Secretary's Report on the Neptune Memorial Reunion 16 Oct 2004
The Topcliffe Wing had three Squadrons: 203 Sqn, 210 Sqn, and 36 Sqn. There were former members of all three Squadrons present. We enjoyed a great weekend.
Some of the members had taken a short holiday, as the travel distances had been so great. Tony Gill, and Bill Lovelock both former members of 203 had done most of the organisational work. Ian Kirk (who had served on 36) was the original Neptune flyer who started work on the memorial.
Ian had driven down from Inverness for the weekend, and told me how he had turned a red sand stone lintel into the memorial stone. It has now been on the crash site on the Island of Mull for some years. It's not too far from the more recent crash site of the Chinook, which has been vandalised.
The Angel Inn in Topcliffe village was the venue for the Dinner. It was first class. Food and service were great, accommodation was reasonably priced but limited in numbers. Car parking was no problem. In the past other venues have not been the same success. The meeting in Harrogate is mentioned only darkly. There is no AGM for this group, and no membership as such. The whole weekend was conducted with goodwill and good comradeship.
After the speeches took place, I asked the members present if a move of our 36 Sqn AGM to earlier in the year would be a good idea. The members present thought it would. Tony Gill suggested that the two events might be combined. The snag with this idea is that on numbers present, the two groups might total 100. This might overstretch the Angel, and would mean using many different hotels for accommodation.
The village church in Topcliffe is much larger than I expected, and is currently under refurbishment of the great tower and huge organ. With our Association Standard draped across the front of the altar, the vicar, ably assisted by her curate, conducted a moving memorial service.
The congregation was asked to face the carved memorial on the south facing wall of the nave. This shows the date of the crash, and the names of the crew. The wreath bearing the crest of the Aircrew Assocation was brought by Bill Lovelock, and dedicated at the service.
The military section of the graveyard is some distance from the church. We walked through the village in the rain in sombre mood. The rain had stopped by the time we reached the graves of the crew. Here, the curate conducted a short remembrance service and Ian Kirk laid the wreath on his friend's grave. In weak sunshine we left the graveyard, some of us thinking: "There but for the grace of God go I"MFW