The aim of the association is to preserve the memories and history of these RAF stations and all who were involved particularly those that gave their lives in the service of their country.
Minutes of the 22nd AGM of the Yatesbury Association held in Compton Bassett Village Hall at 1430 hours on Sunday August 13, 2017.
In accordance with the Constitution, the Executive Committee agreed to reduce the required quorum figure of 25 members to 23 members for this AGM
The Padre, Lyn Morris welcomed delegates and opened the meeting with a short dedication at 14.30 hours.
1. Present were the Chairman and 22 members.
2. Apologies were received from Neville Fawcett; Neville Barr; Anthony Lewis; Ron & Judy Stempfer; Jamal Khanfer; John Diamond; Brenda Smith; Mr G Johnson;Frank Swan; Kenneth Hodgson; J Ferdinando; A.J. Maciver; Jean Hirst; John Howells; Mike Saunders; Sir Alec Morris.
3. The Minutes of the 2016 AGM were approved as a true record following a proposal by W. Hauxwell seconded by C. Simpson.
4. Matters Arising
a) The secretary explained that due to a wedding taking place in the this same hall on the Saturday, the Association did not have access to the building until this morning and hence were unable to set up the promised exhibition of photos and memorabilia. Provided there is no similar event next year, the promised exhibition will be installed for the 2018 AGM.
5. Officers’ Reports
i) Chairman “ Another year has passed and I welcome you here yet again for the 22nd AGM. As Chairman I probably have the easiest job on the Committee as all I have to do is Chair two meetings a year with your most excellent committee who work much harder than I do to keep things running smoothly. Collecting the subs is not always an easy job especially when members fail to update their standing orders after there has been the occasional annual increase. Our excellent Sparks magazine produced by Clive needs to be printed , enveloped, addressed, stamped and posted and this all takes time and effort from Phil. That is our only contact with members other than the excellent Association web-site, also maintained by Clive, Minutes of the committee meetings and this AGM have to be recorded and circulated and it amazes me that Alan sends them out so quickly after each meeting. Rosie is our excellent Secretary and Treasurer maintaining our link with local Calne organisations and the Yatesbury site owner, Jamal Khanfer. Tony is our Public Relations Officer and keeps us in touch with local and further away organisations. Bill has the job of leeping all the many items of archive material which almost needs a house of it own. David Clarke runs the Eastern Branch and organises the annual Cenotaph Parade in London. And lastly but by no means least is Andrew our Vice Chairman who attends all our committee meetings offering many helpful suggestions as well as advertising the Association in his local area. I believe we have an excellent committee who work very hard on your behalf and deserve our grateful thanks. But I now hand you on to those who really do all the work beginning with Andrew the Vice Chairman.
ii) The Vice Chairman reported as follows:
As already reported in the February 2017 # 68 edition of SPARKS I and six other association member attended Gordon Chiver’s funeral held 3rd. November 2016.
On Thursday 10th. November 2016 as Deputy Mayor of Malmesbury I attended the open air service in Lydiard Park Field of Remembrance, The Exhortation and Kohima Epitaph were both delivered by The Royal British Legion's National Vice - Chairman Una Cleminson. The music was provided by the British Imperial Military Band and the Military Wives Choir. Friendships formed at multiple repatriations at Royal Wootton Bassett were reinforced, these repatriations changed forever those who attended and to this day I cannot pass along 'Bassett's High Street without thinking about what took place there where the good Bassett folk took the dead to their heart and regarded them as their own and wanted nothing in return.
On Friday 17th. March 2017 Jen & I were invited to attend the 992 Squadron (Malmesbury) ATC annual Dining in Night dinner; yet again the squadron gained the Lord Lieutenant’s Cup for the best Wiltshire Squadron overall and a cadet from the squadron the best cadet. During the dinner I sat next to several Chippenham & Corsham RAFA branch members; in conversation with them I discovered that two of them had served at RAF Compton Bassett; on an off chance I took my copy of Phil Tomaselli’s book and the RAFA members expressed a deep interest in its contents, they said it was well written.
The town of Royal Wootton Bassett in Wiltshire will be linked forever with about 175 repatriations of some 470 war dead service men & women killed in action in Afghanistan and elsewhere. I personally attended about 65 repatriations.
On May 8th. 2017 in St. Bartholomew & All Saints Church, Royal Wootton Bassett I attended the Institution of The Rev. Canon Jane Curtis as Vicar of Royal Wootton Bassett and also her Commissioning as Rural Dean of Calne . (In the Church of England a Rural Dean is basically the next Rank up from a Vicar / Rector.) The Rural Dean of Calne has within her patch All Saints, Yatesbury and St. Swithin's Compton Bassett. Recently the Vicar of Yatesbury, The Rev Philip Bromily has been posted to a new parish and the Rev. Canon Jane Curtis will be closely involved in ensuring the pastoral life of the parish continues.
