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Lt P H L Playfair 1913

Giles Smith has sent me an email about Lt Playfair’s BE2a crash in 1913:

I have been researching the former WW1 airfield at Lilbourne for a while now and would comment that, whilst the first paragraph is mainly about the vagaries of the Breguet aircraft, the crash involving Chinnery and Playfair was in a type BE2a aircraft serial no. 227 with 70 hp Renault engine and occurred in mid afternoon of the first day of the 1913 Army Manoeuvres – 22 September 1913 – in fields at Lilbourne across the A5 Watling Street from the temporary aeroplane base at Hillmorton, east of Rugby. Playfair was taken to St Cross Hospital in Rugby and was still there at the end of the week when visited by his colleagues.

There is a picture of the wrecked ‘plane in J.M.Bruce’s book ‘Britain’s First Warplanes and an article with pictures in the Rugby Advertiser of 27th September 1913.

I hope that this will suffice for now as I’m collecting loads of info about the men and aeroplanes involved with photos and the concluding reports of the RFC in 1913 Army Manoeuvres with a view to writing an article.
Giles Smith……Lilbourne



Scampton Church

Joe Bartrop (project co-ordinator, RAF Commemorative Window Scampton Church)

As we approach Remembrance Day, I have been advised write to you, and ask for your support to share this tribute with your members, some of whom may have served at RAF Scampton.

The Ministry of Defence have announced that they intend to decommission RAF Scampton in 2022. Whether this happens or not, a project to commission a stunning RAF stained glass window at Scampton Church to mark 100 years’ relationship between RAF Scampton and Scampton Church (1918 – 2018), and thereby also create a lasting memory to all who served in squadrons at the base, both in peacetime, during the two world wars and the cold war, is now up and running.

RAF and aviation organisations have agreed to be non-funding community partners in the project.

Two well respected stained glass designers, with an impressive portfolio, have designed the RAF Scampton window. The RAF Scampton badge forms a central part of that design, alongside the winged RAF badge (per ardva ad astra) which sits proudly on the 106 RAF Commonwealth War Graves in the churchyard.

War Graves

The inscription on the window, chosen by Wing Commander Parker OIC at RAF Scampton, will read:

“To commemorate those who served in squadrons based at RAF Scampton 1918 – 2018”

The design includes a representation of an Avro Lancaster, Avro Vulcan and the Red Arrows Hawk Jets in a diamond nine formation, all depicted flying over the runway at RAF Scampton. Also included in the initiative is an associated aviation arts project in Scampton’s two local primary schools to which children of RAF families attend. The aim of the project is to teach the history of RAF Scampton and help teach children of the sacrifice given by others to ensure they live in a free country. Filming for the first crowd funding video was carried out by Lincoln University and is now complete, and heads the campaign site.

The film includes contributions from Wing Commander Parker (OIC RAF Scampton), Wing Commander Keith (OIC RAFAT – Red Arrows) Johnny Johnson (Last surviving member of the original 617 Squadron) and Bill Ramsey (Wing Commander Red Arrows, BBMF and Vulcan pilot) Aviation sponsors have donated to a ’thank you’ scheme which rewards contributions towards the RAF window with original prizes.

RAF Stained Glass Window

A second video focus more on the historical links between RAF Scampton and Scampton Church, and a final Remembrance Day video is due for release on 11th October. Your support in circulating this meaningful commemorative tribute to your members, some of who may have served at RAF Scampton, would greatly increase the project’s chance of success.

Here are the Campaigns Social media handles:

Campaign: Facebook: Twitter: @scamptonchurch Instagram:


Kind Regards Joe Bartrop (project co-ordinator) 07870665245

No. 234 Sqn History

From Nigel Walpole:


(Please see below – circulated on Nigel Walpole’s behalf – please respond directly to him)

The heritage hunters of No. 234 Squadron (No. 1 Squadron, 229 OCU, RAF Chivenor) wish to publish a booklet of flight-line humour, ‘horror’ and achievement, entitled ‘Laugh with the Dragon’, modelled on those excellent books ,’Out of the Blue’ (Cowie, Jones & Long), and I have agreed to be the scribe and general factotum.

