Posts Tagged: ‘50 Squadron’

Veterans charity Combat Stress fundraiser event, Saturday 2 November 2013.

30/10/2013 Posted by chris

Hi everybody,

I will be attending a book signing for Riding In The Shadow Of Death on behalf of the Veterans’ outstanding mental heath charity Combat Stress.

F/Lt Jeff Gray who is a Veteran Lancaster pilot featured in the book will be with me for the day to chat to people and help open the event. Jeff’s wife Joan will also be with us. Joan served as a nurse during WW2 in the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS), now named the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps (QARANC; also known as the QAs). During WW2, the Army Nursing Service served in every campaign from Iceland to the Pacific, nursing the sick and wounded and sharing the hazards of warfare. Many lost their lives or became POW’s. Joan served at the D-Day Landings in 1944 tending to many injured and dying soldiers.

http://www.army.mod.uk/medical-services/nursing/30986.aspx

Joan was also posted to a Field Psychiatric Hospital where she helped soldiers recover from Post Traumatic Stress. The story of the Nurses is told in the excellent book by Barbara Mortimer called Sisters, in which Joan is featured:- 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sisters-Heroic-true-life-stories-nurses/dp/0099547740/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1383447129&sr=1-2-fkmr0&keywords=sisters+qairans

Riding In The Shadow Of Death also highlights how our RAF Bomber Command crewmen suffered from extreme stresses on their combat operations over Europe during WW2. Many crewmen also suffered from Post Traumatic Stress and were treated at RAF Hospitals during the course of the War. Many like one of the featured Veterans Dennis Bartlett, kept things to himself after the War and didn’t talk about his experiences until recently. When I met Dennis in 2011 and got to know him, he shared many experiences with me that even his own family members hadn’t heard. All our Veterans are truly extraordinary men and women.

http://www.combatstress.org.uk/news/

The event is on Saturday 2 November (11am to 3pm) at Free Church Hall in Hampstead Garden Suburb:-

http://www.hgs.org.uk/events/eventlist/all/venue-2

http://www.hgsfreechurch.org.uk/findus.htm

The event is normally hosted by legendary BBC War correspondent Martin Bell who unfortunately cannot be there this year. The ribbon cutting for the opening will take place at 11am.

Please do come along, it is such a worthwhile charity that does outstanding work with our Veterans.

Best wishes all

Chris

The fundraiser at Free Church Hall was very successful and we all had a great day.

Combat Stress event, 2 Nov 2013. Chris Keltie, WW2 Veterans Joan Gray and Jeff Gray

 

WW2 Veterans Jeff and Joan Gray

 

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Chris Keltie and Bomber Command Veterans to meet PM David Cameron

17/09/2013 Posted by chris

Hi everybody,

I have some exciting news to share with you all. On Wednesday 9 October 2013, four of the Bomber Command Veterans who are featured in my book ‘Riding In The Shadow Of Death’ and I will be meeting the Prime Minister David Cameron at the House of Commons. We will be presenting a copy of the book to him. This is to say thank you for his work gaining recognition for Bomber Command Veterans past and present:- the Gold Clasp award and clearing the debt for the Bomber Command Memorial; also the award of the Arctic Star medal for the Arctic Convoy Veterans.

W/O Dennis Bartlett's Gold Clasp award

Bill North’s three sons, David, Alun and Rhys will be attending the event on behalf of their father.

The Veterans attending will be Bill’s Mid-Upper Gunner, W/O Dennis Bartlett (61 Squadron). Dennis is the last living witness to Bill’s extraordinary courage and bravery on the night that Bill crash landed their Lancaster Bomber in France on the 4/5 July 1944. It was at night, Bill was badly injured, the aircraft was out of control after a fatal Night Fighter attack, two of the crew could not bale out as their parachutes were damaged and Bill miraculously crash landed on a French hillside. 13 other Lancasters were lost that night, with remarkably Bill’s crew being the only ones who survived these losses. Somehow or other Bill received no decoration for his selfless and outstanding act of courage!

