The church was packed out with representatives from the Parachute School at Brize Norton, the Parachute Regiment, the Parachute Regiment Association, 36 Squadron Association, the Canopy Club, the Oxford Branch of the Aircrew Association, relatives and friends of those who lost their lives in the accident, and local parishioners.
Our Association was represented by George Williams, Tony Coward, John Hallet, Mike Neal, Dave Whiting and Brian Wright. The Association Standard was paraded. A wreath was laid on behalf of the Association.
The service was conducted by the new lady vicar, the Rev. Sandra Miller, and followed the pattern of previous services. As this was the 40th Anniversary Service, it was thought appropriate for a couple of more personal thoughts to be aired. A poem composed by a member of the Canopy Club was read by its author and I gave a few personal thoughts that seemed appropriate for the occasion (copied below).
After the service, everyone was invited back to the Manor House in Toot Baldon, the home of one of the churchwardens, Dr. Hewitt, for refreshments.
Hope you are well. Marian and I will see you at Stratford just for the AGM and dinner on the Saturday. We have already booked for this with the hotel.
Best wishes, Tony C
As you probably know, the Hastings aircraft involved in this tragic accident that we are remembering today, was operated by a crew from 36 Squadron from RAF Colerne.
Now, 36 Squadron has a long history, but in particular from World War 2 through to the 1970s, it has operated Wellington, Neptune, Hastings and Hercules aircraft. Throughout this time there have been losses due to enemy action and to accidents. There have been happy times and there have been sad times. All of those have been worth remembering or commemmorating in some way or other, but the accident that happened on 6th July 1965 was particularly tragic due to the large loss of life involving RAF and Army personnel, on a flight that had set out as a normal routine sortie.
I was a navigator on 36 Sqn and left the Squadron a few months after the accident happened. I had flown with John Akin, the captain of the aircraft, and knew Roy Scott, the navigator. No doubt I had flown with the other crew members lost, so was particularly devastated at what had happened. Many times I had flown on similar flights from RAF Abingdon to drop parachutists on Weston-on-the-Green, so knew exactly that they were about to do. Some of my colleagues from the Hastings era of 36 Sqn are here today and are members of the 36 Squadron Association, like myself. All would have carried out similar flights during their time on the Squadron and we all grieve at the loss of our friends and the RAF and Army parachutists through a terrible accident caused by a technical malfunction of the aircraft. With the best will in the world, the crew were faced with a situation that was beyond anything that they could do anything about. It was this that was so tragic.
36 Squadron Association, and no doubt all the organisations represented here today, are very appreciative of the care and concern shown by the residents of the Baldons over all these years, towards the relatives and friends of those who lost their lives. As we approach the fortieth anniversary of the accident on 6th July, our thanks go out to those concerned with the organisation of the annual commemmoration services here at Toot Baldon, and long may they continue. The opportunity to remember loved ones and friends in such tranquil surroundings can only help us all.,
Notice Received from Tony Coward:
A reminder that the annual Hastings crash memorial service takes place on Sunday, 3 July 2005 at 10.30 am at St. Lawrence's Church, Toot Baldon.
Secretary Martyn Webster has agreed to look after the arrangements, such as liaising with the organisers and getting the Squadron Association standard there.
The arrangements will be similar to those in previous years. We are hoping that as many members as possible will be present, along with wives or guests. Would you please pass the details to anyone else who may be interested in attending.
If you can come, please get in touch with Tony on 01491 872718.
NEPTUNE MEMORIAL WEEKEND - SECRETARY'S REPORTClick Here
NEWSLETTERThe regular newsletters will now be published here on the web site, in addition to the printed copies sent to members. Here is the first online edition, which includes a report on the 2004 Reunion: Click Here
Visit to Parachute Training School, RAF Brize Norton, Friday 28th May, 2004.
A dozen-strong group of Association members, accompanied by your Web Site Editor, made a trip to RAF Brize Norton to visit the RAF Parachute Training School on Friday 28th May 2004. The PTS is responsible for training parachutists from all HM Forces and we were given an extensive tour of the school's facilities.
The picture below shows us in the Main Hangar, being treated to a demonstration of modern parachuting techniques:
New Link (below).
I've received details of a new web site that's been designed to put ex-service personnel in touch with one another. It's called "Forces Reunited" and the link is: Forces Reunited - Find your old friends Fast and Free!
Here's a link to a web site that details the crash of Neptune WX545 on the Mull of Kintyre - thanks to Ted Mason for bringing it to my attention!)Click here for the link!
Des and Ted - Neptune Fliers Reunited
Pending a complete review of this site, I am including an Editor's Page, mainly for updates. To go to this page, click on: The Editor's Page
New info. on the Hastings image (19/10).
Just put a new link on the site (see foot of page) to the 24 Squadron Association's new web site. (18/10)
We just got some background gen. concerning the newspaper cutting in the "India" pages. Worth a read!
Another Neptune Picture
Sent in by Des Sherriff - further down this page.
North African Images
From Steve and Malcolm Roby, photos from Algeria, 1943. See "36 in Algeria" below (updated 13.10.00).
