Who has spoken?

Who has spoken at Byfield & District RBL's Meetings?

In 2015 and before, we had been educated and informed about: The jet age coming to our Fleet Air Arm, rural fire fighting - from the beginning, arms through the ages, flying gliders in war and peace, the art (yes art) of stoking a steam engine pulling a train, setting-up a factory in Brazil – from scratch, vintage motorcycle rallies – from here to France and back, the Talyllyn railway, rescuing a yacht (by a yacht) in mid-Atlantic, an “Operation Raleigh” expedition to a desert island, the excitement and anticipation of stamp collecting, how RBL’s welfare works, guiding tourists through our history, a misty encounter with a gorilla in Uganda, running the HK Marine Police etc. In more detail, here we shall record who has spoken since, and their subject (latest first)…

Our speaker for Monday 2nd March's Meeting was Ms. Cherida Plumb who gave us an in-depth insight into the wonderful work of the nearby Katharine House Hospice; Cherida is their Community & Events Fundraising Manager. Katherine House in Adderbury, near Banbury has a namesake elsewhere but with no connection. Our Katharine House covers an area ranging from south west Northants to north east Oxfordshire and is for adults over18; youngsters have their own hospice for the area based in Oxford. The talk was enlightening making us realise this is mainly a voluntary organisation and includes workers in local hospitals and the wider community who look after people in need of help and support because of illness. It is also there to support families of patients, not just those at the end of their lives. In addition, those with serious but non-terminal illnesses that may need some respite for themselves or their families are also catered for.

On 4th Feb. Richard Woodcock was back to tell us all about “The Mysteries of Easter Island”. After crossing the Andes on a pushbike raising money for Mencap in 2010, and surviving an 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Chile, Richard escaped to officially the remotest place on earth for a little R’nR. And mysterious it was. Who populated it and why did they sow the seeds of their own destruction by carving those huge statues? Those ancient people were in no way assisted by the arrival of Europeans either, who brought disease both medically and financially. Some good did come of that however when all the toppled effigies were raised and restored by the Japanese in the '60's of last century, and the building of an international airport by the Americans sometime later - on an island half the size of the Isle of Wight? Just another mystery; although, when you think about it, and the rise of China...

A New Year & the dawn of a new decade! On the 6th January 2020, Bert Manton laid out forty objects before the first Branch Meeting of the year in Byfield VH's Meeting Room and asked us to identify each of them. They ranged from George Stephenson's (of "Rocket" fame) cucumber straightener through a lady's Patten (and one for a horse) to a WW2 aircraft life-raft radio kite antenna, and "Gibson Girl" wind-up radio. Two points were awarded for a correct answer and one for something close. Out of the dozen present, Joy won first prize with sixteen points; Bert presented her with a bottle of wine of a certain vintage.

Other items shown above include a hand "clay pigeon" launcher, glass "clay pigeon" and a camp stove toaster.

In the preceding decade...

On 2nd September '19 Terry chatted about his experiences in the early '60's of last century as a Radio Officer aboard HMT Nevasa, a troopship operating out of Southampton on regular runs to the Mediterranean and Far East.

There were stories of "flashing-up" warships, being buzzed by Gloster Javelins, surrounded by lightning and delving into the depths of the double bottoms, causing a dockworkers strike. Exotic scenes were painted of the Thaipusam Ceremony in Singapore, where heavy frames decorated with flowers and peacock feathers are supported over a devotee by piercing his flesh with rods, and then him walking a couple of miles before having them extracted. And, the Tiger Balm Gardens, where scenes of Chinese tortures abound. On a lighter note there was always pomp and circumstance too, a heady mix for a teenager just out of radio school.

In July 2019, on the first day of that month in Byfield Village Hall's Meeting Room, our Chairman Russ gagve a scintillating talk about his experiences of our Royal Navy's first carrier-borne jet night fighter, the Sea Venom. (thanks to flyawaysimulation for the image).

