The aim of the association is to preserve the memories and history of these RAF stations and all who were involved particularly those that gave their lives in the service of their country.
Minutes of the 23rd AGM of the Yatesbury Association held in Compton Bassett Village Hall at 1430 hours on Sunday August 12th, 2018.
In accordance with the Constitution, the Executive Committee agreed to reduce the required quorum figure of 25 members to 19 members for this AGM
The Padre, Lyn Morris welcomed delegates and opened the meeting with a short dedication at 14.30 hours.
1. Present were the Chairman and 18 members.
2. Apologies were received from Neville Fawcett; Anthony Lewis; Ron & Judy Stempfer; Jamal Khanfer; John Diamond; J Ferdinando;Sir Alec Morris; R.V. Stone;Stephen Dear;Roy Johnson; David and Patricia Clarke.
3. The Minutes of the 2017 AGM were approved as a true record following a proposal by L. Burden seconded by D. Smith.
4. Matters Arising
a) The secretary explained that with regard to the Compton Bassett site, "things have moved on since last year. We now have letters from Hills group Ltd. and the former guard room and family centre have been demolished. The plan is to replace the old plaque showing a map of the former camp. Also, the gates will be refurbished and will remain in situ. The old red phone box will be renovated to include an information point reflecting the heritage of the site. Hills are fully aware of the threat of vandalism by local youths and I have been assured our Association will be kept up to date with how the restoration is progressing".
5. Officers’ Reports
i) Chairman “ Only two committee meetings this year and I would like to thank all members of the Committee on your behalf as well as mine for all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes. Collecting the subs, keeping a record of Membership, dealing with members queries and questions. Looking after the Web-site and many items of memorabilia and the task of producing three issues of of our most excellent Sparks Magazine and, of course, all that is required to label, pack, stamp and post and also keep in touch with local organisations. You really have an excellent committee who work very hard and deserve your support and hearty thanks for all they do.
We are, sadly, of course, in a way a declining Association for Yatesbury closed in 1966 so although we are collecting a few new members we are also losing members by death each year and our "Silent Keys" have been remembered at the Church service today along with those who dies in wartime and peace-time who lie in the lovely Churchyard at Yatesbury. But we are still solvent as you will hear in our treasurer's report. This is now the third year where we have used the new format of Church and meeting on the same day and it seems to be working smoothly. But this is your meeting and your chance to say what you think about the future. I still miss those visits we made when I first joined to Museums and RAF Establishments but many of these have already closed and so we cannot repeat them. But Boscombe Down is still open which we have visited in the past and could be a possibility perhaps? I have had a small problem this year because of the inefficiency of the person who is supposed to look after safeguarding in the Parishes where I live and she collected all the information she needed from me in April but did nothing about it until there was a sudden panic in June when my Permission to officiate at services expired. However, I was allowed to carry on until this was fixed and I am now 100% legal again.
But I now hand you on to those who really do all the work beginning with Andrew the Vice Chairman.
ii) The Vice Chairman reported as follows:
During this year I have attended two local ceremonies organised by the local RAF Association. The first was at Calne Town Hall commemorating the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Royal Air Force. The second was the presentation of a commemorative scroll to the Calne branch The scroll in a sealed casket was delivered by the Air Training Corps members who carried along the line of the former railway between Chippenham and Calne - a journey many of us will remember form our time at Yatesbury or Compton Bassett.
I was also at the British Legion re-dedication ceremony of the Calne War Memorial which is well worth a visit while you are in the area.
iii) The Secretary and Treasurer reported
“ Welcome to our AGM and thank you to everyone who helped yesterday at the exhibition.
I look back over the last year and I thought it had been a relatively quiet one, but there are a few
things to report back.
In November last year I attended the Remembrance Day Service in Calne, and this year my husband John
laid the wreath on behalf of the Association. The Calne service is always well attended and they do appreciate
our taking part.
On the 21st November I attended the Calne Heritage Centre with Clive and Doug Bennison. Dougie gave
several model trains and a coach to be part of their display about the RAF connection with the town. The
curator of the museum, Sue Boddington, and David Harris (a trustee of the centre) were thrilled to receive this
gift from Dougie. Can I also mention that on the same day Dougie insisted on taking yet another Yatesbury
plaque into the Lansdowne Strand Hotel in Calne, but alas I have heard from Dougie yesterday that the
plaque is nowhere to be seen.
