Latest News as of November 2018

Hello and welcome to our latest e-newsletter. Over the past fourteen years, thousands of people have visited the Heritage Centre to learn about this former RAF station and its WW2 satellite airfields. If you haven't visited us yet, we urge you to do so. We will be delighted to see you and will try to make your visit as enjoyable as possible. All scheduled openings for the 2018 season have now been completed; you will find the schedule of open days for 2019 and directions to the Centre by clicking on the Heritage Centre drop down menu on this website.

Veterans' Day event on the 19th of May, 2018

The centenary of the birth of Bircham Newton as a flying station was celebrated on the afternoon of the 19th of May, and despite stiff competition from other events celebrating the Royal wedding at Windsor, and the Scottish and English cup finals, the event was well attended.The largest group of veterans was former RAF administrative apprentices holding a reunion at the Birches Hotel during the same weekend. Many attractions were provided for the visitors to enjoy: the RAF Heritage Centre was opened for guided tours; an illustrated talk was presented by David Jacklin on Bircham Newton's first airmen and their flying machines; local history groups and service associations exhibited table-top exhibits; military vehicles and large-scale model aircraft were on static display; and a local ATC squadron, Royal British Legion and others participated in an end-of-day 'sunset' ceremony, when the RAF ensign was lowered as those who served at Bircham Newton over the years were remembered. Distinguished guests included the Mayor of King's Lynn and West Norfolk and Sir Michael and Lady Angela Oswald. Sir Michael participated in the ceremony as the reviewing officer, taking the salute as the RAF ensign was lowered.  More information and photographs of this event are provided below under the section on recent Heritage Centre activities.poppies

As if to further celebrate this centenary, and to remember those first airmen who flew from Bircham Newton, the road to the north of Bircham Newton, leading towards Stanhoe, was adorned with red poppies -  potent symbols of remembrance - during the early summer. 

What else was new in 2018?

The Heritage Centre participated in a Heritage Arts Trail organised by 42 F King's Lynn squadron ATC and RAF Marham as part of the RAF100 celebrations.  Current and former airfields in Norfolk were adorned with large fibreglass aircraft models, painted by local school children, and associated commemorative plaques.   The Heritage Centre's model and associated plaque was mounted on the outside of the building as an integral part of the trail. You cannot miss the model aircraft, which is large and painted in bright colours.

Cycling Sportive

An organised RAF Cadet Heritage Sportive was held using the Heritage Trail on the 17th of June. The sportive took in as many of the the former airfields as possible using three different routes to suite the abilities of the riders. Bircham Newton was selected as a feeding station on the longest ride, which was 117 miles in length. Forty-two riders stopped at the feeding station to obtain high energy snacks and cold drinks and to use the toilet facilities. Two cadets from No. 42 F King's Lynn Squadron ATC, Sergeant Jack White and cadet Grace Richardson, shown in the photograph above, manned the feeding station supported by two members of the Heritage Centre team, who made hot drinks for the participants. The following photograph shows some of the riders who stopped at the feeding station

Cycling Feeding Station

For those planning to revisit the Centre in 2019, several new exhibits will be put on display for your enjoyment. The WWI exhibition, originally established to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War, will be replaced by a new exhibition covering the birth of RAF Bircham Newton in 1918 and other related displays covering early aviation in Norfolk in and around the period of the First World War.

As usual, you will be helped and guided by members of the Heritage Centre team, who are all dedicated and knowledgeable volunteers. If you would like to help, please contact one of the volunteers on duty or one of trustees mentioned under Contacts.

A series of books written by David Jacklin are on sale in the Centre, including his latest called "In Khaki and Blue", which describes flying activities at Bircham Newton one hundred years ago. It illustrates the birth of this former RAF aerodrome and its subsequent role during the final year of the First World War. The duties of the first flying unit, No. 3 Fighting School, are introduced together with the antics of some of its larger-than-life flying instructors.   The second flying unit, No. 27 Group, a long-range bombing group in the newly-formed Independent Force, is also described, as are its main protagonists.  The Group was placed on standby to bomb Berlin with its giant Handley Page V/1500 bombers; a deadly mission that was only cancelled after the Armistice was signed.

