Last updated: 08 December 2018, 12:47
255 Squadron Association
Forthcoming events, news, mailing list &c.



Forthcoming events:

Spring 2019 : Due to severe weather having disrupted transport and other services throughout Italy, the proposal to visit Sicily in early November 2018 was abandoned. Here’s a photograph from the Twitter account "Palermo Today", dated 02.Nov.2018:


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Overflowing rivers and closed roads – bad weather brings the province of Palermo to its knees.

Tentative plans include the possibility of reviving this trip in 2019. Please notify provisional interest using the mail link at the foot of the Sitemap page.

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Late August/Early September 2019 : Possible further visit to Serbia, in connection with the unveiling of a memorial to the crew of MM838 on the 75th anniversary of that loss.

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Remembrance Sunday 2020 : The concluding event of our WW2 75th Anniversary calendar; parade at the Malta Memorial, Valletta. The Malta Memorial commemorates a greater number of Squadron casualties than any other single CWGC memorial site – seventeen names in all, sixteen officially flying with the Squadron plus one passenger, all of whom have no known grave.



News:


12.January.2018 : The new year opened with the most wonderful news. After years – literally – of investigation and quiet negotiation, the Chain of Jerries has, within the past week, been recovered.

21.February.2018 : A modest gathering took place in the Cotswolds to mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Kevin O'Sullivan DFC whilst he was stationed at RAF Little Rissington. At 10:00am Mass was celebrated at the Catholic Church of Our Lady and St Kenelm, Stow-on-the-Wold, dedicated by Father McCarthy to the repose of Kevin's soul.

The original intention was to have lunch in Stow and then proceed to Kevin's grave in the CWGC portion of the cemetery at Little Rissington. However, the weather showed signs of deteriorating and so, with all those expected already present, two cars immediately proceeded to Little Rissington to do the honours there.

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Church of Our Lady and St Kenelm, Stow
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Kevin’s grave, the recently recovered
Chain of Jerries held by Peter Lammer
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St.Peter’s Church, Little Rissington

Use the magnifier controls of your browser to enlarge these images

All but one of our number then returned to The Sheep on Sheep Street in Stow for lunch, where the Chain of Jerries was produced for inspection and discussion. By mid-afternoon the sky had darkened, an easterly wind had picked up and a few sleet flurries were blowing about – apparently justifying the change to the timetable. Thanks due to Steve Kingsford of the Chipping Norton branch of RBL for representing the Legion and for adding their tribute to the grave. For our part, we were honoured to represent absent family members Gillian (residing in Australia) and Josephine (residing in New Zealand).

21-26.April.2018 : Our most ambitious gathering yet, a six-day expedition to Serbia, proved to be a resounding success thanks in large measure to the exceptional planning and organisation carried out by Tony Summers. The preliminary edition of a fully illustrated report now appears on this website, linked from the Site Map page. Suffice it to say here that eleven of us were very cordially received in both Ram and Kovin. What we discovered was that some confusion exists in local folk memory – was only one aircraft shot down, or two at the same location on slightly different dates? If there was a second Allied aircraft lost, reported by one local as a Liberator, it is yet to be identified. This confusion, along with apparent discrepancies in the casualty records of the 255 crew members, leaves scope for further enquiries.

01.August.2018 : Being the first of the month, there’s a new release of documents by The National Archives. Today’s batch includes two CASREP files relating to 255 Squadron, both from the summer of 1941. No fatalities in these incidents, just injuries, thus proving that we will in time get some information about those wounded as well as those killed in WW2. More detail in the new footnote just added to the Roll-of-Honour page.

11 August 2018 : 100 years on from the Squadron’s original formation during WWI, there was a gathering at the site of RAF Pembroke (since re-named RAF Carew Cheriton) in West Wales. The date of Saturday 11 August 2018 had been chosen to coincide with the site’s "Wings over Carew" event.