On April 2nd Yatesbury Church rung a special peal in recognition of 100 years of the RAF. They ran 1260
changes in 43 minutes.
On the 26th May I attended the re-dedication of the Calne War Memorial. This war memorial has been
renovated, and in October 2014 the committee decided to make a donation of £100 to Calne British Legion
towards the cost of this renovation. The service took place outside the church yard at St Marys in Calne and it
followed as closely as possible the original dedication that took place on 19th May 1921. There was a
procession led by the Royal British Legion. The unveiling was done by the Marquis of Lansdowne, and the
local Cadets, Brownies, and Scouts all took part in the service. I encourage you, if you have time, to go and
see the memorial. I attended this service with my husband, and was pleased that Clive and Marie Simpson,
Andrew and Jennie woodcock and Dougie Bennison also attended. We enjoyed a buffet lunch in the Town
Yesterday we had an exhibition here in the village hall, which was advertised locally and it would appear that
the advertising was worth while. We had about 12 visitors (non members of the Association) and they all had
some connection with Yatesbury or Compton Bassett. One man had been at Compton Bassett in 1957, and
another was proud to share the fact that his mother was in the WRAF in 1918 and was based at RAF
Yatesbury. Those that attended appreciated the display and also the presentation from the Wiltshire Bee
Centre (the former Malcolm Club) was well received. I know that Fiona from the centre sold a lot of honey
I would like to thank in particular Richard Broadhead the local historian who loaned us the four sided display
still here in the hall.
And I would like to thank Liz and her team for the catering today. I believe this is the 19th year and we
always enjoy the spread you put on for us. There will be tea and cakes served after the AGM so
please don't rush away.
You should all have a copy of the accounts in front of you.
Our bank balance as at 31st March 2018 wa £2924.47 compared to £2818.26 the previous year.
You will see that we only made one donation this year of £50 to Yatesbury Church for use of the Church for
our AGM remembrance service.
I believe the accounts are pretty self explanatory, but if you have any questions perhaps you could ask them
now. Thank you.
There were no questions asked of the Treasurer and following a proposal from Len Burden seconded by
by Clive Simpson, the accounts were adopted without dissent.
The Treasurer expressed her thanks to John King, scrutineer of the accounts.
A copy of the detailed accounts is attached to these minutes.
iv) The Membership Secretary reported:
Nominally the total membership stands at 224 but only 160 have paid so far this year. More are expected to pay following the reminder in the next “Sparks”.
26 members have paid £10.00, 100 paid £7.50, 5 paid £5.00. (8 honorary members plus remainder spouses etc.)
5 paid for 2019/20
8 are overseas, 3 in the EU, 2 in Australia, 2 in USA, and 1 in Canada.
11 served with one claiming to have been here in May 1939.
132 Yatesbury; 1 Cherhill; 39 C.B. 52 non serving.
2 joined in 2018; 4 joined since last AGM.
v) The PRO reported :
“He had had a sad year. His anticipated visit to the Menin Gate had to be cancelled to his wife's
operation. He had not found the British Legion at all helpful particularly with obtaining a suitable
wheel chair for his wife. He had promoted membership to several potential members but without
success. This was a disappointment since he strongly believed the Association was a worthwhile
vi) The SPARKS EDITOR
Has enough material for one and a half further editions but is much in need of more items for
publication. The next edition will be published in October. There is a possibility of 12 tickets being
available for this year's Cenotaph Remembrance Day parade; if none appear, the Association will
march at the Calne remembrance day parade. (He will liaise with RAFA for the possible loan of a
wheel chair for Shirley Gernon).
David Clark had responded to John Bennet's complaint of errors in the latest edition of "Sparks". As
a professional proof reader David could only find 3 errors in Sparks but 11 in John Bennett's letter of
vii) As Webmaster he reported:
The site is regularly updated with a significant number of people claiming falsely to have a connection
having continually to be removed. Not many Yatesbury Association members visit the site. There is
also a members only “Facebook” page which members can easily join should they so wish.
viii) The Archive Officer reported:-
There are a significant number of photos in the archives lacking descriptive information. He will group
these into the relevant camps. He questioned what will happen to the archive material when the
Association eventually ceases to exist?
ix) Eastern Branch and Cenotaph Parade organiser
David Clarke apologises for his absence; his wife is in hospital following a fall. C.Simpson has taken on the role of Cenotaph Parade co-ordinator and and his update appears earlier in these minutes.
