113 SQUADRON RAF
~ SITE FOUNDERS ~
Ron Vickers - England
Charlie Walker - England
F/Sgt Gerard Brigden - France
Sgt John Reid - Australia
Sgt Keith Hansen - Tasmania
F/O Pat Woodward - England
Corp Norman Say, Duncan Say - England
W/O Jack Barnes, Peter Barnes - England
F/Lt Tony Day - Canada
Sgt Ewan Brooking - Australia
Kevin Crawford - Canada
A Very Special Thanks from all of us to:
Commemorations Branch, Department of Veterans Affairs, Australia
**Thanks to Steve Adams (Grandson of Corp Will Adams, WW1 ) for his great re-working of the Squadron crest to make it more presentable.
**Thanks to Sgt? Eric Jones, RAAF navigator serving with Coastal Command based in Scotland. Good friend / colleague of Sgt John Reid who has tirelessly acted as a laiason officer between John and the website.
See THOSE SIGNIFICANT OTHERS
section for profiles of veterans assisting with the 113 History but serving with another unit.
SEE THE BULLETIN BOARD AND BRIEFING ROOM FOR RECENT NEWS AND UPDATES
ABOUT THIS SITE
The main purpose of the site is to permanently preserve the history of the squadron, but perhaps more importantly, it is a means to bring the veterans and families of the 113 together to ensure that the legacy of our heroes is passed on to our grandchildren, great grandchildren and all future generations of our families to come.
This site and everthing in it belongs individually or collectively to all the veterans of the Royal Air Force 113 Squadron, their friends and their families. If you served on the squadron or are related in any way to someone who did, then this site "also belongs to you and your family". Please take the time to help with this project.
If you have "any" information, pictures or stories you can contribute please contact the site by clicking on the mailbox below. All materials or photos sent will be treated with the utmost care, loaded onto the site and returned promptly.
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE ...If you have any records, logs, photos or memorabalia of the Squadron that you no longer can keep, or wish to keep, please do not throw it out or sell it to those who have no interest in preserving the history but are only looking to profit by it. Take a moment to contact the site and we will help you find a museum or public archive in your area that will preserve the documents and keep them available for future generations. A word of caution: There are a fast growing number of unscrupulous businesses which have adopted lofty titled names to trick the public into thinking they are a legitimate historical archive or museum when in reality they are simply looking to profit from these records by breaking them up and selling them off. Sadly the bits and pieces end up in the hands of private collectors and are never seen again except to bore an odd guest of the collector who couldn't care less.
HOW IT CAME TO BE
The idea of building a web site in tribute and memory of those who served with the 113 Squadron first came to light in the fall of 2001. After searching the libraries and internet for information on a family member who had served with the squadron, I was surprised to note how little information there was. Aside from a casual reference to the squadron here and there, which offered little more than "confirmation" that it did in fact exist, there was nothing. It was apparent that time had all but forgotten the 113, as well as many other Middle East squadrons. This injustice begged to be corrected, these men had seved in the most horrific theatre's of the war under conditions and handicaps that are almost incomprehensible.
After nearly a year of working alone gathering little bits and pieces from books, magazines and the internet, the first big break came when I received an email out of the blue from Ron Vickers (UK). Ron was kind enough to pass along some possible resources to check, and also mentioned he had a close friend who's father had served with the squadron, Charlie Walker (UK). At this, the wheels were in motion, Charlie and I made contact and it has been an incessant flurry of phone calls, emails and letters around the world ever since. None of the three of us however had any illusions that we would find many surviving members of the squadron, we knew all to well that precious few ever made it home and for those that did, 60 years had now passed. The official anniversary for the site is January 20, 2003.
