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© 2007-2017 The Spitfire Society and respective copyright holders.
Reg. Charity No: 299033


Form 700    No. 60   February 2014



From the Chair

General Announcements

95th Birthday Flight - Ian Blair

A Ferry Story Part V

Lt John Henry Martin 4 Sqn SAAF


Spitfire MH526

The Butler / Stillwell Memorial Awards

And Finally ...

Commemoration of The Battle of Britain


From the Chair

It is with real conviction that I pen these few words. The Eastern Wing is entering a very bright and fruitful future; however, it is not unusual at this time to pause and reflect a little.

Our seven visits to Duxford were more successful than expected. I offer my heartfelt thanks to everyone who works on the stand and to all those who make it possible; the prevailing spirit and atmosphere makes it all very rewarding.

Sadly, we recently lost a very good friend in Norman Pascall. We will miss him very much.

I would like to wish you all a very healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year.

From wherever you come, or are going to;

“Keep the Faith”.


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General Announcements

Welcome to Form 700

Welcome to edition number 60 of the Eastern Wing’s Form 700 Newsletter.

One of our most active members Squadron Leader Ian Blair DFM (RAF Retd) celebrated his 95th Birthday last year. Ian was one of the earliest members of the Eastern Region and still drives up to nearly all of our activities and fundraising events to help out, willingly lending his knowledge, energy, enthusiasm and status to raise funds and fly the flag for the Spitfire and our society. We will be marking the occasion with a number of items in this issue, including his account of a special celebratory flight.

In other news we are saddened to report the passing of one of our most dependable and dedicated members Norman Pascall; a tribute to him is included elsewhere in the magazine.

The Eastern Wing AGM went well in April and as in previous years was preceded by the Butler/Stillwell Awards presented to outstanding ATC cadets in honour of our region’s founder the late Pat Butler and long-term committee member Len Stillwell; report inside.

On Sunday the 15th of September a service was held at St. Andrews Church North Weald to commemorate the 73rd anniversary of the Battle of Britain. The hymns were Our God, Our Help In Ages Past, The Airman’s Hymn and Jerusalem, and God Is Our Strength And Refuge, poignantly sung to Eric Coates’ Dambusters score, last year of course being the 70th anniversary of the raid.

As in previous years loyal and steadfast Eastern Wing member Eric Horwood arranged the wreath which was laid at the cross of sacrifice by our chairman David Williams.

On Remembrance Sunday a wreath was laid at the North Weald Airfield memorial opposite the airfield museum at North Weald Bassett, Essex.

Readers may be interested to know that a well-presented and moving film of the 2011 remembrance service may be found on YouTube, entitled North Weald Airfield Remembrance.

This year’s fundraising efforts at the Duxford Air Shows went as well as reasonably possible though this year we had a number of extra hurdles to navigate such as problems with stock, the great British weather and of course the current financial climate, which meant that extra effort was required to help lever funds from the public’s pockets and into the Spitfire Society’s coffers. However our loyal band of volunteers – as well as a few very welcome new helpers – rose to the challenges magnificently and on the whole things could have been a lot worse. We were very pleased to welcome Pat Butler Awardee Cadet Warrant Officer Christopher Perkins who came along to help out this year; Chris attended the autumn air show and anyone who was there will tell you how discouraging to say the least the weather looked that day. The rain was pouring in stair-rods all morning and it looked very much as if it would all be a wash-out. However, by the afternoon it eased off and things started to fly about, and even though there were regular bursts of wet-stuff the air show went ahead without a hitch – in fact the sun even came out a few times!

We would like to take this opportunity to thank those people who give up their time to come along and raise money for The Spitfire Society; your enthusiasm, dedication and hard work is greatly valued and appreciated.

New Helpers Welcome!

New volunteers are always welcome to help out on The Spitfire Society's Duxford sales stand at air shows; it is a rewarding day out and helps raise vital funds to help keep the society going, so if you would like to lend a hand please contact Steve Beale or any other member of the committee. 2014 Duxford air shows: 24th/25th May, 12th/13th July & 13th/14th September.

Appeal for stock

Do you have any books, magazines, aeroplane related items (old spade-grips, gun-sights, propellers etc) that are now collecting dust and could usea new home? Perhaps you might consider donating them for sale on our sales stand to help raise funds for The Spitfire Society? Donations gratefully accepted.

