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Newsletter 02

FourFax Newsletter # 2

6 January 2002 by Chris Parker

In This Issue

  • The Committee
  • A Word From The Boss
  • The 90th Anniversary Reunion
  • The Membership Database
  • News From Members
  • Ten Years Ago: Squadron News Sept 91 – Feb 92
  • The Web Site
  • The Message Board
  • Contact FourFax
  • Thought For Today

Introduction

Happy New Year, everybody! Hope the Christmas season wasn’t too stressful. We had some family guests visiting for a few days who went down with some kind of bug which put them well and truly out of action for 36 hours. I escaped with only a cold but that was enough for me to cry off my first trip of the new year…

The Committee

The committee is now up and running under the guidance of Tony McKeon (boss of IV at Gutersloh from Aug 1982 to May 1985). Our first meeting was held just before Christmas and was attended by Tony (President), myself (Communications), Nick Ireland (Deputy Communications, currently on 4), Manny Chohan (Social, currently on 4) and Steve Cheeseman (Finance). Two members of the committee, Charlie Davis (USMC rep) and Marc Frith (USAF rep), were unable to make the trip from the States for the meeting, but have promised to attend the reunion!

Discussions revolved mainly around the arrangements for the 90th Anniversary Reunion (see below), but we also resolved to meet quarterly (approximately), co-opt more people onto the committee (check six) and support the squadron in any way that the boss feels is appropriate. See the Contact FourFax page on the web site for the e-mail addresses of the committee members.

A Word From “The Boss”, Andy Suddards

Greetings to you all – I hope you have added the IV(AC) Sqn Association Website to your file of favourite web pages! 2002 looks to be an exciting year for the Sqn – we have some excellent exercises to look forward to and we will also be celebrating our 90th Anniversary at the end of September.

The highlight of the Sqn’s exercise programme will be 3 weeks in July at Eilsen AFB Alaska flying with the USAF in Ex Cope Thunder. There will be plenty of opportunity to experience the fantastic scenery and outdoors activities afforded by Alaska in the summer – I hear the white water rafting is particularly good. The flying will be tremendous, rather akin to Red Flag on an instrumented range, and no doubt the social life will also be good. Before Alaska, the Sqn teams up again with the 3(F) Sqn ‘cement heads’ to conduct night Tactical Leadership Training at Leuchars at the end of February. This will provide the chance for many on the Sqn to really hone their night skills flying alongside other NATO sqns in a demanding environment under the tutelage of the Air Warfare Centre.

The year will also see the Harrier GR7 Force taking part in NATO Taceval once more. It will be a little different from what the old hands remember from the Germany Cold War days, the Force will be acting as a single unit alongside the Jaguar Force at a Deployed Operating Base, having conducted an ‘air move’ to get there. No more tin strips and ops wagons. However some things do not change and we can expect Force Protection injects and NBC conditions! Taceval takes place early/mid September; with 3(F) Sqn providing the lead it should only involve part of IV(AC) Sqn. In all, it looks to be a good programme and, unless real world events conspire to intervene, the Sqn should not be quite as busy and have more time at home than last year.

IV(AC) Squadron will be 90 years old on 16 September 2002 and we aim to celebrate this Anniversary on the weekend 27-29th September, with the main occasion being on Saturday the 28th. Currently we have a team planning the events and more details will be given as they become fixed. It will be open to all current members of the Sqn and Association members. So block the days in your diaries, and if you are no longer on the Sqn but have served some time in the past then register now to ensure you get an invite! Spread the word around – it should be an excellent weekend of socialising.

The 90th Anniversary Reunion

IV(AC) Squadron was formed on 16 September 1912 and 2002 is therefore its 90th Anniversary. Those of us who were able to attend the 75th Anniversary at RAF Gutersloh in 1987 will remember that it was very poorly attended by ex-members of the squadron, simply because there had been no publicity outside the RAF. This time it will be different – we are planning for at least 300 attendees, so put the date in your diary now!

The reunion is being planned for the weekend of 27-29 September 2002 at RAF Cottesmore, Rutland. Details of the weekend have not yet been finalised, but the broad outline of the weekend will be:

Friday 27th, 5pm: Meet and Greet / Happy Hour Saturday 28th, 10am: Golf Match / Shopping / Sight-seeing in Stamford Saturday 28th, 2pm: Squadron Open Day (afternoon); there’s a possibility of a small flying display Saturday 28th, 5pm: Informal drinks Saturday 28th, 8pm: Dinner Sunday 29th: Disperse

The main task of the committee this year will be to ensure the success of this reunion. If you have any suggestions or ideas about the reunion, or would like to volunteer your services to help organise the weekend, please contact any member of the committee.