Russ told us hair-raising tales of landing on the heaving deck of a carrier with arrestor hooks that were prone to pulling right out of the aircraft. He was there when the first angled flight decks were introduced, lucky for one young pilot who's hook came adrift and saw his aircraft drop over the edge into the drink. Because of the angled deck, the carrier didn't run him over and he was thankfully rescued by a supporting vessel. Those were the days before a helicopter was capable of doing that without extreme danger to itself. Russ showed a video of the newly (British) invented mirror landing system, that replaced a man with two ping-pong bats and allowed landings in fairly extreme sea-states. We were told the tale of a sculpture of a luscious young naked lady that was separated from its home in the middle of the night by young bucks celebrating the end of a tour of duty (of which Russ was one). They named her "Venemona" and only avoided severe consequences by their superiors' swift action and negotiating skill next day. "Venemona" became a permanent feature of the mess at that shore-base. Because of changing times, her position has been displaced; she was recently sold for a considerable sum that was donated to the local church near the base.

On Tuesday 4th June 2019, in Byfield Village Hall's meeting Room our Member Jeremy Wheeler gave a presentation about D-Day 6th June 1944. Jeremy reminded us of the tremendous scale of Operation Overlord, which was especially poignant to recall a couple of days before the 75th anniversary of that momentous event. 75 years ago the weather was similar to this year's "summer", with unseasonal storms delaying the invasion, and then subsequently hampering it by destroying one of the seemingly miraculous Mulberry harbours. He also revealed yet another example of the Nazi's lead in technology by showing pictures of captured German remotely operated (wire guided) suitcase-sized track laying vehicles loaded with explosives.

On Tuesday April 2nd 2019 in Aston-Le-Walls' Village Hall NN11 6UF our Speaker was Roger Cragg, who discussed the development of transport in the West Midlands over the last 200 years, including canals, railways and roads. His talk was full of enlightening facts e.g. did you know why packhorse bridges had low parapets? That some trams were pulled by steam engines AND how Spaghetti Junction was designed for the minimum of motoring confusion? (It only looks complicated from above). AND what happened to the prediction in the Beeching era that we would now all be driving hovercars?


On the evening of 4th March 2019, in Byfield Village Hall's Meeting Room, David Morse told the story of the Warwickshire Home Guard. But it wasn't just a tale about "Dad's Army" in this area, it was how the Home Guard developed from the Local Defence Volunteers and how they actually became a respected fighting force. David brought along some of their weapons, including those made at home. He also provided images of and described some of the weird weapons they improvised because of a shortage of everything. Then there was the "Smith gun" made by Tri-ang, the tin toy company - but this was NO TOY, it could lob a six pound anti-tank shell 50 yards and penetrate 3" armour plate.


  In February '19. on Tuesday 5th, in Aston-Le-Walls Village Hall, Richard Woodcock discussed "The Cuban Revolution", & Fidel Castro's 1953 court defence 'History will absolve me'. Richard is a retired Inspector of Police from just over the border in Warwickshire and now spends his time fundraising for Mencap by cycling the world. In this guise he has visited 77 countries; Cuba was on his itinerary for 2015. Although he isn't politically minded he told us he had fallen in love with Cuba's simplicity, friendliness and old world charm, which stems directly from Castro's revolution. As we heard from our Scouts in our previous meeting, those with nothing can be happier than we who have everything. His illustrated talk was informative, especially about Fidel Castro, who was in fact a lawyer, and enlightening particularly about Che Guevara, a qualified doctor and surgeon; straightaway it put Cuba on several of our Members' "bucket list".

For the benefit of any youngsters reading this, the images are of Fidel & Che, not Richard.   

On Monday the 7th of January in Byfield's Village Hall (the BIG hall - NOT the Meeting Room (Lower Annexe)), Byfield Scouts told us all about their recent expedition to visit their counterparts in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya and their mini safari afterwards.

Bob Cubitt told a gathering of fourteen of us at our Tuesday October 2nd 2018 Branch meeting in Aston-le-Walls' Village Hall all about GP90. That included his and our Standard Bearer Chris's visit to the battlefields and war graves in Flanders and the Somme, as part of the second Great Pilgrimage to Ypres (GP90); the first was in 1929. There's a lot to relate and a special section of this Web site covers that - just click-on the links in this paragraph.