Careless Talk May Cost His Life

To mark the occasion of Sqn Ldr Ian Blair's 95th Birthday, the Eastern Wing has brought out a presentation pack based on the celebrated wartime poster which featured Ian in full flying kit, but in mortal peril from those who would discuss aerodromes and aircraft factories with the enemy. The pack features eight fine quality A5 cards telling the story of his illustrious wartime career including the Derna incident, which preceded his being awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal. Photographs include Ian's Spitfire MkVII and gun-camera still from the famous 'Skeabrae’ incident, Ian sitting on the wing of a Mk I Blenheim in 1940, and of course the colourised poster signed by Ian himself.

Compiled by Ian Blair and Eastern Wing Committee member Gerard Crutchley, each set is individually numbered as part of a strictly limited edition run of just one hundred packs. The cost is £10 to Spitfire Society members, £15 to non-members (£1 p&p); we have already sold a good number of the packs and they are going fast, so if you would like one you will need to act now. Please contact Gerry Crutchley to obtain your pack (maximum of two packs per member).

Calendars for 2014

The Spitfire Society calendars for 2014 are now on sale and follow the same popular arrangement as in previous years; twelve beautiful colour photographs, with the calendar presented underneath. Once again the pictures come to us courtesy of Darren Harbar and James Wheeler, two very gifted photographers to whom we extend our thanks. These are always a popular item due I’m certain to the combination of high quality and very reasonable price.

The calendars are priced at £6.10 including postage and may be obtained from Eastern Wing Committee member Jason Amiss, whose contact details can be found on the back page of this magazine.


 Back to Index


95th Birthday Flight - 69 Years On

By Ian Blair DFM

19th July 2013 marked my 95th Birthday.

My family arranged a 'surprise' for me, which I was unaware of until a few days before. I was taken out for lunch on the 19th and told I would be collected at 10am the following day for my surprise.

And surprise it was. The whole family plus grand children, great grandchildren and their respective boy/girlfriends met up in the car park at the Duxford Imperial War Museum at 11am. A convoy of 6 cars then ferried the gathering to the main gate where we were met by John Smith of the Aircraft Restoration Company and taken to the hangar. The IWM was very quiet, personnel and flying non-existent—unusual to see Duxford like that considering there were thousands of people there the previous weekend.

On arrival at ARC our party of 30 were guided to the hangar to find a vast open space; it was only then when well inside I spied the Spitfire TR 9 PV202 parked on the apron outside. I always made it known that all I wanted to do was to 'fire-up' the Merlin and taxi the aircraft a few yards; at the back of my mind I thought that now was the time. In the hangar John Romain was standing near the Blenheim and John Smith had all my family on a conducted tour of the Blenheim and the Health and Safety requirements in the hangar. All this took about an hour during which time I was chatting with John Romain. He said to me we'd better get on and we walked over to the TR 9.

Some steps had been placed adjacent to the aeroplane and I managed to get up saying to JR "I don't suppose I can go in the front seat?" He didn't say no but helped me into the back seat and began strapping me in! I had not sat in a Spitfire for 69 years. It didn't have a rear seat then! I could see that it was very small. The parachute harness was duly clipped on. I secured the clips, which was the first action of the day. The seat harness was next, the attachments and fastening were much different i.e. hooks and small connectors. JR pointed to a small rotary lever on the right hand side and said "when we get to the runway I'll ask you to close the hood". It was then I realised that this was not just a taxi-ing exercise; I was in fact about to get airborne! I then had a helmet placed on my head, done up and a small 'black box" with a boom microphone fitted. I was now set up for the trip. I had mentally rehearsed over the past few days where all the knobs and levers were but I couldn't remember where the radiator shutter lever was. JR told me during our discussion in the hangar that it was all automatic now so I didn't really have to worry anymore. I had a good look round the cockpit; all the usual instruments were in the usual place except the flap-control valve which is now near the throttle. I attempted to set the gyro heading, only to find there was no compass in the rear cockpit! (I got a reasonable heading when we lined up for takeoff on runway 060).

When I was initially strapped in, it was necessary to raise the seat. The operating lever was on the right, press to release and pull the lever up or down. I did this but the seat was spring-loaded and lifted me vertically. I found there was insufficient clearance between that lever and the cockpit hood-winding lever - as a result my hand was jammed between the two during movement, which caused alarm and the shout for plasters and a glove!!