Lancaster EE186,QR-D crash site 4-5 July 1944

Also attending will be Bill’s comrade from 61 Squadron Lancaster pilot F/Lt Jeff Gray, W/O Percy Cannings (100 Squadron and 97 Squadron Pathfinder Force) and his daughter Sandy. Finally Rear Gunner W/O James Flowers from 50 Squadron, who shared the Bomber Command Station at Skellingthorpe with 61 Squadron. James is representing 50 and 61 Squadron Association and has shared many of his experiences as a Rear Gunner in the book. His work posting the Veterans albums on 50/61 Squ’s website is outstanding. http://www.no-50-and-no-61-squadrons-association.co.uk/

The Daily Mirror article by Richard Smith detailing Bill’s courage and his reunion with Dennis Bartlett after 67 years.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/hero-bomber-pilots-amazing-untold-94615

James Flowers at the 50/61 Squ Memorial Day Skellingthorpe 10 June 2012

The whole thing was suggested by F/Lt Jeff Gray who is also featured in the book and has become a very good friend. We both wrote to Downing Street to explain the idea and were very surprised to be told the PM would like to meet us all!

F/Lt Jeff Gray's WW2 medals (pic Chris Keltie)

The medals in the above picture are left to right:- DFM (Distinguished Flying Medal), 1939-1945 Star, Air Crew Europe Star, Defence Medal and 1939-45 War Medal. (The new Gold Clasp award attaches to to 1939-45 Star).

Some other exciting news is the launch of Percy Cannings’, ‘Finding The Pathfinders’ film.

On Wednasday 11 September 2013 (Percy Cannings’ birthday) a film called ‘Finding The Pathfinders’ was launched at the Kinema in the woods, Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire.

http://www.thekinemainthewoods.co.uk/

The film was made by Percy’s daughter Sharon Cannings and her partner Martin Nicholls. It records the emotional journey of Percy Cannings to track down the crew members he served with in RAF Bomber Command during WW2. Attending the launch were family members of Percy’s crew that had been tracked down, alongside his many other friends and family members. Sharon and Martin have have made a truly excellent film. With no external funding, they have put together an extraordinary film that will make you laugh and cry. Leanne Brown from BBC Look North news covered the event and information about the film can be found at the link below.  http://erminestreetproject.blogspot.c…

BBC Look North TV news clip:-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xJ5ctnzqHM

Just before the film premier there was a wonderful talk by Sean Taylor. Sean is the Safety Officer and guide at the Aviation Heritage Centre, East Kirkby, Lincolnshire. It is the home to Lancaster Bomber NX611 ‘Just Jane’. Sean took me on an interior tour of this Lancaster about 3 years ago with Fred Panton’s granddaughter Louise Bush. I will never forget his enthusiastic and charismatic approach to sharing his detailed knowledge of the history of Bomber Command and its crewmen. Sean yet again, never fails to disappoint his audience whether it is one to one, or hundreds.

http://www.lincsaviation.co.uk/

The presentation details a day in the life of a Bomber Command Lancaster crew (focusing on the Air Gunners) and the highs and extreme lows of a combat Operation over Europe. We really can’t complain about our average daily stresses compared to what these these courageous young men went through and to whom we owe so much to.

Day in the life of Bomber Command Lancaster crew, Sean Taylor:-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXNJmkomBJM

ONLINE BOOK ORDERS FOR ‘RIDING IN THE SHADOW OF DEATH’:-

If anybody is trying to order the book online from Amazon, it comes up as unavailable. Please don’t be put off by this, there are plenty of books available. Click on the ‘order now’ icon and the orders will come directly through to me where I honour them.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Riding-Shadow-Death-Chris-Keltie/dp/0957118910/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1379419697&sr=1-1

Another excellent book on the history of 97 Squadron Pathfinder Force (Percy’s Squadron) called ‘Achieve Your Aim’ by Kevin Bending is also available online.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Achieve-Your-Aim-Settlements-Pathfinder/dp/1903953979

Percy Cannings at the Kinema, Woodhall Spa. 11 Sept 2013 (pic Chris Keltie)

Above Pathfinder Percy Cannings receives a replica of his faithful 97 Squadron Lancaster, ND807, OF-P. Presented by Jimmy Blackwood from RAF Wyton for his birthday outside the Kinema at film premier of ‘Finding The Pathfinders’. Left to right, Sandy Cannings, Simon Atack, Percy Cannings and out of sight Jimmy Blackwood.

Best wishes all

Chris Keltie

 

 

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