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Winter 2021 656 SQUADRON ASSOCIATION
Your Committee At the AGM the committee was elected as follows: Your committee is therefore: President - Pier Lewis Chairperson - Bob Thorpe
email: [email protected] Mob:
Secretary - Terry Betchley
email: [email protected]
Treasurer - George McKie Membership secretary - Maurice Haynes Assistant Treasurer and Auditor - Derek Walker Webmaster - Mike Kane Social Media Strategist - Jen Parker Chinthe Editor - Dave Williams
email: [email protected] Mob: 07942880886
The committee have agreed to remain in post until 2022 but as always we need more members to get involved. Send Bob your email address so he can update you with news and information on a regular basis plus send you the Chinthe Newsletter, which is complimentary and in addition to the Chinthe Journal which will still be sent to you twice a year.
656 Squadron Association
Winter Edition 2021
issue 16 1 Winter 2021
Field Marshal Harding inspecting 1914 Flt – 1955
OC 656 Sqn Report
Minutes of AGM
RBL Falklands 40 event
Future Events – Expression of interest form
Cenotaph Parade 2021
Scout AH1 – Help needed
Auster Crash – Thailand 1962
28 Commonwealth Brigade (continued)
656 Sqn Newsletter 1964
Poems by David Moore
Obituary – Lt.Col. D.W.A. Swan.
issue 16 2 Winter 2021
issue 16 3 Winter 2021 Field Marshal Harding, inspecting the troops 1914 Flight, Seremban. 1955
Photo by Brian Spink
OC 656 Autumn Report 2021 Maj Phil Parkes Readers of the Chinthe will no doubt be assured that the shackles of COVID 19 and the ongoing problems that continue to raise their ugly head across the world have not precluded or even managed to slow down the tempo of 656. The cyclical nature of life on the squadron continues, with another rotation through the regular commitments of exercises and maintaining the extremely high readiness (EHR) attack capability of the 1st Aviation Brigade. In my last contribution to ‘The Chinthe’ I provided an update on our deployment to Norway for Exercise CLOCKWORK. The exercise was highly successful and ensured our extreme cold weather capability keep Figure 1- on display at 2021 G8 Summit progressing. On our recovery from the High North in February; 1 Platoon, the integral REME Aviation Engineers, furiously set about getting the fleet ready for our embarkation aboard HMS Prince of Wales. The unenviable task of fitting the emergency flotation system to an aircraft determined to sink to the bottom of the sea carries a large engineering burden. Needless to say, the engineers delivered, providing 3 aircraft for what would be a momentous occasion as the first embarked squadron across all three Services on board the Royal Navy’s newest, and largest member of the fleet. Onboard for 3 weeks during her sea trials off the South West coast, the squadron set about qualifying and requalifying aircrew in deck procedures; focussing on deck landing training and learning the ways of the Navy. With a relatively inexperienced Ships Company, the time on board was invaluable for both services in determining and refining operating procedures to allow a slick and efficient system to get aircraft airborne in order to conduct potential littoral strikes in the future. We were also lucky enough to be joined by the carrier’s first visiting F35, providing insight into the combined potency and flexibility of the Carrier Strike Group. Towards the end of the summer, once again the Squadron has proved itself as capable of deploying on contingency operations with a major exercise across the entire length and breadth of the UK. The whole Squadron Group was tested and absolutely delivered in a realistic and challenging scenario working alongside some of our Figure 2 - Hunting at night partners from the wider Defence community.
issue 16 4 Winter 2021
Finally, to complete the trilogy of sea, snow and sand; approximately half of the squadron deployed to Oman on Ex PINION OMAN. Predominantly an aircrew training exercise that delivers dust landings, mountain flying and HELLFIRE ranges; it also proved a great opportunity for less experienced members of signals, ground support flight and engineers to hone their skills in what proved to be quite an austere environment with temperatures regularly exceeding 40 deg. The exercise based from RAFO Massanah Airfield in the north of the country, was unfortunately struck by the second tropical storm in Oman’s history. Naturally this led to elaborate stories and bragging rights from those that were confined to their rooms for 3 days during the downpours and 100 mile per hour winds. Ex PINION OMAN led to a monumental day for the most recent pilots to arrive on 656 Sqn as this would be their opportunity fire their first live HELLFIRE missile at targets in the desert. Accompanied by an obligatory rush of adrenalin, the laser guided, anti-armour precision missiles shot off the rails on their way to striking predesignated targets in the vast Omani desert. With the entire squadron now qualified to fly in the desert and to fire the live weapons system – 656 aircrew are now ready and equipped to operate in hot, mountainous, arctic and maritime operations. With virtually no time for acclimatisation – engineers, signallers, aircrew alongside the most recent batch of cold weather survival courses are currently being plunged back into the minus 20 deg temperatures of Norway. These personnel are providing an advanced party to prepare the aircraft for flying in January when the Sqn main arrives again for another (and potentially the Sqn’s last) Ex CLOCKWORK As we head into our Christmas leave, I would like to wish the entire Association a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and I hope to be able to host you all at an event later in 2022 if a suitable time can be found. Maj Phil Parkes OC 656 Sqn
issue 16 5 Winter 2021
issue 16 6 Winter 2021
Chair’s Report Despite the pandemic this year seems to have flown by and here we are at the end of November looking forward to 2022. This year has seen our members get together for the first time in 2 years at two events; first the Reunion/AGM at Middle Wallop in September and secondly at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday. You will see reports on both those events elsewhere in this Chinthe. We have now started to look forward to 2022 and the committee is planning four events. 1.
