Archive for the ‘Picture Post’ Category

REME Museum – (aka the old Lyneham Officers Mess)

11 January, 2018
REME Museum, Lyneham

REME Museum, Lyneham

 Association Member Tim Gosling visited the REME Museum at Lyneham on the 11th January and sent along the following review and photos.

The old Officers’ Mess is still recognisable and you can still have a drink in the Scruffs’ Bar, now the Museum café.

Scruff's Bar now Cafe

Scruff’s Bar now Cafe

Apparently they did not break the floor getting one of the tanks in, but they did accidentally hit a wall.  Whatever, any damage is now repaired and there are some very interesting exhibits.

Tank - static display

Tank – static display

Museum - Interior view.

Museum – Interior view. (note Minstral Gallery)

Association members may wish to know that from next week they are putting on a small speciality display on the history of Lyneham as an RAF station.  Details are on their Website.  However, it will be in what used to be the Mail Room between the Entrance Hall and the Gents so it is only a very small display.  I wouldn’t advise significant travel to go and see that but the Museum itself I thought well worth the visit.

Attached are pictures of the Mess front, the old dining room showing the minstrels’ gallery, a Churchill tank in the dining room, and the Scruffs’ bar now cafe.


Joint Services Trans Patagonian Expedition

13 June, 2017

One of the outcomes of this years Summer Social after a chance remark about a distinct lack of photo’s and missed opportunities to record these memorable occasions, was a photo sent in by Malcolm Fentum.

Malcolm was a Navigator  on the Squadron during the 1970’s at Lyneham and wonders if anyone can fill in some of the blanks? Add a Comment to this Blog Post if you can.

Bermuda Crew 30 Oct 1972

The background to the photo is as follows:-

The photo was taken in the Holiday Inn in Bermuda on 30 Oct 72 before flying home next day in XV206.  We’d just done an amazing route that had taken us down to Southern Chile (El Tepual), near the town of Puerto Montt.  We took the ‘Joint Services Trans Patagonian Expedition’.  Allende was in power & the whole country was on strike.  Interesting times.

The names he can remember are, back row:

?, ?, Phil Sharman,  Sqn Ldr Miles, Ken Smith, Ray Kinsey?, ?,?,?
Paul Gedge, John Ayers, ?, ?, MF

Final note on that trip is that Ken Smith, who was a Monty Python fanatic, came back with a parrot or 2.  I don’t think they were Norwegian Blues ‘pining for the fjords’.

Edward VIII flies home courtesy XXIV – 1930

28 September, 2015

This interesting article was spotted and sent in by Gerrie Forthergill-Lukes to add to our historic archive. Gerrie is not an Association Member but was on the Squadron in 1963 at Colerne and again at Lyneham 1981 and 1991. He writes:-

“On May 28th 2015, Channel 4 showed a documentary Edward VI11, The Lion King. In his closing words the Presenter said that at the end of the holiday in 1930, the Prince of Wales hitched a lift on an R.A.F.
machine from Sudan to Egtpt. My thoughts went to 47 Sqn who were based in Sudan at that time, and in fact turned out to be the carriers. From Egypt he sailed to Marseilles where he disembarked to continue his journey by air. 24 Sqdn were his hosts. The 3 Officers mentioned have been confirmed by the R.A.F.Museum archives Hendon as being with the Sqn on those dates.

Congratulations on you Century, 100 Not out.


Prince of Wales Apr 1930

Prince of Wales arriving at Windsor – Apr 1930

AFTER a magnificent flight from Marseilles, H.R.H. the Prince of Wales arrived home from Africa on April 25, when he landed on his private aerodrome in Windsor Great Park. Quite a considerable portion of the Prince’s journey home has been carried out by air. The Prince and his party left Malakal on April 13 in R.A.F. Fairey IIIF machines and flew to Khartoum, via Kosti. The journey was continued on April 16 to Wadi Haifa and Assuan, and Cairo was reached the following day.