Should you have any photographs or other items of RAF memorabilia (particularly items relating to Bircham Newton) and are looking for a good home for them, we would be pleased to accept them into our archive, so that they may be displayed for the benefit of all.

Some Recent Heritage Centre Visitors and other activities

Heritage Centre under scaffolding

More than 600 individuals visited the Heritage Centre in 2018. The following summary highlights the open days and some of these visitors:

Easter Bank Holiday Weekend (Sunday, 1st and Monday 2nd of April):The ongoing roof repair work at the Heritage Centre, with its associated scaffolding, and the cold wet weather did not deter our visitors during the  Easter bank holiday weekend, when about 140 individuals visited us at Bircham Newton.  We are convinced that this success was mainly due to the excellent promotional information circulated around Norfolk and beyond by our hard-working publicity officer Avril MacArthur. Several visitors confirmed that they had become aware of our Easter openings via Radio Norfolk, the Eastern Daily Press, Lynn News and other local papers and magazines.

One of our visitors, Mrs Bernice Webb, from Burnham Market, told us she had worked at Bircham Newton during the early 1960s, as a shorthand typist in the Junior Command and Staff School (JCSS), where she was involved in preparing educational material. Mr. David Slight also came along to discuss his late uncle, Francis Joseph Thompson, who had worked at Bircham Newton as a batman from 1950 until the end of 1962, when the station closed. Mr. Thompson's wife Muriel (nee Peacock) also had connections with Bircham Newton, working for the NAAFI. During WW2, Francis had been in the Army and had been captured as a prisoner of war when his Regiment was serving in Burma. David loaned the Centre several photographs, including ones of his uncle Francis, his aunt Muriel in her NAAFI uniform, and two that appear to have been taken at the Docking satellite airfield prior to 1945. The one below is of the Beam Approach Training (BAT) Flight at Docking.Docking BAT Flight

Another visitor was Mrs. Josephine Johnson, whose father Frank Widdas Addison had been a pilot in the First World War, flying Bristol F.2b Fighters with No. 88 Squadron. He was credited with two victories over Fokker DVIIs in France. Of interest, from a local perspective, is that  Frank had done some of his flying training on Avro 504 and Sopwith Pup aircraft at Sedgeford Aerodrome during 1917. Yet another visitor was Mr. Barry Beales, the son of Docking's well-known wartime policeman Ted Beales.  Barry recalled some of his father's wartime stories, including the recovery of stolen bicycles and after-hours raids on the Norfolk Hero pub in Stanhoe, a popular 'watering hole' for airmen from Bircham Newton. Barry, who had served in the RAF for three years, donated some interesting uniform badges, including the 'sparks badge' worn by ground signalling and radio engineering trade groups. Today, this badge is worn by all airmen involved with telecommunications. Another donation, a NAAFI Chocolate and Sugar Confectionary Ration Card, issued at RAF Padgate on 28 January 1953, was provided by Ted Snowden, from Fakenham.  This card was issued in the year when the sweet rationing ended.

Mr. Neville Hall came along to discuss his father, Flight Lieutenant Peter Frank Hall, who was shot down flying a Mosquito (DZ316) over Holland in May 1943, when serving with No. 1409 Flight of Bomber Command. Peter and his observer, Flight Lieutenant Bill Woodruff, were captured as POWs and served time in Stalag Luft III, Sagan. Peter took part in the Great Escape planning at Sagan, but did not get out through the escape tunnel before it was discovered. When he was shot down, Peter had been on a PAMPA sortie, attempting to capture meteorological data in advance of a Bomber Command raid over Germany. These PAMPA sorties had previously been conducted by No. 521 Squadron at Bircham Newton, until it was decided that they should be undertaken by Bomber Command instead of Coastal Command. So 521 Squadron's Mosquitoes (including DZ316) were flown to Oakington, where No. 1409 Flight was formed on the 1st of April 1943. Peter and his observer Bill Woodruff were one of six 521 Squadron crews who moved from Bircham Newton to Oakington with the Mosquitoes. In fact, Peter's brief service with No. 521 Squadron was his second period of duty at Bircham Newton. He had previously flown from the station as a pilot with No. 235 Squadron during 1940 and 1941.