We would like to hold a Northern Reunion, probably in York with side trips to the Yorkshire Aviation Museum and the Thirsk Birds of Prey Centre run and owned by our very own Colin Badgery. We are looking at this at the end of May/early June.
Secondly the Royal British Legion is holding a 40th Anniversary event at the National Arboretum on 14th June. This is open to all veterans of the Falklands War, civilians who were involved and bereaved families. The event is limited to 10,000 attendees so we will need to get an allocation as soon as the RBL opens the registration for the event.
We then hope, subject to the exigencies of the Service, to hold the Annual Reunion and AGM in early September at Wattisham with the Squadron.
Finally, we will, of course, have a contingent as usual at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday, which in 2022 falls on 13th November.
In order that we can continue with planning these events would you kindly complete the Expression of Interest form elsewhere in this Chinthe. This does not commit you to attending but will give us an idea of numbers and whether an event will be viable. Please post or email this form to Terry ([email protected]) or me ([email protected]). Our addresses are elsewhere in this Chinthe. Apart from these plans, the Association is in good shape financially and thanks are due to George McKie for looking after our accounts so well. I also want to thank Terry, as Secretary, for keeping me on the straight and narrow and organising the Reunion. Debs Higgs has been a great help as the Membership Secretary and Mike Kane has done a fabulous job in keeping our website up to date. Thanks are due to them and all members of the Committee. On another subject, we cannot survive as a long-term Association without new (and dare I say younger) members. Please, therefore, if you are in touch with any friends and colleagues from 656 Squadron, please try to persuade them to join. Membership is, as you know, only £10 a year and its easy to join through the website. Finally, I just want to wish everyone a very Happy Christmas and may 2022 be fantastic for all of you. I look forward to seeing you at one or more of our events next year.
Bob Thorpe issue 16 7 Winter 2021
Secretary Report As the year draws to a close, we are all slowly and cautiously coming out of “lockdown” after what has been a very trying time for us all and my deepest sympathies go to all those who may have been affected, either directly or indirectly by the pandemic. On a brighter note, the Association were able to hold our AGM/Reunion and Cenotaph Parade this year. The Museum of Army Flying hosted our visit and allowed us to hold our AGM and we had spare time walking around the excellent museum. The Officers Mess at Middle Wallop done us proud with excellent hospitality and a wonderful meal for the reunion. Our thanks go to all for making us welcome and providing an excellent service. A modest contingent from the Association was provided for the annual Cenotaph Parade and as usual yours truly seemed to be the only one in step, a point noted by the rest of the contingent. After the parade some retired to L’ulivo Restaurant in Charing Cross for a nice lunch served by the lovely and efficient Dana! The committee now look forward to planning some events for 2022 details of which are further in the Journal. I do hope that as many as possible will supports us in our efforts. Although the planning is in a very early stage, please let us know if you would like to attend so that we can do a bit more forward planning. We are always looking for ideas for events and indeed we are keen to take part in any that you may think appropriate so please let me know. Finally, may I take this opportunity to wish all of you and your families a very safe, healthy and happy Christmas and New Year. THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT DURING 2021
issue 16 8 Winter 2021
656 Squadron Association Treasurer’s Report for the AGM on 4 September 2021 A Treasurer’s Report and a set of audited accounts for the year ended 31 December 2020 was published in the Spring 2021 edition of the The Chinthe. There was an excess of Income over Expenditure of £1681.67 At the 2019 AGM it was agreed that subscriptions should be raised from £7.50 to £10.00 per annum. This was implemented from 1 January 2021. I am grateful to those members who changed their Standing Orders and are now paying the new £10.00 annual subscriptions. Some members have yet to change their standing orders and are still paying at the old rate. At the previous AGM on 10 November 2020 the balance of funds was £6265.25 The balance of funds held, as at 4 Aug 21, are as follows:
Cheques awaiting banking: £406.00 Current Account:
Further Reunion 2021 income is pending at this time and there will of course be bills to be paid for the cost of the reunion, but the overall financial position of the Association is an improvement on the previous financial year 2020. Therefore, the accounts continue to be in good order and there are sufficient funds to meet current and future needs of the Association. George McKie Treasurer
issue 16 9 Winter 2021
MINUTES OF THE 656 SQUADRON ASSOCIATION ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING 4TH SEPTEMBER 2021 HELD AT THE ARMY FLYING MUSEUM Those attending: Piers Lewis Bob Thorpe George McKie David Williams Deborah Higgs Terry Betchley
President Chairman Treasurer Chinthe Editor Membership Secretary General Secretary
Apologies were received from: Mike Crichton-Kane
There were 45 members attending. The Chairman addressed all attending and gave a briefing on the day and evenings events. Item 1 - Minutes of the previous AGM held by Zoom Application on 10th November 2020 The minutes of the previous AGM held via Zoom Application and attended by 12 members were read and accepted as a true account. Proposed: Seconded:
Neil Maher Maurice Haynes