Activities were expected to include a Spitfire fly-past and a parachute drop by The Falcons RAF Display Team. Unfortunately the weather forced cancellation of a number of the outdoor events, although the Fire Service crash rescue demonstration went ahead as planned as did the indoor events. With near-continuous moderate to heavy rain and a cloud base at times as low as 300ft, flying was out of the question. By way of formal commemorations, a 255 Squadron poppy wreath was laid at the war memorial on the airfield and a car convoy to Martletwy conveyed Air Commodore Adrian Williams, OBE, ADC, many members of the Soar family and your scribe to 255’s first CO’s grave. There, the whole story of Rhys Soar’s flying career – RNAS and RAF – was recited by the RAF’s most senior officer in Wales, for whose presence and active participation we are very grateful.


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Print presented to our hosts by
255 Squadron Association, now
exhibited in their museum
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The Soar family grave at Martletwy
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Traditional Welsh Dragon presented to
255 Squadron Association by Carew
Cheriton Control Tower Group

Use the magnifier controls of your browser to enlarge these images


27 October 2018 : What’s the delay with AIR81 releases?  For some time, work on the historical record of the Squadron’s losses has been frustrated by the continued closure of files in The National Archives document series AIR 81. An explanation (of sorts) has now been found here: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/about/freedom-of-information/information-requests/transfer-and-closure-of-records-within-the-air-81-series/

As at today’s date the relevant part reads as follows:
2. Why are some closed for 82 years and others opened after less?

If a record is closed because it relates to an individual who is assumed to be living, the closure period is based on the individual’s age if this is known. If the age is not known, the personal information in and the contextual evidence of the record may be used to estimate an age and therefore the appropriate closure period. Such reasoning is recommended under the Code of Practice for Records Managers and Archivists under section 51(4) of the Data Protection Act 1998.

Contextual evidence within the AIR 81 series suggest that the individuals named within the files were at least 18 years old. The closure period has been based on the lifetime of the individual, which is assumed to be 100 years. As such the records are closed for 82 years to cover the remainder of the assumed lifetime of 100 years.

Those files which have been opened before the expiration of the 82-year closure period have been subject to Freedom of Information requests in which the sensitive information has either been redacted or the individuals named within the files have been found to be deceased.
...which all seems very reasonable until one realises that in some instances the casualty files themselves contain a unique whole-crew record of individuals involved in any given incident. Putting together a reasoned and reasonable case for opening the file therefore becomes problematic. AHB charge £30 to open each file, and getting one in unredacted form involves evidencing the death of each and every name appearing in the closed record in advance of seeing it – not easy!

[Update generated by User Forum meeting at TNA on 15th November: Releases from AHB to TNA are at the discretion of Air Historical Branch, so there’s no point in pressuring TNA for speedier action. The same User Forum session, attended by your scribe, also confirmed that CWGC (the Commonwealth War Graves Commission) are exempt from FOI because they are a charity, not a public body.]

19.Nov.2018 : 255 Squadron featured on The History Channel in a one-hour TV programme devoted to the Hull Blitz, the loss of Defiant Mk.1 N3333 in May 1941, the recent recovery of the wreckage from a field in rural Lincolnshire and the biographies of the surviving crew. This included a guest appearance by our Association member Christine Ballantine, who flew in from the west coast of Canada in order to take part. There's a write-up on this blog: https://stephentaylorhistorian.com/2018/11/19/ww2-treasure-hunters-season-2-bolton-paul-defiant/. Christine is keen to point out one error – she wrote the synopsis of her father’s life, not the programme’s editors! A number of our members not possessing either satellite or cable TV, not everyone has yet seen this. It is hoped that, in time, it will be repeated on Freeview.



Online news stories from earlier years:

After viewing the archive, please use the ‘Back’ button of your browser to return to this page.

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2015
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2016
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2017



Squadron neck ties are back!

After an absence of about 45 years, 255 Squadron gentlemen’s neck ties are back in stock. Price is £13 each plus £1.50 P&P. Sales are limited to surviving Squadron members (all ranks) and their relatives. Despatch is being handled by Shaun Stewart, but please apply in the first instance to the Association using the mail link at the foot of the Sitemap page.



Keeping the memory alive....


