This an' That
A page for photos, items and notices that will be of interest to members.

This page is now open to include photos of Group or Branch events or any event where members have taken part. I would like to have some photos of these happenings to consider for the website, we are short of up-to-date material. One request though, please don't send pictures of the backs of peoples heads, if you are taking a photo of people sat round a table, ask them all to face the camera, it goes for making a more interesting picture.
When sending photos give me the details of -    
who, when, where and why.
Thank you.

13th February 2016


Several thousand of the ceramic Remembrance Poppies have come home to Derby to create the 'Weeping Window' display at the
Silk Mill
, Silk Mill Lane, Derby. 9th June to 23rd July.
If you were not able to visit Derby to see the 'Weeping Window' poppies, the next display will be at Senedd, Cardiff Bay.
8th August till 24th September

Some of the London & SE Group who, with Cedric Barker, visited the National Army Museum in London -Tuesday 16th May 2017.
Cedric Barker, the SVA Treasurer, donated a cheque for £250 on behalf of the SVA to the museum's John Palser.

Liz Woolley.  Evelyn Norton.  Derek Jackson.

Evelyn Norton and Derek Jackson having a word with Monty Murrell
The SVA Welcome Desk for the Spring Reunion at the Ramada Hotel, Telford.  April 2017.
Liz Woolley (Membership Secretary's Secretary.)  Evelyn Norton (Fellowship Officer.) Derek Jackson (UK Reunions.)
Monty Murrell  (London & SE Group.)

 60th anniversary of the plane crash disaster in Malta,  February 18th 2016.

The Suez Veterans' Association held a Memorial Service at the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas, Staffordshire on 18th February 2016.

An Avro York aircraft on charter to the Royal Air Force from Scottish Airways was carrying back to the UK 44 airmen who had completed their tour of duty in the Suez Canal Zone and one soldier who was coming home on compassionate grounds.  After taking-off from a refuelling stop at RAF Luqa smoke was seen coming from one of the engines and from a height of 1,000 feet it went into a dive and crashed near Zurrieg exploding on impact. There were no survivors.  All the bodies, (except one of the five civilian crew members), are buried in the Military Cemetery at Imtarfa, Malta.

The following is a brief report of the service and eight photos taken at the event.

People for the Memorial Service started arriving at the National Memorial Arboretum roundabout 09.30 – 10.00am  and many initially congregated in the restaurant renewing old acquaintances and exchanging their latest news.  The sun was shining and the wind had dropped, it looked like the start of a good day.

Fifty white acrylic crosses complete with a poppy had been placed beneath the palm trees before the ceremony, each one engraved ‘18.02.1956. Malta’, plus the name and rank of the serviceman who was killed in the tragedy.  The five civilian air crew were also remembered and have their own named poppy under one of the palm trees.

Apart from a couple of minor hiccups, which were not the fault of Brian Watts who was in charge of the organising, things at the Remembrance event went off pretty well.  It was disappointing that not as many people attended as was expected, or hoped for, maybe this was because of the early morning weather forecast but even so just over 100 people took part.  One of the hiccups was the Piper didn’t arrive so some small changes had to be made to the proposed entry to the Millennium Chapel and the start of the service.  We later learned the Piper had suffered a heart attack the previous evening and was in hospital at the time he should have been at the event.  We now wish him well for a speedy recovery.  The other hiccup was in the timing.  The plan was to have the Exhortation, the Last Post and the minutes silence at 12.20, which was the time of the crash.  When all were seated in the chapel Ron Watt, Chairman of the Suez Veterans' Association welcomed every one and introduced Jennifer, Lady Gretton JP, Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire who said a few words, thanking Brian for the invitation to attend which was an honour for her, the importance of remembering and holding remembrance services. The Vicar, Rev. Tony Wood, then said a few words about the service and a couple of prayers.  By then it was not yet 12.20 so a short wait had to be held until the time and Richard Woolley then gave the Exhortation, Jeff Malone played the Last Post before the period of silence and then Reveille.  Shelby Murrell  read the poem ‘Who are these men’ before the Vicar ended this part of the service.

