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RAF College Cranwell


Not much news this Christmas - which is a good news in many respects.

However, 89ers are still very much an active bunch and are constantly meeting up with each other. There have been a number of minor re-unions in 2019 but nothing major nor different from other years. There are also a number planned for 2020 since a major problem is finding a full squadron in the UK at the same time. As we slow down I guess it will be easier to get together. One plan is to head to Paris for a long weekend and re-create 89's 1964 visit to SHAPE HQ in Paris to remember our first joint overseas "jolly"!

In the meantime we wish everyone an enjoyable Christmas with your families and a healthy and prosperous New Year and look forward to more get togethers in 2020



Bullshit doesn't pay!

Having just moved into his new office, a newly graduated young admin officer was sitting at his desk when an airman knocked on the door. Conscious of his new position, the Flying Officer quickly picked up the phone, told the airman to enter, then said into the phone, "Yes Sir, I'll be seeing the Station Commander this afternoon and I'll pass along your message. In the meantime, thank you for your good wishes, sir."

Feeling as though he had sufficiently impressed the young airman, he asked, "What do you want?"

"Nothing important, sir," the airman replied, "I'm just here to connect your telephone."



July 2019 - Sad News from 89C

It is with great sadness that we have to announce the death on Sunday 7th July of another 89 member - Dick Shuster AFC. 

Dick had been walking his Bassett, Heidi,  in a field across the road from his house in Linton-on-Ouse but  was found,  by local villagers, lying unconscious  in the field . They tried to revive him, even using a local defibrillator, whilst calling 999.   Both an ambulance and the air ambulance arrived but all they could do was pronounce Dick dead.

This was a sad day for all, particularly as it was just 2 months since his beloved wife, Shireen, had died after suffering with cancer for a protracted period. 

A Royal Air Force family

Dick and Shireen were a true air force family. They had met at RAF Tengah, Singapore in 1969 when Dick was on his first tour with 81 Squadron flying Canberra PR7s. Shireen was a teacher teaching in the Tengah school.  This was just before Dick became the first member of 89  to earn an Air Force Cross. Dick was just 23 (Click here to see the details

In an RAF career that spanned 42 years Dick had just one ground tour and went on to be the last of 89 to remain in a job flying jet aircraft. Even on his "ground tour", on the Phantom simulator at Coningsby, he managed so may trips ferrying Phantoms to Aldergrove for major servicing that he was awarded the GSM with Northern Ireland clasp. (Probably the only man to get a medal for spending 28 days in the mess bar?)  He retired from RAF Linton-on-Ouse, flying Tucanos at the age of 60 having officially left full time RAF employment at 55 to become an AVO (Aviation officer) and  Flt..Lt. Shuster AFC, RAFVR.   "Same job, same uniform, just less pay" as Dick used to say! But he enjoyed it right up to his last flight when he led a 4 ship formation in some pretty lousy weather!

Dick Shuster AFC


In his RAF career, as well as getting an AFC at 23, Dick managed several other unique 89 Entry & RAF achievements ....

# Dick is the only person in the RAF to get the same award as his father, the AFC, and both on the same aircraft type, the Canberra - Dick's father was awarded the Air Force Cross in the 1950's for record breaking flight in a Canberra - many years after receiving their awards father & son took to the sky together in a jet aircraft on on a very special sortie ...

To commemorate the anniversary of the Air Force Cross, Dick Shuster and his father flew a special low level sortie to deliver a specially commissioned stamp and envelope.

The Canberra


The special collectors envelope

# 1st (and we believe the only) 89er to be awarded a Master Air Pilots Certificate - Click here to see the details

# Longest serving RAF College Cranwell graduate in the rank of Flight Lieutenant - 35 years

# Never had a job that kept him on the ground - Dick's passion was flying, so on his one "ground" posting, training pilots on the Phantom simulator,  he volunteered to fly more than 50 Phantom ferry flights between Coningsby and Aldergrove, Northern Ireland!

# The oldest RAF pilot ever to lead an RAF formation - At age 59 years  9 months - Click here to see the details

# Most hours strapped to a bang seat - over 9,500 Hrs

# Last 89 pilot to fly RAF Jet aircraft as PIC - 30th August 2004

89's 74 year old Wing Walker!

After over 50 years in a ground job Roger is taking has taken to the skies - the hard way!

