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From 60 years since inception and onwards

With snippets of 89's history and individuals daring deeds thrown in to fill the gaps!


We'll start with the definition and origins of the word "Bumf"

The word "bumf" expanded in use in late 1939 early 1940 courtesy of the Whitley bomber aircrews in North Yorkshire. Before the Linton-on-Ouse RAF museum disappeared along with the base, it had evidence that the word  "bumf" expanded into in general use courtesy of 10 and 78 Squadrons in late 1939 early 1940. These two squadrons along with 51, 58 and 102 Yorkshire based Whitley squadrons were originally tasked to fly over Germany, as far as Berlin, and drop propaganda leaflets! The Chamberlain government didn't want to bomb Germany, in case we upset them and they bombed us!  Being RAF, the aircrews were naturally skeptical and since toilet paper was in short supply in those days they initially referred to the leaflets as "Bum Fodder". This very soon was shortened to "Bumf" and equally as quickly it was used to describe any useless paperwork!

Armstrong Whitworth Whitley

We have now expanded it to incorporate anything published on the Internet - including our bumf, since real news is a bit thin!

Al leads the campaign to get a medal for the "Cold War Warriors"

Group Captain Alan Ferguson (Rtd) of 89A, himself a former cold war Phantom Navigator, has organised a campaign to get a medal for all military who served in the Cold War from 1952 to 1990. 

He quite rightly identified that the British Military had began creating and issuing medals to personnel who had served in conflict areas where British forces had participated. It is right that personnel are recognised for their participation in high risk zones, especially those front line personnel who served in the troubled times in Ireland, Cyprus, Malaya, Falklands, the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other smaller trouble spots, however it is also important to recognise those personnel who trained and practiced for war with the Soviets. It was they and our many allies who deterred the more "gong ho" elements of the Eastern  bloc from attacking the West. We do not know exactly how many young men and women were killed or maimed in accidents resulting from the tough training that they had to undergo to maintain the deterrence, but we do know that some 1,500 British aircrew died in flying accidents during the duration of "the cold war". 

The medal of a top ranked aircrew RAF Officer - 1952 to 1990

The medals of a middle ranked ground based RAF Officer - 2000 to 2024

Following graduation, we in 89 lost 7 of our members in aircraft accidents. Sadly, like some of our comrades, many of those who served during this period are no longer with us, however their families and descendents are. So it is time the government stepped up and publicly recognised the debt that the country owes these "Cold War Warriors". Al is leading the campaign to persuade them to do so. Amongst other actions he has set up a petition to get a parliamentary debate on the proposal. This what Al has to say on the petition ...

"Over the 44 years of the so-called "Cold War" hundreds of UK service personnel lost their lives in pursuit of an operational capability deemed necessary to deter Warsaw Pact aggression. We believe the service and sacrifice of those who died and survivors has not been adequately recognised.

Before the Cold War becomes a totally forgotten part of the peace dividend, we believe it would be appropriate to provide recognition of the contribution made by the Cold War veterans of all three Services who served in that 44 year period of our post WW2 history, through a new medal.

Viewed against the many thousands of veterans who served in the 44 years of the Cold War, the potential cost of issuing medals to all Service personnel might be huge. If this this proposal to retrospectively award some form of medal is taken forward, qualifying personnel should be encouraged to apply for the award, but provision of the medal itself should be at cost - it should not be provided free of charge."

Readers need to get supporters and veterans to sign it.  Click here  to get to the site. 

Editors comment - A simple solution would be to add the dates of the Cold War and a distinguishing "bar" to the recently issued 'Wider Service Medal'

89's Luxury Accommodation in 1963


A reminder of where and how

 the future cream of the RAF lived 60 years ago ...

Compare this with accommodation

that we provide for illegal immigrants?

Our world war one huts

(Up at 06:30 lights out at 22:30)

A seaside hotel

(Up when you want - what's lights out?)

