For the Korean War site by Simon Coy

Click Here


Email your photos & stories









September 1963

Back row left to right

Chris Gardener;  Niel Smith ;  Malcom Coe, Paul Buckland, Vince Yates, Malc Caygill, Geoff Mason, Martin Barents


Front row left to right

Dave Haywood, Ron Forder, Alan Macdonald, Steve Walton (now "Steve Baines") , Grant Taylor , Paddy Waugh,  Dick Northcote, Ian Johnson, Jock Reid

(Is "Sweaty" asleep and dreaming of his next encounter with a girl?)


The Flight Cadets from "D" Squadron  that never made it to the 50th Re-union

Martin Barents

Killed in a car accident 25th May 1964 following the routine ‘Sunday night dash back to Cranwell to beat the 23.59 Hrs dead line’

Paddy Waugh

Killed in a car accident 1967 on first tour at RAF Benson

Ian Johnson

Died of cancer 24th June 1995

Vince Yates

Died 25th Dec 2016


A sad end to 2016 

It was with deep sadness that we announced the death, on Christmas day 2016, of Vince Yates one of 89's stalwarts. Dick Northcote, one of Vince's closest friends and a fellow D Squadron member wrote ....

Vince was a one off.  Larger than life, always ready for a trip to to the local pubs and keen on his football and cricket.  Unfortunately his RAF career was cut short following ejection from a Hunter on his first tour in Tengah, Singapore.  Thereafter, with back problems, he felt he could no longer fly and after several attempts at civilian jobs, started his own business as a financial consultant.  

Vince was always keen to help others and this came across in his business; he took a fledgling company from start-up to become a highly successful financial consultancy in his local town of Evesham..  He also became well known in in the local area for his voluntary work serving for some years as a prison visitor helping with rehabilitation work. Laterally, ill health forced him to retire and he had difficulty attending 89 Entry Reunions but he will be sorely missed by all who knew him particularly those members of 89 Entry who he considered as life long friends.

RIP Vince Yates (1944 – 2016)


Left - Flight Cadets Jackson & Yates posing for a Cranwell recruitment poster in 1965



Continued from 2021 News page as resurrected by Alan Macdonald

The Expedition....

We were seven in number - myself, Dave, Dick, and our dear departed Ian, plus Flight Cadet Sowler, Senior Flight Cadet Atkinson and the report author - possibly Flight Cadet Lewis. Historically, a 1955 College Journal article had highlighted the discovery of “Caverna di Cranwell” in the Finale Ligure region of Italy. We hoped to retrace similar steps, and conduct a photographic study and geographical survey of ‘our cave’ - if we could find it!

"Our expedition set off in two minibuses at 0730 hours on 19th August with all the potholing kit, film, and most important of all, Trenchard money, along with sleeping bags, eating implements, and two boxes of RASC food loaded on board.”

“A member of the party, Flight Cadet Northcote, had a pen-friend in Chatillon-sur-Seine. We naturally all called at her home to meet her and were pleasantly surprised. Her mother, in true French style, invited us to lunch. A chance to sample French home cooking was not to be missed, and so we courteously accepted. we were provided with a huge meal and wonderful hospitality, being so bloated that we slept in the sun lounge until 1900 hours. Goodbyes were said and small gifts of chocolate for Jeanine’s sisters (Jeanine was the pen pal) and cigarettes for her father were left as tokens of our enjoyment.”

 “The night drive to the border town of Henton was uneventful, the two drivers having shifts of three hours each and sleeping in-between. Italian customs proved to be very lazy and did not even check our passports.”


“At 1900 hours we reached Finale Ligure and began to look for a temporary campsite for the evening. we spotted behind a garage a ‘roofed-in’ campeggio for motor vehicles so we blithely drove in. In our eagerness to have a good night’s sleep, we forgot about the three foot high box on the luggage rack. The result was disastrous. The roof of the campeggio (had) been lowered and consisted of (a) wooden lattice work entwined with grape vines and bunches of grapes. It took almost an hour to repair the damage, before we roared off into the approaching night. Our driver, Flight Cadet Macdonald, slightly flustered by these happenings then proceeded to pass a very vain cabinero four times, each time in the wrong lane!”
After several days of abortive attempts to locate ‘our cave’s location, we had success. “The expressions which formed on our faces on hearing one of the men behind the counter say, “Caverna di Cranwell, yes, I know it”, must have been the epitome of happiness”……”We were welcomed by the cafe owner when we told him we were ‘ Gruppo Speleologico di Cranwell’. He slapped us on the back and gave us the address of a potholing club who worked in our cave…. Gruppo Speleologica di Borgio Verezzi, Villa Cleofe”.

“In the corner of the main square (of Finale Ligure) a shop bore the name of Signor Campi. (Taking pot luck) we asked to see Signor Campi…… Our gamble paid off. He was the original Signor Campi mentioned in the 1955 Report. The ensuing scene was rather embarrassing. He shook all our hands and kissed us, as if we were long lost brothers. At least it provided entertainment for the tourists.”

“Seven keen flight cadets presented themselves to Signor Campi at 1000 hours on Wednesday, 26th August. It appeared we already had permission from the commune to explore the cave, so we made preparations to descend. The guide was to be Gianni who was 34 years of age and a professional caver.”

A cave - but is is it Caverna di Cranwell !