Roger Cresswell  a former "groundie" has, after 55 years in the RAF decided to show the "flyers" what the pen pushers, store stackers and elastic band winders are really made of. Roger has decided to take to the air, not in the drivers seat, a back room seat or even in the toilet - At the tender age of 74, Roger is going to stand on the wing - from take off to landing!!!!   Mad? - No - bloody mad!  Also bloody brave since he is doing it to raise money for a good cause  - his local hospital. (Definitely a Catch 22 situation cos' it's a place he is likely to end up in!)

Anyway chaps it is up to us to help him, not into hospital, but to raise money for said place. 

To sponsor Roger on this foolhardy venture please go to ......  

and give as much as you can.

Roger has a target, but I'm sure he would be pleased if we can exceed it. 

He has promised us some photographs when the deed is done. (Probably of him in hospital?)

We wish him luck.

Roger's gone & done it 

"200 feet, nothing on the clock and nowhere to sit! - But Roger keeps rolling along"

 At age 74 it takes a very brave man to stand on the wing of an aircraft that is the same age as himself!

He can only be a product of 89 Entry and had spent 3 years of his youth doing wild things at the  RAF College Cranwell.

Standing on a wing and being brave on the ground is easy


Hanging on whilst you're flying round a flag pole takes guts


As the old WWII song goes - "Coming in on a wing and a prayer" -  This is for real with .... 


Chaplain Roger Cresswell


Roger donned his old flying suit and perpetuated the old Cranwellian "have a go" spririt.  

There will not be many people of his age who could do it, never mind volunteer to do it for the benefit of others!

So 89 Entry and our supporters please donate generously to Roger's chosen charity..,,

Go to -

Make your donation now



Reunions end 2018 with a flourish

89 C hold their 2nd of the year

On 30th September 8 former C Squadron cadets and their wives assembled at the RAF Club in Piccadilly for a special re-union to welcome one of their own visiting from Melbourne, Australia, John Liddell and his wife Glenys. Those attending where Dave Donnelly, Dave Harlow, John Liddell, JC Newland, Derek North, Les Quigley, Ian Robertson, Dick Shuster. Last minute apologies were received from Brian Synott and Duncan Swift, who had contracted some nasty disease in far off lands, and Chris Saunby who was committed to sailing (Illegals?) in Turkey. 

We were well looked after by the RAF club staff.  

Needless to say we missed our colleagues, especially Chris as he is the Squadron photographer. This was made worse by the back up photographer, Les, having had his camera and telephones stolen in France. Not to be defeated John produced his Australian Box Brownie and managed a snap of the few survivors in the bar. (It takes a while for technology to reach the far flung colonies!)

89B hold their annual reunion

Unusually B Squadron were not the first to hold their annual reunion, theirs was held on 27th October at their regular venue The George at Wallingford. (Someone in B obviously has shares in it). B Squadron also mustered 8 former cadets, Simon Coy, Geoff Dryland, Nigel Griffiths, Mike Laundy, Henry Middleton, Paddy Pyper, Ron Shimmons & Tony Steele. In addition they had a guest, Barry Chalkley, from A Squadron.

Unlike C Squadron, B Squadron had their trusty photographer Geoff at hand with latest electronic flashy kit. Needless to say he produced some excellent photos and associated captions ....  

Unfortunately, so that this excellent work doesn't show the paucity of C Squadron's photographic and captioning skills, these photographs and the accompanying captions provided by Geoff Dryland have been buried in the reunion section. (Click here to look)  However the editor has taken the liberty of capturing most of the Squadron in the montage below -


89 Entry still flying JP's!

It is hard to believe that despite it being over half a century since 89 took to the sky in Jet Provosts, at the age of 73 one of our members is still flying one!

Take a close look at the solo pilot in the left hand seat and you'll spot Chel Hibbert, the luckiest man in 89.

Yes at 73 Chel is still flying demonstrations in the same jet that he learnt his jet flying in back in 1964. It's a difficult thought when one thinks that this smart looking aircraft first entered RAF service in 1955, when most of 89 Entry members were just 10 years old!

Above right - Never shy of a bit of low level, Chel shows the crowd what a versatile little jet trainer the JP was.



Most of us have made our final solo approach in any type of aircraft, but let us hope that Chel can maintain that 89 tradition and have many more happy landings in his JP.

Our Junior Entry, 94, trying to keep up with 89 standards


Back in April we received the following message from former Flight Cadet David Forsyth of 94 Entry ...