On Monday evening, 3rd September 2018, where this time we managed to muster an audience of nine Legionnaires, Tim Boddington spoke of China, where he had visited dozens of times in the past twenty-years. China 's Flag

China, so different from what you’ve heard, or expected in every sense. Its vast, more than two thousand miles east to west and over a thousand north to south, within whose boundaries live nearly two BILLION people, and counting. Oh yes, there is 21st century infrastructure, with 200mph trains, and ultra-modern cities, two hundred of which contain more than a million people each - but venture not far into the suburbs and you’ll find old China.

China’s philosophy puts family before country, and in “old China” you’ll see that in action. Village youth migrates to the cities, sometimes requiring visas (or bribes) to get from one province to the next. In the cities the factories abound, churning-out products on a global scale, for all the world to use; every year, at China’s New Year, usually in February, all those “villagers” flock back, for two short week’s leave. The attraction of the factories is work, mostly for less than one US$ an  hour to improve the otherwise subsistence life of their families, and for a bed and two hot meals a day. Back home many of those families cook over coal or charcoal fires, which adds to the permanent cloud of pollution hanging over China’s industrial east; anyone seen the 1982 film “Blade Runner”? The futureistic city scenes depicted there give you a good idea of life in China’s towns today.

The EU has recently approved the abolition of summer time; in China there are EIGHT time zones BUT the whole country works on one, and has done for years. In China you can’t judge the working day by the appearance of sun or moon.

And the food? Its nothing like you have tasted in “The Rice Bowl” or “Water Margin”. The Chinese eat anything, and everything of anything; they even breed snakes, and dogs for food but you need a little affluence to enjoy those delicacies. They also like bright lights in their restaurants, they want to see what they are eating.

You all use products made in China and that was why Tim frequented that country. Tim is an inventor, and sales engineer and the company for whom he worked has to compete; to compete, people producing quality goods for less than a dollar an hour are prized. You’ve all also heard of China’s phenomenal growth rate, outstripping all of us in the west. That growth has begun to benefit those “villagers”, many of whom now have a taste of our lifestyles and of course, want more. And the Hong Kong Chinese have tasted democracy, and also want more. All of which gives China’s leaders nightmares, because maintaining that growth keeps all those people happy, and them in power!

On Tuesday 7th August 2018 Graham Pattenden concluded his account (begun at one of our meetings some time back) of the outrageous life of Colonel Fred Barnaby - was he "the hardest man in England?" AND if so, why has he been forgotten? Fred died a soldier's death at Abu Klea in the Sudan. He is imortalised (although not directly named) as "the colonel" in one verse of Sir Henry Newbolt's poem, of which we are sure you are all aware...

"The sand of the desert is sodden red-

Red with the wreck of the square that broke

The Gatling's jammed and the colonel dead,

And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.

The river of death has brimmed its banks,

And England's far and Honour a name,

But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks-

"Play up! Play up! And play the game!"

Graham clarified that one of the reasons "the square" broke was a jamned machine gun, which was a Gardner, not a Gatling.

Although this was an "away from Byfield Tuesday" meeting, due to other halls in the area being pre-booked, this took place in Byfield Village Hall's Lower Annexe (now called The Meeting Room by the way).

On Monday 2nd July 2018, in Byfield Village Hall's Lower Annexe, our Bob Cubitt explained why we might be confused about commandos. When we think of the commandos, we think of the Royal Marines, but they weren't the first - not by a country mile.

   Cdo And Their Bikes  French Commandos Pratice Making An Opposed Landing At Achnacarry_  Landings At St Aubin -sur -Mer  Near Miss Commando Memorial In Scotland                   This was the story of the Army Commandos, from their founding in 1940 to their disbandment in 1945. From the northernmost islands of Norway to France, Italy, Yugoslavia, North Africa, Madagascar, Borneo and even China, the Army Commandos took the war to the enemy, who feared them so much that Hitler ordered that they be executed without trial if they were captured. The last image above is of the Memorial to the Commandos located at Spean Bridge near Fort William in Scotland, taken by one of our members recently. the Memorial overlooks the Commandos' training ground set-up in 1942.