The Prince proceeded by the P. and O. liner Rawalpindi to Marseilles, where he arrived on April 25 at 5.45 a.m. Meanwhile, three R.A.F. machines—one a Westland “Wapiti” piloted by Sqn Ldr Don, and the others, a Fairey IIIF piloted by Flight-Lieut. A. W. Heslop and another “Wapiti” piloted by Flying Officer H. W. Pearson-Rogers set out from Northolt on April 22 for Marseilles, where they arrived on April 24, for it was announced that, weather permitting, the Prince would make the last stage of the journey home by air.

Thus, immediately the Rawalpindi docked, the Prince, who wore a light grey suit with a grey-blue pull-over, and his party motored to the Marignane aerodrome, where the three R.A.F. machines were in readiness. At 7.35 a.m. the three machines started off, the Prince in the “Wapiti” piloted by Sqn Ld. Don. At 9 a.m. they landed at Bron Aerodrome, Lyons, to refuel, having covered the 175 miles from Marseilles in 1 hr. 30 min. Here Twenty-five minutes later the flight was resumed, and the next stop was Le Bourget. No members of the public were allowed on the ground, but the Prince was greeted by the British Ambassador, Lord Tyrrell, and officers of the 34th Air Regiment.

After luncheon, at the regimental mess, several officers asked the Prince to sign their pilot cards, which he did, but when, shortly after, some 40 more made the same request, he smilingly said he was afraid he would have to leave that for a future occasion. At 1.45 p.m., amid enthusiastic cheers, the Prince set off again, escorted by nine French aeroplanes led by Capt. Lackeman. The French coast was crossed at 3 p.m. at Grisnez, where the French escort left them, and in “exchange” a R.A.F. flying-boat took over escort duties across the Channel.

The crossing took 15 minutes, and on reaching the English coast nine “Siskins” of No. 25 Squadron (Hawkinge) met them and escorted them to Windsor. At Windsor the “Siskins” and the two other machines which accompanied the Prince from Marseilles turned off and returned to their bases, and the Prince’s ” Wapiti ” made a perfect landing, at 4 p.m., on his private landing ground at Canadian Camp (Smith’s Lawn), in Windsor Great Park. Thus the 650 miles from Marseilles was covered in 6 hr. 10 min. flying time, or at a speed of 105 m.p.h.

After a welcome cigarette and a few minutes’ chat, the Royal car arrived, and the Prince, together with Prince George drove to the Fishing Cottage to join the King and Queen, where the Prince stayed some time for tea and tales of adventure. Later the Prince went onto Fort Belvedere and thence to York House.


Evans & Evans!

29 March, 2015
Evans & Evans

Evans & Evans

No, not a firm of solicitors in Swansea but ex OC XXIV, Clive Evans, in his later role as Station Commander at Lyneham and the Reverend Derryck Evans, circa 1982/3.

The photo which caught my eye appeared recently in the Wiltshire Gazette and Herald and after a bit of digging with the help of Andrew Thompson,  Senior Communications Manager of the Prospect Hospice, the story behind the event came to light.

The picture shows the C.O of RAF Lyneham, Group Captain Clive Evans CBE, presenting a cheque for £2,500 to the Reverend Derryck Evans. This money was raised by members of RAF Lyneham and their families when they held a sponsored walk along the coast of West Wales one weekend in 1982.

The handover of a cheque for £2,500 would have been a very significant amount then in those days. A representative from the Prospect Hospice said that RAF Lyneham used to do a huge amount for Prospect Hospice in its very early years.

Good to know that the spirit of charitable giving is still going strong both within XXIV, the Association and HM Forces.

Operation Khana Cascade

26 February, 2015
Khana Cascade Air Drop

Khana Cascade Air Drop


The usefulness of our Twitter feed was brought home this week with a “tweet” from the Air Historic Branch ( reminding us that on the 25th February 1973, Operation Khana Cascade started.

This was the biggest airlift since the Berlin Airlift and involved 46 Group aircraft dropping around 2,000 tons of grain, maize and rice to Himalayan villages in Nepal due to a very poor harvest.

It did of course involve XXIV Squadron, No’s 14, 47 and 55 Air Despatch Squadron’s from Lyneham and Thorney Island. The aircraft involved flew out via Akrotiri and Masirah and a “Kanvas City” was set up at Bhairawa near the Nepalese border.

I spotted XV’s 217, 281 and XV 202, (now at RAF Museum Cosford) in the IWM film clip and the Detachment Commander was W/C Mike Hardy.