Mr. Bryan Montgomery, a former RAF Flight Lieutenant, also visited from his home in  Heacham. He donated a photograph of No. 113 Course at the Junior Command and Staff School (JCSS), which he attended in 1962. He also included a press cutting from an incident involving one of the other course attendees, Captain Sahl Mohamed Hanzeh (spelled Hamza in the press article), of the Jordanian Air Force.  He defected to the United Arab Republic - a short-lived political union between Egypt and Syria - in a DH4 Heron aircraft on the 12th of November 1962. By that time, he had been promoted to Lt. Col. and was described as chief of the Jordanian Air Force. He said that he had defected because he had been entrusted with a secret mission against the Yemen which his conscience did not allow him to carry out.

Mrs. Perdita Le Marchant Swift, who was on holiday in Hunstanton from her home in  Cambridgeshire, visited on Easter Monday. Her father, Flying Officer George Derrick Osmond Le Marchant Hutchesson, known to everyone as 'Peter', served with No. 206 Squadron at the beginning of WW2, when the squadron was commanded by Wing Commander N. H. D'Aeth. Sadly, he was posted missing, assumed killed, on the 18th of May 1940 whilst flying Lockheed Hudson N7400, which failed to return from Hamburg. He and his three-man crew are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, near Windsor. Perdita's mother was pregnant with Perdita when 'Peter' was killed, and she waited 10 years before remarrying hoping that he might return. Wing Commander D'Aeth was Pedita's godfather, and she has kept in touch with his daughter, Patricia Ladds. Perdita generously donated some photographs and other items, including her father's driving license, a No. 206 Squadron badge and a Squadron Christmas card.

Tuesday, 1st of May: Perdita Swift made a return visit to the Heritage Centre on the 1st of May, accompanied by Patricia Ladds (nee D'Aeth), and further discussions were held about 'Peter' Hutchesson's service at Bircham Newton, from August 1937 until he was posted missing in May 1940, and about his CO at that time: Wing Commander (later Air Vice Marshal) N.H. D'Aeth, who was apparently called 'Jimmy' on the squadron.  Two other visitors on the 1st of May were Glen and Jackie Nunn, who were on vacation in Norfolk from their home in Australia. Jackie's great uncle, Wing Commander Claude Dunkerley, had served at Bircham on two occasions, first with No. 207 Squadron in the early 1930s, when he had learned to fly, and later as a pilot with No. 206 Squadron, from 1936 until 1940.  Jackie was shown several items that had belonged to Claude, including his flying log books and medals, that had previously been donated to the Centre by Claude's son David, when he too visited from Australia a few years ago.  The fact that these four visitors met by chance at Bircham Newton on the 1st of May, almost 80 years after Claude, 'Peter' and 'Jimmy' had served there, was coincidence enough, but that 'Peter' Hutchesson and Claude Dunkerley both flew with No. 206 Squadron and would have been colleagues for about three years, including a period during 1939 and 1940 when they were both serving under Wing Commander 'Jimmy' D'Aeth, was truly remarkable. They had lots to talk about.

Early May Bank Holiday weekend (6th and 7th of May):  Visitor numbers were well down during this particular weekend, when we hosted less than 50 visitors. It appears that we could not compete with the glorious warm weather, and most people preferred to enjoy their gardens or visit the coast instead. One person who bucked that trend was Mr. Laurence Clarke, who visited from Costessey, Norwich. His father worked for haulage contractor, A.J. Farrow, and Laurence remembered accompanying his father when he picked up asphalt from Dereham and delivered it to the satellite airfield at Docking, where it was used to make false hedgerows for camouflage purposes.  A mixture of material, which included asphalt, sand and tar, was raked over the ground to make the outline shape of hedgerows so that the airfield looked like a patchwork of fields from the air. These false hedgerows, really only dark material spread over the ground, were used at many airfields, including Bircham Newton and Docking.