On Monday 14th May 2018 in Byfield Village Hall's Lower Annexe, Steve Dimmer told us "Tales from the Trenches". Steve opend his presentation with images of troops going-off to war singing "Tipperary", and the sixteen of us assembled joined in with some gusto. Amongst other things, Steve is a professional storyteller with a sonorus voice that wrapped around the room and got everyone's attention. He didn't just speak about battles and bodies, Zepelins and the Imperial German Navy shelling civillians but of wonderous things experienced by many, including the ghost of Lord Kitchener inspecting the front-line and spurring the "men over the top" to St. George (or Joan of Arc, depending upon your nationality) leading a host of angels over the ruins of Mons. Steve's talk ended with a rendition of "Keep the Home Fires Burning", which triggered another bout of community singing.


On Monday evening, 5th March 2018, due to some serious illnesses amongst our usual ranks, not to mention the weather, we were down to eight Members at our monthly meeting. Because of that, this précis of our Speaker’s talk is amplified more than usual, to allow those unable to attend to get a taste of what they missed.

Karin Start, of Byfield, our Speaker for the evening is a Pharmacist at Northampton General; Karin gave us an insight into how parts of British overseas’ aid works. She is a member of the NHS’s Emergency Medical Team, whose volunteer staff are individually on a yearly two-month standby to go anywhere at the drop of a hat to provide medical relief for particularly needy situations. Karin’s presentation covered her time late last year with a Canadian medical team undertaking their yearly visit to remote villages in the southwest corner of Ghana’s Northern Region. Karin emphasised this wasn’t an emergency situation, which is what the EMT has been set-up to respond to but it was excellent training for that task.

Ghana FlagKarin and sixteen other colleagues from Britain added to the 65 Canadians making-up the team, the whole group consisting of nurses, ophthalmologists, doctors, dentists and clinicians. The objective was to treat those who otherwise would only have amateur health care, without their travelling for hours to one of Ghana’s medical centres that is. Even then, care would only be provided by Ghana’s version of the NHS if the patient had “paid their stamp” to that service. Although all ailments were treated, the focus of the mission was to mend hernias, especially in the young.

220px -Ghana _regions _named

Her flight out was uneventful and despite some apprehension, and no little stress, the team’s baggage, which included medical kit and medicines, the latter being under her particular care, was waved through customs and transferred to an internal flight from Accra that got them to Kumasi, just over half of their up-country journey. After that it was hours in open backed trucks over roads in similar condition to Northamptonshire’s highways for 140 miles to their final destination, the village of Carpenter. 

Carpenter is fortunate to have a remarkable resident, David Mensah, who by constant cajoling and appeals to higher authorities was the prime mover in getting this annual event organised. This gentleman’s story is extraordinary, an introdduction to which can be found on the following Web links:

David Mensah which of course encourages you to purchase a book about his life “Kwabena, an African Boy’s Journey of Faith”. You might also like to look at and Those two pages pretty much describe what Karen portrayed to us about her own impressions in and around Carpenter.

Things you will not find in those Web links are her experiences of local sanitation, which could be described as “primitive”, or maybe more accurately as “bucket & chuckit”, how the local ladies work desperately hard to improve their lot and how the local menfolk were virtually shamed into participating by citing the example of the humble ostrich; you WOULD be surprised at what the male ostrich does to keep his family together.

Carpenter is slightly more affluent than other villages around and about, it does have David as their Chief after all. It also has limited electric power, fish farming Tilapia (in concrete tanks, the nearest water supply being from the Black Volta river five miles away); Tilapia is a fresh water white fish similar to our Perch. Then there is peanut farming, shea pod gathering (with a European contract to supply shea butter), shiitake mushroom production and growing chiles, not to mention yams, yams, and more yams - the staple diet.

