ASSOCIATION REVIEW 2007
In terms of surviving 198 Squadron RAF veterans 2006 had not been a good year, but barely had 2007 begun than we received notification of the passing of two more, Charles R. Rouse and Frank G. Williams, with a further, Charles "Chuck" Rainsforth, later in June of the year.
Several relatives and friends of those who had given their lives while serving with 198 got in contact with us for the first time, most notably Penny Stern, the Niece of Flt/Lt John G. Champion RAFVR, (KIA 31st July 1944) and Robert Taylor, a family friend of F/O James A. MacDonald RCAF, (KIA 7th February 1944). We also received correspondence from a Mr David Walker who kindly sent us an unknown photograph of one of the Squadron's aircraft and several others relating to other squadrons.
Various other letters and enquiries of a similar nature were received and dealt with throughout the year, one of which included an unusual postcard showing 198 Squadron RAF pilots in France during 1944, which had been found in a loft.
During August this website's hosting was renewed and paid up until the same time in 2008. Although consideration was given to re-instating the site's Guest Book, or adding a Forum, it was decided not to proceed as in the past this had attracted dubious links and entries, including several death threats. With the same reasons in mind, and also sadly with the declining number of surviving Squadron veterans, visitor contact with the "Association" and this website by email was discontinued at the beginning of the year. It was however decided to retain a postal address under our listing on the Royal Air Forces Register of Associations (RAFRA) website.
Wherever possible, as in previous years, we remained in close contact with our informants and researchers overseas who provided amongst other things new information and photographs from Holland, and a first hand eye-witness account from France on the circumstances surrounding the loss of W/O Charles "Bill" Stratford RAFVR. Also some of their previous findings from earlier years, not included before on this website, were added.
While we managed to obtain the kind permission of the Imperial War Museum, (IWM) and ITV Meridian to use two film/video clips of theirs on this website, free of charge, an approach to the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) to use a two minute segment from one of their 1994 "News 44" programmes was met with rejection unless we were prepared to pay £250 per minute, for only one year's use. Considering what Squadron veterans, and their whole generation, went through during World War 2 to ensure the continued existence and freedoms of organisations like the BBC we were a little surprised by their profit or nothing response. (Naturally the "Association", being a non-commercial voluntary group, declined their "generous" offer.)
In the latter part of 2006 a letter was received from Flash Back/History Channel television with a request for information on 198's part in the Battle of Falaise Gap, (August 1944) for an upcoming documentary film on the subject, which was subsequently broadcasted in 2007. This had been passed on to Tony Hallett and Arthur Bryant and their recollections were used to form some elements of the programme's historical background commentary on the conflict.
During October our webmaster's twelve year old yellow Labrador dog, Rupert, died. Rupert who had a thing about tearing up paper was often referred to as the "Association's security shredder" but with tongue-in-cheek he was also rather affectionately known by one Squadron veteran as "Nunky's Hawker Typhoon of Normandy"
As the Right Honorable John Howard, Prime Minister of Australia, had taken the time and trouble to write to the "Association" in August 2006 regarding his countrymen who had served with 198 it was rather disappointing to hear that he had lost his re-election in 2007. He will always be remembered by us as one of the very few world leaders to have paid their respects at the Typhoon Memorial, France, to all those who had lost their lives while serving with Hawker Typhoon squadrons during World War 2.
During 2007, and for several years before that in fact, contact with author Peter Celis over his "Runways To Victory Volume 2" leads us to believe that publication of this work is now expected sometime during late 2008 or early 2009. Having freely supplied Peter with a selection of previousely unpublished 198 Squadron RAF photographs, and flying log book operational details, for use in this new book we obviously await it with interested anticipation. (If one of the pre publication profile paintings Peter sent us of a Hawker Typhoon is anything to go by then it should be good. The detail is remarkable.)
Although no one wants to think about it the "Association" and its website are under a considerable amount of growing stress as each year passes and sooner or later serious consideration will have to be given to the future of both. During 2007 several veterans aired the view that whatever happens to the "Association" the website should remain for as long as possible. Our webmaster suggested that given such circumstances arising perhaps the best way forward would be to put the site into a state of "free fall" for as many years as secure web-hosting could be obtained and paid for in advance. Tentative enquiries along these lines will be made during 2008 and any viable findings, or alternatives, considered.
The year ended on a somewhat better note than how it had begun with the receipt in December of an original 1942 198 Squadron RAF Crest - a copy of which has now been added to various pages on this website. In addition the "Association" received a donation towards the current upkeep and running costs of this website, which came as something of an unexpected and pleasant surprise having not received such before.
The Association of 198 Squadron RAF
Association Review 2007