Terry Heyes, who gave us those splendid dragon cartoons for our squadron history ‘Dragon Rampant’, has offered his support again, but the success of this project depends now in what we can wrest from our ageing memories, and for obvious reasons we have no time to lose. We will of course plagiarise ‘Dragon Rampant’, but we know there are many other tales out there to tell.

So we would be very grateful for any such inputs from those who served on, or passed through 234 Squadron on IRE, FR, Pre-Lightning/ Buccaneer/Harrier/Jaguar/FAC courses, etc. These tales need not be confined to those occurring solely on the squadron, we also want to include others which happened to us old boys of 234 in later years. Also, while ‘facts’ are to be preferred, some fiction could be made very acceptable if suitably phrased. We have in mind anything from a single sentence to a 300 words and, while we must retain the right to reject or amend, nothing of yours would go to press without your blessing.

We therefore urge you to bare your souls now, drag out those anecdotes which have been enjoyed repeatedly in many bars over the years, so that we can record them for posterity.

A similar plea has gone out to the Sabre and Hawk fraternities, and I now hope impatiently for your positive responses to; 01502-723371.

Thank you

Nigel Walpole

Royal Air Force Day at The RAF Museum Hendon

Wednesday 8th May 2019

From the RAF Museum:

The Royal Air Force Museum is delighted to invite current and former RAF men and women of every rank, trade and from across all aspects of its daily mission, to join us for our RAF Day 2019 to be held at Hendon on Wednesday 8 May, from 10am to 4pm.
The Event will be held in our Age of Uncertainty Hall – 1980 to Today – providing a fitting space for colleagues, friends and families to join us and share their stories, before exploring the rest of the Museum which covers The RAF’s First 100 Years.  The RAF Day will enable us to sustain and develop an enduring relationship with The RAF – its People, Squadrons, Bases and the wider RAF Family.
As part of our RAF Centenary programme, the Museum launched a new digital project called RAF Stories which aims to record a wide variety of stories about the Royal Air Force.  Our RAF Stories team will be on hand on the day to provide information on how your story could be included in our online archive and welcomes stories from anyone about any aspect of their career or experiences within or surrounding the Royal Air Force. 
This invitation is open to all current and former RAF colleagues of every rank and across all aspects of its work, and we do hope you will be able to attend.
We look forward to welcoming you in May and ask that you register your interest by contacting Anji Patel or Odette Harris via email on or 020 8358 4849.   As the event proved to be popular last year, and to enable us to ensure we have sufficient car parking spaces for all our visitors, we are asking our guests to also confirm how they intend to travel on the day.  
Maggie Appleton
Chief Executive Officer 
RAF Museum 

Maggie Appleton
Chief Executive Officer 
RAF Museum 

Sqn News – November 2018

Hawks at Culdrose

Hawks at Culdrose

An interesting time for the UK as Brexit rears its head. Regardless of the way in which one voted, one can be assured that this country will be consumed by a determined effort to confirm or rather re-define our identity as a nation.

After the Sqn split earlier in the calendar year, much the same can be said about IV(AC) Sqn. We have now weathered the incessant noise produced by the formation of XXV(FE) Sqn, maybe the only formation they’ve managed to achieve in recent months, and as such have been able to confirm and re-define our identity here at IV(AC).

The effort that has gone in to reforming and modernising the air to surface combat work-up, ongoing work on a more efficient radar interception training process, and the recently started development of more effective air combat tactics are all indicators that IV(AC) Sqn have the calibre of staff that define fighter pilot training, not least carry out a successful taxy and brakes check without popping the tyres.

Read more…

Chris Abbott – RIP

From Geoff Quick:

I’m very sad to report that Chris Abbott passed away on 14th November, following a long fight with cancer.