And then there was her trip home and an encounter with an evil looking machete…

Machetes are everywhere but their use isn’t limited to agriculture. There is still a belief in what we would call witchcraft thereabouts and indeed, David came from a family of machete wielding “official” executioners. The pity is that it wasn’t just wrong doers that suffered that fate but because of superstition, human sacrifice can still be made to honour the recently deceased. If you happen to be abroad after dark in the bush, or even back alleys in this region watch out, especially if there is a funeral planned for tomorrow because you might find yourself part of that.

The whole team were scheduled to depart together but were booked on two different flights from Kumasi airfield to Accra to connect with their separate international flights. Unfortunately the first flight “ran off the runway” in Accra putting the aircraft out of action for a day or three. The British team therefore elected to complete their inland journey by bus.

The bus trip was many hours long and meant travelling through the night, with the bus driver completely ignoring potholes and “sleeping policemen”, which resulted in one of his tyres being utterly ruined. SO, there they were, in the middle of the African bush in pitch darkness; it had clouded over, so there wasn’t even the benefit of non-light polluted starlight. The driver promptly vanished into the night. You can imagine they were very wary of the tales of machete gangs looking for victims and picture the scene when the driver returned with a guy flourishing a particularly large example of that tool. He promptly went to work on the damaged wheel and hacked the tyre away. The driver and he then replaced that with a spare and they all then went their separate ways, the EMT making their connection next day; another example of one’s primeval fears backfiring, colouring a particularly benign situation.

Machette _kos .pg 


Well folks, as I was indisposed and nobody's told me otherwise, I have to make an assumption here (and you know what "they" say about those) that on the 6th February Rev. Stevie spoke to us aabout her time as a wandering engineer in the aerospace industry before becoming a peripatetic Vicar! Now I know what a mushroom feels like.


Last winter Alan Carroll told stories of the Antarctic, this winter, to be specific on Monday 8th January 2018 in Byfield Village Hall's Lower AnnexeKen Gillbryan spoke about the Arctic! Ken's subject was the failed Franklin expedition to find the northwest passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans between Canada and the North Pole. On a dank and dreary day, even though it highlighted the heroism and steadfastness of the Victorian explorer, not to mention the men who supported them, it was a tale with no happy ending that reflected the season outside.

  Northwest -passage -map

In the Griffin Inn, on Tuesday evening 5th December 2017, at our monthly Branch meeting we numbered a Baker's Dozen, of whom five told interesting tales to an appreciative audience. Stories ranged from accident investigation in the early days of the M1 that included airborne vans and inverted cars through mercy flights in old aircraft from NZ to Nepal. There was a Union uprising in France to deal with in Franglaise and the avoidance of certain types of hospitality in Ghana. To top all this off was an inadvertent invasion of Libya by a couple of bewildered tourists, narrowly avoiding some nastiness involving AK47's and a larger caliber cannon. We ended with a magical night in the middle of the Med. If you weren't there, you missed a good evening.


At our October meeting in the Royal Oak in Eydon, on Tuesday the 3rd...

Moving Colchester GarrisonMark Spindles has a very unusual job - he's a MOVER of the Mega-Pickford's kind - he organises the relocation of COMPLETE ESTABLISHMENTS, such as hospitals, schools AND Army camps; he'll told us all about that.


 TA Sign  TA RAR Cap BadgeOn the 4th September '17 back in Byfield, Alan Bailey kept us entertained with some amusing (and some tragic) tales about his time in the Territorial Army between 1959 and 1980 (with a break whilst he spent two years in Brazil starting a new factory, which he told us about a couple of years or so ago - maybe time for a repeat of that Alan?). Anyway, although he spent most of his TA time with the Northamptonshire Regiment, after returning from Brazil he ended up as a Captain, 2 I/C of HQ Company the 7th Royal Anglian Regiment.


SA Flag FlyingIf you fancied a trip around South Africa this August on its first day, in the Royal Oak in Eydon Russ Mallace gave a talk, illustrated with slides and videoclips on his experiences late last year.