 I assume that this finds 89 – I think it did last time I sent a message.  In any event, 94 Entry, for whom 89 was our Senior Entry and torment, are coming together for a Reunion in August. About 60 will be present.  I thought it might be fun for 89 Entry to send an appropriate message of good wishes to be read out by our doyen, Cliff Spink.  What do you think?

 If you are up for it, kindly let me have a few words. Let me know if you want more detail or background.

 We promise to reciprocate for 89 Entry’s 100th anniversary.

 Best Wishes


 David Forsyth   94 D"


Naturally, since we felt sorry for such a backward Entry, we were happy to oblige. Black Robertson, our most senior surviving member, volunteered for the onerous task of being nice to such inferiors. This was the message ............




Your esteemed Senior Entry, the mighty 89, can barely recall the callow youths of 94. But having itself produced a Chief of the Air Staff, the late and much respected Air Chief Marshal Sir Peter Squire, your elders and betters clearly recognise both leadership and comradeship. We’re given to understand that on this auspicious occasion the former has been provided by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the latter by a reunion of 49 members of 94 Entry and their partners. Your elders and betters are therefore prepared partially to overlook the deplorable lack of respect implicit in failure to seek the necessary permission for this junket.

Punishment will therefore be limited to a mere 20 laps of the Orange, whilst at the same time calculating the number of sausages that go around it. It’s understood that in 1966 at least one of your number failed to comprehend that the answer was of course none: they all go via the kitchens at the rear. An obvious case of poor briefing!

On a more serious note, on behalf of your Senior Entry – and as one who’s served with Air Marshal Cliff Spink on more than one occasion and for that owes him a personal debt of gratitude – it’s a great personal pleasure for me to send you our very best wishes for a thoroughly enjoyable reunion.

Superna Petimus


Black Robertson

A Squadron

55 Years since 89 Entry arrived at the RAF College

The turnout for the 55th anniversary of our joining the Royal Air Force, and more particularly of our joining the ranks of that exclusive band of Flight cadets, was a somewhat muted affair with just 9 89er's attending. However, despite the annual "Old Cranwellians"  re-union being small compared to previous years, just 98 old boys in total, it was well represented. The oldest was a 97 year old former Mosquito pilot, and the youngest being a 20 year old young lady whose ambition was to fly UAVs. Quite a range!

The Royal Air Force College band put on a superb demonstration of drill & music - one thing that hasn't changed in over 50 years


Despite the paucity in numbers the evening proved to be one of the best reunions so far with a good mix of Entrys.  For the first time, at a significant anniversary, 89 was eclipsed in representation by another Entry - 88 - there were apparently 10 of them although we were only joined by one, Irfan, formerly of the Pakistan Air Force. We had heard that Erf had been killed in 1971, shot down in the last Pakistan/India war. But no, here he was appearing at Cranwell for the first time in 52 years. Apparently we had got the story wrong, it was he that did the shooting down!  

The old boys watch something older than them - a Spitfire flypast

Something else that is just as good as it was 55 years ago - dining in!

The Cranwellian Association, the direct descendent of the Old Cranwellians, did a superb job with the organisation and with providing incredibly good value at a time when the RAF is struggling with it's finances. A weekend away for £125 including dinner, bed and breakfast with almost as much drink as one can cope with plus pre-dinner entertainment in the shape of a sunset display by the College Band with a Spitfire flypast has to be incredible value - even for some poor old bloke on an Air Marshal's pension! Our thanks go to the Trustees and volunteers of the Cranwell Association for a job well done.


Andy Griffin Dave Harlow
Nigel Griffiths Les Quigley
Henry Middleton Chris Saunby
Ron Shimmons Dick Shuster
Richard Slogrove  



Peter's Memorial Service

The memorial service for our departed friend and colleague Air Chief Marshal Sir Peter Squire GCB  DFC  AFC  DL  FRAeS

was held at Saint Clement Danes Church, Strand, London, WC2R 1DH at 11:30 Hours on Friday 1st June


The following 89ers attended -

Paul Buckland 89D; Malcom Caygill 89D; Barry Chalkley 89A; Roger Cresswell 89A; Alan Ferguson 89A*; Chel Hibbert 89A; Graham Horder 89A; Alan Macdonald 89D; Henry Middleton 89B*

Derek North 89C; Paddy Pyper 89B; Les Quigley 89C*; Black Robertosn 89A*; Chris Saunby 89C*; Ron Shimmons 89B: Richard Slogrove 89B; Tony Ware 89A; Steve Wrigley 89D

(*89ers accompanied by their wives)


Regrets and condolences were received from -

Steve Baines 89D; Pete Crispin 89A; Dave Donnelly 89C; Geoff Dryland 89B; Andy Griffin 89B; Nigel Griffiths 89B; Dave Harlow 89C; Keith Jackson 89C; Adrian Jones 89A; Ron Kennett 89A,John Liddell 89C; Dick Northcote 89D; Ian Robertson 89C;  Dick Shuster 89C; Duncan Swift 89C; Brian Synnott 89C.


