Maidenhead’s Busy Summer

It’s been a busy time at 155 (Maidenhead) Squadron with a wide range of activities taking place and plenty more planned for 2015.

From the 8th to 15th of July, 6 cadets and two staff from 155 Sqn attended the world famous Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford. Although the event is primarily 2 days, there are in excess of 800 ATC cadets and staff who live and work at the air base for a period of 8 days, assisting the RAF Charitable Trust Enterprises. The cadets had the opportunity to meet the Red Arrows and the ACO Commandant Air Commodore Dawn McCafferty. There was also the opportunity to see inside various aircraft and helicopters, meet high ranking Air Force personnel from around the world and watch the flying displays and practices over the 8 days. Flt Lt Bennett, CI R Patel, CWO T James, Cpl G Ashfield, Cpl A Jones, Cpl L Parsons, Cdt J Trayte and Cdt T MacLean made up the Maidenhead contingent

On Thursday 17th July, cadets and staff from the Squadron held a commemoration service at the 578 Burn Sqn War memorial in Carpenters Wood, Maidenhead, laying a number of wreaths and marking the 70th anniversary of the tragedy. Early on the morning of 18th July 1944, 21 Halifax bombers of 578 Squadron took off from Burn in Yorkshire to attack fortified villages near Caen in France. On the outward flight, LK-Q developed a fire which the crew were unable to control. In his anxiety to avoid the heavily populated areas of Reading, Maidenhead and Windsor, the Pilot steered into open country before the fully fuelled and armed aircraft lost altitude and exploded in mid-air over the dense wood near Pinkney’s Green. Miraculously, the Canadian rear gunner Flt.Sgt. Hugh Sloan, was blown upwards out of his turret and managed to parachute to safety but the rest of his crew perished without trace. Their names are recorded on panels of the Air Forces Memorial to the Missing at Runnymede. The remaining crew who lost their lives were:

  • Flying Officer Victor Starkoff DFC (Australian Pilot aged 33)
  • Pilot Officer Jan Frederick Fink (Navigator aged 26)
  • Flight Sergeant Ivor Morgan (Bomb Aimer aged 20)
  • Pilot Officer Lloyde Hinson Hopper (Canadian Wireless Operator aged 24)
  • Sergeant Gerald Thomas Nicholson (Flight Engineer aged 20)
  • Flight Sergeant John Edward Clague (Mid-upper Gunner)

CWO T James read out a letter on behalf of the family of Plt Off Hopper from Canada and Cadet J Bowen laid a floral tribute on their behalf. Maidenhead ATC Squadron have been the custodian of the War memorial since the replacement structure was installed in October 2011. The service was also attended by ex 155 Squadron cadet and now Royal Marines Commando, Maxwell Hardick.

Cadet G Wright took part in a canoe training activity last weekend with 211 (Newbury) squadron in preparation for his Duke of Edinburgh’s award expedition later in the year and on Monday 28th July, ex 155 Squadron cadet and now RAF Typhoon pilot, Flt Lt Duncan Wylie returned to the unit to give a lecture on his service career.

The Squadron also assisted with a number of events including the prestigious sporting weekend in central London on the Mall at the finishing stages of the Ride London cycling event at the start of August. There was also the opportunity for cadets to experience life at various MoD facilities, attending summer camps at RAF station Cranwell and Pirbright Army Training Camp as well as helping out at the retro festival at White Waltham aerodrome, the Littlewick Show and West London Aero Club member’s day.