Pausing to examine our treasures at this point, we had a good booklet on the squadron written by a Pat Woodward that Ron had found, and Charlie had a very large collection of photographs and documents his father Sgt. Lister Walker had saved, not much but certainly a good start. Months ticked by and slowly the three of us gathered information from numerous sources and we kept in close constant contact exchanging ideas and new finds. Despite my incessant nagging, Charlie has wisely resisted all attempts to be dragged into the computer age which has necessitated a rather unique, and amusing, new form of communication. Charlie writes his letters out on paper long hand, whereupon they are then delivered down the street to Rons house, Ron then scans the letters into his computer then attaches them to an email and sends them off across the ocean to me (Kevin Crawford, Canada). At this end I retrive them from my computer and print them back out on to paper. Were it not for Ron and Charlies tireless efforts this site would simply not exist and we all owe our deepest thanks to them for making it happen. Through all the successes and failures Ron, with a gentle prod or word of encouragement has been the glue that has kept the group together and the project moving forward.
The first contact with a surviving veteran came when I received an email in reponse to a posting I had from John Brigden (UK) saying his father was with the 113 and was alive and well living in France. With that, contact was made with F/Sgt Gerard Brigden (France). It took little effort to convince Gerard of the importance of capturing the squadrons history and he readily joined us and has been a tremendous on -going help ever since the beginning. As a result we were able to fill in many of the blanks in the later years of the squadron for the period that the records were lost. Aside from his many good ideas he has also contributed photos, records and some great stories to the project. Special thanks goes to his lovely wife Eve, who patiently sat back while the Brigden garden and I fought it out for Gerrard's time and attention. (Trying to keep this man indoors on a nice day is like trying to plug the holes in the Bismark, futile : ) Gerard is also doing some watercolour paintings of various squadron scenes which we hope to offer from the site in the near future.
After making contact with Gerard, Charlie having read an article in FlyPast magazine written by Sgt.George Checketts (UK), contacted the magazine and they kindly passed Charlies letter on to George. A short while later George surprised Charlie with a phone call and in short order filled in a good deal of the background on the early / mid-years of the squadron. George has written several articles and has amassed a wealth of photos. George then surprised Charlie with the remark that he knew of several other surviving members and put him in touch with P/O Pat Woodward (UK), the author of the booklet Ron had found. Needless to say, Charlie wasn't long in making contact and we were all delighted to find Pat had in fact authored a second book on the squadron. This one, being a bound edition complete with photos and much greater detail on the squadron's activities. Of course, Pat who had already done tremendous research on the squadron at the PRO in Kew, was pleased to assist with the project and has had to endure a stream of questions, mail and transatlantic phone calls. His book is published in entirety on the site, and as well, it forms the foundation of the 'Open Book' project found in the History section.
Things were now happening quickly and awhile later I stumbled across a brief profile on a 113 veteran, Sgt John Reid, (Australia) which had been posted to the Australian Veterans Affairs web site. These folks, who are among the most helpfull and friendly I have ever come across, were not long in passing my contact info along and within days I received a telephone call from Sgt Reid all the way from Australia. Although John hails from the early days of the squadron, his voice, ideals and personality are that of someone easily thirty years younger. Excuse my saying so John, but never have I met someone so old, so young. John has also had to endure a steady stream of questions and phone calls and has been a great ongoing help with the site. Shortly after making contact with Sgt Reid, and also as a result of the Australian Veterans Affairs Dept, I received an email from Sgt Keith Hansen (Tasmania) who had been with the squadron in 41/42. Keith who is also a young man in his nineties, is amazingly skilled with a computer and has helped tirelessly with the site in providing personal stories and pictures and locating other veterans. Were it not for Keiths help, this site might still not be up and running. One of those Keith tracked down was W/O Johnny Bott (UK) who is now in contact and has given us an insight during the transitional phase from Blenheims to Hurricanes. Thanks to Johnny, we now have half a dozen more names we are following up on.