The start up procedure was quite normal, the engine sounded rough due to vibration and I was told it was caused by the additional cockpit seat being 2

feet further back. In addition, being a 2 seater, there were more exhaust fumes than I expected.

On taxi-ing out I found I couldn't move the seat up or down as it seemed to have locked stopping me from operating the hood closing mechanism. I mentioned this to JR but the vibration from taxi-ing over rough ground, caused it to clear itself. When we got to the take-off point, I closed the hood as instructed and the pilot ran up the engine, checked the magnetos for mag drop. Everything was OK! Engine temperature and pressure fine. Flaps up check and we were off on the take-off.

The run itself appeared 'hard', not as I experienced 60 plus years before. However I put this down to the fact that aircraft then were well "run in". Perhaps the oleo legs had different pressure compared to the current TR 9, which would result in this 'hard bounce'. We did our circuit and the undercarriage check which was the ‘main object of the exercise’.

The finale was a low pass at 100 feet before the final circuit, much to the delight of the family below, all waving furiously.

It was a beautiful memory when the TR 9 was throttled back for the final approach, the crackling and popping of the engine was a very emotional reminder.

On our return to the dispersal and switching off, we both retired to the ‘flight office’ where the champagne flowed freely.

Finally John Remain had a look at my original log book and I asked him to sign the flight and last entry which he was happy to do.

All in all a day to remember.

(pictures courtesy of Gill Hobbs)

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A Ferry Story

Part V

Geoff Bates

If you have not read Part I - IV, you can find them here:

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Our next leg was to Oslo. Although the war was over, Sweden was still observing a form of neutrality. The weather was reasonable until we reached the fjord leading up to Oslo when suddenly we flew into a thick wall of cloud, reaching almost down to the water at times. There were islands in the fjord with very tall trees. We were led by an Anson with a radio, but we had none. As soon as we hit the cloud we lost sight of each other. I flew straight ahead with full throttle, climbing as steeply as I dare. Eventually, I broke cloud which stretched as far the eye could see; there was no sign of the other aircraft.

I hadn’t any idea what the weather was like at Oslo; if it was covered I wouldn’t be able to get through the cloud in safety and, by that time, I wouldn’t have had enough fuel to get to Goteborg in Sweden, which was the nearest place with an aerodrome. Even when I broke cloud I hadn’t enough fuel to get to Copenhagen. I decided I had no alternative than to make for Goteborg and hoped I would not be interned. I duly landed at Goteborg. What a reception!

At the dispersal area, two soldiers complete with rifles came up to me. I was taken to Air Traffic Control, where a very hostile Major greeted me.  To say that he was aggressive would be putting it mildly! In the midst of being interrogated by the Major, the telephone rang.  He told me that another of my party had landed on an emergency strip some 80 miles north of Goteborg. The call had been from the local policeman who was told by the Major to tell the pilot to fly to Goteborg to join me.

I got permission to ring the British Consul who agreed to meet the cost of lunch for us and also to contact Oslo and ask them to let the Major know as soon as the weather would allow us to get into Oslo.

At 5pm we went to get some tea and were greeted by the Major who was quite friendly, no doubt because he would be getting rid of us. Oslo had rung to say the cloud had lifted and we could proceed there. The Major even walked us to the aircraft, shook hands and waved us off!

We safely made Oslo and had our legs pulled when we met up with the other pilots, although they did agree that it had been a hair-raising experience for them. We had the last laugh as on return to base the C.O. congratulated us on not having put His Majesty’s aircraft at risk. Afraid the other four got a ticking off.


By the time we had returned from our trip to Oslo, those who had been in the RAF virtually from the beginning of the war were being demobbed. This meant that initially the rest of us were quite busy taking mainly Spitfires to Cairo and India. We were now flying the Spitfire XVIII’s which had Griffon engines and a maximum speed of 448mph compared with the Spitfire IX’s 408mph.

We were taking the Spit’ XVIII’s to Fayid, near Cairo and were escorted by a Beaufighter flown by a rather cocky pilot who knew it all. At Elmas in Sardinia I had trouble starting my Spit’. The rest of the convoy were taxiing out for take-off so as not to overheat their engines. The Beaufighter pilot suddenly jumped up on my wing sticking his head in the cockpit saying that the engine needed more priming, and before I could stop him he grabbed the throttle and pushed it forwards and backwards to prime the engine. Despite his being senior in rank to me, I got really cross with him and told him that he could have over-primed the engine. I pressed the starter button again; a loud explosion, the propeller started to turn and suddenly flames shot out of the engine! I was already strapped in. I had them undone in record time, was out of the cockpit in a flash and did twenty yards in a Mae West with a parachute and dinghy strapped on in record time!