I first met Chris when he was a Fg Off at Wildenrath in 1976 where his immensely cheerful character shone brightly, ably supported by Sue. 
Chris had already had active service experience, including doing Regiment soldiering in the Gulf area, a fact somewhat belied by his youthful face but supported by a GSM ribbon. 

Chris was the Camp Commandant for the creation of 6 Site following the Squadron’s move in 1977 and showed as a very competent operator when dealing with situations at all levels. I thoroughly enjoyed working with him and was delighted when we made contact again, after many years, on Social media. By then he was a well respected authority on CBRN force protection and his reputation for effort and dedication continued undiminished. Chris enriched the lives of many and it was a privilege to have known him. 

Ferry Tips

Does anybody remember anything about ferry tips? I remember we had them but don’t think I ever flew with them. Did they fall out of favour?

Pic via Harrier Preservation: @HPreservation

Perhaps they were more trouble than they were worth?

Heritage Centre Visit – Friday 7th Dec 18

From the HFA:

To coincide with the annual Christmas drinks on 7 December 2018 at The Lord Burghley pub in Stamford, Phil Wilsher has arranged for the Harrier Heritage Centre at RAF Wittering to open on Friday 7 December at 16.30. The visit will be for approximately one and a half hours.  HFA members and their guests wishing to attend should notify Phil no later than 3 December on Facebook, telephone (07971566851), email (philwillsher <at> or website.  Please provide full names of all visitors along with vehicle make, colour and registration for access to the Station.

Frank Whitley

From Paul Nuth:


Looking for a contact from the Squadron Association who maybe able to help me. 

Frank was an aviator with RAF No 4 Squadron throughout WW2, primarily with Spitfires, service with expeditionary forces in France, Battle of Britain. He was shot down, got back to UK via French Resistance and got back to active flying service. 

Frank Whitley passed away on Monday 5th November a few days before his 98th birthday. 
DOB 11 09 1920
RAF No. 4 Squadon 1939 to 1945. 
Coastal (Yorkshire) 

Frank’s funeral is on the 21st November at Gregory Minster, Kirdale. 

As with many who experienced the horrors of WW2 Frank did not discuss the detail with his family. 

The family would be greatly appreciate someone to attend the funeral and have the Last Post played. 

Frank lived with his wife (still alive at age 96) independently in central Harrogate. After the war he did become a very success businessman in the wool industry. 

Kind Regards 

My name Paul Nuth (Lt Cdr RN Rtd). Frank’s son (Tim) is a close friend hence my involvement. 

C-130 Crew in the Falklands

Here’s a photo I noticed on Twitter: Al Holman with his Herc crew in the Falklands in 1982-83.

Harrier GR1 XV784 ‘D’

This jet, as a GR3, had my name on it from 1980 to 1985. This photo was probably taken at Wildenrath in 1974-75 when it was a GR1. Thanks to Ian Black for the photo.

Sqn News – July 2018

9-ship practice for the RAF 100 flypast

RAF Valley (or the yellow Savannah that RAF Valley (or that it has become) and heatwave don’t tend to go together in a sentence very often, but it does make for a very enjoyable workplace.
It has been a fantastically busy couple of months since our last communication, with strange absences of the majority of our student body at times. Some would say this makes the Squadron a paradise, a truly magical place to work, where air warning paperwork is non-existent and even Fit Lt Walker manages a once a day smile. Others prefer a daily dose of student horror as the red pen moves ever closer to the debrie?ng board, and the rest of us just miss having someone around to clean out the coffee machine on a daily basis.

Read more…

Latter days at Wildenrath. Early days at Gutersoh – View from the RIC

by Geoff Quick

Before reading this little essay I do recommend that you read Al Holman’s account from the Pilots’ perspective. We were contemporaries on IV ( AC) over the move up from Wildenrath and the first couple of years at “Gut”, that is from 1976 until the latter part of 1978. I ask for forgiveness from those of a similar vintage for which this is all “boring old hat”, but respectfully submit that all of us have now retired and indeed some of us are passing on.

