AIRMAIL BRANCH NEWS – David Hewings
In March the Bognor Regis Branch hosted a very moving event when a painting was unveiled marking an outstanding action which took place in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan in August 2012. The action resulted in the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross to a 27 Sqn Chinook pilot, Flt Lt Chris Gordon. The well received event was organised by the Branch’s Chinook Force Liaison Officer, Mike Monk.
The painting, by local aviation artist Tony Sargeant, was commissioned by the Bognor Regis Branch and Club. It records the moment when some 60 soldiers of the Royal Anglian Regiment were extracted under fire from a compound by two Chinooks from 1310 Flt at Camp Bastion. Flt Lt Gordon’s aircraft had taken a number of hits and, on only one engine, he managed to lift the troops out and fly them at 15 ft to a point of relative safety some 3 miles away.
Unbeknown to Chris and other members of his crew, some of the troops they extracted had been invited and introduced part way through the event – the first time they had met since the action. Quite an emotional reunion!
Three framed prints were presented, one each to 27 Squadron, Flt Lt Gordon and the Royal Anglian Regiment.
A limited edition of 50 additional similar sized and unframed prints is available for those Branches and individuals who would like to add a print of a recent significant action to those of the past. Those signed by the crew and troops present are available at £50 each and unsigned copies at £25 each, plus postage and packaging. The profits from the sale of the prints will go to the Wings Appeal. (Contact David or Ann on 01243 860990.)Flt Lt Gordon DFC kindly agreed to present the Bomber Command Clasp to Bognor Regis Branch Member, ex-F/O Charles Gallagher DFC – from one DFC holder to another, recognised for acts of gallantry almost 70 years apart. Charles received his Clasp just a week or so earlier, a few days after his 90th birthday.
AIRMAIL BRANCH NEWS – David Hewings
Another busy period for the Bognor Regis Branch since our last report. Our Wings Appeal Team, lead by Marion Mewett, made it another successful year. Their collections at Goodwood, on street, in supermarkets and at local events pretty much matched those of the previous year. Were it not for the indifferent to awful weather at the Goodwood Revival, we would have been putting in another record amount. We were delighted to be joined at both the Goodwood Festival of Speed and the Revival by Barry Harteveld and his team with the MET and Spitfire replica. Working with him was terrific, we met a lot of interesting people, recruited new members and, of course, RAFA ended with a lot more funds in the Wings Appeal.
We very much appreciated Shoreham Branch’s invitation to bring our stand to their Shoreham Air Show again. The Show provides an opportunity to meet up with other Branches, apart from being a great couple of days out. The weather was good, so hopefully the Wings Appeal will benefit from another record sum.
Bill and Jean Kelsey (Littlehampton Branch) once again organised and ran the Regional Skittles Evening on 15th October, held at our Club. A very popular evening and enjoyed by all. Any Branch wishing to come and take us on are cordially invited to contact the Club on 01243 865615.
Preparations are well in hand for celebrating the anniversaries of D Day and the outbreak of WW I next year. Bognor Regis Armed Forces Day is set for Sunday, 22nd June and will be centred on the RAFA Club and Waterloo Gardens. A special event will be held adjacent to the site of RAF Bognor on Saturday 7th June, to celebrate its short life before and after D Day. Particular focus will be on the 70th anniversary of 1310 Flight, which moved to RAF Bognor in June 1944 and is today supported by the Bognor Regis Branch whilst they are “in theatre” in Afghanistan.
The RAFA 381 Skiffle Band, which has raised hundreds of pounds for the Wings Appeal at local events, provided us with perhaps the best highlight of the period. Touched by the plight of the people of the Philippines, they organised an impromptu street performance in the town aiming to raise some £300 in 2 hours. They raised a staggering £967.13! Pictures were emailed to the Philippines whilst they played and RAFA got good local coverage. The combination of great feet-tapping numbers and the generosity of the people of Bognor, provided an enjoyable and very rewarding morning.
D-DAY 70TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR – Mike Monk, Chinook Squadrons Liaison
4 day Coach trip to the British Sector on Tuesday 6th Friday to 9th May 2014
Cost per Member £287 (sharing) Deposit £100pp
• Woods luxury coach for our use only
• Afternoon Ferry crossing Portsmouth to Caen and afternoon return
• 3 nights B&B in 3 star hotel near Caen
• Trips to Beaches, Pegasus Bridge etc.
Itinerary details to be announced.
