ASSOCIATION REVIEW 2009
On the 10th we received a letter and photographs from David Palmer regarding his father, Ishmael Charles Palmer, known as Charley or Icky by those serving with him, who had served with 198's ground crews as a fitter and mechanic. Two of the photographs David sent were a little unusual in as far one showed only the Squadron's ground crews while the other showed the whole Squadron with pilots and ground crews. Sadly very few of the ground crew personnel present can be identified. Both photographs are thought to have been taken at either Plantlunne or Wunstorf around May 1945.
During the 17th we received information from Edward Kirk RAAF on a crash landing F/O Louis Bastin was forced to make when his engine failed shortly after take-off during April 1945. His aircraft landed in thick forest near Nijmegan, Holland. and disintergrated, the cockpit section being found completely detached from the wreckage with F/O Bastin still inside. Surprisingly F/O Bastin managed to walk away from it unharmed.
We received on the 24th an enquiry from a UK representative of the ASAVN regarding tracing relatives of 198's Charles "Bill" Stratford, KIA 22/8/44, for a commemorative plaque unveiling ceremony that is to take place on the 1st June at Martainville (Eure) in France later this year. A surviving nephew of "Bill's" has subsequently been found and the ASAVN is attempting to make contact with him.
On the 11th we received some previousely unseen photographs from Edward Kirk that cover his time with 198, one of which shows a capsized ship of some 15,000 tons in Kiel Bay during the last days of the war in Europe, and another taken at Wunstorf in November 1945 during his service with 451 RAAF while with B.A.F.O - B.O.A.R
Our on-going search for a photograph of 198's Flt/Sgt Archibald Blyth Kirkwood RAFVR (KIA 7th February 1944) led us to contact television weather presenter Carol Kirkwood on the off-chance that she may be related. Unfortunately Carol's rather pleasant reply, received a few days later, did not produce the results we had hoped for.
Gun camera film footage was received from the Imperial War Museum (IWM) on the 20th which had been taken by various 198 Squadron pilots around the end of February and beginning of March 1945. This included sequences by Alex Sibbald, Peter Cross, George Sheppard, Arthur Bryant, and Norman Durrant.
The Prime Minister's Number 10 Downing Street on-line petition to "Establish a UK Hawker Typhoon Memorial" ended on the 9th and sadly failed to raise the minimum of two hundred signatures to be considered. (138 signatures were recorded)
On the 12th we received reports from France that the remains of F/O Henry Hector MacKenzie RCAF's 198 Squadron Hawker Typhoon JR523 had been found some 40 miles north of Paris near the village of Sacy- le- Grand. F/O MacKenzie was killed in action on the 3rd January 1944 and is buried in the Marissel French National Cemetery at Beauvais, Oise, France
It was with sadness and regret that we learnt on the 25th our good friend and comrade Tony Hallett had died on the 24th. Tony who has done so much over the years to keep alive the memory of 198 Squadron RAF and those who had served with it will be greatly missed by all who knew him. Our deepest sympathy was sent to all his family and friends. (Funeral details for Tony were received on 27th)
Our good friend north of the border, Robert Taylor, following reports of F/O Henry MacKenzie RCAF's aircraft being found in April, somehow managed on the 4th to come up with two photographs and personal background information on him which was most welcome as it was something we didn't previously have.
On the 7th we received some additional photographs and background information on Charles "Bill" Stratford, (KIA 22nd August 1944) that had been sent by his nephew, John, to a representive of the ASAVN in France. Due to some confusion at the time it would appear that "Bill's" mother held onto the belief that "Bill" wasn't dead for many years after the war.
On Friday 15th Tony Hallett's funeral took place. The journey to Tony's home town of Bristol was at times accompanied by heavy rain which seemed somehow in keeping with the occasion. All in all a very sad day for his family and friends.
Yet again more bad news followed on the 26th when we were advised that the "Association of 198 Squadron RAF's" founder, Arthur Bryant, had died earlier in the day. Arthur, who had served as a pilot with 198 from June 1944 (previously with 609) until the Squadron's disbandment in September 1945, was also the originator of this website. (Arthur's funeral is set to take place on the 9th June and will include a church service in his home village of Rowledge near Farnham, Surrey.)
The 9th saw the end of an era with the funeral of Arthur Bryant. One of the very last surviving veterans from the Squadron Arthur will be sadly missed by all who knew him. Following on so soon after the loss of Tony Hallett Arthur's death came as something of a shock, and one that the "Association" may not recover from.
Also on the 9th we received a photograph and background information on W/O Donald James Campbell RCAF, kia 16th February 1945, which was was something we didn't previously have. It was also understood that our on-going search for background information and photographs on Flt/Sgt Archibald Kirkwood RAFVR, kia 7th February 1944, may receive some help from BBC Scotland.
On the 10th we received a photograph and background information on F/O James Lloyd Darby RCAF who was killed on 5th September 1943 when the Tiger Moth he was flying on ferrying duties suffered engine failure and crashed into the English Channel.
Thanks once again to our good friend Robert Taylor four photographs were received on the 16th of the excavation dig for F/O Henry H. MacKenzie RCAF's Hawker Typhoon. One photograph clearly shows a part stenciled with the aircraft's serial number JR523 (Also see entries for April and May) On the same day we additionally received reports that our search for a photograph of Flt/Sgt Archibald Kirkwood RAFVR may be at last drawing to an end as contact has been made with a relative.
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We heard that James A. Colvin RCAF had died in Canada on the 17th. Although not personally known to us James had served with 198 before being shot down and taken Prisoner of War from 1943 to 1945.
At long last the search for a photograph of Archilbald Blyth Kirkwood RAFVR came to an end on the 22nd when we received photographs of him from his nephew Alistair, and family.
Two photographs of F/O William Robert Widdess RCAF were received on the 27th. F/O Widdess was killed on the 31st December 1943 when his Hawker Typhoon was in collision with another over the English Channel.
On the 11th we received a photograph and background information on F/O Harold Freeman RCAF who was kia 24th May 1944. F/O Freeman was posthumously recommended for the Victoria Cross but sadly this wasn't granted
(AT THIS POINT ALL ENTRIES STOP AS "THE ASSOCIATION OF 198 SQUADRON RAF PILOTS & GROUND CREWS" HAD BEEN BROUGHT TO AN END A FEW DAYS EARLIER)