Latest Re-union News

"C" Squadron's 2017 reunion is a bit late - April 2018

89C's members are inveterate travelers so it is very difficult to pin down enough members for a re-union. As a result the 2017 89C reunion was held in 2018 and even then apologies were received from several members who were out of the country or otherwise committed. These were Dave Donnelly, John Liddell (in Australia), Duncan Swift & Ian Robertson. Nevertheless 7 members and their wives were able to make the RV at Barton Hall Kettering. 

Needless to say 89C were a bit lively - so much so that someone suggested that they should all be behind bars - so that's exactly were we ended up -

Left to right - Chris Saunby, Les Quigley, Dave Harlow, Dick Shuster, Brian Synnott, Derek North, JC Newland


Uniquely amongst 89 Entry squadron re-unions, C Squadron have taken to inviting their wives to their annual Squadron get together since many of the wives have known each other since the boys were at Cranwell or from their early days in the RAF.  For more pictures of the "boys" and their lovely wives go to the re-union page by clicking here.


19th February 2018 - EXTREMELY SAD NEWS

It is with the deepest regret that we have to announce the very sad news that Air Chief Marshal Sir Peter Squire died suddenly on Monday 19th February 2018 aged just 72. Peter was the most senior former member of 89 Entry yet was one of our youngest members. His support, comradeship and leadership will be missed by all members of 89 Entry and especially those of 89 "A" Squadron of which he was a member and constant supporter.

Our sincere and heartfelt condolences go to Peter's wife Lady Carolyn and his 3 sons, Christopher, Richard and Edward.


Air Chief Marshal Sir Peter Squire  GCB  DFC  AFC  DL  FRAeS


Peter Squire - 89 Entry RAF College Cranwell

 Obituary by Air Marshal 'Black' Robertson CBE (A fellow 89 "A" Squadron member)

Peter Squire was the archetypal RAF officer. He personified courage, tenacity, integrity, generosity, loyalty and an overriding sense of duty – all that’s best in the human spirit. Diligent, responsible, personable and utterly professional in all that he did, Peter related effortlessly to anyone and everyone he met. Above all, he was the epitome of a safe pair of hands, as befits a wicket-keeper and long-time MCC member. Indeed, he enjoyed nothing more than a day at Lord’s with family and friends, even spending part of his last day as Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) in the members’ pavilion with the individual who stood beside him on the day they joined the RAF together.

That Peter was destined for success was evident from his early days at Cranwell. As a cadet he excelled in so many spheres – flying, academics and sport – and forged numerous lifelong friendships. It was then that he also met his devoted wife, Carolyn; together they formed the perfect RAF couple. It is in no sense patronising to say that Carolyn’s unwavering support made a significant contribution to her husband’s success. If Peter was a Falklands hero, Carolyn performed an equally heroic task in caring for those No 1 Squadron family members left behind; her role in keeping up the spirits of those who ‘watch and pray’, was critically important at a time when communication was relatively difficult, certainly by today’s standards.

Two more examples of Peter’s interest in the welfare of others, possibly little known outside his immediate family, offer an insight into his character and indeed his humanity. Sadly, two of his closest Cranwell friends were killed in flying accidents early in their first operational tours. His lifelong friendship with the widow of the first, a family bond sustained beyond her remarriage to this very day, and the support he provided and connection he retained with the parents of the second, are a measure of the man. There can surely have been no more loyal a friend or more honourable a Cranwellian than this former CAS.

Both The Daily Telegraph and The Times published glowing tributes to Peter. Neither did full justice to the man and errors in both will grate with those who knew him well. The latter, available via the link below, was the result of efforts to have more said about the man himself rather than concentrate simply on his achievements, which are a matter of record. This brief tribute therefore represents an attempt to capture the essence of the man those of us came to know initially through our time together at Cranwell.