About this time as a result of a posting Ron Vickers had on the BBC Web Site, we made contact with Duncan Say (UK) whose father is Corp Norman Say LAC (UK). To someone researching the 113, finding Corporal Say would be akin to an archeologist finding King Tuts tomb. Corporal Say had followed the 113 from its beginning days in the desert through 'virtually every single move and theater' to nearly its final days in Burma. This in itself was remarkable, but he had also recorded an extensive highly detailed diary covering this entire period which gives us a rare glimpse of the travels and day to day activities of the squadron. A researchers dream come true, they have answered a lot of questions and created many as well. Duncan himself has become an integral part of the team and has done both research and writing for the site.
And then followed an avalanche......Sqd/Ldr Earnest Frost DFC , WO Jack Barnes, LAC Norman Lamb, Corp Sam Bessey, Sgt William Drake, Author F/Lt Tony Day, W/O Johnny Bott, LAC (Sgt) John Pritchard, Corp Glyn Edwards, Corp (S/Ldr) Ian John Blair, F/Sgt Arthur Davis, F/Lt Doherty DFC, Corp Ron Alvey, Sgt (S/Ldr) Bush John Barrey, Corp Edward Gunn, LAC Harry W Hitchins, Corp Jim Lightbody, LAC Glen Thomas, Sgt Alan Bailes, F/Sgt Harry Clement, Corp George Foster, F/O Graham Skellam, F/Lt Stanley Chilton DFC, W/O Ewan Brooking, Corp Stan Harrison, Corp Cyril Law, F/Sgt (S/Ldr) Michael Shekleton, ...................and it hasn't stopped.
At Time of official launch October 1, 2004
The site was constructed using an old WSIWG program called Trellix Web. The template itself, and frames, although extensively modified are part of this program package. This template and the contained data prior to the site launch took approx two years to assemble by K Crawford, Ron Vickers and Charlie Walker. The site has it's own registered domain 113squadron.com and at the time of this writing it is physically located on a computer in the city of Calgary in Alberta Canada.
The host server is owned and operated by the Telligent Corporation with the initial setup allowing for 50MB of space and 50MB of bandwidth. The initial funding for the site was provided for by a donation from the Crawford family through AUTOCLAVE CANADA CORPORATION. This funding is set aside to cover all costs of hosting the site and Domain registration well into the forseeable future. It is planned for the future to develop some form of revenue stream which will allow for other activities such as special projects, continued research and sponsoring a reunion.
Aside from the Director / Chairman, Ron Vickers, the voulunteer Committee Board to manage the site and future research has yet to be fully set up. At the time of official launch the site consisted of over 80 web pages ( 12 MB ) which in turn hold hundereds of pages of text, 20 original documents, 750 images including design, profiles on 190 veterans and nearly 60 photographs. At this time of writing the backlog waiting to be entered will probablly double most of these figures.
(February 2006, 35MB, 100 "web" pages, 400 veterans)
SITE COMMITTEE & STAFF
NOTE: The construction of the site is temporarily on hold due to personal matters which have made extreme demands on me this past year and have required my undivided attention. The site remains a love and a passion but it requires a tremendous amount of time to maintain and this is a commodity I have had precious little of these days. I sincerely appologize to all those who have been waiting to see updates to the site but I am confident that things will once again return to normal in the near future and I can again devote my attention to this great project.
The Inquisitive Mind Of A Child
Why are they selling poppies Mummy?
Selling poppies in the town today
The poppies, child are flowers of love
for the men who marched away
But, why have they chosen a poppy, mummy?
Why not a beautiful rose?
Because, my child, men fought and died
in the fields where the poppies grow
But why are the poppies so red mummy?
why are the poppies so red?
Because red is the colour of blood, my child
the blood our soldiers shed
The heart of the Poppy is black mummy
why does it have to be black?
Black my child is the symbol of grief
for the men who never came back
But, why mummy, are you crying so?
your tears are giving you pain
My tears are my fears for you child
For the world is FORGETTING AGAIN
BATLEY & BIRSTALL RAFA CLUB - BATLEY WEST YORKS UK
(The second home of Charlie Walker and Ron Vickers)
SOURCE: Ron Vickers