Another Gem from Ted Mason
Ted pulls another pic. from his memory book - see the item "We wonder where they are now??" below.
The Squadron Association
For information about the 36 Squadron Association, please contact Martyn Webster at:
Many requests for information come by way of the site's Guest Book. Perhaps you may know of someone who can help with an enquiry. Please read the Guest Book regularly. Thanks!
For queries regarding the web site content, plus items for inclusion on the site, please contact Kevin Webster at (new email address from 11/06):
36 Squadron Association Web Site Pages
36 in Algeria, 1943 (Updated 13.10.00)
We wonder where they are now?? (New 24.09.00)
The original Squadron Badge (New 16.09.00)
36 in India - 1942(Updated 06.04.05)
The Singapore Link - 36 and 100 Squadrons (editor's submission)(New 1.09.00)
A Brief History of No 36 Squadron, RAF
36 Squadron started life in World War 1, flying fighters in defence of UK airspace. Although not easily compared with the fighting over the Western Front, the squadron nevertheless provided a vital barrier against the Kaiser's ambitions. Most notably, it was responsible for bringing down a Zeppelin L34 in 1916. At the conclusion of hostilities, the squadron was disbanded.
On October 1st, 1928, No 36 Squadron was re-formed, by taking over the responsibilities and aircraft of the Coastal Defence Torpedo Flight. Flying Hawker Horsleys and one Blackburn Dart, 36 Squadron became the first fully operational Royal Air Force torpedo bomber squadron.
Having set the standards for torpedo bombing operations, 36 transferred to Singapore in 1930, first flying surveys and fleet exercises with the Royal Navy. It was detached to Rangoon in Burma to fly bombing sorties against rebels at Tharawaddy. Several of the Horsleys were lost on operations and in 1935 they were replaced by the Vickers Vildebeest.
On the outbreak of the Second World War, 36 was little affected at first, but all was to change when Japan entered the war. When the Emperor's forces attacked Malaya, 36 Squadron in their ageing Vildebeests flew sortie after sortie against the Japanese naval forces, losing almost all its aircraft in the process. A few managed to regroup in Java, where they fought with outstanding gallantry to the last remaining aircraft, before being taken into captivity.
The squadron was re-formed at Tanjor, converting to Wellington VIIIs in December, 1942. It was employed in anti-submarine operations, and went back to war with a will. In addition to its Far Eastern exploits, the squadron was sent to the Mediterranean, where it was involved in at least three U-boat sinkings.
Returning to England just before the war ended, 36 Squadron carried out further anti-submarine sorties in the Channel, utilising their extensive experience gained in operating from detached bases around the Med. Following a short period renumbered as 248 Squadron at Thorney Island, No 36 Squadron disbanded in October 1947.
The naval connections were revived, as was the squadron itself, in 1953. This time they were given the Lockheed Neptune MR1 as their mounts and carried out maritime reconnaisance along the Norwegian coast. When the Avro Shackletons came into service with Coastal Command in 1957, 36 was again disbanded, but only for a very short time.
(Neptune picture courtesy of Ted Mason - thanks Ted! - probably Crown Copyright but I don't think HM will sue us for using it)
...and another Neptune picture. This one has been sent in by Des Sherriff and depicts WX545 which sadly crashed on the Mull of Kintyre. We'd appreciate any personal memories of this accident for a further more detailed feature later (Ed.)
A change of role from offensive operations to the vital transport role took place in 1958, when the squadron re-formed at Colerne in Wiltshire, operating the Handley-Page Hastings. The following picture is one that I snapped at Duxford at the recent 100 Squadron Association Reunion. The always knowledgeable Ted Mason informs me that it is an ex-24 Squadron aircraft. Please note the new link to 24 at the end of this page.
The squadron remained at Colerne for the next nine years, flying the piston-engined transport on worldwide operations, until the next generation of military freighters came into the RAF's inventory.
In August 1967, 36 Squadron became the first Transport Command squadron to take delivery of the new Lockheed Hercules C130. With it came a move of home to RAF Lyneham.
Sadly, the Hercules was to be the last of 36's mounts. After eight years of sterling service to the nation, flying people and freight to the four corners of the Earth, defence spending cuts meant yet another disbandment parade for the squadron, and on 3rd November 1975, the proud banner was laid up. We wonder when the Eagle will take to the skies once more!
This short history of No. 36 Squadron needs your input! We would be grateful for any stories, photographs, reminiscences and suchlike that will add weight to the history of the unit. As the eagle on our squadron crest reminds us, the noble bird began life as a chick. The Association's web site has now long hatched out of the egg. Please help us grow!
Other RAF and Aviation Links
The Royal Air Force Home Page - official Ministry of Defence site.
The Royal Air Forces Association - Many useful ex-service links here.
"Air of Authority" - a recommended site for anyone interested in the organisational history of the RAF and its predecessors.
Neptune.org - A very comprehensive American web site about the Lockheed P2V Neptune.
This Military Aviation Webring site is owned by M.F. & J.K. Webster