It was fitting that Peter’s funeral, on Thursday 2 March 2018, should take place in Gidleigh’s beautiful Holy Trinity church, where he had worshipped for the past 22 years. Together with his family, he was a much valued member of this small village community. Gathered there were those closest to him: Carolyn, sons Christopher, Richard and Edward together with their wives, and those mainly locals able to make the journey through snow and ice to the fringes of Dartmoor. Richard read the lesson while Christopher delivered a moving eulogy that captured perfectly a devoted husband, loved and respected father, and fun-loving grandfather. Christopher’s words speak for themselves and offer a fitting tribute to an officer and a true gentleman. Here are just some of the memorable phrases that touched so deeply those privileged to hear them:

‘There was still so much to much to enjoy…his success was made all the greater by the manner in which it was achieved…Father was also an exceptional person…his strong sense of Christian faith informed clear values…duty was a core principle for him. Dad never lost his sense of fun or common touch. It was this outstanding humanity that was perhaps his greatest achievement…later in life he was also a constant source of strength. Our Father was truly special…a great friend to so many and universally popular wherever he went. He brought magic to our lives.’

We have lost a very special kind of man

For the detailed obituaries published by the Times  click here,  for the Telegraph do a Google search

Peter's Funeral

Peter's funeral was a family one held at his local Parish Church in Gidleigh, Devon within Dartmoor National Park on Thursday 1st March.   However, Black Robertson (89A), as a family friend and  a member of 89 Entry represented all members of the Entry and by chance the Royal Air Force. The family requested that no wreaths or flowers be sent but a donation to Gidleigh church was in order. The Entry made an appropriate donation and sent a card to Lady Carolyn with their condolences.

Holy Trinity Church Gidleigh, Dartmoor, Devon

In the event the weather on Thursday was about as bad as it gets in the UK, but in true 89 style "Black" was determined to be at the funeral no matter what. The following is his brief report to members of 89 just after he managed to get back home to Cheltenham....

"I’ve just returned from Peter’s funeral – a simple but moving service in Gidleigh’s beautiful old church. Christopher, Peter’s eldest, gave a brilliant eulogy while second son, Richard, read the lesson. The vicar contributed splendidly too, in part a reflection of the fact that Peter had worshiped there for 22 years; it hardly needs saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that he was a hugely respected and immensely well liked member of the village community. 

Afterwards we all repaired to the village hall for refreshments. I was invited back to the house with the family but at almost the last minute was asked to return the vicar, organist and another lady to Chagford. Having previously offered to help in any way whatsoever I couldn’t refuse, but the journey was a nightmare, even in a Range Rover: packed snow on ice, single track, stone-lined roads, steep hills and as a consequence, other vehicles abandoned here and there. I had to steer into the offside stone wall once in order to slow down, despite audible prayers from the other occupants; more accurate to say that it steered me! We all thought that Peter would have been very amused! The vehicle was still driveable so we agreed it would be best if I abandoned my charges and turned off onto more level terrain reasonably close to Chagford, a road that would eventually take me back towards the A30. The others said they’d walk the rest of the way to Chagford (not sure how far, possibly half a mile or so, but a very difficult surface.). Having safely reached home myself, I immediately rang Carolyn to ask her to contact the vicar to confirm that he and his charges (ladies of a certain age) eventually found salvation. I felt bad about leaving them but it was the safest option.


Believe it or not I was the only RAF guy there! Carolyn and the family greatly appreciated the thoughts and prayers of Peter’s Cranwell contemporaries, so in concluding let me thank you all for the privilege of representing our Entry. It’s just a pity that I had to…he was a good man in every possible sense.




The thanks of the whole of 89 Entry have gone out to Black, together with numerous offers to contribute to the repair of his Range Rover! Naturally Black has refused any help since, in addition to wishing to say farewell to a friend, he considered it his duty.




55 Years since "joining up" in 1963


It's hard to believe that we were once a bunch of 18 year olds straight out of school and straight into the arms of Drill Sergeant's who reckoned "they could make more noise banging their balls on the side of the bath on a Saturday night than a bunch of 'green' cadets could when banging their rifles on the parade ground! 

Yes for 89 all this was 55 years ago and those fresh young men are now 72/73 years old and struggle to lift the rifles, never mind bang them! Our brains may think we're 18 but our bodies tell us something different. Not only that, but circumstances and recent happenings tell us that our time on this planet is not only limited but unpredictable. So let us make the best of our limited time, let's get together and relive the key element of our 3 years at Cranwell - the camaraderie!

