Gardener; Niel Smith ; Malcom Coe, Paul Buckland, Vince Yates, Malc
Caygill, Geoff Mason, Martin
Haywood, Ron Forder, Alan Macdonald, Steve Walton (now "Steve Baines")
, Grant Taylor , Paddy Waugh, Dick
Northcote, Ian Johnson, Jock Reid
"Sweaty" asleep and dreaming of his next encounter with a girl?)
Flight Cadets from "D" Squadron that never made it to the 50th
in a car accident 25th May 1964 following the routine ‘Sunday
night dash back to Cranwell to beat the 23.59 Hrs dead line’
in a car accident 1967 on first tour at RAF Benson
of cancer 24th June 1995
25th Dec 2016
A sad end to
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
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
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)
- Flight Cadets Jackson & Yates posing
for a Cranwell recruitment poster in 1965
CAVERNA DI CRANWELL
from 2021 News page as resurrected by Alan Macdonald
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
“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.”
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 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
“ 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
quiet cave area!!
Macdonald looking for a cave!
down after a hard day's caving/sunbathing?
Hayward entertaining the troops -
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
“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.”
- Packing or nicking stuff?
- 3 of the team in their "caving" kit
pictures from the past - supplied by Dick Northcote
Dick, Dave & Jonty
Jane, Eileen & Dick
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.
"The Lake Rendezvous Club"? Is that the place where we played
"Pirates" and managed to loose several drill swords?
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
Passing Out Parade
THOSE THAT NEVER MADE IT
Martin Barents last
Malcolm Coe of D Squadron places a cross in remembrance of
Keith Cartlidge (B Squadron) his old running mate
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.
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
We wish Martins family and particularly his Dad happy memories of a son he
can still be proud of.