The ground crew got the fire out quickly, but the aircraft sustained category ‘C’ damage and was ‘struck off charge’, never to fly again. It was quite obvious the Beaufighter pilot had over-primed the engine and hence the fire. What I said to him didn’t bear repeating! He didn’t argue with me or pull rank. I said in the report to the CO what had happened and passed it on. I was more than surprised to hear no more. Had he got friends in high places!

Now how do I get back to the U.K? Normally only fighters going eastwards called at Elmas for refuelling. My luck was in at someone else’s expense. The Beaufighter’s Navigator’s father had suddenly died and by diverting a Dakota U.K. bound he was able to get home for the funeral. Here comes the punch line. The Beaufighter’s pilot asked me if I would like to take over as navigator for the rest of the journey! The fire was never mentioned.

The Customs Officers are waiting

After one flight to Fayid, I found an Argus which had to be taken to Almaza on the outskirts of Cairo. There, I managed to get a flight home in a York. We had several Army personnel aboard. We were heading for Lyneham but couldn’t land there because half way across the channel we hit a solid wall of cloud right down to the sea. It was a Sunday, so most RAF stations were on stand-down. We were diverted to Prestwick in Scotland but couldn’t get in there. Re-routed to Blackbushe, we had to circle until a flare-path had been set up. By the time we landed, the aircraft had fifteen minutes of fuel left. The army personnel thought it was exciting. We were biting our fingernails!

It was late at night, and as there were no customs facilities we were impounded in the canteen until the Customs Officer arrived from Croydon. I had bought some table linen as a wedding present for a former House Captain who I had met in Rome and was severely injured a few days later. Although I declared the table-linen and paid duty on it I had my night-stop bag thoroughly searched, whilst nobody else’s was troubled!

I must have a guilty looking face as time after time my luggage was searched, whilst the others didn’t trouble the Customs Officer. My colleagues used to say that if Bates is aboard we can get away with smuggling anything into the country and, believe you me, no end of it went on. I think I should have taken ten percent of their takings. One chap used to wrap dress-material under his uniform and was never caught!

                                                                  To be continued…

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Lt John Henry Martin

4 Squadron - Part of 7 Wing SAAF

I did my ground training and studies at Lyttleton Air School, where I also did a course on Gliders.

I did my initial flying on Tiger Months DH 82A at Randfontein from April 19th 1943 - 25th June 1943 (78 Hours).

I then transferred to 22 Air School in Vereeninging on the 1st July 1943, flying Harvards (187 Hours). I got my "wings" on 13th November 1943 (Total flying hours at this stage 240)

Began to train for operations at 11 O.T.U. Swartkops, flying Kittyhawks. Completed this course on the 29th January 1944 (53 Hours).

I then flew to Cairo on the 2nd March 1944 and was posted to 73 O.T.U. at Abu Sueir to convert onto Spitfires Mark I and Mark V - (completed 20 hours).

I was then posted to Italy for further training on Spitfire V's (15 Hours) on the 27th May 1944. I was then finally posted to Sinello - where I joined 4 Squadron part of 7 Wing (1, 2, 4 and 7 Squadron).

Tested first flight in Spitfire IX on the 29th May 1944. Completed my operational tour on 19th March 1945, having spent 10 months on operations with the Squadron as we progressed North through Italy, operating from 9 different airfields, carrying 500 lb bombs and doing close support work, armed with 2 x 20mm cannons and 4 machine guns, with the advancing army on the ground. Completed operational tour after 150 Sorties and 200 operational hours, and on the 19th March 1945 when I returned to The Union of South Africa.

In June 1945, I converted on to "Twins" flying Oxfords at Nigel at 24 Air School where I completed a 30 hour course on 29th June 1945. I transferred to 5 Wing SAAF on July 5th 1945 and went to Cairo and back as the second pilot on a DC3. I returned to Zwartkops 11th July 1945.