This years "Old Cranwellians" weekend is on June 16/17. At our 2016 reunion we managed 34 of us, sadly we will be at least one down, but Peter will be with us in spirit as will the dozen or more 89ers who have not made it to date. We will remember them. So gentlemen reserve your dinner, bed, booze and breakfast today - let's have a wake for those can't make it - before we can't - let's have a party! 


June will be a great occasion to meet up with some of our (tor)mentors from 88 as they are turning out in relative force for the first time. They include -

Bostock, Dinmore, Dixon, Dudgeon, Gawn, Irfan, Roberts, Rowe, Tomian, Williams - time to get revenge and at least extract a pint or two out of them for the heartache metered out in our first few months in 1963! (Gosh - Isn't that year now featured in history books and museums!)


If you haven't registered, register now by clicking HERE




Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Hugh Trenchard's Memorial Statue


After much consideration regarding the celebration in 2020 of the 100 years since the RAF College was formed, it has been decided to erect a statue to Sir Hugh Trenchard, the man responsible for the College's being.  Air Marshall Sir Chris Coville (91C) has been tasked with chairing a committee to select a sculptor and raise funds. He reports that they have made a good start with pledges from Air Officers and others, but would now like help from other old Cranwellians like ourselves.


Some of 89 have already pledged a donation, others are more reticent and over half of the 89 survivors have expressed various opinions (positive and negative) regarding the project. Those who expressed opinions are aware of the overall feelings of 89, as is Chris C.  However, Chris is determined to make the project a success and has written to many 89ers. For those who have not received his email it is summarised as follows....


"Dear 89ers,


I understand that, as an Entry, you had some misgivings at the decision by the Cranwellian Trustees to mark the Centenary of the College with a statue of Lord Trenchard. I thought it might be helpful to update you on the project, and give you a little more background as to why we have chosen this particular way of recording such a significant event.


As you know, at last year’s reunion, and at the AGM, Sir Mike Graydon asked for ideas on how we should mark 2020, and we received several useful suggestions, including heritage programmes, scholarships and a statue. After discussions with the Commandant, it became clear that most of the heritage and scholarship options were either underway or were impractical, and a clear favourite emerged of the statue, which was deemed not only as fitting in the context of the College grounds, but also was seen as a permanent rather than temporary symbol of the contribution that Trenchard and Cranwell had made to the glorious history of the RAF. Whilst much needs to be done on siting, as the College is a listed building, the selection committee favoured most a position close to the corner of the Orange, at the point where the Reviewing Officers start their march to the saluting base.


But to the important bit, where I know many of you had reservations: the cost. Whilst our initial planning figure was indeed circa £160K, including plinth, planning and maintenance, I am pleased to report that we have identified an excellent sculptor, Vivien Mallock, who will shortly be under contract to deliver the statue at about £70K plus VAT. Moreover, we now believe our estimate for the plinth and planning was excessive, and I shall shortly be able to trim the expected costs down significantly. In short, as a result of the selection committees efforts, and some sensible financial management, we should be able to achieve our objective of a fitting tribute to our beloved Alma Mater at about £100K, including all ancillary costs.


So how are we doing? In a relatively short period, we have received donations which, with pledges and Gift Aid, should have exceeded £50K before the end of March, when we intend to finalise the contract. Once we believe we have secured the maximum possible internal contributions, Ali McKay will make a start on gaining support from Cranwell's suppliers!


I do hope you will support our choice of a statue in light of the above. Of the supportive Entries to the Association, 89 have always been in the top tier. I entreat you to continue that spirit by joining with the many others who, having reflected on the impact that Cranwell has had on our lives, have donated generously to what I believe will be a fitting tribute to a historic man, a great College and a wonderful cadetship experience.



Warm Regards 





Sir Christopher Coville, Chairman, Cranwell Centenary Committee"






Editor's Comment - Is it worth donating?


I understand the feelings of all who indicated that their limited charity money may best be used in what appear to be more positive and  productive endeavours,  and empathise with them.  I have thought long and hard about the effect of a statue on the edge of the orange.  It's impact may be limited to RAF personnel, but it may inspire some to seek more knowledge of how ambitions can be fulfilled.  It may inspire youngsters to seek the higher things that we in 89 Entry sought when joining the RAF in 1963.  If it inspires just a few youngsters to be the best, it is worth doing.  It may cost each of us a couple of hundred pounds (the price of an 'Egon Ronay'  dinner for two), but our 'investment'  may inspire youngsters to become proactive leaders - just like an 89er - honorable, caring, and professional!  On that basis I think it worth investing!