Not included: Entrance fees to museums, Travel Insurance (£44), Single Supplement (£54)
Booking forms available from Mike Monk – contact 01243 823268 or email MikeandWynne@aol.com
30 places available so early booking strongly advised. PLEASE NOTE: If we can’t get 30 places sold then the trip might not take place. It’s great value so don’t lose out!
CHOIR SAY A SAD FAREWELL TO ANDRE – Kevin Smith
An emotional gathering saw members of a Bognor Regis choir say goodbye to their director of music.
The RAFA’s singers bade farewell to Andre de Silva. He has left to return to his home country of Brazill for family reasons.
Branch Chairman David Hewings said: “Andre had been with Choir since it was established at the beginning of the year. His charismatic approach had been instrumental in developing the Choir so quickly and in giving each member confidence in their own choral abilities.” The ceremony followed the annual RAFA Carol Service in the Methodist Church. This saw the Choir sing carols on their own and with a packed congregation. Among those present were Bognor’s Mayor Paul Wells and Dr Tony Poland, Chairman of Aldwick Parish Council.
Back at the RAFA Club on the opposite side of Waterloo Square, the Choir sang a number of songs. One dedicated to the members of the Chinook Force in Afghanistan. Mike Monk, the Branch’s Chinook Force Liaison Officer, read a letter just received from their adopted unit, 1310 Flight, which thanked the Branch for all the support while they have been in the conflict.
Mr Hewings thanked Andre for his services, Carol Penny for her vision in starting the Choir, the Choir for their commitment and success and their families for their support.He welcomed the new Director of Music, Miguel Fernandes, and wished him and the Choir every success in the forthcoming year.
The Branch President, Ian Hunter, presented Andre with a Certificate provided from RAFA’s Headquarters in Leicester, thanking Andre for his outstanding service.
PHILIPPINE TYPHOON APPEAL – by Kevin Smith
Fillipino, Annie Aureada, thanks the band of Bognor Regis musicians for raising money for her stricken homeland.
Annie, 48, went along to meet the skiffle band from the town’s RAF Association branch who were raising money for the Philippine typhoon appeal. Their performance of some two hours in the London Road precinct last Saturday brought in a much better than expected £967.13.
Support worker Annie said: “I’m very thankful to the people here for helping the Filippino people in the Philippines. “This is a big help to them because of the typhoon.”Annie, of Aldwick Road, managed to speak to her relatives in Bulacan, near the capital Manila, since Typhoon Haiyan struck last week. They live hundreds of miles from the site of the greatest devastation but she said the fear which the typhoon has caused has spread throughout her country. “They are are very scared because of maybe another typhoon will come. That’s why they are preparing another project in case there’s a typhoon or an earthquake,” she said. Annie planned to raise money for her fellow Filippinos in other ways. One way was to have “Support the Philippines” T-shirts printed. Annie was among the groups of spectators who watched the skiffle band bring the unique brand of music alive. David Hewings said the total they raised far exceeded their hopes of about £300. “We really did appreciate the generosity of the people who donated, young and old, in giving so much. It showed just what stuff the ordinary folk of the town are made of when it comes to reacting to a crisis, even if it is for an event on the other side of the world and for people they do not know. ”The band regularly plays for charities throughout the year.
ARMED FORCES DAY – by David Hewings
Bognor Regis Branch again played a leading role in the Bognor Regis Armed Forces Day. The AFD Committee was pleased to have RAFA National President AM Sir Dusty Miller KBE as the Senior Reviewing Officer. The day was very much focused on the Arctic Convoy and Bomber Command veterans and the 70th anniversary of the Dams Raid. Despite weather and technical problems preventing the Lancaster and Harvard displaying, the day went well, particularly for the veterans. Plans are in hand to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War and the 70th anniversary of D Day next year.
An annual highlight of the Branch, now in its thirteenth year, is the bowls match held in memory of Jim Lorimer, one of the Branch’s outstanding members. This year the match, sponsored by Kevin Holland Funeral Services, attracted teams from Hindhead, Telepost, Pagham, Hotham and Bognor. These teams joined RAFA 381 players for an enjoyable 4 by 6 end round robin competition. Anthony Holland with his children, Alex and Thomas presented the prizes to the winners and runners up. Irene Lorimer, past President and Jim’s widow, presented the Jim Lorimer Cup to the winning team, consisting of Pete Hannam, Denise Cooke and Leo Greenaway. Together with the raffles, the event raised £351.15 towards the RAFA Wings Appeal.