I found this very boring and I opted out and I went to 43 Air School in Grahamstown where I flew Ansons and Harvard's, training Air Gunners. I finished in Grahamstown on the 15th September 1945 and I was discharged and back to "Civvies" in Johannesburg in December 1945.

Total Flying Hours 651

SOME INTERESTING POINTS: During the 10 months that I was in the Squadron, 25 Spitfires were shot down in my squadron resulting from "flak". Of these, there were 14 who bailed, 5 POW and 9 were killed.

Last Flight 15th September 1945 in World War 2 in a Harvard.

PLANE                        HOURS     NIGHT HOURS

TIGER MOTH DH82A      77.55       6

HARVARD 2A               187          14

KITTYHAWK MARK 1      53.13

SPITFIRE Mks 1, V, IX   242

OXFORD TWIN             30.2         6

ANSON TWIN              13.5

DAKOTA DC3 TWIN       46           9

Further information on John Henry Martin can be found here:


(Thank you Michelle for sending us your father's service details)

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Norman Pascall

In October of last year we lost a good friend and colleague when wing member Norman Pascall passed away.

Norman had for many years been one of the key figures in our region; along with his wife Irene (or Renee as we knew her) who died in 2009, Norman supported all of our events and activities, generously giving his time and effort to work tirelessly year in and year out raising vital funds on our sales stand at air shows.

The raffle sales team of Norman Pascall and Eric Horwood was a formidable one, their direct yet friendly approach charming the members of the public every time; it is impossible to estimate how much money they raised over the years but it certainly must run to many thousands of pounds.

Norman was a man of high standards, principles and values, a man who was not afraid to talk straight and to look you in the eye. He was also a man of great wisdom and his pragmatic approach to problems stood us in good stead on many occasions. This coupled with his gentle sense of humour made Norman a delight to work with, and we shall miss him very much.

Norman had what the Americans would call ‘The Right Stuff’; he represented the best of The Spitfire Society and the society is in his debt. Our kindest thoughts go out to Norman’s family and friends.


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Spitfire MH526

By Steve Williams

Much information in this piece is taken from the form AM78 (airframe record card) for this aircraft. These cards are not particularly accurate especially with regard to dates. This should always be borne in mind.

Mk LF IX MH526 is a very well known Spitfire. It features in at least two works by well known aviation artists and decals of its markings are available for modellers. This fame is, of course, due to its association with the controversial French ace Pierre Clostermann but our members may not know that it was previously ‘owned’ by Eastern Wing stalwart Squadron Leader (then Pilot Officer) Ian Blair whilst they were both serving with 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron.

MH526 was built at Castle Bromwich and it would have been good at this point to say it was tested by another great friend and supporter of ours, Alex Henshaw. Alas, such was not the case, but he did fly its numerical successor off the production line. The first three lines on the AM78 read as follows (with location inserted):

39 M.U. (Maintenance Unit) Colerne,Wilts                      21?.08.43

405 A.R.F. (Aircraft Reception Flight), Heston,  Middx       22.09.43

602 Sqn., Newchurch, Kent                                          06.10.43

Circumstantial evidence points to a delivery to 602 on the 29th September 1943. However, what is known is that Ian flew it for the first time on the 2nd October (a cannon test) and that it was given the code letters "LO-D". 602 was part of 125 Airfield, 2nd TAF (Tactical Air Force). 125 Airfield consisted of 132 and 602 Sqns re-equipping with Spitfire Mk LF IX from Mk LF Vb, and 184 Sqn with the rocket armed Hurricane IV. It occupied tented accommodation at Newchurch, moving to winter quarters at Detling, also in Kent, on the 12th October.

602 flew its first sweep with the Mk IX on the 8th October with Ian at the controls of MH526. He continued to fly it on almost every operation in which he participated for the next three months. In January 1944 the opportunity was taken to rest the 2nd TAF Spitfire units and ADGB (Air Defence Great Britain, formerly Fighter Command) squadrons were brought in to cover. In 125 Airfield, 132 and 602 were replaced by 118 and 453 respectively, and both left by rail for a spell in Scotland.

453 (Royal Australian Air Force) Squadron arrived at Detling by Harrow transport aircraft and rail on the 19th January and took over the Spitfires left by 602. Information from Australia suggests that 453 used the aircraft in 602 Squadron markings during this period. Although not mentioned in any documents that I have found, it would appear that modifications to permit a bomb carrier to be fitted were made at about this time.