Mr. Graham Curtis, a former Handley Page employee, who worked for the company between 1966 and 1970, visited from Dereham. He is a member of a small group of former aircraft engineers, called the 'Paralyser Group', who are attempting to build a replica of a WW1 Handley Page O/400 bomber. At the moment, Graham is concentrating on the construction of the nose and cockpit of the bomber, Much of the woodwork of the nose is complete, but the Group is now facing a large expense to have it covered in stretched irish linen, a skill which is now in very short supply. Graham wondered if the squadrons that were at Bircham Newton flying the Handley Page V/1500 bombers at the end of WW1 also had O/400s on their inventory. Although it is known that No. 166 Squadron, the first mobilised V/1500 squadron, did some early training using FE2Bs, it is believed that it did not have O/400s, although these H.P. bombers would seem to have been more suitable.

John O'Brian visited from Dersingham and donated some cartoons and sketches drawn by his friend, Don Southner, a talented artist who served in the RAF from 1937 until 1960. Most of the cartoons depict a German air raid on an RAF aerodrome. The collection also includes a sketch of RAF personnel at Biggin Hill in 1943 and two photographs of the artist.

Veterans' Day event held on Saturday, 19th of May: Approximately 150 individuals visited the Heritage Centre during the Veterans' Day, including former RAF administrative apprentices and their spouses, who were holding a reunion in the Birches Hotel on the same weekend. Local dignitaries who attended the event included the Mayor of King's Lynn and West Norfolk, patrons Sir Michael Oswald and Lady Angela Oswald, the Chairmen and Secretary of No. 206 Squadron Association, the Chairmen of King's Lynn and RAF Marham branches of RAFA, the Chairman of the National Service (RAF) Association and the Chairman of the RAF Administrative Apprentices Association and the Deputy County Chairman from the Royal British Legion.   Lowering the RAF ensign

This photograph shows the RAF ensign being lowered during the closing ceremony as the standards of the Royal British Legion and National Service Association are dipped.  Cadets from No. 42F (King's Lynn) Squadron ATC are also on parade. The person who actually lowered the RAF ensign was former RAF serviceman Bill West, who was on parade with his mascot dog 'Mr Glenn' (see photograph below), and the bugler was former Army musician, Phil Acott. 


Bill Wells and Mr Glenn

Many organisations exhibited at the event with table-top displays, including Docking Heritage Group, Langham Dome, National Service (RAF) Association. Static displays were also provided by Norfolk Military Vehicle Group and Tony Nelson's Model Airforce (see photograph below). One interesting table-top display 'The Road to Bircham Newton' was provided by author and journalist Clive Parish, who has undertaken a personal journey to discover his father's service in the First World War. Clive's father, Sergeant Eric Parish, had worked on the development of large bombs intended to be flown by the giant Handley Page V/1500 aircraft based at Bircham Newton. 

Another visitor who was representing his late father was David Edwards, the son of Hugh Robert Arthur Edwards, who commanded No. 53 Squadron at Bircham Newton in 1943.  Hugh, also known as Jumbo Edwards, was a rower who won two gold medals for Great Britain during the 1932 Summer Olympics. First, he won gold in the coxless pairs and then he won a second gold in the coxless fours, on the same day. He was also a successful pre-war competitive flyer, coming second in the 1935 King's Cup race. He commanded No. 53 Squadron at a critical time when it re-assembled and re-equipped following a period in the USA and Bermuda. Between February and April 1943, the squadron first exchanged its Hudson aircraft for Whitleys, and then exchanged the Whitleys for four-engine Consolidated Liberators. Later in the same year, Hugh survived a ditching in the sea after an unsuccessful attack on a German U-boat. He was rescued by a trawler after spending seventeen hours alone rowing a dinghy. After the war, for a period of twelve years, Hugh Edwards coached the successful Oxford University rowing team, becoming an Oxford legend and gaining his Jumbo nickname. He also coached a Wales coxless four team, that included his two sons David and John, who won a silver medal in the 1962 Commonwealth Games in Perth, Australia.