Item 2 - Treasurers Report The Treasurer gave a brief outline of the accounts at the time and these had been audited by Derek Walker in January 2021. The accounts were accepted. Proposed: Seconded:
Bill Twist Derek Walker
issue 16 10 Winter 2021
Item 3 – Election of Committee The following members were re-elected and or elected to the Committee: President: Chairman: Treasurer: Deputy Treasurer: Chinthe Editor: Webmaster: Membership Secretary: General Secretary: Squadron Liaison:
Piers Lewis Bob Thorpe George McKie Derek Walker David Williams Mike Crichton-Kane Maurice Haynes Terry Betchley Dan Hunt
Deborah Higgs had decided to stand down as the membership secretary and the standing committee and members attending extended their thanks to her assistance during the period of her tenure. Proposed: Terry Burns Seconded: Dick Kalinski Item 4 – Date and venue for the AGM in 2022 It was proposed that if possible the next AGM and reunion would take place at Wattisham Airfield, Suffolk in September 2022. Proposed: Derek Walker Seconded: Barry Challinor There being no further business the meeting closed at 1514 Hrs Terry M Betchley MBE ` General Secretary 656 Squadron Association
Bob Thorpe` Chairman 656 Squadron Association
13th September 2021
issue 16 11 Winter 2021
ROYAL BRITISH LEGION FALKLANDS 40 EVENT 14th JUNE 2022 Many of you may be aware that next year the Royal British Legion will be planning events to mark the 40th Anniversary of the end Falklands War. The Squadron played an integral part of the campaign and we sadly lost Ssgt Chris Griffin and Lcpl Simon Cockton during the conflict. Ten thousand veterans, civilians and bereaved families will be invited to attend the event at the National Arboretum on Tuesday 14th June to mark the 40 years since the end of the conflict. The Falklands war started on 2ⁿd April 1982 and was the first military action since the Second World War that utilized all elements of the Armed Forces. The conflict lasted 74 days, during which seven ships were lost to enemy action, nine aircraft were shot down and 255 British personnel lost their lives. Their names are all inscribed on the Armed Forces Memorial at the Arboretum. Regimental Associations and groups will be approached in the New Year with further details and there are a few more details on the British Legion Website at: https://britishlegion.org.uk/det-involved/remembrance/remebrance-events/falklands I am hoping to get a good strong Association Contingent together to attend and I am awaiting further details from the Royal British Legion. As the event is likely to be limited to Ten thousand. Please could you contact me to let me know if you would be interesting in attending by either contacting me via email at [email protected] or via phone on 07796671462. Alternatively please complete the Expression of Interest Form on next year’s events. Once I have further details about the criteria for attending, I will pass them onto those wishing to attend. Priority at this stage will go to those members of the Association who were serving with the Squadron and deployed to the South Atlantic. GET THOSE NAMES TO ME SOONEST Terry Betchley MBE Secretary.
issue 16 12 Winter 2021
EXPRESSION OF INTEREST FORM The Association plans to hold or get involved in four events in 2022. Before getting into the detailed planning, we would request you complete this form as an ‘Expression of Interest’ in attending. There will be no commitment from your side until we have firmed up the plans and the costs. Many thanks indeed Bob Thorpe, Chair
My name is____________________________________ My email is____________________________________
The four events are: 1.
Northern Reunion in late May/early June in a hotel in York with a visit to the Yorkshire Aviation Museum and the Thirsk Birds of Prey Centre (owned and run by our own Colin Badgery). I would like to attend YES/NO. I would plan to be accompanied by _______ guests
40th Anniversary of Operation Corporate in the South Atlantic organised by the Royal British Legion at the National Arboretum on 14th June 2022. This is open to veterans of the Falklands War and Bereaved Families and will be limited to 10,000. I would like to attend YES/NO.
Annual Reunion and AGM. We hope to hold the reunion in 2022 at the Squadron in Wattisham in early September subject to the exigencies of the Service. I would like to attend YES/NO. I would plan to be accompanied by _______ guests
Annual Remembrance Parade at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday which in 2022 falls on Sunday 13th November.
I would like to attend YES/NO. I would plan to be accompanied by _______ guest Please return this form by email or post to Terry Betchley by mid-January 2022. Just to confirm completing this form does not commit you to attending. Any commitment from you will only be asked for closer to each event.
issue 16 13 Winter 2021
2021 Reunion and AGM
On Saturday 4th September, over 40 members and their guests assembled at the Apache Café at the Army Flying Museum for our first get together for over 2 years. It was absolutely fantastic to see so many of our colleagues and friends after such a difficult 18 months. At 14:00 we all walked down to the Army Flying Memorial where a short Service of Remembrance was led by the Army Air Corps Centre Station Padre, Rev Stuart Richards. It was poignant moment to stand in the Memorial to so many young men and women who have died in the service of Army flying. A wreath was laid on behalf of the Association by Derek Walker. Once the service was over, we proceeded to the conference room in the Army Flying Museum for the AGM. The minutes of the AGM are detailed elsewhere in the Chinthe but we completed the formalities in record time of just over 15 minutes. We sad to lose Debs Higgs as our membership secretary but totally understand her reasons for standing down. Thank you, Debs, for helping us over the last year. After the meeting ended, we were delighted that Maurice Haynes offered his services as Membership Secretary and Maurice plans to take on the role early in the New Year.