Lion Zulu Youths Dancing Elephant From Johannesburg to Capetown via Pretoria, the Kruger National Park, Swaziland, Durban and the Garden Route from Port Elizabeth to the Cape, he showed us some stunning scenes. Those, punctuated with a potted history of the country made for an informative and entertaining evening.


At our Monday 3rd July 2017 meeting in Byfield Village Hall's Lower Annexe, local author (and Blogger) Bob Cubitt told us what inspired him to write various books on a range of subjects. Bob served for 23 years in the RAF and then turned to writing professionally; his publications cover several genres, with his heroes defeating terrorism and corruption in the present and others bounty hunting across the galaxy in the future. Not content with that he does non-fiction stuff too - it was a fascinating evening.

Writing (1) Charity Thieves  Warriors Job The Magi                                                                                                

On Thursday May 4th 2017 we were back at The Royal Oak in Eydon. There we were joined by ex Grenadier Guardsman turned artist Dougie Adams. Dougie was particularly relevant to us as he is a Northamptonshire lad who served ten years in the Army, including three tours of Afghanistan. He has returned from the "War on Terror" to the tranquility and peace of watercolours, which have helped him relieve the extreme stresses experienced during his service. Now transferring his allegience to oils, in the Royal Oak's bar his first oil painting of that bar can be viewed. Dougie is now helping to support himself by his art and is looking for commissisons locally. If anyone would like to take advantage of that, please contact us and we'll put you in touch.Trooping The ColourDougie and the girls and boys of RBL's Byfield and District Branch spent a pleasant hour before our official monthly meeting chewing the fat over his experiences Trooping the Colour three times and his life before and in the British Army. We look forward to seeing him again. Our thanks to Dougie for the image (he didn't say which one was he).

Edited Into Africa - Via Brazil


April 5th '17, a Wednesday, saw us back in Byfield Village Hall's Lower Annexe, where our Member Terry Hoyle told Part One of his tale of how he went into Africa, via Brazil (a very circuitous route, as can be seen in the graphic on the right) during which he dropped into Cape Town (for a liquid lunch) and got mugged by two luscious bikini-clad lovelies on the Copacabana. Not only that but when he finally arrived in Angola (without a visa) he had his collar felt by a uniformed seemingly sixteen year old sporting a Kalashnikov!


On Tuesday 7th March 2017 we met in the Byfield Bowls Club (behind the Village Hall) where Peter Stratton of RBL Towcester told "Tales from the Footplate", all about the early days of railways in South Northants, and the men who worked on them.

'© National Railway Museum And SSPL'Driver on the footplate of a locomotive in 1956 © National Railway Museum and SSPL


Maybe aptly for midwindter, at our 6th February 2017 Meeting, in Byfield our own intrepid explorer, Alan Carroll who is also an Historic Advisor to the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT), spoke about his time in Antarctica, with FIDS the foreunner to the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) many, many years ago during its early days; the image below depicts now rather than then!

Antarctica Annotated

FIDS was the Falklands Islands Dependencies Survey, which became BAS in 1962. Since 1944, the UK has had 15 Bases in the Antarctic, some are now demolished but some are preserved 'as is'. Alan's main concern is the first (1944) base at Port Lockroy, that's the one marked on Graham Land in the image above, although the original base is a little further north. Alan sometimes refers to that as, "the finest collection of allotment sheds in the Antarctic". That's now been restored as a living museum, which he tells us these days averages around 18,000 visitors per austral (southern hemisphere) summer.

Alan's credentials are impeccable, as can be deduced from the images below...

Alan Carroll With HM QEII      Alan Carroll With Princess Royal      Alan Carroll 54 South  I'm sure HM won't mind our publishing this photo on an RBL Web site, as she's our Patron. The Princess Royal is the Patron of the UKAHT, to which we owe that image. Alan has said he's happy to be seen with both ladies and a piece of kit for measuring the height of the ionosphere (I think), which he has restored.