The last drop was 30th March 1973, just over a month from start to finish.

Check those log books and see if you took part in this major famine relief operation and add a few comment to this Blog. (Me, well I had only just arrived at XXIV some 6 months before and still a bit new to be sent out on this one.)

Watch this lovely 16mm film clip on the Imperial War Museum web site, (it takes a while to load) but it will bring back a few memories if you were involved in this or similar Ops over those years.


Picture Post – 005 – More Para!!

14 October, 2014
Picture Post 005 What more Para!

Picture Post 005 What more Para!

Having made the a comment at this years AGM that is was a bit of a mission of mine to keep the simple idea of upload a “Picture” and  “Post”  a few words behind the image on the boil, here is No 5.

Well, I have uploaded the Picture but not being part of the crew, do not have the words that tell the story. In fact the photo was snapped by me out of one of those lovely big blue Albums that used to be on display in the old History Room back at Lyenham.

I do know its Matt Mathieson, far right as Captain, so maybe Matt or others  would add a comment and fill in the blanks. Also worth noting is in those days, only the guy wearing the parachute was legally qualified to jump out!


Picture Post – 004 – Bad Vibes!

04 August, 2014
Vickers Valiant

Vickers Valiant

We have at last another anecdote that warrants an inclusion into our “Picture Post” slot. This time it is from a retired Association navigator, Tom Norcross.

Before arriving in the Transport World, and eventually 24 Squadron, I was in Bomber Command for twelve years, the last six were on Valiants at RAF Marham. On my penultimate Valiant flight, we were skimming along low level at 250 knots over Somerset, en route to drop a practice bomb at Jurby range off the Isle of Man. Suddenly, the aeroplane began to shake violently. The pilots checked all the engine instruments, nothing wrong there. From my side window I could see the wing tip fluttering. That should not happen on a Valiant with a rigid wing and main spar to hold the wings on. The vibrations lasted perhaps a minute or so and stopped as suddenly as they had started. We were flying in silky smooth air, no hint of furbulence.

We crossed the Sevem estuary, coasting in over south Wales, when exactly the same circumstances occurred again. This time we zoomed up to 10.000 feet in case we had to bale out, making a PAN call on the way up. We recovered to Marham directly, landing without any further incident. The aircraft was comprehensively air-tested the next day, and the vibrations could not be reproduced. In few days time I shook the dust of Bomber Command off my flying boots.

I joined the Argosy OCU at RAF Thorney Island and whilst I was in Ground School, A Valiant landed at RAF Gaydon with an enormous crack in the main spar. The flaps were driven by one electric motor, so you couldn’t get asymmetric flap…. but this aeroplane did. The staff pilot was quick off the mark, when landing flap was selected and the aircraft tipped through 90 degrees from the horizontal from the vertical, about to roll onto its back. The pilot immediately retracted the flap and he carried an overweight flapless landing on the 3.000 yard long runway The Valiant fleet were grounded at once. It may be apocryphal, but I was told that the first the Quick Reaction Alert crews heard of the grounding of all the Valiants was via the BBC six o’clock news.!

When the airframes were broken up, extensive internal structural damage was found. ……Enough said….

Tom, many thanks, certainly a good read.




Picture Post – 003 – Squadron Silver – 1971

09 April, 2014

Squadron Silver – from Richard Bates 

Squadron Silver - Fit to Fly

Squadron Silver – Fit to Fly

During my time on the Squadron we noticed that some valuable silver items were damaged, hidden away in an attic and never displayed in the mess.

One of these was a superb model of the Hawker Hart, in service with the Squadron in the 1930’s. The Hart’s undercarriage was damaged and one of the two wheels was missing. Local silversmith’s had been approached and could certainly undertake the necessary work, but at great cost. Chatting to OC Eng Wg one evening, he said he was sure his team could do the job for a ‘couple of bob’, or two shillings in pre-decimalisation ‘old money’. But, they would need a silver florin which exactly matched the diameter of the missing wheel. There was one more important condition. The coin would have to be of pre-1927 vintage and thus contain the high proportion of silver necessary for the lathe work to turn the coin into the wheel.