issue 16 14 Winter 2021
Members and their guests were then free to take time to roam around the Museum, which is in fine fettle after a complete revamp following a lottery grant. If you haven’t yet been to the Museum, I urge you to do so. It tells the story of army flying in a compelling and fascinating way and, of course, our Squadron, is a major player in the history. The evening was taken up with dinner in the Middle Wallop Officers’ Mess. The staff did us proud with great food and perfect service. The company, naturally, was convivial and the bar after dinner did a brisk trade. The bar certainly brought back memories as it had changed little from that time many years ago when I went through my pilot’s course. It was truly wonderful day after such a long absence due to the pandemic.
issue 16 15 Winter 2021
CENOTAPH PARADE 2021 656 SQUADRON ASSOCIATION At long last we were able to march at the Cenotaph Parade. After a couple of false starts due to Covid 19 we were able to front a modest contingent for the parade. 17 brave souls from the Association made the day and the weather managed to hold off. This years event was the first time the new electronic ticketing system was used which made sense due to Covid and also saved me a lot of angst ensuring the tickets, which are normally sent to me for re-distribution, got sent straight to peoples email addresses. Regrettably this was not necessarily a good idea at the actual event, and the using of a barcode reader did not help causing delays in getting formed up. In the end common sense prevailed and everyone was able to get in. After the usual standing around for hours we were off! Everyone marching in their own step (It happens every year) and it was over in a flash. A few enjoyed a meal at the restaurant afterwards and a special thanks to them for serving us so well. I have attached some pictures for your delight and trust I can call upon all your support for 2022. Talking of which, I am assuming that the 2022 event will take place on 13th November 2022 and to this end I attached a booking form to this article. I appreciate it is early for this but as I do not expect to hear from the Royal British Legion until around next May it might be prudent to get the ball rolling now. Please complete or send me the details via email so that I can start planning. Thank you to everyone for supporting the Association and let’s hope we can do it all again next year. Stay safe
issue 16 16 Winter 2021
issue 16 17 Winter 2021
656 Squadron Association “Almost ready for the off”
A Dapper looking Geoffrey Simpson Ready for the off
issue 16 18 Winter 2021
SCOUT AH1 – XV139 HELP NEEDED Dear Members We were recently contacted by Mr Nigel Porembski of the Doncaster Museum with regard to help in the restoration to static display of Scout XV139, a former 656 Squadron machine. As you can see by the attached picture of her current state this will be a mammoth task. Nigel is asking for help in any shape or form. Either with information or any parts that people may be able to supply or any contacts that people my have.
issue 16 19 Winter 2021
The aircraft has current been moved inside of the Doncaster museum ready for restoration. Nigel needs help in any shape or form regarding the restoration and his contact details are as follows:
Mr Nigel Porembski [email protected]
issue 16 20 Winter 2021
It will be a great shame if this prestigious aircraft with such a history is scrapped so please help if you can.
Ajax Bay —--------------------------------------o0o–––––––––––––––––––––––––––For Skeeter lovers
issue 16 21 Winter 2021
The crash of an Army Air Corps Auster aircraft in the jungles of Thailand. Ben Cartwright This story concerns Captain John Tedman, aged 28, of the East Anglian Regiment, attached to 2 Flight Army Air Corps as a pilot of Auster aircraft, based at Ipoh, in Malaya, (Now Malaysia). Tuesday 13th March 1962 Captain Tedman took off from Ipoh for a flight over the Malaya – Thailand border, searching for signs of Communist terrorists, who were attacking places in Malaya. His aircraft crashed into the jungle, 200 yards (180 metres) over the border into Thailand, after being caught in a downdraft amongst jungle covered mountains. One of the wings of the aircraft was ripped off when it hit the tops of the trees; the Auster then fell 150 feet (50 Metres) into a group of Bamboo trees near the ground, which broke the fall and probably saved the pilot’s life. Captain Tedman, who was injured, managed to crawl out of the Auster as petrol in the fuel tanks caught fire. The fire destroyed the fabric covering of the Auster, leaving just the metal frame and the metal covered tailplane. There was a Survival Pack in the Auster, which contained food and drink and a booklet on Jungle Survival, but these were all destroyed by the fire. After two hours, his base at Ipoh realised that he was overdue on his return and raised the alarm. An immediate search was organised and an RAF Valetta and a Sycamore helicopter and another Army Auster aircraft were tasked to search the area where he should have been flying. The RAF Valetta aircraft discovered his position, at 5.38 pm, when the aircrew saw the broken wing stuck in the treetops, which had bright orange “Dayglo” panels on the wings. The Valetta dropped a survival pack, by parachute, to the pilot, but it landed 25 yards (20 metres) away from him. Having a very painful leg, which he thought could be broken, he did not move to the supplies.