Please do not contact the squadron directly about the reunion. As soon as more details are available they will be distributed via e-mail and this web site. The reunion will be advertised soon in the RAF News and I’m going to do a ‘ snail-mail’ mailshot to people in my database who don’t have e-mail. In the meantime, please mention the reunion and the web site to anyone who hasn’t yet registered.

Membership Database

The membership list has been updated and is in the Members’ section. Still ‘read only’, I’m afraid, but at least it enables people to contact each other.

“Not Members” Database

I’ve created a new page which lists ex-members of the squadron whom I don’t have contact details for. Please take a look at these names – if you are in contact with anyone on this list please pester them to sign up on the Registration page and/or forward their details to me.

News From Members

** From Steve Deaux (Mar 88-Mar 90): Good to hear from you. It was great to see all the mates at the recent Harrier Bash at Wittering. I’m retired from the USAF and flying for FedEx. I was on 4 Sqn from Mar 88 to Mar 90 in Gutersloh, then went to a staff tour at Langley and then back to the A-10 in Korea and finished up as a Guard advisor in Massachusetts. We now live in Memphis (Graceland). I just did a trip to Atlanta and had dinner with Dave (Cotty) Court (BA 777), having run into Mark (Tabs) Taberham last summer also in Atlanta. Small world eh?! Thanks for including me in the association. I look forward to hearing from you again and being able to keep in touch with the boys. (Steve – please register on the web site! Ed.)

** From Jamie Allen (Jan 81-Oct 83): Good to hear from you. The fleet I am on (BA744) is rather like a permanent reunion as so many guys are on it. I will check out the website soon and look forward to finding out where the many other people are.

** From Phil Rodgers (80s): Saw the article in the RAF News today. Retired end of ’98, and after three years of voluntary work [instructing on the Vigilant at Syerston] and Defence Consultancy, became College Secretary at Cranwell. Di joins me in sending our best.

** From Marc ‘Rambo’ Frith (Dec 85-Nov 87): This is sent to confirm that Newsletter #1 was successfully received in the USA and I think it is a great step in Global 4 Sqn connection capability! I would like to step up to be the Yank Exchange Officer coordinator (or anyother great title you want to bestow on me…and Wanda). I like the idea of a90th reunion…. and a 100th. I was there for the 75th and I made it my goal to at least be around for the 100th…or more! If the air line world doesn’t get better soon, I’ll have LOTS of time to edit news items and/or just go fishing!

We’re hanging in over here. I actually flew from Reagan National to Dallas the morning of 9/11… Pushed back at 0650 local and was landing in Dallas when they shut down the entire system. Flew 5 legs yesterday and passenger loads are definitely down. We’re hoping President Bush’s air line pep rally at O’Hare yesterday will get the ball rolling again. Are you all looking for any ” older” Flying Officer positions? Let Wanda and me know what we can do to help you out over here. And let us know when the official recall for the 90th will be. After all I WAS the greatest entertainments officer seen to date on 4 (AC) Sqn!! Keep the Faith and FLY SAFE….and kick butt when you have too!!!! Cheers, Marc & Wanda Frith

** More news from Marc: I think creating this 4(AC) group is fantastic and we look forward to the next recall for a reunion. I gladly accept my duties here in the colonies and will continue as the “Best Entertainments Officer” seen to date. We have had a great Christmas here,despite me having to work Christmas Day, but I did have a Christmas Evelayover in Jacksonville. My brother and his family is visiting from Colorado over the holidays. Got some great news for Marshall, our young one. Hereceived an appointment to the United States Naval Academy for the Class of2006…. Charlie, maybe you can talk him into being a Marine! Hoo Ya! He is being recruited to play baseball at Canoe University. He said you had to walk too far at Air Force and West Point is still in the 17th/18th century. Hereports June 28th for his Plebe summer. Then it will be just Wanda and me and Annie the Bichon. We’ll be ready to travel or you all come on downhere to Fla and sit on the veranda and sip a mint julip or the cheap American beer of your choice. We hope all is well with everyone and that 2002 will be a better year for all in light of these trying times…… Cheers, Marc/Rambo(Harrier Multi-gym pilot extraodinair)

** From Al Pollock (1957-58): 1. The tiny Lacey Green church was bursting way beyond capacity to help see dear Bruce Latton on his way. It was a good get together afterwards in the village hall – there are worse places for Mikki to live than near Princes Risborough – I do think she and Bruce had some good friends locally, both service and civilian.