On the 5th December 2016 Garth Barnard 

Chipping Warden Airfield From 2k Ft

described his Air Crash Investigations, particularly regarding local Air Training Unit aerodromes active in the second World War, the most notorious of which was our nearest one at Chipping Warden. It's location under a hilside and in a foggy hollow no doubt contributed to its reputation. Topically, HS2 will soon traverse that old airfield site, which won't improve it's status hereabouts.

Garth also covered the Sunderland flying boat crash into Eagle's Rock in Scotland that killed Prince George, the Duke of Kent in 1942, and the B24 "Liberator" crash offshore Gibraltar in 1943 that killed General Sikorsky: conspiracy theories were woven into both those incidents like spaghetti, all of which Garth has been able to debunk. You can see Garth's work for TV's History Channel on YouTube; e.g. WWII Air Crash Detectives - Duke of York Ref: SO1E06.


On the evening of 7th November 2016, Marg Baldwin (see below),

Roatan 84-194

expeditionary extraordinaire, diving instructor, sailor and all round outward bound lady spoke about how she gets camping gear, diving kit, clothes and girly things into a single 20kg rucksack of hold baggage for flights “up-country” and what she does with it all when she gets there!

Marg's illustrated talk included slides of a Bounty Bar desert island off NE Madagascar and spoke about everyone’s desire to conserve the wildlife and particularly the reefs in the area, and how she was helping the locals do that. Marg's presentation was punctuated by her pulling kit out of her rucksack piece by piece, including a sleeping bag, it's liner, mosquito net, blow-up sleeping mat, washing kit, clothes, fins, mask & snorkel etc. etc. And underwear! All that kept our Members awake, especially when they were challenged to get it all packed back in. The session was rounded off by one of our oldest Members, who had been stationed in east Africa, making a comment in Swahili to which Marg responded in that language; the two then had an animated conversation, which only they could understand!


At our 5th September 2016 meeting Andy Tennet gave a talk entitled ‘My father’s Journey through WW2’. Andy's talk encompassed all of his father's service during WWII, from his attestation through to his discharge in 1946. He initially served in France and only just escaped the German invasion of that country. Then he was assigned to SHAEF in the build up to D-Day, after which he traveled through Europe and finally into Berlin. He was on Monty's staff as one man in a huge machine that accompanied him across Europe.


Our SPEAKER on 6th June 2016 was Sandy Pattenden, who told us about the break-up of Yugoslavia. Sandy served for twenty years in the RAF's Intelligence Branch. She was actively involved in the wars between the emerging Balkan countries, which followed the break-up of Yugoslavia; see map below... 

Tito 's Yugoslavia (1)

On the evening of 9th May 2016 Matt Hawkin from Aston le Walls, now a Captain with British Airways spoke about his RAF career and the fighters he flew. Unfortunately your editor was absent and as yet, he has no other details of what was imparted to record here.

Our SPEAKER on the 4th April was Graham Pattenden, who described some of the adventures of the Victorian Soldier and traveller, Colonel Fred Burnaby, leaving us slavering for more, as he finished his talk before those adventures had ended; Part Two will be on another day watch this space! 

Col . Fred Burnaby

The painting above is of Frederick Gustavos Burnaby by Tissot in 1870 and hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in London.

Our SPEAKER on 7th March was Edith Jarvis who told us about Northamptonshire's WW1 hero Lt. William Rhodes-Moorhouse VC who was the first Royal Flying Corps VC. He flew a Royal Aircraft Factory BE2b - see image below...

Royal -aircraft -factory -be 2b

Our SPEAKER on 1st February 2016 was David Adams, who gave a talk illustrated by slides about Borough Hill, Daventry. As the Web link will show, the hill accommodated an Iron Age fort, a Roman Villa and the BBC's long and subsequently short-wave radio transmitters and antennas plus the wartime radionavigation aid Gee; David tod us about all of that. The site has one mast left broadcasting BBC digital radio, the remainder of the hilltop area is now a "Country Park" for all to enjoy.

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