I know many were opposed to the idea, but in the absence of a better one it is worth a donation no matter how small. After all we did benefit from 3 years of "booze, birds, bangers, bravado, bull and brotherhood " (to quote Dick Slogrove)!  And that lot alone is worth at least couple of hundred quid!


Please send your donations PDQ to Chris Coville - For details click here


"Superna Petimus"





A year of informal "get togethers" and not a lot of action!

With all surviving 89ers now being 72 and 73 years young it is not surprising that most have slowed down a little having lived incredibly full and fast lives. Despite their ages (collectively with over 3,000 years experience of life between them) it is unsurprising that most are still actively contributing much of their time to public, charitable and business organisations as well as to their ever growing families. In addition they all still find time to enjoy life's social activities both at home and abroad. At any one time you can guarantee to find an 89er in a bar in some corner of the world. We even manage to get together at regular intervals to swop old and new stories.


89 Entry Squadron Reunions in 2017

2017 saw 3 squadrons have reunions, "A", "B" & "D" - some in "C" had a get together at Chris Saunby's 50th wedding anniversary but because of commitments they planned a re-union in early 2018. For full details and photographs of the re-unions click here

50th Anniversaries

During 2017, in addition to informal re-unions, the range of "get togethers" included special anniversaries! 

50 years ago, pre-mobile phones and internet, after being locked away for 3 years in the barren wastes of Lincolnshire, far away from one's loved one, it was not surprising that many a young Officer wanted to secure his bride before an exciting posting to some equally barren part of the world. Many did and were married even before they qualified for a married quarter - so post 2016 50th wedding anniversaries abound!  Go to the "reunions" page for details.


The longest serving Entry ever to serve as cadets at Cranwell !

Derek North recently reminded us that, not only were we probably the best cadet Entry to pass through the RAF College Cranwell, (other Entries may argue, but just look at our charge sheets!), but also we were the longest serving Entry ever to serve as cadets at Cranwell.  We "signed to serve Her Majesty" on 9th September 1963 in the exalted rank of AC2 (Aircraftsman 2nd class (AC2) - or "AC plonk" as it was known colloquially. Its members were collectively known as "erks").  

In 1964 the rank of AC2 was abandoned so 89 Entry cadets were all promoted to "Aircraftsman" , a rank which we retained until graduation on 18th August 1966. Again we were probably the longest serving RAF personnel to hold the rank of Aircraftsman since it was a rank only used for airmen in training and no one in the RAF trained for 3 years, except Cranwell Cadets!

Quoting Derek ......

"I notice that 89 Entry is correctly down as celebrating the 50th anniversary of graduation this year, but the wrong date is quoted. We graduated on 18 August 1966 and not the 15 July mentioned. The latter was the originally planned date, but this was postponed to August to fit in with the new 30 month courses, making us possibly the longest ever course – and causing many grumbles at the time.  At least our seniority was subsequently backdated to 15 Jul 66 but I can’t remember if we also received the back pay?"

Left - Group Captain Derek North RAF Rtd.

The last Entry at the RAF College to have to wear hats in civilian clothes!

Another unique feature of 89 Entry is the fact that we were the last entry to have to wear hats when in civilian clothes. This was a regulation set back in the founding days of the College. I guess it was to distinguish the cadets from others and to ensure that we were proper gentlemen, raising our hats in salute to officers and ladies. In the early 60's "Bowlers" (as worn by the actor playing Douglas Bader in the film "Reach for the Sky") and "Trilbies" went out of fashion.  "Pork pie" hats were in. We must have looked like a bunch of "barrow boys from the East End" when in "civvies", especially on Wednesdays and Saturdays when visiting other sports teams, so I guess Air Commodore Lyne persuaded the Air Ministry, as it was then, to cancel the regulation! (The Air Ministry disappeared as an independent Ministry in 1964 and became part of the new Ministry of Defence.)