As part of his flying equipment, the pilot carried a small beacon device, called SARAH (Search And Rescue And Homing), which, in the case of a crash, could send out a radio signal that could be picked up by Search aircraft and used to fly to the position of the crash site.
issue 16 22 Winter 2021
The Valetta sent a message to the Sycamore helicopter giving details of the position of the wing. The helicopter flew to the area and at 6.00 pm picked up a blip on their SARAH radio system, which identified his exact location. Although the helicopter crew could see him on the jungle floor, they were unable to reach him because of the height of the trees. The trees were about 150 feet (50 metres) high and the rescue winch cable was only 75 feet (25 metres) long. The homing device was also a two-way radio, but the battery can only supply power for about 20 hours and this is severely reduced if the voice radio is used. Captain Tedman was able to speak to the aircraft and tell them that he was “Fit and well”. This message was passed to his Commanding Officer (his boss), back in Ipoh. Using the two-way radio had shortened the battery life. The rescue aircraft were able to pass the information back to the base and call for more support. Nothing else could be done that day, as darkness in this area happens just after 6 o’clock in the evening, until 6 o’clock in the morning, throughout the year. As this was happening during the monsoon season, there were a lot of rainstorms around, so Captain Tedman crawled under the undamaged metal tailplane, for shelter from the rain. He had managed to find a damaged tin from the burned-out Survival pack in the aircraft wreck, which he used to catch and drink rainwater. It was also very hot, so he needed plenty of water. Wednesday 14th March 1962 Rescue parties were flown by a relay of three helicopters, which could only carry three passengers each, to the crash site. They could not reach him from the helicopters as the trees were much too high for the helicopter. A group of Special Air Service (SAS) soldiers, who were on exercise in Malaya and local police had to be lowered into a jungle clearing about 1000 yards (one kilometre) from the crash site. They were tasked to clear an area, to allow more helicopters to land and to cut a track to the crash site. The soldiers used power saws and explosives to bring down the huge trees, which were then cut to make a platform for helicopters to land upon. One of the helicopters also flew above Captain Tedman. By this time his radio was not working by and he was unable to speak to the aircrew. He was, however, able to signal to the crew that he had problems with his leg. As well as the helicopters, another Valetta dropped more supplies, including food, blankets and books by parachute, but he was still unable to move to where they landed. There was also a Canberra bomber, which flew in the area and acted as a radio relay to pass messages over longer distances. Thursday 15th March A radio transmitter was dropped from a helicopter to Captain Tedman but it was also out of his reach. During the afternoon he heard sounds of the soldiers who were cutting a path through the jungle and realising that they would arrive soon, he decided to crawl to the supplies that had been
issue 16 23 Winter 2021
dropped. He opened up a tin of fresh water and then a tin of pineapples and ate them very quickly, which later gave him terrible stomach ache. Half an hour later, the soldiers finally reached him. It had taken twenty hours of work to cut the path to reach him. A medical Sergeant was able to give first aid to his injuries, which included burns from the fire and to make him comfortable. The soldiers used the radio to ask for a folding stretcher, which was dropped successfully, along with beer and cigarettes. Two further parachute loads of food were dropped at the crash site, but one was stuck high up in the treetops.
Friday 16th March An RAF Doctor was now able to reach the crash site. After examining Captain Tedman and discussing his condition by radio to their base camp, the Doctor diagnosed that he had dislocated his hip and not broken his leg, as was originally feared. Using the stretcher, Captain Tedman was carried, by the rescue party, to where the landing site had been cleared. Up to now all the people had been lowered by winch from helicopters onto the site, as a landing could not take place there until an experienced helicopter pilot had checked the area. Saturday 17th March A helicopter pilot was lowered into the cleared landing site, but he decided that, the area was not suitable for a helicopter landing, because of the high trees surrounding it and the slope of the mountains. These were very early days of helicopter flying and they could not make vertical landings into such a site. Another possible landing site was found, after a search by a helicopter crew, three miles from the first one. A new track had to be cut through the jungle, but with more people this was much quicker. Sunday 18th March Arriving at the new location, a new helicopter landing site then had to be prepared, to allow a helicopter to land. Monday 19th March After the site was prepared, it was inspected and found to be suitable and was approved by the helicopter pilot on the ground, to allow a helicopter to land. A special chair, described as a cage was built to carry Captain Tedman and allow him to be lifted into the back of the helicopter. He was flown to a hospital, in Taiping, which is about 50 miles away. He arrived at Taiping in the
issue 16 24 Winter 2021
evening and was carried a short distance to an ambulance and then moved to a military hospital. An operation was then carried out to repair his dislocated hip. Tuesday 20 March Recovering the next day, Captain Tedman was interviewed in hospital by a reporter of the Straits Times newspaper and was happy to tell his story of survival. He remained in the hospital for several days, where his wife, who was shortly due to give birth to twins, visited him, before they both returned home to Ipoh, to make a complete recovery.