602 returned to Detling from its Scottish sojourn on the 12th March 1944 and at the same time some organisational changes were being made. It was decided Airfields should only operate one type of aircraft and so 184, with its Hurricanes, left and 453 was transferred to 2nd TAF joining 132 and 602 as an all Spitfire wing. 602’s original outfit of Mk IX’s was returned by 453 who then received replacements flown over from Hornchurch by 504 Squadron. Having survived the gentle ministrations of the men from down under, MH526 resumed service with 602, but without its original regular pilot for another change had seen Ian Blair transferred from A Flight to B Flight and he never flew it again.

In readiness for D-Day, 125 Airfield moved to Ford in Sussex on the 18th April and dive bombing of V-1 launch sites was added to the daily routine of bomber escorts. 125 Airfield became the more appropriate 125 Wing on the 12th May, a title already in colloquial use. The name Clostermann now begins to feature regularly as its pilot shown in the Squadron records.

The Form 541 (Record of Operations) for 602 show MH526 making two sorties on D-Day, both uneventful patrols, but at this point matters become rather confusing. MH526's successor as "LO-D", MJ586, first features in the Form 541 on the 16th June and thereafter the two seem to alternate in the record until the 28th June. It is probably significant that they never appear together and it was as though the Orderly Room had no idea which aircraft code "LO-D" actually was.  Whatever the truth, MH526's time with 602 was finally up.  The next items on the AM78 read:

83 G.S.U. (Group Support Unit) Bognor, later Thorney Island, both in Sussex                                                                 06.07.44

Scottish Aviation R.i.W (Repair in Works)  Prestwick         03.10.44

AW/CN (AwaitingCollection)                                         13.12.44

9M.U. Cosford,Shropshire                                            09.01.45

G.S.U.s were reception and holding units for aircraft and aircrew intended for the Groups they served. What, if any, use MH526 was put to at this unit is hard to say. It underwent a general overhaul by a civilian company and was returned to the R.A.F. in the new year.  The next phase in MH526's career was about to begin as shown in the AM78:

RAF Pershore, Worcs.                                                  10.4.45

Dispatched to M.A.A.F. (Mediterranean Allied Air Forces)    25.4.45

Arrived M.A.A.F.                                                         30.4.45

At Pershore, presumably with No.1 Ferry Unit based there, it was prepared for a delivery flight across France to Italy and on completion of this trip receipt was signalled on the 30th April 1945. Unfortunately for us, R.A.F. Commands overseas did not keep records of aircraft on their charge and with the end of the war, squadron diaries seldom mention serial numbers. Anecdotally service with 253 Squadron has been mentioned but I can find no real evidence for this. The AM78 concludes with:

Italian Air Force                                                          26.6.47

The book "Spitfire Italiani" by Gregory Alegi and Marco Gueli states that MH526 was given the Italian identity of MM4037 and was allocated to 5 Stormo on the 15th December 1947. This unit began re-equipping with Mustangs in 1949 and she passed out of service in January 1950. There is no information as to its fate so one would guess that, sadly, it was scrapped.

If you can make corrections or additions to any of the above I would be delighted to hear from you.

(MM4037 Photo copyright A.M.I.)

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The Butler / Stillwell Awards

The Pat Butler Award is presented annually to two ATC cadets, who are chosen by the Officers Commanding, London & South Eastern Region, Central and East Region Air Training Corps, as being two of the most hardworking and outstanding cadets from these regions. Pat Butler, who died in 1993, 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 and these awards which consist of a certificate, a bursary, and membership of The Spitfire Society are made in his memory.

A similar award is made in honour of the late Len Stillwell and is presented to the most promising ATC cadet. Len was also a wartime Spitfire pilot flying in Italy with the famed 92 Squadron and despite being badly wounded in action, Len continued to fly as soon as he was able. Len served on the committee for the Eastern Region of The Spitfire Society for many years and alongside his wife Dot was also a hardworking stalwart of the regional sales stand, helping generate thousands of pounds for The Spitfire Society over many years despite a number of personal hardships including his wartime wound which continually plagued him. When Len died in 2008 he bequeathed a large sum of money to The Spitfire Society which we have been using to help benefit the society and others including Flying Scholarships for Disabled People (see Form 700 No. 59, winter 2012).

