If personal details below are not comprehensive and you can add more, such as Date of Death/Funeral Venue, Rank, Aircrew Category and Type of Aircraft flown, together with the years of both RAF & 10 Sqn service, please email us. You might also include birth-place and year, post-RAF occupation and names of other family members: all details make for a more comprehensive narrative to honour former Squadron members. Photos are welcome too in order to jog memories.
The Association now has its own flag which may be used to drape a coffin at a funeral and which may be sent to the undertakers or bereaved relatives by post, prior to the event. It is lightweight, measures 6ft x 4ft and is made from a washable terylene material. After the funeral it must of course, be returned to our Association Standard Bearer.
Note: The Union Flag may drape an ex-service person's coffin but the RAF Ensign must never be used for that purpose. It may only be flown from a flagpole.
Eric Downs (1921 – 2023) Squadron Leader 10 Sqn Dakotas – India 1947
In September this year (2023) we were advised by his son John, that former Squadron Leader Eric Downs MBE, RAF (Retd) was to reach his 102nd birthday on 24th September and could he please join the Association? We were also advised that the BBC had interviewed Eric two years ago in September 2021 on his 100th birthday. A film of that occasion is still available on Youtube:
See - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=McMoSvZGxcY
Our Chairman Mike Westwood immediately proposed that Eric be awarded Honorary Life Membership of our Association and a Certificate granting this was duly drawn up and sent off to Eric. Sadly though, his son John then sent us an email in late October advising us of the sad news that Eric had passed away on 18 October just a few weeks after his 102nd birthday. .……….. John’s email reads:
Many thanks for sending me the 10 Squadron Association's "Honorary Lifetime Membership" certificate (and Mike Westwood's covering letter) for my father, Eric Downs. Unfortunately, I left his membership application too late and he passed away before I could get the documents to him. I am sure that he would have been delighted to see them - he still retained vivid and detailed memories of his time in India at Mauripur with 10 Squadron from 16 May to 17 December 1947.
In his final years with the RAF, he was OC Flying at RAF South Cerney (1 ITS) from 1st July 1965 to 30th January 1967, and then with PFS at Church Fenton, followed by FTC at Shinfield Park and AOTS back in South Cerney (11 September 1967 to 13 January 1968) - finishing as Senior Ops Officer at ASC, Fairford until 24th September 1970. He had built a house in South Cerney in 1965, expecting to stay in his OC Flying job until his retirement but his plans were thrown into disarray when (allegedly) complaints from the local MP about the noise from ITS ops over his country mansion caused ITS to be moved the Church Fenton!
I attach a draft obituary that I sent to Graham Pitchfork, military obits editor for the Telegraph. Graham rewrote the first part, which I have included in the draft. I don't know what Graham's final version will look like, but you are most welcome to use the info/facts from my draft. My sister Anita has written a short biography of Eric's life, including his time with 10 Squadron in Pakistan. When the dust has settled a bit I will scan the 10 Squadron section of the book for your records and reference. Eric was born in Bermondsey, London (the 4th of 11 children) on 24th September 1921 and died on 18th October 2023. He was going strong until a few months ago, and was looking forward to a least a few more years, but his body decided it was time to go...
Thanks again and kind regards, John Downs
- a copy of the Draft Obit is attached here.
RIP Eric Downs
Note: There is slight confusion regarding the date of the member's passing below and this will be corrected in due course as soon as more information becomes known.
Roy Maddock-Lyon WW2 Flight Sergeant and Halifax flight engineer
Flt Sgt Roy Maddock-Lyon was the flight engineer on a 10 Squadron Mk lll Halifax MZ 793, that was shot down on 14/15 February 1945 over Denmark. Theirs was one of four aircraft assigned to a mine-laying operation in the Baltic off the coast from Stetin in what is now north-west Poland.
The captain, Fg Off John Grayshan sadly died during the incident as did the navigator FS Albert Berry. Two others crew members Plt Off Chaderton the air-bomber and Sgt Andrews the WOp, were taken as PoWs but the rest evaded capture including former flight engineer Roy.
In December 2022 Roy was made an Honorary Life Member of the Association in recognition for both his wartime service as well as his later dedication to the Association.
Roy Maddock-Lyon receiving his Honorary Life Membership Certificate from Chairman Mike Westwood in late 2022
Having lived in the Weedon area of Northants for many years, Roy and his late wife Shirley spent their later years in the Cheltenham area of Gloucestershire. His loyalty and devotion to the RAF never faltered in all his 98 years.
Our condolences go to his daughter Zoe and all Roy’s extended family.
9 September 2023
Al Sheppard SQN LDR - VC10 CAPTAIN
LATER, GULF AIR & THE BAHRAIN ROYAL FLIGHT
In the week when we said farewell to John Waltham and Ian Strike, we sadly now learn of another VC10 era member who has just passed away - Al Sheppard. Although not a member of the Association, many ex-crew members have fond memories of Al.
Ann Bihan writes:
“Former 10 Squadron VC10 captain in the 1970s, Al Shepphard passed away on the morning of Tuesday 5th September 2023 at his home near Corsham, Wiltshire.
He had been in hospital in Bath for a short spell after a fall resulting in a broken hip which could only be pinned. With a prognosis that was not good, Al asked to be taken home to be with his family.