  1. Re Shiny Four Association etc – good to see you, Four Boss and Shiny Four’s Hunter (all the D/F blokes would not recognise their Mk4 & Mk6 markings but it was good to see the night and day, round the clock markings, still “seeing into the future”) plus an earlier Mossie (might just have another Mossie connection somewhere) recently seen up at Cottesmore, when at the Fighting First’s Assn Day – I had meant to give OC 4 (AC) Sqn a bell in case I could help with some addresses, also to say that via my own helping look after the aircrew side of No. 26(AC) Assn, we might be able to dig out still a tiny handful via our own few ex Atlas, Audax, Hector, Lysander, Mustang etc members, who knew or cross-pollinated with Four (Army Co-op) – if you have any Lysander, Mustang and earlier blokes, we on 26 would make a special effort to put them in touch with our early A.C. older WW2 and pre-WW2 guys. No.26 (AC) Assn also, because of our shared historic links, were even thinking that some sort of loose liaison with current Shiny Four might be mutually beneficial – shortly we will be putting out our Springbok Newsletter, so let us know any info you would like to go in – the Air Gunners mafia were quite a close grouping – I feel we could get some response or contacts possible re friends on pre-war and WW2 Four for you.

  2. From my logbook lists and also my No.122 Wing “Jever Steam Laundry” List of 4 Sqn members, I may, in slow time, be able to help you with many of the following’s addresses – if you could just return the ones you might want and have not got, I will certainly try and forward to you what I can, many, if not most, from THOR (The Hunter Operational Register – we hope it will eventually be followed by a similar one for the Harrier bods – I was never given my owed Harrier trip!), with which Tim Webb has done so well this special year – we have tried our best to boost the list, while we can – we had 340-380 including ladies at the Barnstaple Reunion and that list, as Tony knows, is on

  3. Probable Addresses or Contacts, mostly held or eventually “get at-able”, of my own known Four Guys – Sir Roger Austin – Chris Bain – Johnny Baines – Bush Barrey (DFC AFC DFM my Flt Cdr in 1957 but long time back in Oz) – Doug Bebbington – Bugsy Bendell – Bill Blake – Tony Boyle – Bill Brewer – Alan Bridges – Ian Carr – Puddy Catt – Al Cleaver – Roy Cope-Lewis – Chris Cross – Barry Dale – Fred Dawson – Jim Dymond – Gerry Eades – Horace Farquhar-Smith – Fergy Ferguson – Dave Ferguson – Bob Fowler – Sam Goddard – Pete Gover – Chris (Hoppy) Granville-White – Nobby Hall – John Hawtin – Pete Headley – Paddy Hipperson – Tony Hopkins – Pete Hunwick – Pete Jarvis – Pete Jennings – Pete Jones – Pat Kiggell – Bill Langworthy – George Lee – Dave Loveday – Tim MacElhaw – Ian Madelin – Bill Maish – Al Mathie – Frank Mitchell – Bill Norton – Q Oswell – Mike Parkinson (RN – one of the 20 early Royal Navy blokes sharpened up ahead of their Scimitars and Vixens arriving etc) – Ken Petrie – Mike Seyd – Bill Shearer – Chris Shorrock – Slash Slaney – Reggie Spiers – Sir John Sutton – Pete Tate – Tim Thorn – Brian Thornton – Mike Tyrrell – Taff (Brian) Wallis – Derek Whitman

RIPs (sadly Four) which I know: Keith Holland, Andy McNae, John Osborn and Don Riley

  1. All the best to Four and good luck with yr efforts – I was only on Four for about eleven months in 1957/58, from memory, between times on 26(AC) in 2TAF, but this foray did allow me the great privilege to experience both 2TAF Wings out in Germany (the Bruggen and Geilers Wings did not last v.long) – being 6 years older than Tim Webb, I tend to specialise on the older blokes and he knows most of the younger THOR guys. Cheers and good luck for “In futurum” … we shall “videre”!

** From Ian Wilkes (ex-3(F)): Sorry, Chris, I was never on 4 – I didn’t have a big enough hooter!

** From Erikthefrog@aol.com: Dear sir, My father served with four squadron a long time ago, and he told me that they were the last RAF squadron to leave Dunkirk during WWII, ending up at, I think he said Clifton in Yorkshire. Is there anybody on your members list that go back that far, because there can’t be many left and he’d like to get in touch with “possibly” his old pals. Waiting to hear from you, thanks.