Newspaper clippings The story of Captain Tedman’s rescue was told in newspapers in Malaya and in the United Kingdom, where people eagerly followed the story. Newspaper clippings, which were collected and pasted into his unit’s scrapbook, tell of Captain Tedman’s rescue, day by day. However, sometimes the story became a bit confused and the newspapers would tell slightly different stories. The Unit scrapbook is now held in the Army Flying Museum and provided some of the information used here. An example of the confusion is a figure of 22 men in the rescue party. This was a confusion of the soldiers being members of 22 Special Air Service Regiment and not the actual number of men involved. Another example was that some newspapers reported that the rescue party parachuted into the jungle, which is extremely dangerous, when it was only the supplies that were dropped by parachute. ps. This article was initially written as an overall story for kids who are doing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) studies (10-14 YO). They attend the Army Flying Museum, at Middle Wallop, to carry out the project. They are given a number of sources of information and have to work out the whole story sequence. The sources were photos, UK & Malayan newspaper articles, technical info, etc. They also investigate the problems of accurate parachute supply dropping
issue 16 25 Winter 2021
28 (Commonwealth) Brigade, continued Maj.(retd) A. Markham AFC Further detachments to Kuching followed, and things started to hot up. Indonesian incursions became more frequent, and they looked for sympathisers in Sarawak. Bomb incidents in Kuching market were becoming more frequent, and for a while it was placed out of bounds. One of the insurgents was captured at Lundu in first Division, by Gurkhas. A scout was dispatched to collect him for interrogation at brigade HQ. Sergeant “Doc” Waghorn was given the task and departed Kuching at 4:00 PM. he elected to return after dark, which would normally be simple, flying at 1500 ft, kuching would normally come into site some 5 miles out, but as we were coming up to the rainy season, and the locals would cut and burn the secondary growth of jungle to let the potash fertilise their cultivated plots. The air was full of particles which reduced visibility drastically. Doc apparently took off with the prisoner and a Gurkha escort, but never arrived. Searches were conducted for days, but nothing was found, until months later a main rotor head snubber was handed in by a fisherman at Lundu, who had snagged his net on something, in an area at the river mouth where it had never snagged before. Another incursion occurred at the 21 mile bazaar police station on the Semangang road. 4RTR send ferret scout cars in response, but the road had been oiled, and they all crashed. I was detailed to fly the Brigadier and CO of the Police Field Force to the area where the PFF had pinned the insurgents down. We saw the PFF patrol in fire positions and landed close by for a briefing update. When we were ready to get airborne again, the Brigadier wanted a closer look, and asked me to draw fire. As I got airborne into wind, due to weight of fuel and pax, I passed near the area of concern. All hell broke loose with a wall of tracer ahead of me. I twisted and turned violently until we broke away without being hit and returned to Kuching so that we could call out the reserve Company of Gurkhas and lead the RAF Whirlwind airlift to the area in order to saturate it, and cut off any retreat to the border. A later estimate of the Kalashnikov fire we had attracted was some 5 - 600 rounds worth of empty cases. Follow up recces continued for several days with directing patrols onto likely escape routes. In the border area we often had warnings over the infantry net that ack ack was engaging us, and they kindly offered their field gun to engage the position. We often accepted the shoot and brought down fire to neutralise, we would also pop up into the puffy cumulus cloud to put the ack ack off their aim and drop back through another hole. We didn't feel too threatened as they only had solid shot, without tracer, and we always completed our recces. We were always on call for the Brigadier and on one occasion he wanted to visit 10GR, who were involved in a Claret Operation to hit on Indonesian base camps. We first went for the Brigadier to be briefed by the CO of 10GR, on then to dead ground near the border, where there was room for the CO’s Sioux and my Scout. Closing down we climbed a Ridge which marked the border. Leopard crawling to the summit we watched the tactical withdrawal after the operation and saw corporal Limbahada Limbu covering his patrol as he rescued injured members and got them to a HLS for Whirlwind pickup to medical attention. He was later awarded the VC for this action and I had been fortunate to witness it. Things began to quieten down in my third year on ops, and I was tasked to take three Members of Parliament on a fact finding visit to forward companies in 1 and 2 divisions of Sarawak. It was boring from my point of view. Fly 10 minutes Wait 30 minutes at each company location, then on to the next. In transit along the border I observed a recognition panel being waved in an HLS. I wing waggled an acknowledgement and having dropped the MP’s at their final briefing
issue 16 26 Winter 2021
before going back to brigade HQ and lunch. I told the MPs someone was in trouble and I was going to investigate. One of the MPs confirmed he had seen the panel as well. Making a low level approach I found a soldier, picked him up and found that he was Australian SAS. I took him to his unit HQ and was asked to take a fighting patrol back to the HLS. I stripped the aircraft to save weight, removing doors, seats etc. and got airborne with five SAS armed to the teeth. It transpired that a four man patrol held hands whilst crossing a river at night, but the strong current broke their chain and only one got back to the bank. Having dropped them almost at the river, I returned for the MP’s. I had to offer them a choice, wait whilst I collected the doors and seats or, travel as troops sat on the floor. They were in immaculate linen suits but chose the latter, I hotfooted it to the Brigade HLS, where I knew they would be met by the Brigade Major. I did not wish to explain our lateness to him and kept rotors turning as the MP’s departed. I exited double quick and waited for an interview, but all remained quiet. Some weeks later and 22 SAS were arriving to take over from the Aussies. We carried out numerous recces for them and I was briefed for one at 6:00 AM. I went to bed early in readiness but was woken by an armed soldier who just told me to get up and follow him. A vehicle was running outside, and we set off in silence. Thinking the briefing may have been brought forward this seemed normal, but on arrival at SAS HQ, there was a party in full swing and I was to join it. I explained that I couldn't but two aussies known to me took me to a marquee and told me I had a bed space, towel, shaving kit etc. The penny dropped, for the next three days we visited every company of RAR before being returned to Kuching camp. It was a great fun but I expected to face the music the following day. I rose early and was at the flight office by 0700 hours. No one. I waited until the OC arrived at 0800 hours, and he just said, “You have an air test later and then you can take the day off”. “Phew”. How lucky can you get? More to follow A.M.