Tony Nelson

Tony Nelson is shown here alongside his prized model of a Sterling bomber, which has appeared on the BBC television's Antiques Roadshow.Military Vehicles

This photograph shows three of the military vehicles, provided by the Norfolk Military Vehicle Group, on the Heritage Centre car park under the dappled shade of the nearby trees. Sales Table

This photograph shows (left to right) Mrs. Denise Goff MBE and Mrs. Pauline Fisher with sales and raffle items used to raise funds for the RAF Bircham Newton Heritage Centre. The photographer caught them during a quiet period when they were also preparing plates for the catering tent.Chipmunk

A nostalgic fly past was provided by a lone Chipmunk aircraft piloted by Doug Parsons from Felthorpe. The Chipmunk was the last aircraft type to fly from Bircham Newton prior to its closure in December 1962.  One veteran in the crowd observing the flypast was Mr. Jim Batchelor, from nearby Dersingham. Jim had worked on the Station Flight at RAF Bircham Newton, servicing the final Chimunk on the station's inventory. All of his former RAF colleagues, who also worked on the Chipmunk, were present with Jim and witnessed the flypast with him.  An unscheduled aerobatic display by a tiger moth, or a similar biplane, thrilled the crowd before the Chipmunk arrived. It was believed to have been flown by local pilot Henry Labouchere.

.Heritage Centre

This view of the Heritage Centre shows the catering tent kindly provided and erected by CITB and a small VIP marquee (foreground) erected to seat distinguished guests during the end-of-day sunset ceremony.  The catering tent, which was manned by local ladies from Wicken Green and Syderstone, did a roaring trade throughout the afternoon. Also shown on the outside of the building is the fibreglass aircraft model and associated history board, which is part of the RAF100 Heritage Arts Trail 2018 organised by 42 (F) Squadron ATC from King's Lynn.  Three cadets from this squadron (see below) assisted during the Veterans' Day event by handing out programmes and then participating in the end-of-day ceremony.ATC cadets from King's Lynn


Spring Bank Holiday Weekend (27th and 28th of May): Mr. Neville Hall, from Knaptoft, Leicester, visited again on the 27th of May, accompanied by his brother Michael. They discussed their late father, Flight Lieutenant Peter Hall, who had flown from Bircham Newton with No. 235 Squadron (in 1940 and 1941) and No. 521 Squadron (in 1943) prior to being shot down over Holland. They donated their father's uniform, miniature medals, flying helmet and goggles. They also supplied other historical material, including escape maps drawn by Peter in Stalag Luft III, where he had been a prisoner of war.

.Heritage Centre

The BBC Radio Norfolk Treasure Quest team visited the Heritage Centre again on the 28th of May. The photograph shows presenter David Whiteley talking to curator Pauline Fisher after the next clue had been retrieved from its hiding place inside an air-sea rescue kite. Mr. John Miller also visited from Fakenham on the same day to discuss his father, 2nd Lieutenant Leslie M. Miller, who served in the Royal Flying Corps. John showed several photographs of his father in RFC uniform, of  crashed aircraft and a military funeral procession all taken at Montrose, in Scotland.

Sunday, 24th of June: Only a small number of visitors attended the open day on the 24th of June. It was a glorious sunny day, when the beach appears to have been a greater attraction. Also, England had a crucial game in the FIFA World Cup which was played during the Centre's opening hours. However, we did appreciate seeing the dozen or so individuals who came our way, including good friends Dizzy & Bob Goff and Tony Nelson, who support us in so many ways.