“ The main chamber was entered by an almost vertical, man-made mud chute. It was at the bottom of this that we first observed the natural Caverna di Cranwell, our cave. The first thing we noticed was that the Italians had erected electric lighting in this section of the cave. The second thing was the beauty of the place. We rounded a flowstone wall and almost the whole of the cavern was exposed. … a huge formation in the centre was shaped like an organ and even the detail of the organ pipes could be noted.”

 “Flight Cadet Sowler ended up stuck in a narrow crawl with his feet kicking helplessly in the air. He was hauled outdone the worse for wear and five minutes later Senior Flight Cadet Atkinson had to be helped down from a hole in the roof.”

“ The party which proceeded in a northerly direction had more luck and made a major discovery. The Italians were overjoyed at this discovery and named the new system ‘Cavena di Mac’ after Flight Cadet Macdonald who discovered it. Flight Cadet Northcote’s account of the discovery is an eye witness account.”

 “ Macdonald, Hayward, Gianni and myself were doing some exploring and, after a reasonably easy traverse, the cave opened out into a large chamber where there had obviously been a roof-fall. We tried a few openings, but they came to nothing. Hayward and Gianni pressed on whilst Macdonald went down into a little pool of water which the other two had ignored. He disappeared through a small opening one foot high and three feet wide and discovered a deep pool. He gave a shout and I followed him through. We cautiously made our way round the edge of the pool. Macdonald then proceeded while I went back for Hayward and Gianni. On our return, Macdonald led us through a small opening and showed us a huge lake surrounded by beautiful formations, one which resembled the leaning Tower of Pisa.”

The quiet cave area!!

Alan Macdonald looking for a cave!

Winding down after a hard day's caving/sunbathing?

Dave Hayward entertaining the troops - 

Ian Johnson, Dick Northcote & Alan Macdonald 

 “Accompanied by Flight Cadet Northcote on guitar, we sang all the way to the beach. We swam and sunbathed until noon. During the afternoon we visited Señor Campi’s souvenir shop and bought presents to take home - all at cost price!”

“Flight Cadets Macdonald, Johnson, Hayward and Northcote were to explore one or two caves in the local area (Borgio Verezzi) with Gianni. … There were some sandstone caves and rather loosely packed clay. At one point, Flight Cadet Hayward carried out a safety test before entering a passage. He hurled a stone along the passage and the roof fell in. This simple test is often used by the Society, followed by shouting down the passage prior to entry. It is simple but quite effective.”

 “The minibus was packed … and last minute shopping completed. … We drove to our favourite beach and idled away sunbathing, save for the two drivers who slept…..Gruppo Speleologica di Cranwell rolled out of Finale Ligure at 1900 hours. The French-Italian border was reached at 2200 hors. The journey to Chatillon-sur-Seine was uneventful and we arrived early on Tuesday morning. We all slept for six or seven hours then decided to complete our journey to Calais….. and drove straight on to an early ferry…. An uninspiring journey and the College tower reminded us it was all over and the following morning, seven bronzed young men returned to their families with many stories to tell.”

Above - Packing or nicking stuff?

Left - 3 of the team in their "caving" kit





Some pictures from the past - supplied by Dick Northcote


Malcolm,  Dick, Dave & Jonty

Dave, Jane, Eileen & Dick

(How come the deadbeats of "D" managed to bag such attractive young ladies - surely they should have been round the front at "C"?)


A couple of interesting docs - long since forgotten.


Who remembers "The Lake Rendezvous Club"? Is that the place where we played "Pirates" and managed to loose several drill swords?

Who remembers the late night "nuddy" bathing in their outdoor pool - I remember returning one night soaked from head to foot, but dressed - we had to enter the College through the main doors - Frank Whitehouse was leading - similarly soaked but stark naked - "the Meekon" really did look like a Meekon, with his eyes almost hanging out of his sockets, as Frank wished him "Good night"! (LWQ)


With regards to the cheque - I don't remember ever having any money - maybe that's why one survives? 

Passing Out Parade 1966


JUNE 2003


Martin Barents last resting place


Malcolm Coe of D Squadron places a cross in remembrance of Keith Cartlidge (B Squadron) his old running mate

Martin still fondly remembered by his family

We were extremely pleased to hear from Martin's brother Malcolm who recently came across our web site and emailed us as follows .....

"To introduce myself I am Malcolm Barents, the younger brother Of Martin Barents who joined 89D at Cranwell in 1963.
I have just found your website and the account of the reunion and memorial service you held in June 2003.  I was deeply moved by your account of the ceremony at Martin's grave and very grateful to the organisers and all those involved.  As you say I felt particularly proud and honoured that Sir Peter Squire laid a wreath.  Obviously the day of Martin's funeral is one that I will never forget, (I do not recall if you were there, but I imagine the whole squadron was, I was the child with the other family members) and I have not had many opportunities to visit the grave and I have not seen it for quite a few years now.  It was very nice to see how good it looked.
Martin's father is also similarly touched.  He is now 83 and was a navigator during the 2nd world war, flying Mosquitos on photo-reconnaissance out of RAF Benson.  We are just about to celebrate his crash landing, and subsequent escape out of Sweden 60 years ago in August 1944.
It would be very nice, if at all possible to have copies of the photographs published on your website.  I would of course re-imburse for the costs of duplication and postage etc.
Once again, my thanks to all of those whose organised and took part in the ceremony.
Malcolm Barents"

It is pleasing to see that the power of the web can link us with our past and the families of our friends - Needless to say the photographs are on their way.

We wish Martins family and particularly his Dad happy memories of a son he can still be proud of.