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656 LIGHT AIRCRAFT SQUADRON (Volans et Videns) C.O.:
Lt.-Col. R. M. BEGBIE. T.D., A.A.C.
7 Recce Flight :
Capt. J. L. DAWSON, A.A.C.
11 Liaison Flight :
Capt. J. ELSTON A.A.C.
14 Liaison Flight :
Major A. J, FOY. Lan. R.
16 Reece Flight :
Capt. B. L. G. KENNY, Q.R.I.H.
Lt. Aircraft Squadron Workshops :
Capt. R. A. WESTON, R.E.M.E.
Having reported at some length in the last edition of the Journal on the training advantages and benefits we hoped to achieve by concentrating the Squadron at Kluang everything suddenly changed. First of all the Sulu sea pirates became a dangerous menace to the inhabitants of the East Coast at Borneo and in October/November, 1962, 14 Flight deployed a Beaver in support of a joint Service anti-piracy operation some 1,000 miles from Flight H.Q. So with a Yo Ho Ho! and a bottle of Naafi rum, Capt. (Blackbeard) Duthoit gave chase to the pirates, who, mounting twin outboard motors of considerable horsepower on their craft could show a remarkably clean pair of heels when challenged. This detachment proved invaluable as it gave 14 Flight two months of excellent training over ground which was to prove more significant later. It also exercised Squadron Workshops and Stores Section on maintenance over long distances. In December, 1962, the Brunei revolt broke out and events happened fast. We were fortunate in having the 14 Flight detachment more or less on the spot (at least in the same country) and in a very short time the anti-pirate aircraft switched roles to become an anti-rebel aircraft and did excellent and timely work in the opening stages of the revolt. Meanwhile furious activity was rife at Kluang. All the tedious air portability exercises paid off, and Flights adjusted themselves to operate on light scales. 14 Flight moved first to back up their existing detachment. The Beavers flew direct over an uncomfortably large stretch of shark infested sea. Their Austers moved by R.A.F. transport. Most things worked like a charm and the U.E.O. and his loading/lashing teams earned their pay. Little sleep and little food was had by anyone during these initial stages. On arrival in Brunei the Flight Commander dashed out of his Beaver and smartly reported himself to the Brigade Commander (good Middle Wallop teaching!) and was, uncharitably engaged by a rebel machine-gunner from a roof top while he was in mid salute - it is not known whether O.C. Tactics Wing has an answer to that one! 7 Flight was then ordered to deploy with one Section of Austers. There was no R.A.F. transport available to take the aircraft so rather than be left behind the pilots demonstrated the flexibility of air power contained in the Auster Mk 9 by loading them to the maximum with f u e l and making the long sea crossing. This was a calculated risk but it will be appreciated how narrow the margin was when it is realised that with a 5 knot headwind the aircraft would not have made it. Both Flights were very active and new a vast number of recce hours by night and day (the 4 inch recce flare is used a great deal out here and an introduction to its use might be considered for inclusion in the Wallop training syllabus). Not every hour was spent in recce
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and the evacuation of European civilians was a task given to the Beavers on occasions. Capt. Carey was seen to land after one such sortie and 4 nuns in white habits disembarked-he would not agree to our proposal that we should put stained glass windows in the Beaver!
The situation stabilised somewhat in Brunei and 7 Flight was withdrawn but no sooner had this been done when Sarawak became active. This time it was 11 Flight's turn and they despatched a section (their only one as they were at 1/2 flight strength) to cover a vast and lonely area-Sarawak. The Borneo territory has to be seen to be really understood. The topography is formidable and by comparison even the worst Malayan territory is easy. There arc no roads up country, rivers are the sole means of communication except for aircraft which can operate to existing strips. Mountains tower up and the weather is treacherous. There are no really accurate maps. However despite this, the Flight pilots soon became familiar with their new environment and their support is much in demand and well appreciated. And so we have continued for over a year to provide light aircraft support. We were pleased to receive reinforcements in the form of a Section from 651 Squadron in October-it seemed odd that we had lo apply in November for their return tickets, which made some of the three-year men suck their teeth. As we go to press, 7. 11 and 16 flights are deployed on operations. with 14 Flight resting and retraining at Kluang; where possible a system of reliefs is operated allowing a maximum of three months on operations and then R. & R. in Malaya. The problems inherent in a fairly constant turn-round of Flights, personnel, aircraft and stores over large distances including a water obstacle have given one or two of the stay behinds grey hairs. All second line work has been carried out at Kluang using R.N. carriers and R.A.F. transport. These pilots who have crossed the round down can now be distinguished by their light brown suede shoes, hitherto, worn only by 65I Squadron, or so we are led to believe. 1
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Though the Squadron is not too statistically minded, as the Trappers found recently, the following figures may be of interest: a. Total hours flown in the past year b. Total hours flown on operations in the past year c. Number of major and minor inspections completed in the past year
8141.00 3843.2S 23
It can be seen from these figures that the Left Out Of Battle part of the Squadron has not been entirely idle. After the admin. inspection we entered into the spirit of the training season. An artillery practice camp, followed by 7 Flight disappearing into the blue for an unknown destination: they returned some weeks later clutching bundles of Thai silk and had to be sent to Borneo again to save some money. The next bout of serious marching took place when the Squadron celebrated A.A.C. Day. On Sunday, 1st September, the Squadron held a No. 3 Dress Parade service in the Garrison Church. This was preceded by fairly standard entertainment in all messes, which included a Squadron Dance.