Friday, 6th of July:  Flight Lieutenant Emma Webber visited the Centre with a group of RAF Marham Ops personnel, who were on a discovery visit around parts of the RAF100 Heritage Arts Trail. Their itinerary also included the Commonwealth War Graves cemetery at St Mary's churchyard, Great Bircham and the RAF Docking memorial. One interesting fact that emerged during the RAF Marham visit concerned No. 207 Squadron, who had served at Bircham Newton, flying DH9A aircraft, in the early 1920s, under Squadron Leader (later Marshal of the RAF) Arthur Tedder, and again in the 1930s, flying Fairy Gordon aircraft.  The visitors explained that 207 Squadron had also flown from RAF Marham, serving there in the 1950s and 1960s, flying English Electric Canberra and later Vickers Valiant aircraft. Moreover, 207 Squadron will be back in West Norfolk in 2019, when it will become the Operational Conversion Unit for the F-35B Lightning, based at RAF Marham. visitors from RAF Marham

The photograph shows the Marham visitors near the RAF Bircham Newton memorial.

Sunday, 29th of July: It was great to see 60 visitors on the last Sunday in July, after some quiet openings in May and June during the recent hot weather. Amongst the visitors was Mr. Terry Fountain, who came along with his family. Terry had been a Flight Sergeant apprentice in the 39th Entry of administrative apprentices who trained at Bircham Newton in the early 1960s. Another visitor was Mr. Paul Ramm whose late father, Donald Ramm, a former RAF instrument fitter, met his future wife, former WAAF Irene Larkin, in one of the clubs at Bircham Newton when he was home on leave during WW2. Donald was born and grew up in the nearby coastal village of Brancaster. Donald and Irene subsequently moved to Kent, but Paul came back to live in Norfolk at his first opportunity.

Saturday, 11th of August: A small table-top exhibition was taken to the grounds of St. Mary's Church Great Bircham on Saturday, 11th of August to support Bircham Parish Council's 'Bircham Remembers WWI' event held during the annual French Fair. The Heritage Centre's exhibition featured the birth of Bircham Newton aerodrome and the first flying units that flew from there during WWI.  The work of the RAF Heritage Centre was also highlighted by distributing brochures and the programme of open days. The following photograph shows the Chairman David Jacklin presenting Thomas Moody-Tipping, a visitor from Cambridge, with a Biggles bear he won by correctly answering two questions relating to the displayed information.

Biggles bear

Summer Bank Holiday (26th and 27th of August): We had approximately 90 visitors over this holiday weekend. Two of the visitors were Mr. and Mrs. Purse from Swindon. Miriam Purse (nee Mason) had lived in Officers Married Quarters (OMQ) at Bircham Newton as a small girl in the 1950s. She journeyed back to Bircham Newton to locate her old house, No. 14 OMQ, which she had found and photographed before she discovered the Heritage Centre. However, we were unable to locate Miriam's former home on the detailed plan of Bircham Newton circa 1951. Apparently it had been built after 1951, but before Miriam's family arrived in the late 1950s. However, to Miriams surprise, we were able to locate a photograph of her late father, as an instructor on No. 47 Service Accountancy Course in 1957.

Mrs Sue Layton also visited from Great Bircham. Her father, Ronald Balfour, had served as a navigator on Beaufighter aircraft with No. 254 Squadron. Ronald's flying log book showed flights in and out of Bircham Newton and Langham during 1945. It is believed that No. 254 Squadron was based at Langham for a time during 1945/46, and Miriam was given a brochure for the Langham Dome Visitors Centre and encouraged to make a visit there to discover more information about her father's wartime operations.

Mr. David Postle made a return visit. His father, John Postle, flew from Bircham Newton as a navigator with No. 279 ASR Squadron during 1942 and 1943. David has written a book about his father's wartime service. At the moment, he has only printed sufficient copies for members of his family, but he hopes to produce a version for general sale in the future. David generously donated extracts from No. 279 Squadron's Operations Record Book that he had obtained from the National Archive covering the squadron's service at Bircham Newton.