50 years since leaving "The RAF College" 

On the 9th September 1963, 69 young men, all just 17 to 18 years old, joined the Royal Air Force.  These young men had decided to dedicate themselves to Queen & Country by joining the Royal Air Force via the most difficult route possible - via the Royal Air Force College Cranwell.  These young men had become "Flight Cadets" in 89 Entry!I

It was a time when young men didn't think about what they would earn or how you would earn it, they just wanted to serve in the RAF!  - This was just as well as the starting pay was just 14 bob a day (70p in today's money). This would just about buy you 6 pints of beer. (Compare this with today's  starting pay which buys around 20 pints!). 

The South Brick Lines - built 1915

Known to the "inmates" as "The Pits"

From day one, Flight Cadets (whose actual rank was "AC2" - the lowest in the RAF) certainly earned their 14 bob a day, but for over 3 months they didn't get the opportunity to buy that beer! They were awakened at 06.30 Hrs, they started work at 08.00 Hrs, and were lucky to finish work by lights out at 22.30 Hrs. (Mind they were allowed "free time" Sunday afternoons, after Church Parade, to "bull up" their First World War huts.)  

For the first 4 months of a Cadet's life, the RAF College became an open prison. First term Cadets lived in "the pits" (5 to a hut), were not allowed to drink alcohol, were not allowed out of the base and had to wear a hat at all times in or out of uniform!  In 1963 there were no guards or security fences around the base, but if you tried to escape for a pint, even in "civvies", you would immediately be identified as an escapee since you would be the only 18 year old wearing a hat!  Escaping, therefore,  was not an option -  Getting caught breaking any rule,  no matter how trivial,  meant "Strikers"  -  "Strikers" involved being restricted to base (you were already!), and in addition to your normal 16 hours or work, you had to fit in 2 arduous drill parades and a full kit inspection each day of your sentence - all at the most unsocial times that the powers that be could think up - 07.00 Hrs, 18.00 Hrs and then 22.00 Hrs, thus making the open prison into a closed prison!


It wasn't all bad, in fact much of it was great fun - some of us actually got paid to fly nice little jets. Eventually, after 3 years in July 1966, the 89 Entry survivors escaped and using the vast amount of knowledge and experience gained at the Royal Air Force College, they prospered both in the RAF and in the wider world. Some of those who joined in September 1963, didn't survive the 3 years but 89s numbers were swelled in our final year with dozens of new faces when the RAF Technical College at Henlow closed in December 1965 and their cadets were absorbed into Cranwell. 

Sadly many of the 1966 graduates are no longer with us on this earth and some have disappeared into the wider world, however despite this, 89 fielded 31 survivors at the 2016 reunion. An additional 5 members apologised for not being able to make it.


2017 a year of squadron get togethers

B Squadron have held annual re-unions for many years the first recorded on this website being 11 years ago in 2004. C Squadron, not to be outdone, commenced in 2005. C Squadron started their reunions with the standard all male affair but soon branched out, on a less regular basis than B Squadron, but on a more exotic basis travelling overseas with wives also being invited. In 2014 A Squadron, who needed to play catch up, also commenced holding annual re-unions. So we now had 3 of our 4 squadrons holding reunions. 

In 2017 the old boys of D Squadron eventually caught up with the other 3 squadrons?  (In fairness they occupied the last wing to be built at the RAF College Cranwell, several years after the college was built and some time after world war 2, so they had an excuse for being last!)


Left - The RAF College  in 1933 (less the D Squadron wing)


50 Years on - How the RAF has changed

Comparing like with like is always difficult with historic data, as life, technology and political circumstance change, however, history is interesting and so are the statistics associated with history. 

89 Entry is history, so let's examine some of the basics...

1945 - Most of 89 Entry were born in late 1944 and in 1945 when the Royal Air Force was at its peak with over a million men and women in uniform. At that time it had some 9,200 operational aircraft with over 1,000 UK bases and around 200 overseas bases. (Click here for details of operational aircraft. You can find a list of most, but not all, the wartime bases in Wikipedia by clicking here.)

1963 - When 89 Entry entered the RAF College, the RAF had about 140,000 personnel, around 2,000 operational aircraft, with 200 UK bases and 30 overseas bases (Click here for details of flying bases and squadrons)  - (NOTE - All the aircraft were British designed & built)

2013 - 50 years on, from when 89 entry arrived at Cranwell, the Royal Air Force now has 37,000 personnel in uniform,. 760  aircraft*, 45 (35 manned) UK bases and 5 overseas bases. - (Note - 63% of the aircraft are British built, but only 13% are of sole British design - How times have changed!)


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