With the mighty Halifax
October 8th 2022 What a wonderful day at Elvington!
The sun shone and the Yorkshire Air Museum and Memorial organised a splendid day for fifty members and friends gathered to remember 77 on the 80th anniversary of the squadron’s arrival at the newly- opened airbase in 1942.
Andrew, chairman of the Association greeted arrivals at the gate and directed them to the renamed Café 77 which is now complete with photos of the squadron, to meet Van who had corresponded with everyone and handed out useful name badges.
Next came an extremely moving service in the lovely station chapel. There was a welcome from Rachel, chair of trustees, followed by a traditional service of remembrance conducted by the museum chaplain and Vulcan veteran, Rev Taff Morgan DFC, MBE. Goose bumps abounded when we decided that the 29 names of those we had come specially to remember should be read out at the service, followed by the resounding exhortation and a beautiful Last Post and Reveille from bugler Malcolm Watson. David Matthews son of flight engineer Ted Mathews read from Revelation, and Van, daughter of pilot Alan May, turned a page of the Roll of Honour kept in the chapel.
A short ceremony at the memorial saw wreaths laid by Ian Richardson, head of memorial and heritage at the museum and Ros Fairburn of the Braund family society who had been invited for the day to receive a copy of The Braund Twins of 77, the latest book by Van Wilson.
There was a very delicious buffet lunch in the Halifax Suite; a showing of the Veterans’ Voices, the Lottery-funded, edited version of the squadron’s DVD; a statement of the Association’s funds and approval of last year’s meeting minutes. Then a group picture by the mighty Halifax which was out on show. The afternoon was greatly enhanced by the presence of the community band Generation Groovewho helped us and visitors mark this significant day.
The air and ground crew who were specially commemorated by their relatives or friends present were:
Ronald Baker; Alan Ball; William (Bill) Ballantyne; John Braund and his twin brother, Paul Braund; Lawrence Bridger; Peter Cadman; William (Bill) Foote; Cyril Heathcote; Alan Hunter; Glyn Jones; Reginald Lambert; Raymond Leforte; Young John Markham; Edward Matthews; Alan L J May; Derek Oakley; Thomas Parsons; Brian Piper; Harold Roots; Albert Sainsbury; H E Smith; Ronald Stewart; Edward Sutton; Colin Sutton; Ralph Tailford; J. Walsh; Eric Ross Wishart; Eric Yates.
Read what York’s Press reported online about the day.
Professor William (Bill) Ballantyne
Professor Bill Ballantyne, veteran pilot of 77, passed away after a short illness on Wednesday, 11th August 2022, in his 99th year. We have fond memories of his attendance with Caroline at our reunions. Many will remember his brave and ebullient personality at our reunion at Elvington in 2019 with his family.
His interview with International Bomber Command Centre for their digital archive, recorded in July 2019 has only just become available. It is remarkably clear. Rest in Peace, Bill.
Our previous president, Bill Foote DFC, passed away at the end of 2017 and we offered the rôle to Professor Bill Ballantyne who members will recall gave a fascinating address after dinner in 2015. This Bill was a veteran pilot of 77 Squadron and on one occasion, on 12 December 1944, he was second pilot to Flying Officer Bill Foote on an op to Osnabruck.
In 1941, after serving with Cambridge University Air Squadron, Bill Ballantyne joined the RAF as a trainee pilot and was sent to South Africa to fly a succession of different airplanes: Tiger Moths, Hawker Harts and Hinds, and Oxfords. He was then posted to 267 Squadron in Transport Command in North Africa flying Dakotas to take supplies up to the front line, then to Tunis to take part in the invasion of Sicily. Restless for more action, when asked to ferry a Beaufort from England to Cairo he managed to stay in England and get posted to Bomber Command. He trained on early Wellingtons and Halifaxes and eventually joined 77 Squadron at Full Sutton, flying on 22 ops until VE Day 1945.
THE BRAUND STORY
Book cover of the new book by Van Wilson
In 2017 Sally Palmer contacted Van Wilson of 77 Squadron Association offering a collection of material relating to John and Paul Braund, twin brothers and pilots with 77 Squadron, who were both tragically killed in 1945, aged only 22.
This unique and moving collection contains the twins’ letters, documents, flight log books, photographs, caps and medals. We at the Association decided to pass the collection on to the Yorkshire Air Museum archive where it will remain for posterity. But Van Wilson, having read the documents and letters, decided that the story should be told to a much wider public. The letters from the twins to their parents are particularly poignant. They outline the men’s experiences from early Royal Air Force training in the USA, followed by instructing in Texas. Details about their time in the USA enabled their parents to find out more about what was happening. The close relationship they shared is evident from their comments and private jokes in the letters.
The twins moved to more intensive training in the UK and finally to 77 Squadron, then based at Full Sutton, in November 1944. They took part in a number of missions and became very popular with their comrades on the squadron. The twins were tragically killed within a month of each other in January and February 1945. Paul’s body, like those of his crew, was never found and their names are recorded on the Runnymede Memorial. John’s body was washed ashore near a small town in Denmark and was given a full military funeral by the resistance movement and local clergy, despite official orders against this. After the war, Paul’s name was also added to his brother’s grave, and their parents’ ashes were later buried in the same place.
William and Greta Braund had no other children but were close to their niece Margaret Braund. Her god-daughter Sally Palmer inherited the twins’ collection and was very keen to make sure all the material would be kept for posterity.
You can order a copy of this fully-illustrated book of 130pp, costing £10 inc post and packing (UK), from us: email@example.com with your address and payment to the bank:
77 Squadron Association
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