As they so often do, our engineers turned up trumps and produced a simple and inexpensive solution to this unusual maintenance problem. We located an early 1920’s florin, the Hart was repaired and was soon back on duty gracing many a mess night – and for less than the cost of a drink, even in those days.

Picture shows OC 24 Sqn gratefully accepting the return of the 24 Sqn silver model Hart from representatives of Engineering Wing, RAF Lyneham.


Picture Post – 002 – The Honolulu Detachment – Sep 1956

21 January, 2014
Hastings TG 582 Xmas Island Aug 1956

Hastings TG 582 Xmas Island Aug 1956

Unloading US Pacific Air Force Band Piano, Xmas Isle

Unloading US Pacific Air Force Band Piano, Xmas Isle

and the prize for the second submission to our Picture and a Post campaign goes to Dennis “Bluie” Hobbs. Many thanks Dennis for sharing this with us.

The Honolulu Detachment – 17th June – 5th September 1956.

 Two crews with Flt Lts’ Hampson & King were detached to Honolulu to act as a “Mail and Grocery delivery service” to Christmas Island, during the preparatory construction for the H-Bomb Tests in 1957.

I, Bluie Hobbs was a Navigator on one of the crews. There was one Hastings Mk1 TG582 and each crew alternated a weekly trip to Christmas Island out on Thursday and back on Friday spending a night in Tents.

If you know your History, Hawaii was originally the “Sandwich Islands” discovered by Captain Cook. We had ample time on our hands and took part in many local events. There was a Royal Hawaiian Cricket Club and with 15 of us managed to make up a team. Through television we were challenged by “Pepeekeo” a sugar plantation on the main island of Hawaii to a match, so flew to Hilo where we were picked up. I cannot recall the results of these matches but we all enjoyed the trips.

There were no Nav Aids on Christmas Island and I was pleased to be able to use tactical navigation methods & techniques, using the Sun and square searches to find the Island. The runway was from WW2 being a cleared coral base, when landing and taking –off the aircraft would disappear in a cloud of white Coral dust.

The Photos show unloading on Christmas Island. My skipper Flt Lt Hampson is standing back to the “white” Naval Officer. The other Photo shows us unloading the Piano of the USAF pacific band who had agreed to come with us to entertain the Engineers etc working on the island. This had been arranged through Patsy Hagan, Flt Engineer, who had struck up an acquaintance with the Band Liaison Officer. We went out through Brisbane,Fiji, Canton Island to Hickham AFB.  We had no charts or maps for Brisbane onwards and I had to construct a Mecators chart to get to Fiji, where we were lucky to scrounge some charts etc from a BOAC crew for the remaining legs.

We still did our weekly “continuation Training”, trips around the Islands (eg  Hilo, Kauai, Maui, etc)  On one occasion the skipper decided to practice asymmetric landings at Honolulu International, caused mayhem, with emergency vehicles chasing us down the runway!! This was followed by a rebuke from Airfield control.

Picture Post – 001 – Lord Trophy Winners – 1974

20 January, 2014
Lord Trophy Crews Aug 1974

Lord Trophy Crews Aug 1974

As a starter to the Association Picture Post campaign, this is my contribution to get things rolling.   The first decent photo  I found in my Log Book matched up with an entry for the 20th August 1974. The flight lasted 2 hours 40 minutes and the Captain was F/L Mike Stokes and was described simply as “Lord Trophy LLXC”.

As an aside, it was while embarking on this little mission that I realised how few photographs I had of my time on XXIV, which is a bit sad. Maybe some of you have a photo which accidentally includes yours truly?

There are no details of the low level route we took on that particular day in my log book but it would have probably been out across North Devon, ending up flying over Lyme Bay, coasting in at West Bexington (does that ring a bell?) before dropping the stores over Keevil Airfield. I also seem to remember on that day it was particularly murky  and great praise was metered out by Mike Stokes for the part that all the crew members played in keeping us spot on course and bang on the drop time.

If you can fill in any of the blanks route wise and names to the faces above, do add a comment to this post. As a starter we have:- Mike Stokes, front centre, myself, Dave Burgin, back row, second in from right, Matt Mathieson, Mike Lythgoe, Derek Stewart and Lionel Warrington.

Over and out.