On Sunday 11th. June 2017 I attended The Wiltshire Annual County Parade & Rededication Service, the parade formed up in Iceland’s car park, and then marched down to St. Bartholomew’s Church, (I am a committee member of Malmesbury Branch RBL and Assistant Branch Welfare Representative) The service was conducted jointly by the Vicar The Rev. Canon Jane Curtis and the RBL County Chaplain The Rev. Canon Eleanor Rance. (For many years until she retired the Rev Rance was an RAF Chaplain, her vestment stole still has the RAF Crest on it) The two Bible readings were read by the County President, General Sir Jack Deverall KCB OBE Dl and by the Royal Wootton Bassett Branch Chairman Tom Blundell. After the service the parade marched back to the Iceland Car Park where it was dismissed: followed by refreshments in the nearby Conservative Club
For several years I have audited the accounts of 992 Squadron (Malmesbury) ATC, on Monday 10th. July I was invited to sit in on their civilian committee; afterwards I was able to address the squadron and express my appreciation for their contribution to a large number of civic events over the last 30 years, this year I did not seek re election to Malmesbury Town Council, I gave a short speal about the Yatesbury Association and presented a signed copy of Phil’s book which the squadron were pleased to receive.
For us in the Malmesbury Branch RBL we were delighted to hear that our hard working and popular Branch Chairman Mr Derek Tilney has been awarded an MBE in recognition of his outstanding community work.
iii) The Secretary and Treasurer reported
“ Can I start by saying that it is good to have some members with us today that have not attended an AGM before. You are very welcome and we hope you will return again next year.
As I look back over the year I feel it has been a relatively quiet one for me. I attender the Remembrance Day Service in Calne and was very pleased to meet Helen Ellis who played he bugle at that service and also today for us at Yatesbury. Last year we were without a bugler so it was good to make contact with someone who lives locally and can provide this service for us.
Also last September my husband and I attended the Bath and County Club Battle of Britain dinner. We were the guests of Len and Diana Burden. It was a splendid evening spent in good company. Thank you Len and Diana.
This year the local Calne RAFA have invited us to be part of the Battle of Britain service in St Mary's church in Calne at 10a.m. I know that our Vice Chairman, Andrew, and myself will be attending this service on behalf of the Association but we would love to see others there as well. So please make a note of this in you diaries.
Also last October I attended the funeral service of our good friend and local historian, Gordon Chivers. Gordon was the fount of all knowledge to do with Yatesbury village and the RAF site. He was my point of reference if I wanted to know anything about the site. Gordon had become a good friend ever since I worked on the site in 2006.
Today I personally missed the ATC cadets; last year we had 12 at church and at the lunch and this year I missed them very much. Let's hope next year they will be back with us again.
Yesterday members of the Association (10 in total) met with the present owners of the former Malcolm Club premises up on the site at Yatesbury. The old club is now the Wiltshire Bee Centre and owners are hoping to allocate part of the Club as a Museum for all things relating to the old RAF Yatesbury airfield and I believe they are going to call the establishment The Malcolm Club Centre.
Next year, if you are coming to the AGM, and are interested in joining us on a visit to the club please contact us and we will put details in Sparks magazine which sends out the AGM booking forms in June.
I have a couple of DVD's with me today, cost £8, which covers a period of RAF Yatesbury history from February to August, 1955. See me afterwards if you would like a copy.
And I would like to thank Liz and her team for the catering today. I believe this is the 18th year and we always enjoy the spread you put on for us. There will be tea and cakes served after the AGM so please don't rush away.
You should all have a copy of the accounts in front of you.
Our bank balance as at the 31/3/17 year end was £2818.26 compared to £2483 the previous year. This was mainly due to expenditure being down. The committee expenses were only £122.68. compared to £423.89 in the year before; this was because we only in effect had one meeting in October with the February meeting being cancelled.
You will see that we made donations of £100 this year made up of £25 to Yatesbury Church in memory of Gordon Chivers plus £50 for use of the church in August. Also a donation of £50 to the Alzheimer's Association of former Association Chairman, Neil Farqharson. (Sally his wife is with us today and she has brought some books which she would like you to take away free of charge to a good home)
Returning to the accounts, I believe they are pretty self-explanatory, but if you have any questions perhaps you could ask them now.”
There were no questions asked of the Treasurer and following a proposal from Len Burden seconded by by Clive Simpson, the accounts were adopted without dissent.
iv) The Membership Secretary reported:
Nominally the total membership stands at 245 but only 206 have paid a subscription so far this year. More are expected to pay following the reminder in the next “Sparks”.
31 members have paid £10.00, 132 paid £7.50, 4 paid £5.00 and 38 paid nothing. (11 honorary members plus remainder spouses etc.)
6 paid for 2018/19 and one for 2019/20
8 are overseas, 2 in the EU, 2 in Australia, 3 in USA, and 1 in Canada.
