People I remember at Defford



People I remember at Defford


An article written by Neil Ramsey referring to a cartoon drawn by 'Budd'. He details the social life and personalities on the base including Ronnie Smith who flew a Lancaster under a Severn railway bridge. Reference is made of an Oboe reunion in 1983. He lists a few of the attendees.


Temporal Coverage



Two typewritten sheets



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[inserted] PLEASE RETURN TO:- [/inserted]
N.G.C. RAMSEY, D.F.C., [underlined] People I remember at Defford. [/underlined]
[inserted] ENC. 4. [/inserted]
Firstly the party at the Rose and Crown, Severn Stoke, March 8th I944: I too have a copy of the cartoon by Budd – He was a N.C.O. aircrew member who did numerous cartoons of members of “A” Flight, including Peter and myself. I was depicted a a [sic] “shooting man” in plus-fours with F/Lt sripes [sic] on the shoulder. He always signed himself Budd and I can’t remebre [sic] his name unless it was Burton (see under) Fortunately I got those attending to sign the back of the photoed [sic] cartoon and can give the names as follows: S/Ldr. Ronnie Smith D.F.C., L. Hopkins, W. Scullard, J.R. Crawford, Duncan Chisholm, - M. Darcy, Ron Leavers, J. Millar, Fred Carmichael, - Burton and N.G.C. Ramsey.
Talking of shooting and Tony (not Jimmy) Meade, he and I were shotting companions and on one occasion went shooting rabbits on Bredon with the F/Sgt i/c “A” Flight groundcrew – his name escapes me although I can still picture him, he lived out on a farm on Bredon, hence the shooting there.
Boffins: Boffin Bruce who never wore socks, a real eccentric. Mr Fry who had been in some sort of explosion and was disfigured. There was also a young Scot. I think working on Monica who could not ride a bike. Our geat [sic] delight was to put him on one and give him a push, he immediately fell off.
Ronnie Smith did take a Lanc under the railway bridge over the Severn, I remember the mid-upper was Dunc. Chisholm who arrived back somewhat shocked. It was after a lunchtime session at the pub on the main road we used to cross on our way from Upton on Severn to Dafford. [sic] Dunc. Chisholm once took over the drums at a dance in Tewkesbury – he was superb – and told us he had once played with Fats Waller. He was as you say Canadian. By the way the session at the pub was brought about by a complete clampdown (fog) and a Met. report giving no hope of a clearance. We arrived back at camp to find a complete clearance and a Lanc. to fly. Give Ronnie his due he took it himself rather than drop someone else in.
There was an Oboe re-union at the R.A.F. Club in I983 it was attended by Dr. F. E. Jones and John Hooper who organised it. There is to be another one on 22nd March, I993 again organised by John E.N. Hooper, 8, Meadow Close, Hinchley Wood, Esher, KT10 0AY. I see Dr Jones is not listed as attending so I presume he has died meantime. Others attending from HQ/AM/TRE are listed as E.L.T. Barton, AVM Sid Bufton, Sir Clifford Cornford, Sir Edward Fennesay, O.G. Williams and of course John Hooper. These name [sic] may be of interest to some of you.
I will now list others I remeber [sic] or have knowledge of:
[underlined] Gp. Capt. J.A. Macdonald. [/underlined] I last met him when I was Senior Ops. Controller at (1950) Transport Command H.Q. I had to see in Royal Flights and he was then Commandant of London Airport. An amusing episode occurred at “A” Flight offices when, one day, Wg. Cdr. Johnny Claydon was working under my car fitting big-end bearings. Groupie arrived and shouted come out from under that car, imagine his surprise to find not an erk (a heinous offence) but the Cg. Cdr. Flying. All he said was “Oh it’s you Johnny”.
Lt. Cdr. Millward last heard of a senior executive of BEA in the early fifties.
Wg. Cdr. Jackson, a boffin in uniform, maybe a liason [sic] officer. He had an office close to “A” flight and was reputed to be the owner of The News of the World and a friend of Churchill.
