxford, often travelling hundreds of miles a year and in the spirit of a true charity volunteer (and in common with all of our volunteers – HQ please note) never asking for a penny in compensation. He was a marvellous man who represented all that we associate with the true spirit of the Spitfire. When he died in 2008 he left a generous bequest to the Spitfire Society and it is in his honour that the award is given. I am sure that like Pat Butler, Len would have been very pleased with the candidates chosen.

The list of achievements of our awardees is quite extensive and we would not wish to risk embarrassing them by listing here every single accomplishment! Once more we had two exceptional cadets for the Pat Butler Award whose enthusiasm, dedication and diligence has taken them far with the ATC, and for the Len Stilwell Award a young man who is already doing great things.

Pat Butler Awards

Cadet Warrant Officer Anthony David Snook joined the corps in 2007 and via the classification system achieved Instructor Cadet in March 2010 and through the rank system became Cadet Warrant Officer in April 2012. He has achieved a number of qualifications over the years and flew solo in a Viking glider for the first time in July 2010, going on to do the Advanced Glider Training and completing a course through the Air Cadet Pilot Scheme which led to solo flying in a Grob Heron single-engine training aircraft. Anthony starts University shortly, and aims to go on to join the RAF as a pilot.

Cadet Flight Sergeant Shaun Joseph Kellam has accomplished much in his six years with the ATC including representing his wing and the corps in events such as cross country running, athletics, swimming and rugby; for his achievements he was awarded the Sports Cadet of the Year trophy in 2009. The list of Shaun’s successes is extensive; highlights include flying solo in a glider and gaining his silver wings in June 2010, Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award, a pass with distinction with BTEC in Aviation Studies and Public Services, a pass with merit on the ATC Leadership Course and following on from the Air Cadet Pilot scheme, flying solo in the Grob Heron in 2011. Shaun also flew in a Hawk T1 from RAF Valley in 2010, fuelling his desire to become a pilot, which he aims to achieve by applying for a RAFA Scholarship. Longer term, Shaun aims to perform overseas medical aid and to study medicine at University.

Len Stillwell Award

Cadet Sergeant Harley James Crisp’s family has a history within the RAF, and Cadet Sergeant Crisp followed in their footsteps by joining the ATC in 2009. He immediately and enthusiastically immersed himself in as many activities as possible achieving numerous awards and medals in areas such as athletics and rugby. Harley has been involved with the ATC string workshop, working with the prestigious RAF Salon Orchestra and was awarded a silver lyre by Lady Dalton, the wife of Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton. Harley takes an abundance of pleasure and pride in being a part of the Air Training Corps and has a clear strategy in place to fulfil his ambition of becoming a pilot in the Royal Air Force.

These three cadets clearly show outstanding qualities and must certainly be an inspiration to their peers; it is certain that Pat Butler and Len Stillwell would be very pleased to know that the awards given in their names were presented to such exceptional young men. We would like to offer our congratulations on receiving the Butler / Stillwell Awards to Anthony, Shaun, and Harley and wish them continued success and all the very best for the future in the paths that they have chosen to follow.


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And Finally ...

As we were all waiting for final confirmation of the 'Burma Spitfires' discovery, we were contacted by member Dick Smith who had the following to say:

'Dear Sirs, I don't know if this is of interest. I was serving at Mingaladon, Burma about the time the Spitfires were buried. I saw no Spitfires, but did take part in a similar operation with Japanese equipment.'

'I was at Mingaladon for about the last 9 months before Burma independence day, leaving on the eve. As an airframe fitter I worked at base workshops which was a few miles out in the jungle from the airfield. We took large bombs on lorries to Rangoon docks and rolled them off on to a mattress to be shipped out to sea. A large hole was made a distance away and in it we put hundreds of really good tools. Sometime later we removed the door from a Dakota, lashed rope across and flew out to sea when no ships were sighted and dumped priceless Japanese telescopic rifles.'

Dick goes on to tell us about his encounters with our dear friend, the late Alex Henshaw:

'Before the war I saw him walking down our village high street with a fruit grower who I knew. Sixty or so years later I was at Duxford when he laid the corner stone of the new hangar. I reminded him of this; it was when he was working for his father selling artificial manure and he recalled the time and the growers in the village.'

He has also sent us a lovely picture of himself in MH434. Thank you for getting in touch Dick:

Keith Gaff has sent us these 2 photos of the Merz Lecture in Australia. It is held in the Officer Mess Ante Room at RAAF Base Laverton which is a magnificent art deco building dating from 1941. The speaker this year was Guy Bourke:

Keith has also very kindly sent us a photo of RJ Mitchell and his wife Florence - an important addition to our archives - thank you Keith:

Rob Rooker at www.152hyderabad.co.uk joined us at Duxford earlier in the year and has sent us this picture of himself with F/Sgt Cyril Potter and Bill Smith, author of 'Birth of the Black Panthers':

And to finish, our friend Sqn Ldr Ian Blair pictured alongside the Mk I P9374 at Duxford during Spitfire Day:


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This address originally appeared in an earlier Form 700. I would like all our visitors to read it and I am in the process of finding a permanent 'home' for it on our site.


Commemoration of the Battle of Britain

2008 address by the Rev'd Frances Drake

It is a great privilege to be here today - and I thank you for the Invitation - to share in this Service of Commemoration and Remembrance - of the Battle of Britain. As the words in the 'Act of Remembrance' remind us that:

'We are remembering before God ....... those who fought and died in Service - in the Battle of Britain - treasuring memories - and pledging to keep alive the memory of all those who died in the Royal Air Force - and in the Air Forces of the Commonwealth.'

My own knowledge of the war is very limited - although not entirely non-existent. I am a war baby - but along with many others of my generation over the years - I have listened with interest and admiration - to accounts of various war time experiences - including the Battle of Britain.