Pat and Len – and indeed Dot, a wartime WAAF who worked on bombers such as the Wellington, Halifax and Lancaster in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire – represented all that is good about the Spitfire and The Spitfire Society and we are proud to make these awards in their name to the three young people below, of whom we include a selection of just some of their achievements so far.


Pat Butler Awards

Flying Cadet Tom Lawlor began his service with the Air Training Corps in 2007 and has since completed a gliding scholarship, begun as a Flight Staff Cadet at RAF Odiham, completed Wing NCO courses, a rock-climbing course, annual camp both here in the UK and at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus. Tom has always had a keen interest in the RAF and his ambition is to continue with them and fulfil his wish of an aircrew career. With the enthusiasm, application and dedication that Tom has shown thus-far with this impressive account of his achievements we feel sure that his hopes will become reality in the near future.

Cadet Warrant Officer Christopher James Perkins enrolled in the ATC in May of 2009. Courses completed have included the Qualified Aerospace Instructor Course, Air Cadet Gliding Scholarship (motor glider), the Ralph Reid Buckle Memorial Award Gliding Bursary, the Charles Newton Memorial Award (light aircraft) and Radio Communicators course. Chris was one of Northamptonshire’s Lord Lieutenants’ Cadets from October 2012-2013 and has twice represented the Lord Lieutenant at important and prestigious events. Christopher has been a staff member of 616 Volunteer Gliding Squadron for three years, gaining his Grade 1 Glider Pilot wings in March 2012 and works closely with 1101 (Kettering) Squadron’s training flight whom he was in charge of for eighteen months before his promotion to Cadet Warrant Officer. During his time with the squadron he was the banner bearer for several years and now helps train the current banner drill team. Chris is currently seeking a scholarship to pursue his desire of becoming a pilot either within the RAF or commercially, and his impressive curriculum vitae so far must surely stand him in excellent stead.

Len Stillwell Award

Cadet Warrant Officer Sandra Scott joined the Air Training Corps in August 2006 and served with 2470 (Sudbury) Squadron until she aged out. During her time with the cadets she took full advantage of everything that was offered to her. In 2010 she completed a gliding scholarship at 611VGS gaining her silver wings and then going on to attend the school for a further year as a flight staff cadet.

In 2012 following completion for a flying scholarship Sandra flew solo and became the first cadet from 2470 to gain this award. Sandra has been enthusiastically involved in almost all sporting activities, twice representing the region, and gaining twenty-six wing sporting blues as well as gaining her regional marksman award achieving best marksman within her squadron on three occasions and best shot within the Norfolk and Suffolk wing two years in a row.

At the start of 2012 CWO Scott was selected as the Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet for the county of Suffolk. As part of her duties she has attended several special events escorting the Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk and several members of royalty. This lead to being nominated for the Dacre Brooch, an award given annually to the top female cadet in the Air Training Corps.

Now in her second year at University, Sandra is very much focussed on pursuing a career in flying.

Flight Lieutenant R. Appleby, Officer Commanding 2470 (Sudbury) Squadron spoke very highly of CWO Scott in notes supporting nomination of the Len Stillwell award; a small extract reads; ‘Her achievements are both remarkable and impressive and have served to show fellow cadets and the local population just what can be achieved by being a member of the Air Training Corps. Furthermore, she has made a valuable and commendable contribution to the administration and overall running of her Squadron. It is fair to say that without Scott’s involvement, hard work and enthusiasm towards all aspects of squadron life the squadron would not be in the position of strength it enjoys today’.

Truly inspiring words and I am sure that the spirit of those words and the dedication of Sandra, Christopher and Tom may be found within countless cadets at ATC units across the nation, and long may it continue to be so.

On behalf of The Spitfire Society we would like to send our very best wishes to these three remarkable young people and our hope that they continue going from strength to strength into the future.


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And Finally ...

Andrew Pierce has sent us this lovely photo taken at Duxford during the 2013 Blenheim day:

Albert Kronek from the Air Cafe in Brno has sent us this photo of his children with Flight Sergeant Emil Boček:

Emil is the last Czech Spitfire pilot still living in the Czech Republic:

ATC cadets at Duxford picking our raffle winner - thank you Trevor Burton:

Steve Beale spotted this Spitfire at the Barcelona Good Food Market:

Pat Pearce sent us this photo of his son Stefan's project - a steel Spitfire sculpture with a 9 foot wingspan:

Further details of the project can be found here:


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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 2012) can be found here:

Form 700 #59

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