We have a generation carrying the IV Squadron banner today to whom all this will probably appear to have been a laughingly archaic, blatantly inefficient and logistically insane circus. As ever, we tried to do our best with what was available, some of which was actually quite good for its day. None of what we demonstrably achieved could have been possible without an all-round effort to repeatedly throw the Squadron in to obtain and extract that which was demanded to meet the tasking.

And that basic requirement hasn’t changed.

As a very Junior Officer Photographic Interpreter I arrived at Wildenrath in April ’76, to an introductory surprise bollocking at the RIC for allegedly being a week late ( but who was it who booked the seat on the trooper? ) I then settled down to adapting to Harrier Force ways. Fortunately I had done my first tour on 41(F) Sqn. ( Phantom) RIC : this had also included two roulements in Northern Ireland, during which time I had gained some practical junior command experience. Nevertheless, I had a great deal to learn.

To kick off, It might be helpful if I explain a few of the Photo. Int. acronyms of the time. The term “RIC” itself originally referred to a Reconnaissance Interpretation Centre. Tactical ( or First Phase) Photographic Interpreters were initially prohibited from making any personal assessments beyond counting ,measuring and identifying. Indeed, the RIC predecessors were the “MFPU”s or Mobile Field Processing Units –often called “Muffpussies” with unofficial cat emblems. Fortunately, because some RICs were multi-sensor in operation, we were spared being dubbed “Photographic” RICS, with what would have been the inevitable attendant acronyms. By the time of the IV Squadron move away from Wildenrath however, the word “Intelligence” had, rightly or wrongly, been accepted for incorporation into “RIC”.

[Read more]


From Smoky Green:

Jill and I watched highlights of the celebration in London today. It was my great privilege to fly with you. Congratulations on each of your contributions to 100 eventful years of service to your country and the world. All Best, Smoky
IV(R) Sqn RAF 100 Flypast

IV(R) Sqn RAF 100 Flypast

IV(R) Sqn RAF 100 Flypast

IV(R) Sqn RAF 100 Flypast

Photos: Ian Black @BlickyIan

Tony Chaplin RIP

Late news, I’m afraid, (I’ve been out of internet coverage for a while), but Tony Chaplin passed away on the 18th of April. Kate has let us know that Tony’s funeral will be at Lincoln Crematorium at 12.30 on 15th May, followed by a gathering at Welbourn Village Hall. For those wishing to correspond with the family, Kate’s address is Long Cottage, 50 The Green, Welbourn, Lincolnshire, LN5 0NJ.

Tony was the boss of IV in 1978/79 and then the Harrier OCU in 1983/4.

I only flew with Tony once. In 1982 he was OC 233 OCU, the Harrier OCU, and I was on the QWI course, and we flew the “freefall giveback dual” ride together. As a Germany pilot, freefall wasn’t a familiar event to me, in fact I’d never done any freefall before the QWI course. We only had four practice bombs – my demo was 150 ft long and I was pretty pleased with that. Tony first bomb was 200 ft long and his second 250 ft over. He was obviously making a mistake that I’d failed to notice. Tony then asked if we could “toss” the last bomb, again, an obvious staff pilot trap that I wasn’t going to fall into, so I said we’d be better nailing the last bomb in freefall.

It was unscorable at 12 o’clock.

All the way back to Wittering and throughout the debrief I was racking my brain to try to discover the deliberate error that Tony had introduced and that I had failed to spot. After my debrief it was Tony’s turn to debrief me: “Great trip, Chris, thanks.”

“But hang on, Boss, what were you doing to make each of your bombs worse than the last?”

“No idea, Chris, sorry, I’ve never done freefall before!”

I think this falls into the “I learned about instructing from that” category…