Wg. Cdr Johnny Claydon, was the son of a garage proprietor at Deal, hence the episode above, given his expertise.
Flt. Lt. Brian Smithers usec [sic] to play Chopin’s No. 1 Piano concerto at the same time as the recording by Rubinstein. I last met him in a night club in Athens. The band were on strike and Brian, then a Captain with BOAC (I945) was still playing the same piece. I recognised it from the bar, went over to the pianist and it was Brian.
Moore: There were two Moores, the first must have left soon after I got to Defford since my wife and I took over his quarters in Upton. Was it “Dinty”?
[page break]
Lawrence Moore.
He was a very keen bridge player.
S/Ldr. Vernon Motion, a real smoothie in the Offensive Section. Reputed to be a stockbroker, lived out in Tewkesbury.
F/O Jimmy Duff – Second i/c Armoury drove a smart SS 100
F/Lt Jack Etchells – believed related to one of the chiefs at Dunlop – drove a I939 drophead coupe M.G. Jack was by way of being a friend of mine and I would like to hear what became of him. We made up a foursome of car owners, Johnny Claydon, 2 1/2 litre SS, Ronnie Smith, Drophead Coupe Humber, Jack M.G. and myself Daimler Light I5.
One of the Navs. was named Tait, with connections to my home town, Boston. I think he has a DGM (escaper?) or maybe Army co-op, on second thoughts.
The Signals officer whose name eludes me drove a Singer Le Mans Coupe.
Sdn. Ldr. Randall was, I think more specialised.
I recently met:
Ted (Tony) Barton who was definitely there when we were, he was I gather, a M.T. fitter. He now owns a fleet of coaches in Sleaford, Lincs. I did not know him at Defford; but we compared notes at a recent birthday party.
Vic. Haley M.N. (escaper) and Taffy Bidder [brackets] Were both killed in a Mosquito, nightflying [sic] at the PFF Conversion Flight at Warboys. They were going on to OBOE on either 105 or 108. I went through Warboys just afterwrds [sic] on my way to 105 Sqn. [/brackets]
Canadians –
F/O Ed. Higgins, married a WAAF officer in Tewkesbury Abbey and last heard of they were living in Toronto. Ed used to go home with me to Boston and on visiting new friends he recognised a picture of Boston “Stump”. The other couple had emigrated and they wrote back to their parents. Ed, in fact, knew the girl’s father whom he had met with me at the local farmer’s club.
Bourassa (not, I Think, Bourgasser) was a French Canadian.
Flying Officer Johnny Turnbull married Flight Off. Joan Turnbull.
Another WAAF Officer (from Tunbridge Wells area) was Pam Turnbull, she was the Cypher Officer and I remember that she, Johnny Clayden and I visited the cinema on the eve of “D” Day. They knew it was on, I discovered afterwards.
I do remember the other names in the letters received from Peter; but unfortunately my log book is missing so I have to rely on my failing memory.
I must add a word about Griff. He was reuted [sic] to have been a Trawler Skipper before the war and his SSC. In any event he was a very keen and remarkable sailor. After the war all Commands had a prize yacht, liberated from the German Baltic fleet. I did my first trip with Griff when I was a T.C. H.Q. and he taught me to sail. In I952 I navigated “Sea Lion” in the Cowes-Dinard R.A.R.C. race and we won “A” Div. of Class 1 (The big boys). The following year I was posted to Abingdon a few days before the race. I reported to H.Q. to see the Group Captain (Griff, of course). The Adjt. said the Gp. Capt. never sees new arrivals; but I persuaded him to tell Griff. He rushed out of the office and said “what the hell are you doing here, Neil, you should be preparing for the I953 race” I said I thought it not a good idea to start on a new Squadron by disapearing [sic] and he said “Character building sports take precedence over flying any day. However I persuaded him that my new Squadron Commander might have different views. A really great chap Griff.



Neil Ramsey, “People I remember at Defford,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 18, 2024,

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