255 Squadron Association is an unincorporated group – a club, if you prefer that term – dedicated to recording the history of the Squadron and keeping alive the memory of those who fought with the unit during two World Wars.

Although the website is relatively new, the Association is not. Soon after the Second World War, meetings of former comrades-in-arms took place in smoke-filled rooms over pubs after work. Souvenirs such as squadron neckties were produced and reportedly sold to members to raise the modest funds needed to pay for such gatherings. Whether or not the castings of the Squadron Crest should be numbered amongst these fund-raising items is unclear, but at least one such casting (by "Rogarn") survives. Depicted here, it is about 10¾" (273mm) tall and weighs in at a hefty 697gm. If anyone has any other souvenirs surviving from this era, please let the webmaster know by e-mail, with a view to including a description and photograph here. There’s a mail link at the bottom of the Site Map page.

When the children of Squadron members reached an age such that they might attend these meetings, a number did – although reportedly there was some dissent voiced as to whether that was appropriate. Next-generation attendees are believed to have included, at various times and in alphabetical order of surname Chris Drake (son of "Quack" Drake), Geoffrey Kelly (son of Piers Kelly), Peter Lammer (son of Freddie Lammer), Andy Lawler (son of the squadron electrician), Shaun Stewart (son of "Stew" Stewart) and Howard Ward (son of Jimmy Ward).
  Crest, by Rogarn

Crest - Casting by Rogarn, circa 1950

In time, the running of the Association passed into the hands of Sir Frederick Maurice Drake, DFC, (1923–2014) who relocated the occasional meetings from London to his magnificent home near Harpenden in Hertfordshire. Quack’s commitment to the squadron was strong; when knighted and given his own coat of arms, he arranged with the Heralds to include two hints at a connection with No.255 Squadron. Prominent below the Shield is a replica of Quack’s DFC, earned whilst with the Squadron, and his choice of motto, Levavi Oculos Ad Auroram combines the motto of his old school (St. George’s, Harpenden, where he was Head Boy) with that of No.255 Squadron. The photographs below show the western elevation of Lincoln’s Inn Chapel and Sir Maurice’s Coat of Arms, painted on the east wall of the Great Hall of Lincoln’s Inn. Both images were taken on the occasion of the Service of Thanksgiving and Remembrance that took place there on 25 June 2014. The formal representative of the Royal Air Force was Air Marshal Christopher Nickols CB CBE MA FRAeS.

Chapel of Lincoln’s Inn   Coat-of-Arms of the late Sir Maurice Drake, DFC

Lincoln’s Inn Chapel, London
 

Coat-of-Arms of Sir Frederick Maurice Drake, DFC


Shortly after Sir Maurice’s funeral (at St.Nicholas’ Church, Harpenden, 23 April 2014) a decision was taken by some of the "next generation" to expand an existing, very basic web page on the Wikipedia site. By the time of the Memorial Service, only WWI matters had been detailed, but the project appeared at that stage to be going well. Unfortunately, just at the point where the squadron’s great WWII successes in North Africa were being added, a group of people having no known connection with the squadron deleted over 80% of the page content – in the process breaking up the continuity of the historical account assembled through weeks of painstaking research at The National Archives. And what a date they picked to commit such vandalism. The attack commenced on 11th November, Armistice Day!

Rather than engage in a potentially never-ending editing war on a 'wiki' site, a decision was taken to create this separate website under the Association’s sole control.



New participants required!

If you have any connection with 255, however many generations removed, please do get in touch. There’s no membership fee at present. The "keen types" pay out of their own pockets, much as happened in the days of Mess whip-rounds to (somehow) keep Bruce and his successors fed or acquire additional silver Jerries for the chain.



Membership Database and Mailing List:

Names and contact details were routinely added to our old mailing list in consequence of past communication regarding the Squadron and its history. But in some cases we simply do not know where data came from; no record survives.

