71 Entry Reunion 2002
The 71st entry celebrated their 50 years from commencement of training with a 4-day reunion.
The venue chosen was The Olde Barn Hotel Marston situated just north of Grantham, Lincolnshire, and 1 mile from the A1.
Once again the reunion organiser had a full programme planned to prevent ‘idle hands’ getting into trouble.
Day 1/ Check in from 15.00hrs, bar open for weary travellers to refresh themselves
before having a leisurely evening meal. It should be noted that the ‘in house’ (very
well equipped) fitness room, saunas and swimming pool were available for our use.
End of first late night.
Day 2/ Two coaches were laid on for day excursions. First coach destinations were to the historic town of Stamford with an afternoon visit to Burley House culminating in afternoon tea is before returning to the hotel.
Coach number two set off for a guided tour of the Ops Room Museum at RAF Digby. We were all kept amused and informed by W/O Curry who is still serving and acts as the historian and curator of the museum. Any one who has been to the Fighter Control Bunker at Uxbridge would be able to visualise Digby. Don’t let this put you off going, the “potted” history presented by W/O Curry of RAF Digby, previously known as RAF Scopwick, is fascinating.
Moving onto the home of ‘Just Jane’ Lancaster NX611 at what was RAF East Kirby now the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre we were in for a real treat. Lunch was served in the NAAFI but the icing on the cake had to be the ‘firing up’ of all four engines on ‘Just Jane’ followed by a short taxi run. Previous to starting the engines the 71st Entry was welcomed over the P.A. system. A very nice touch and just as well because the pilot at the controls for the day was an ex Brat Jacko Jackson of the 40th Entry.
The hanger is laid out in excellent fashion and full of memorabilia, including a display of ‘ground equipment’ static and motorised. The control tower has been authentically restored with tapes playing conversation of a bomber crew returning from a sortie.
It was especially nice to see Fred, one of the owners of NX611, on the pan during the taxing showing as much enthusiasm as those witnessing it for the first time.
Day 3/ The Sunday saw us on a coach trip to Lincoln giving us some four hours to explore this historic city followed by a tour of the Lincolnshire Wolds culminating in afternoon tea at The Tree House in theWoods and a visit to the Dam Busters Memorial at Woodhall Spa.
Day 4/ This day was free for DIY up to our 50th Gala Dinner to be held in the private function area of the ‘Newton Suite’ that evening.
We were fortunate to have representation from the Royal Pakistan and Royal Ceylon Air Forces and with impeccable timing two Entry members phoned from NZ just before commencement of our Gala Dinner. This meant their good wishes could be passed on during the speeches.
Our own Padre said grace during which our thoughts were with absent friends and a list of departed colleagues was presented.
We plan to hold another reunion 3 years to the day to celebrate 50 years from our passing out but the membership were ‘full out’ for one in 18 month’s time. So God willing and a following wind I hope to see you all in the Pompy area a year next September—ish.