6. Election of Officers
The Secretary reported that 27 voting papers had been returned. As there was no contest for the following posts, following a proposal by Len Burden seconded by Rosie Watt, it was unanimously agreed that the nominated officers be elected en-bloc . The elected officers are as follows:
Chairman – Rev. B.L. Morris.. Vice Chairman, Andrew Woodcock, Honorary Secretary and Treasurer – Mrs. Rosie Watt. Minutes Secretary – A. Trinder. Membership Secretary – P. Tomaselli. P.R.O. & Standard Bearer - A. Gernon. Sparks Editor & Webmaster – C. Simpson. Archivist – W. Hauxwell. Cenotaph Co-ordinator – C. Simpson. Member without Portfolio – A. Mundy. Eastern Branch Representative – D. Clark.
7. Other Business
i) D Bennison commented " This year, 2018, is the 21st anniversary of myself and others in this hall today, celebrating our membership of the RAF Yatesbury Association. We also proudly celebrate the 100 years of the formation of the Royal Air Force. Moving on - on behalf of myself and passed RAF Compton Bassett personnel, I would like to thank the committee for their endeavours in the on-going saga over the main gates refurbishment project (But, I hasten to add, as I stated at the last AGM, I would no longer go banging on about it).
But now I am hoping this year will be the final outcome, a positive assurance that and a firm date from "hills Aggregates" would be most welcome news to the membership of this Association.
Thereby, showing us former "bassett hounds" that we have been "brought to ground" at last - the "quarry in our sights, and not running around after 21 years, still in never ending anticipation. Furthermore, and lastly, we know official recorded history exists from the 1940 war years and beyond, so, again, I repeat - a firm deciaion of intent and action would be an everlasting memorial to the many civilians and RAF personnel who served at no3 Radio School RAF Compton Bassett so many years ago. Let us remember our past; let us never forget"
ii) The vice chairman suggested putting Dougie's comments on the Calne Facebook page but the secretary commented she was not happy with the setup and comments that appeared on that page.
iii) The secretary commented on the ever decreasing numbers of Association members now attending the Annual General Meeting weekend. (Only 5 members present were not either a committee member or committee member's spouse). Again, at the church service the congregation numbered 35 when formerly there would be 80 plus attending. Rosie recommended a special celebration as a final event. It was agreed
the committee will discuss the problem at their October meeting.
C Simpson agreed the future needs seriously discussing and recommended this should happen at the 2019 AGM. Is it worth paying for guests at the weekend luncheon when they outnumber the Association members present?
L. Burden suggested that the soon to be refurbished skittle alley at the next door White Horse Inn might be a suitable alternative venue. The general consensus was it would be too small a room and probably cost too much.
D. Bennison would be unhappy to see the demise of the Association but had to agree it was inevitable.
W. Hauxwell suggested the Wiltshire Beekeepers premises in the former Malcolm Club could house us but, again, what is to happen to the archives? Is there likely to ever be a suitable building available on the old airfield site?
Jennie Morris suggested a special celebratory event marking the eventual refurbishment at the Compton Bassett site might be arranged as a "winding up" ceremony for the Association. Perhaps including a visit to the Boscombe Down museum.
The vice-chairman suggested an amalgamation with the Calne branch of the Royal Air Force Association? C. Simpson pointed out this would not be possible owing to the constitution and regulations surrounding RAFA,
The Chairman asked if the overseas members whose only participation is the receipt of Sparks would be disappointed to see the Association's demise.
The situation would seem to need input from the membership as a whole.
8. Date of next AGM
This will be on Sunday August 11, 2019 at Compton Bassett Village Hall.
. There being no further business the meeting closed at 15.38 hours.
Membership is open to all those who have an interest in the association and its aims.
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For membership of the Association please contact the membership secretary or go to the Membership link on the main menu and download a Membership Form by clicking on the App Form link.
As far as it is known, the Telecommunication trade is the only one with a trade badge. The original reason for this is that in the early day of the RAF only NCO's were allowed to address an officer. A member of the telecommunication trade might have an important message and the badge enable him to address an officer directly.