Due to the legal changes associated with GDPR (the General Data Protection Regulations), the mailing list was revised in May 2018. Henceforth we can only send unsolicited mail to postal and e-mail addresses that we can prove have been obtained on the basis of "opt-in" involving informed consent. Be warned! If you didn’t reply to the circular sent out on 11.May.2018, asking to be kept on the list, you will not receive any further announcements sent out by the Association – unless you re-register.

The new law not only means that we were obliged to revise our mailing list, it also requires us to state what Personal Data we hold about you, how we gathered it, how you can review/correct it, how in future we intend to store it, how we intend to use it and how you can opt out of bulk mail communications from us should you decide to do so.

It is our intention to continue to use Heart Internet both as the Website Host and for sending bulk mail relating to the Squadron Association. This bulk mail, probably about 6 items per year, will in the main comprise notification of significant upcoming events such as gatherings and expeditions. The address list will also serve as one part of our two-part membership record.

E-mail exchanges with individual members or small groups of members (such as participants in a particular event or expedition) are at present held entirely separately, on Yahoo’s servers. It is our intention to continue this arrangement for the time being, whilst keeping under review the privacy implications of using a facility not wholly within UK jurisdiction.

The information held on our membership database (separate from the mailing list) will in future comprise:
• Your personal or business name as applicable,
• Your e-mail address,
• Your reserve line of communication (EG phone, street address),
• Your connection with the Squadron if any, (EG "Son of 136496 George W. ELEY, Navigator"),
• EITHER A copy of your explicit consent to be on the mailing list,
╎ OR a copy of your request to be removed from the mailing list,
╎ OR a note of an automatic lapse (EG upon notification of death).
╎ ... along with a trail of past changes to the consent, if any.
This we consider to be the absolute minimum information needed for the Association to function. None of this data is "Sensitive Personal Data" within the meaning of GDPR, but to be on the safe side we will not be recording Titles that betray particular religious affiliations such as Reverend, Father, Rabbi, Imam or similar.

Requests for review/change will be handled by e-mail using the address office@255.org.uk.

The data will only be read by those for the time being running the Association, plus (where necessary for operational purposes) the technical staff of our service provider. As has been the case for many years, neither the mailing list nor the underlying database storing the details listed above will be on public display.

Given the nature of the Association as a Historical Record Society, we will not be deleting accurate records of past members from the Database, only from the Mailing List. Editing historical truth isn’t our thing. Nor will we be deleting past contributions to website content, unless evidenced as being incorrect.

Any members who didn’t reply to our circular of 11th May by the 25th have been flagged "Lapsed on introduction of GDPR" on the database and removed from the mailing list. You can, of course, re-apply. The inconvenience is regretted, but this is a paper exercise that by law we simply had to do.

Those who elect to remain on, join or re-join the list are advised to "whitelist" the Domain "@255.org.uk" with your ISP, as a way of lessening the chance of misrouting of mail to your spam filter. For a tutorial on how to whitelist a mail source, see Onlinegroups.net.



Opt-in and Unsubscribe links

Green mail icon
OPT-IN
Not all Mail Clients still fully support the rather old-fashioned <mailto> HTML construct, forcing us to change our opt-in arrangements. To opt-in, please send an e-mail to <opt-in@255.org.uk>, inserting the single word "Subscribe" in the subject line and a short description of your connection with the Squadron as the text. Please include a reserve line of communication such as a phone number that accepts SMS Text (preferred), or a mailing/street address. This e-mail MUST be sent from the same address as you are seeking to have added to the mailing list.
  
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UNSUBSCRIBE
Not all Mail Clients still fully support the rather old-fashioned <mailto> HTML construct, forcing us to change our unsubscribe arrangements. To unsubscribe, please send an e-mail to <unsubscribe@255.org.uk>, inserting the single word "Unsubscribe" in the subject line and as the first or only word of the text. This e-mail MUST be sent from the same address as you are seeking to have removed from the mailing list.



Searching for another Squadron too?

Many researchers need to consult the records of more than one Squadron/Wing/Group/OTU or whatever. A list of other Associations can be found by entering the exact phrase "ROYAL AIR FORCES REGISTER OF ASSOCIATIONS" into any reputable Search Engine.







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