Ten Years Ago: Squadron News Sept 91 – Feb 92

The flags are flying, once more IV (AC) is ‘slipping the surly bonds’. However our return to flying in September started more with a whimper than a bang. Like Chinese water torture, serviceable aircraft were drip fed back to the Squadron, such that 18 eager pilots were fighting to get into just 5 cockpits by the end of the month.

During the grounding new equipment arrived for the aircraft, in particular a fun new toy called FLIR (forward looking infra red). The results achieved with it are impressive; for example on a typically cold and misty German morning switch on the FLIR and the gloom miraculously disappears to confirm that you definitely are lost. Another addition to the GR 7, which make IV (AC) Sqn Harriers unique, are 100 % LERX ( leading edge root extension ). These are similar to 2 surfboards positioned above the intakes and attached to the wing. The extra lift they produce help the aircraft turn better, making it a more manoeuvrable machine.

Since the last Squadron News members of IV (AC) have travelled to some far flung corners of the earth: from Decimommanu to Dubai, Cyprus to California, Gutersloh to Garvie Island. For the benefit of those unfamiliar with Garvie Island, it is a remote island off the north coast of Scotland. So remote an entire Squadron of 3 (?) pilots managed to miss it with 1000 lb bombs. However rest assured, the IV (AC) dead eye dicks smashed their bombs into the cliffs with unerring accuracy (ish).

This leads nicely to the combined 3 (?) vs IV (AC) bombing competition. This was held in Decimommanu at the beginning of the year. So overwhelming was the IV (AC) victory that no 3 (?) pilot appeared in the top 7 places, with Warren Ward being Top Dog, proving that you don’t need mature good looks to be an accurate weaponeer.

Another Squadron member to turn in some excellent performances is the IV (AC) display pilot Spike Jepson. He displayed at the Dubai Air Show, which is the 3rd largest airshow in the world and attracted a lot of interest due to the Gulf War. Spike displayed 7 times, operating in temperatures up to 35 C. As you can imagine the hovering capability was somewhat lacking, therefore it required skillful flying to produce a display that impressed the many thousands present.

In November the Squadron detached to Cyprus with 19 (F) Sqn, a Phantom Fighter Squadron. For 2 weeks the Cypriot air was filled with the sound of afterburner and the sight of chaff, as Harriers and Phantoms fought pitched battles for the supremacy of the skies. This was a valuable detachment for IV (AC) with many important lessons learnt, not least of them was don’t try to out sing or out drink a Phantom Squadron on its ‘swansong’ in Cyprus. The icing on the cake came when Charlie McIlroy led a Diamond Nine formation over Akrotiri airfield in a farewell salute to the men of 19 (F) Sqn, which sadly disbanded shortly afterwards.

Unfortunately the Boss Malcolm White was posted from IV (AC) during the Cyprus detachment. The Squadron was sad to lose Wg Cdr White, because without doubt it was his firm leadership through a difficult transition period which kept IV (AC) Sqn morale high. Malcolm moves back to England where he takes up the prestigious post as Personal Staff Officer to the Chief of the Air Staff.

3 other popular members of the Squadron have left recently. Dan Griffiths has left to take up a prize place on a Test Pilots course in America. A former contributor to Fourfax, Steve Forward, was posted to the Harrier OCU at Wittering. Finally John Lawson, after an unfortunate knock on the head has accepted the ultimate ignominy of a posting to 3 (?).

The Squadron has welcomed back a former IV (AC) Sqn member in the shape of the new Boss Wg Cdr Dave Haward. Wg Cdr Haward joins us from Belize where he was OC 1417 Flight. Already the Boss has mastered not only the GR 7, with its plethora of knobs and buttons, but also the high tech Squadron colour photocopier.

Another welcome new arrival to the Squadron is Andy Lewis, whose self-professed ambition is to be the best Coffee bar Officer IV (AC) Sqn has had.

As ever it has been a period of change both in equipment and personnel, however ‘Happy Four’ looks forward to the year ahead with its customary optimism.

The Web Site

Web site information

Message Board

I’ve set up an internet Message Board so that members can leave messages, ask questions and make suggestions directly. Point your web browser at to leave your message!

Thought For Today

Early to rise, early to bed, Makes you healthy, but socially dead.