4 were trained during the war – 1 in 1942 at C.B; 2 in 1943 at Yatesbury plus 1 at C.B.
v) The PRO reported :
“Thanks are due for the organisation and presence of the volunteer Standard Bearers at today's service of remembrance. He was saddened by the loss this year of Neil Farquarson who was a founder member of the Association and of Tony Barfield even though he and Tony did not always see eye to eye. His opinion of the Royal British Legion has sunk to even lower depths following their failure to recognise his 40 years of dedicated service as he is a member of an overseas branch.. Finally he expressed his disgust at the latest increase in charges made at the Lansdowne Hotel.
vi) The SPARKS EDITOR was happier this year with the number of articled being offered for publication. He was pleased to have met someone in the bar the previous evening who had also promised a story about the Malcolm Clubs for Sparks. He has recently been appointed Standard Bearer for the London City and Central RAFA branch and is happy to become deputy Standard Bearer for the Association should his services ever be needed.
vii) As Webmaster he reported:
The number of Association web-site “members” has been reduced from 600 to 300 and there is a noticeable increase in the number of history related queries and reports reaching the site. Many of these are prompted by enquirers who had found documents form deceased relatives indicating the deceased's presence at one of the Association's camps in the past. There is also a members only “Facebook” page which members can easily join should they so wish.
viii) The Archive Officer reported:-
He had attended the funeral service for Anthony Barfield where he made contact with several members of Tony's family one of whom is still a member of the Association. He is having a problem with re-painting the Yatesbury camp gate Sarsen Stone plaque and will enquire into the costs of having the renovation being done professionally. He will provide the Wiltshire Beekepers with a history of the foundation of the Malcolm Clubs
ix) A communication from the Eastern Branch and Cenotaph Parade organiser was read:-
“ David Clarke apologises for his absence and lack of a report which is due to his wife Patricia being ill and his having to act as her full time carer. However, the Eastern Branch is is still going strong and the next meeting will be on October 14.
The Cenotaph parade arrangements are well in hand but anyone wishing to join the group needs to contact David quickly as full personal history and details are now needed to access the parade”.
6. Election of Officers
The Secretary reported that 37 voting papers had been returned. As there was no contest for the following posts, following a proposal by Len Burden seconded by Derek Smith, it was unanimously agreed that the nominated officers be elected en-bloc . The elected officers are as follows:
Chairman – Rev. B.L. Morris.. Vice Chairman, Andrew Woodcock, Honorary Secretary and Treasurer – Mrs. Rosie Watt. Minutes Secretary – A. Trinder. Membership Secretary – P. Tomaselli. P.R.O. & Standard Bearer - A. Gernon. Sparks Editor & Webmaster – C. Simpson. Archivist – W. Hauxwell. Cenotaph Co-ordinator – D. Clark. Member without Portfolio – A. Mundy. Eastern Branch Representative – D. Clark.
7. Other Business
D Bennison asked a question about the main gates still in place at the former Compton Bassett site
“ Mr Chairman – since our last AGM in 2016 I understand discussion has been made regarding the entrance gates to RAF Compton Bassett.
Aware my issues have been ongoing for over 20 years now on behalf of myself and past RAF Compton Bassett personnel for a decision for ownership, possession and location for a final siting.
To me, I accept it now seems a “QUE SERA SERA” future outcome to await an agreement for a satisfactory conclusion.
Therefore, optimism prevailing, I will no longer raise the question – I am sure this will please the Committee of no longer hearing my vocals, and neither will the folks in this hall today – of my continued banging on about the same question year after year.
Finally, Mr Chairman, I look to realise what I have caused to become a personal interest in this project and I hope, eventually, it will be fulfilled in perpetuity for remembrance to so many, myself included, who have passed through those very gates – so many years ago. Thankyou”.
The secretary assured Mr Bennison that dialogue is ongoing between the site owners, Hills, and the local residents to establish a sustainable and sensible future for the site. She also re-iterated that Hills have assured the Association that once the future of the site has been decided, the Yatesbry Association will be made a gift of the gates. She will write again to her contact at Hills, Monique Hayes, to make sure the offer still holds.
Paul Mayo, the local British Legion Chairman, has also made the comment that the gates may well become a heritage listed item.
L Burden asked if reminder slips put in the Sparks magazines of recalcitrant subs payers might help them to pay up? He was assured this does happen and the secretary confirmed it produces results.
D. Bennison reported the Association plaque had disappeared form the Lansdowne Hotel.
The secretary confirmed a refurbishment was ongoing and that she would ensure the plaque was replaced once the work was completed.
The Vice Chairman reported he had laid a wreath at the memorial stone near the original entrance to
no. 2 Radio School this morning. This was at his own expense.
v) The Chairman expressed his appreciation for the Compton Bassett march having been played in the
Church for the procession of the Standards and added his appreciative thanks to caterer Liz.
8. Date of next AGM
This will be on Sunday August 12, 2018 at Compton Bassett Village Hall.
. There being no further business the meeting closed at 15.35 hours.
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As far as it is known, the Telecommunication trade is the only one with a trade badge. The original reason for this is that in the early day of the RAF only NCO's were allowed to address an officer. A member of the telecommunication trade might have an important message and the badge enable him to address an officer directly.