Living relatively locally to here - at Navestock - with a Father who was in charge of a 'Home Guard Unit' at Stapleford Abbots - and living in a family - where my sister Joan - my parents first child, was killed in 1940 - during the Battle of Britain - and as the direct result of a jettisoned German Bomb - I have experienced and heard a great deal about war time events - and what people lived through - both in the Forces - and in civilian life.

I almost 'cut my teeth' on what have become immortal words from Winston Churchill. 'Never in the field of human conflict - was so much owed - by so many - to so few'

My parents would often speak of Churchill's speech to the House of Commons in the June of 1940: 'You ask', he said - 'What is our aim? I can answer with one word - Victory' - and he went on to say. 'Victory at all costs. Victory in spite of all the terror. Victory, however long and hard the road may be. We shall not flag nor fail. We shall defend our island to the end - with confidence - strength and courage'.

So today - we remember those who led and inspired - as well as those who fought. And we remember those civilians - who kept on going - in spite of the pain - the terror - the deprivations - and death itself.

Each of those who fought - and who are remembered at this time - has won a glorious grave - not that grave of earth wherein they lie - but the living grave of everlasting remembrance - wherein their glory is enshrined. A Remembrance that will live on the lips - that will blossom in the deeds - of their countrymen - the world over. For the whole world is the tomb of heroes. Monuments may rise and tablets be set up to them in their own land - but on far-off shores there is an abiding memorial - that no pen or chisel has traced; because it is graven - not on stone or brass - but on the living heart of humanity. Let us take these men as our example. Let us like them - remember that prosperity can only be for the free; that in the words of Pericles of the 5th Century - 'freedom is the sure possession of those alone - who have courage to defend it'.

We are to take these men for our example. There is always a danger however - that things - events - memorials - even our own Christian faith - can become purely nostalgic - a memory of past things - sometimes becoming distorted and false in our memory -something that older people do - and young people tolerate - but the true meaning and value is lost in time.

History can become an empty husk - fragile - and eventually meaningless. But our celebration today is far from an empty husk - and if we seek to understand it properly - it transcends a particular time in history - or even the RAF - or our nationality - because it is about the men and women who made the history. It is about their values - their courage - their sacrifice - and their characters.

This is what is valuable. This is what should be our treasure - not merely as nostalgia - but as an example of something real and substantial. For they have lived the values - that should still be relevant today - and everyday after today. The values we celebrate in a Service such as this - do not change. They are values for every generation and nationality - that those who wish to live their lives to the full - will recognize and acknowledge - and take for an example. This is not nostalgia - but is rather - real and abiding - and something worthwhile to pass on from one generation to the next.

The facts of the Battle of Britain are simple. In 1940 - out numbered, and fighting for their lives - a few stood up to the many - and said - 'You will not pass. You will not overcome. You will not break our spirit'.

What we celebrate - what we admire - is the courage and character of those young men - that gave them the strength - to put themselves between the enemy and their homes and families - and achieve the apparently impossible.

And what are these values? They are sacrifice and service. Values that are also central to the Christian faith; for Jesus came into the
world - not to be served - but to serve - and give his life as a ransom for all. And for heroes - these values appear in all aspects of their lives.

Some years ago - I was called out to attend to an elderly man who was dying. It turned out he had fought in the Battle of Britain. He had been ill for some time, and over the course of three years - both his legs had been amputated - not in one operation - but during a number of these.

As I knelt beside him - ready to give him the last rites - just as he wanted - he could see that I was upset. He took my hand and said - 'Don't worry Vicar - I've been going to heaven in instalments'. Sacrifice and service runs through a person's life - just like a thread through cloth. For that wonderful elderly man - it was there as he fought in the Battle of Britain. Sacrifice and Service was there - as he and his wife worked to make a home for their children. It was there when he nursed his wife through a long and painful illness. It was there when he arranged her funeral. And - it was there - as he himself died whilst offering comfort to a young priest.

So these are the values that we celebrate today. Courage; Service before self; Integrity and Bravery. It is all these things - and so many more - but the most important is Self Sacrifice. Sadly - they do not appear to be valued very much by the world. But to me they are everything. They are the difference between a life well lived - even if it was cut short - and a selfish life. They are the gifts of God - what I would call grace - or the gifts of the Spirit. They are the values that help us walk beyond our natural desire for self-preservation - to meet instead - the needs of the common good - of others. What we can all agree on is - that they are at the pinnacle of what it means to be a human being - for they are the values that we see lived out perfectly in the life of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

And as we think about them - we see in their reflection - that the values so dearly loved by this world - are only shadows - they are like sand that passes through the fingers and is gone - but that the values we celebrate today - are solid and hard won. They are often scorned by those who are weak and self serving - but equally eagerly embraced by those who see beyond themselves - those who have the courage to sacrifice their lives for others - who they do not even know. Those men and women are those - who recognize what is truly good - and who have the courage to defend it against all odds.

So let us continue to tell the story of the Battle of Britain to our children and grandchildren. Let us tell them - how the Luftwaffe had to destroy the Royal Air Force - before it could invade. Tell them - how at the beginning of the battle - 2,790 German aircraft were sent against 650 aircraft of the RAF - who struggled day after day to survive. And then - when your children ask you how they managed and won - tell them that the adversity had exposed their true character - and it was solid - and gave them the courage to lay down their lives - not because they wanted to - but because they recognized that there are some things - which are more important even than life itself.

'Never in the field of human conflict - was so much owed - by so many - to so few'


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Form 700 is produced by Peter Wesson and Gerard Crutchley.

The previous edition of Form 700 (Winter 2011/2012) can be found here:

Form 700 #58

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