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Soon afterwards a " New Look " Junior Ranks Club was officially opened. The 2 i/c cut the ribbon and in a moment of largesse proclaimed free beer. N.A.A.F.l. paid. Since then the club has been a reasonable centre for the junior ranks and their f amilies. During the year the Squadron was visited by many people, and we were pleased to see both General Weston and Brigadier Mead amongst them. Unfortunately when the Brigadier arrived it rained (Malayan style) and a tight programme was spoiled. Some people say we were lucky. In the sporting world the Squadron has done its best. The soccer side were leaders in the Garrison League. The cricket XI were beaten in the final of the Divisional minor unit competition,. The Flights, workshops and S.H.Q. have competed for the shooting cup, swimming cup, and football cup. Our thanks are due to the band of brothers who organised our teams and competitions in spite of all odds. The New Year of course brings its problems. The wind of change will shortly see how Scoutmaster and Beaver Owl get on together in this part of the world. No doubt next year's copy will tell all.
HONOURS AND AWARDS The following members of 14 Flight were mentioned in despatches for their work in Brunei: Capt. W. P. DUTHOIT, Staffs. W.O. II R. MEATON, A.A.C. W.O. 11 (A.Q.M.S.) T. EDGECOCK, R.E.M.E.
We were twenty-one in sixty-three Twenty-one in sixty-three We now have the key of the door To enter into sixty-four The wind of change is bringing the Scout The Dragmaster, bless it, is now out But we've seen it all before. And while we are breaking into verse The Squadron is going from bad to worse So said someone the other day Who now alas is on his way. Acknowledgements to the Regimental Office AAC Journal 1964, 656 Sqn. newsletter
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POEMS BY DAVID MOORE The following poems by Mr David Moore have been sent to me to share with you all. David was a former member of the Squadron during the 1980’s and is the son of Don Moore who is a member of the Association. David was inspired to write these whilst spending a holiday in Scotland earlier in the year: Men of Stone, Lochinver 1 July 2021 There's a man somewhere, everywhere Cast in stone Of many a colour
They leave a hole At the table Where once they'd sit
He stands alone And calls A Roll of Honour
For those they left Their past is gone Lost forever
For those who left To serve To do their bit
But the memories Of the loved and lost Are forgotten. never
The Silent Man, Burwardsley, England May 2021 When the world faces it's darkest hour And all around is fear
Does naught but stand idly by Spends time looking wistfully to the sky
When the siren call to arms Falls upon the deafest ear
Then the world will turn it's back on humanity It's suffering and pain
The silence of the quietest man He who has most to gain Who speaks softly with quiet nature? And who appears to be, mostly sane
And the sun will set upon our loss, the truth A crimson flow, lost beauty, innocence and youth
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New Members Since the last edition of the Chinthe we have had the following new members joining our Association.
Andrew Blenkins, who served in the Squadron at Netheravon 1984-87
Adam Roberts who is currently serving the Squadron at Wattisham
Paul Griffin, the son of Chris Griffin, a Gazelle pilot, who was tragically killed during the Falklands War
David Cartwright, REME, who served with the Squadron 1984-1985 from 70 Aircraft Workshop attached to the Squadron in the Falklands Islands.
Welcome, Gentlemen to our unique Association.
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Since the Spring 2021 of the Chinthe Journal, we were saddened to learn of the passing of Lt Col David William Augustus Swan died peacefully at his home in Bournemouth on 18 Aug 21 (13 Dec 35 – 18 Aug 21). David commissioned into the Royal Artillery from RMAS in 1954 and served variously with 29 Regt RA, 68 Regt RA and 18 Regt RA before qualifying as an Army pilot on APC 158 in 1963, flying the Chipmunk, Auster Mk 9 and the Beaver. He transferred to the Army Air Corps in 1965 and converted to rotary in 1966. His early aviation service embraced the formative years of our Corps with appointments in 8 Flt AAC in Kenya, 653 Sqn AAC in Aden, 6 Flt AAC in Netheravon and command of 669 Sqn AAC in Wildenwrath.
David then served as the OC of 656 Sqn AAC in 1975 to 1977 in Hong Kong, when it was a Lt Col command. His travels also took him to the United States, where he served as the British Liaison Officer with US AAvn from 81 to 84. David also held a number of Staff posts during his career including that of SO1 Standards at the Army Aviation Centre. His final appointment before retiring from service in 1990 was with the JDSC at Warminster.
REST IN PEACE, SIR. YOUR DUTY IS DONE
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Note from Editor Dear Members Producing this latest edition, has again given me great satisfaction. However, contributions of your experiences during your time with the squadron, or even post service experiences of interest, have slowed down. Remember the “I learnt about flying/engineering from that.” tales. The survival of this publication is dependant on your contributions Help to keep the Chinthe alive and interesting. Keep safe And wishing you all a Happy New Year in 2022 David Williams Editor Mob:
—–––––––––––––––––––––––––oOo–––––––––––––––––––––––––– Food for thought TACT IS THE ABILITY TO TELL SOMEONE TO GO TO HELL IN SUCH A WAY THAT THEY LOOK FORWARD TO THE TRIP Winston Churchill
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