New Zealander Stuart Samuels and his English wife Christine also visited. Stuart's father, a former member of the RNZAF, had served in the UK during the war. The Samuels live in Feltwell, where they own a pub with a restaurant, called "The Wellington", which is run by their two sons. The pub is dedicated to the Wellington aircraft, and a local artist, Colin Mason, from Oxburgh, has painted a Wellington wall mural for them inside the pub.

During this holiday weekend we introduced some new paper quizzes for visitors to complete as they walk around the Centre. Four visiting children took up this challenge and successfully completed some of the quizzes under the supervision of their parents. Although the prizes were small, they clearly enjoyed the experience.

Thursday, the 27th of September: Chairman David Jacklin delivered an evening talk in Syderstone entitled 'In Khaki and Blue', about Bircham Newton's first airmen, who served at the aerodrome one hundred years ago. The talk was part of a fund-raising evening for St Mary's Church, Syderstone, organised by Mrs Denise Goff MBE and her husband Bob.  The talk was enjoyed by an audience of approximately 50 people.

Sunday, the 30th of September: More than 30 visitors were welcomed on the final Sunday in September. Amongst them was Mrs. Pam Waite whose Godfather, Gordon Hart, had served at Bircham Newton sometime between 1946 and 1948. Unfortunately Gordon had recently been admitted to hospital and was not able to visit personally, although Pam hoped to arrange for him to visit in the near future.

Another visitor at the end of September was Mr. Neville Morley, whose uncle, Flight Sergeant Walter Francis Garrod, a wireless operator air gunner, had served at Bircham Newton and Docking with No. 53 Squadron between February and April 1943, when the squadron came to Norfolk to be re-equipped with Armstrong Whiworth Whitleys, following periods at the US Navy Air Station Quonset Point and in the Caribbean flying Lockheed Hudson aircraft on anti-submarine duties. In April 1943, the squadron proceeded south to Thorney Island and to Beaulieu, where it converted from the unloved Whitleys to the four-engine Liberators. Sadly, Walter was killed on the 4th of October 1943, when Liberator BZ753, flown by Flight Lieutenant John Rintoul, was shot down over the Bay of Biscay during an anti-submarine patrol.  There were no survivors. Neville had discovered that the aircraft was shot down by the German pilot Oberleutnant Kurt Necesany.

Tuesday, 16th of October: The RAF Bircham Newton memorial was one of the stops on the Royal British Legion Torch of Remembrance Relay conducted to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War. The following photograph shows the mayor of Hunstanton holding the torch before passing it to the three children shown in the photograph.The Mayor was accompanied by Hunstanton  RBL representatives Sid and Betty Miller.

Torch Relay

Armistice Centenary on Sunday 11th of November:  A small ceremony was conducted to mark the centenary of the signing of the Armistice which ended the First World War. WWI poems were read, wreaths were laid at the RAF Bircham Newton memorial, and a two minute silence was observed at 11am. Later, a short wreath-laying ceremony was also performed at the RAF Docking memorial. Special guests at Bircham Newton were Clive Parish and his wife Marley, together with Clive's family, including his children and a grandchild.  Clive's father, Eric Parish, served as an armourer in the Great War, working on a one ton bomb that was being developed for the Handley Page V/1500 bombers that were based at Bircham Newton in 1918. As a dedication to his father, who died on Armistice Day in 1973, Clive read a poem he had composed, entitled "One Ton", and laid a wreath at the memorial. The following photograph is of the Parish family beside the Bircham Newton memorial.

Clive Parish and family

Another special guest was Mrs. Kay Lamb, whose late father, Mr. David Newton, had donated several items of RAF memorabilia to the Heritage Centre. The memorabilia had previously belonged to her grandfather, Mr. F.E. Newton, who had served as an air gunner at Bircham Newton in the 1920s and 1930s.  Kay was shown photographs that had been donated by her father and a story he had written about his school days in the nearby village of Syderstone.

D. Jacklin 2017. This website is owned by the RAF Bircham Newton Memorial Project.