5 to a room, one pot belly coke fire in the centre of the room,

 no heating in the washing, WC and communal shower area!

1 or 2 to a room - full central heating

private bathroom facilities

And we were happy

And they protest?

Did His Majesty the King know that his flying instructor was called "Snotty"

Our future King being taught to fly by one of 89's best

Brian "Snotty" Synott

"Brian you're not really called Snotty, are you?"

"Only by good friends and never publicly, so no worries, Sir!!"


Recently found

A couple of photographs from 89's Graduation ball in 1966

Apparently this is what smart young 21 year old Cranwell graduates and their ladies used to look like ....

Above (Left to right) - Tony Ware, Dave Harlow, Chel Hibbert and very pretty friends!

Right - Startled friend of a champagne soaked Dave Harlow -(Apparently with roving hands)

SAD NEWS - Another 89er bites the dust!

We regret to have to report that, after a long fight with strokes, another 89er - Dave Donnelly passed away on the 23rd February 2024 .

Dave was born on 6th February 1945. After the war, his father flew for BOAC and was posted to Montreal so Dave spent his early years in Canada. Later, after the family had returned to the UK, Dave joined the Air Training Corps where his love for the RAF was kindled. Here he learned to fly, gaining his glider pilots licence and a PPL.

Dave joined 89 Entry as a navigator.. Whilst at Cranwell he represented the College at basketball and athletics but his first love was gliding, where he became captain. After Cranwell his first operational posting was with Transport Command, navigating Argosy aircraft, based in Khormaksar, Aden, but flying around the Middle East supplying the  RAF's many bases .

From the Middle East he went to Brize Norton navigating VC10s on their world wide missions.

This was followed. In September 1970 by an exchange tour with the Royal Canadian Air Force at Trenton, Ontario. Here, Dave continued  flying around the world, but now in a  Boeing 707. 

Whilst at Trenton he met and married Anna

After returning to UK, he his posting moved him and Anna around a bit including  RAF Manby, RAF Valley, and RAF Upavon, before he was posted to MOD in London. He then attended the Army Staff College at Camberley before returning to RAF duties at RAF Rheindahlen in Germany. Here Dave headed the UK delegation in Berlin. He returned to the UK in 1985 to command the Air Navigation School at RAF Finningley. This was followed by another job at MOD before his final posting to SHAPE headquarters in Mons, Belgium. 

Following retirement, David and Anna moved to Pateley Bridge in North Yorkshire in June 2000. He took up furniture restoration and went to College in Leeds to gain a City and Guilds in Furniture Restoration. For a few years he enjoyed walking along the river to Glasshouses Mill where he restored old furniture.

Sadly Dave's health deteriorated following several strokes so using the superb craftsman's skills that he had learnt following RAF retirement became impossible. As a result he and Anna moved to the centre of Harrogate to be nearer medical facilities.

Dave's funeral took place in Stonefall Cemetary, Harrogate on Monday 18th March 2024 

89 were represented by Chris Saunby and Dave Harlow. Many other mates, who were spread throughout the world, watched the ceremony on a live streamed podcast. The location of the ceremony was very appropriate considering Dave's past connections with Canada as Stonefall Cemetery is the largest Commonwealth War Graves cemetery in Yorkshire. In addition to other military personnel, the cemetery houses almost 1,000 aircrew graves of which 666 of these are aircrew from the Royal Canadian Air Force. 

During WW2, North Yorkshire was the base for No.6 (RCAF) Group, Bomber Command. 6 Group had 11 operational airfields (of which only one - RAF Leeming is still operational) and 15 operational squadrons. The Group flew 40,822 operational sorties with a total of 814 aircraft. Some 5,700 aircrew did not return from operations, of which 4,203 lost their lives. 666 Canadians are buried in Stonefall. There are about another 200 RAF/RCAF graves spread across North Yorkshire with the church next to former RAF Dishforth having 76.