The six Standard Bearers, under the direction of Monty Murrell the Parade Marshal, and the 30 or so who were willing and able to take part in the parade fell in behind the Standard Bearers at the end of Giffard Avenue ready to march to the SVA Memorial Plot.  Time was given at the plot to enable the walkers and invalid scooters to catch up with the parade and others who were already there.   The Vicar started this part of the service with a prayer and then six wreath layers laid their wreaths at the base of the Cross of Remembrance.  The Vicar blessed the wreaths and handed over to Tony Spray who gave a reading from the Bible : The Wisdom of Solomon 3: 1-5, 9.  Two more prayers from Rev. Tony Wood and then a repeat of the Act of  Remembrance, the Exhortation, Last Post, a minutes silence and Reveille. This service ended with the Lords Prayer, the National Anthem and the Vicar giving his blessing.  Monty Murrell then dismissed the parade.

Before leaving the area many of those present hung around talking, taking photos and looking how thing are with the plot. – It looks good.  Some wandered off to visit other Memorials, new ones are being dedicated frequently.  Others retired to the restaurant or pavilion for a drink or a meal, or both plus more talking.

Thank you to the people who organised the ceremony and to those who attended.

Report added: 21 February 2016

Visitors arriving in the Millennium Chapel in readyness for the service.

Crosses in place on the plot taken after the ceremony

The plaque explaining about the crash and the reason for the crosses now added to the Memorial


Brian Watts - Lady Gretton JP - Tony Spray          

Some marched to the Memorial Plot, - Others decided to take the buggy

Stainless steel information notices on the plot.   Map of the Zone and list of Units who served.

Have you any reports or photos of events that involved  the SVA or SVA members?
Send them to me but please give - who, why, 
where and when.

A different kind of uniformity.
Whenever the topic of uniforms arises, it is the widely held belief that the uniform issued to R.A.F. other ranks was of a better quality than that issued to Army other ranks.  But that assumption is unfortunately incorrect.  Apart from the colour, both R.A.F. and Army uniforms were made from that same old rough serge we all loved to hate.
On induction, Army recruits were issued with two sets of khaki battledress with one set being kept for best wear. Similarly, R.A.F. recruits were issued with one set of battledress, (working blue,) and one set of No 1 Dress, (best blue,) for station parades and walking out etc.  The No 1 Dress differed from Army 'best' only in that it was a belted tunic with brass buttons, and it was this difference that probably gave the impression that it was made of much better quality than the serge it actually was.  Together with the greatcoat, there were plenty of buttons to polish. Also probably fuelling this belief was that airmen who took part in the Coronation Parade were issued with a No 1 Dress made of worsted, but this was an exception.
The new worsted No 1 dress did eventually become available to other airmen but only to Senior NCOs and later to Junior NCOs.  Eventually, the availability was extended and issued as a replacement with repayment from the clothing allowance.  The new uniform cost £7.3s.1d with service caps 18s. 5d, purchased mainly by those on Regular engagement not National Servicemen who had neither the spare money nor the length of service to warrant the outlay.
In Egypt of course, the wearing of Khaki Drill and with fewer formal parades, there was little occasion for wearing any No 1 Dress.  One day before leaving the Zone, I happened to tear my 'working blue' trousers when jumping off the tail gate of the Squadron's pick-up truck.  A visit to the camp's Greek tailor enabled me to flannel my way through my final weeks to demob without having to obtain a new pair.  Fine, but have you ever tried feeling comfortable and looking nonchalant while trying to conceal your rear-end repair as you pass by the Guardroom?

This article was written by John Mitchell. ex 216 Squadron, R.A.F. Fayid, for the 'FLAG' newsletter of  the
London and South East SVA Group.

(p.s. from Richard Woolley.  I was one of those airmen lining the route for the Coronation Parade, it was classed as our intake flight's passing-out parade.  We were promised a worsted uniform, which were were measured for, and a Coronation medal. We received neither. RW.)

I have been asked a few times what the difference is between the King's and Queen's issue of the Royal Air Force cap badge.
The difference is in the shape of the crown which can be seen in these two images.
raf cap badge K
King's issue.
raf cap badge Q
Queen's issue.

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