He was a lovely man with not an ounce of pomposity in him and a much-admired captain. It was always considered a pleasure to be on his crew. After leaving the RAF, Al joined Gulf Air in Bahrain and later became one of the personal pilots who flew the of Emir of Bahrain, Sheikh Isa Bin Salman on the Bahrain Royal Flight. On his return to the UK after retirement, he lived close to Brize Norton in Carterton for many years before moving to Corsham.
Meeting up with him last year, Al was then over 90 with an amazing memory recalling stories of both his time in the RAF and his extraordinary life in the Gulf.”
We understand that the funeral will be a private, family-only affair.
Ian David Strike Sqn Ldr VC10 Navigator
With much regret we are informed by his daughter Helen, of the recent death of her father Ian Strike, who was a VC10 navigator from 1976 to 1986, and who was on 216 Squadron as a Comet VIP navigator prior to joining 10 Squadron.
After suffering with Parkinson’s disease for some time, Ian died peacefully in Ashgrove House Nursing Home, Purton, Wiltshire, aged 89 years.
He and his wife Margaret who died in 2018, are survived by 2 daughters, 2 sons, 5 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren. Ian often spoke of his time with 10 Squadron with great pride and many happy memories.
Ian' funeral was held at the North Wiltshire Crematorium, Royal Wootton Bassett, on Thursday 7th September.
John Derek Waltham Squadron Leader and former VC10 Officer i/c Cabin Crew
John (February 1936 - August 2023) was not only a staunch supporter of the 10 Sqn Association but he also took an active role in the Air Loadmasters' Association - being it's President for a considerable length of time.
Our heartfelt condolences go to his daughter Louize and son Duncan and families.
John’s funeral and burial took place on a gloriously sunny and warm day in the delightful Cotswold village of Black Bourton just south of RAF Brize Norton’s runway on 5th September. A guard of honour was mounted by members of The Air Loadmaster’s Association at the church door and the coffin was preceded into the church by the 10 Squadron Association’s standard, carried by Dick King.
All seats were taken in St Mary’s Church by mourners, all wishing to pay their final respects to John during the service in which three eulogies were given, prayers said and hymns sung. Completing the service, John’s coffin was given a final military salute with the 10 Squadron Association’s Standard. The coffin was carried the short distance from the church entrance to its final resting place for burial alongside the grave of John's wife Julie. As it was lowered into the ground a chance overflight by a Brize Norton A400M aircraft made an unknowing yet poignant gesture of salute.
A wake was then held in the Vines Hotel just a few yards from the church where those attending were then able to give their condolences to John’s daughter Louize and son Duncan.
If such words are not considered inappropriate, it was a lovely ceremony. A good friend and former RAF officer whom everyone, without exception, respected and admired, was laid to rest on a brilliantly sunny day. All attending will recall that as matching John’s disposition.
John Waltham will be well remembered as a fine man, whom everyone liked and respected.
Whilst on 10 Squadron John supervised the cabin crew in charge of Her Majesty The Late Queen Elizabeth II on a number of flights in the VC10.
One such five-day trip trip was in February 1983 when the Squadron had the privilege of flying HMQ from London Heathrow to the Caribbean via Bermuda and then on to Kingston and Montego Bay in Jamaica, Grand Cayman and finally to Acapulco in Mexico. The VC 10 was XR 807 for Ascot 1148. The flight returned to the UK via Washington in the USA on 18th February but the Queen was not on board after Mexico. The picture below shows John on the left and was sent in to us by the flight engineer, M Eng Roy McMullan being introduced to the Queen by the captain Sqn Ldr Mick Dobson. It is thought that Sqn Ldr Joe Sharp was the navigator but unfortunately the names of the co-pilot (possibly Ian Neil??) and remainder of the cabin crew are unknown.
RIP John Waltham (end left)
26 July 2023
Steve Ponting Master Engineer (Deputy 10 Sqn Eng Ldr)
We learn from his best friend that Steve died on Saturday 22 July 2023 after a very short illness even though he was not a totally well man.
Steve, was the Deputy Eng Ldr on 10 Squadron and prior to that he flew Hercules on 70 Squadron and then on 47 Squadron’s ‘Special Forces Flight.’
Steve’s good friend Terry Hulmes, (Eng Ldr 1991 -93) who has informed us of the sad news about Steve’s passing writes, “We did the VC10 OCU together on No 66 Course in 1991. Steve then became my Deputy Eng Ldr in 1992 and he continued in that post under Andy Scott until he left the RAF in about 1997 to fly for Channel Express and eventually he became a Chief Ground Instructor in the Gulf.”
In the 66 Cse photo below Steve is front centre and Terry is rear row end right
Steve's funeral was held on 15th August 2023
at the North Wiltshire Crematorium, Royal Wooton Bassett.
Our sympathies go to Steve’s wife Sharon Ponting
31 May 2023
Eric Walter Brown February 1932 - May 2023
Squadron Leader - VC10 Training Captain 241 OCU and ATEU
We regret to announce, being informed by his daughter-in-law Christine, that Eric passed away on Friday 26 May at Marden Court Care Home, Calne, Wiltshire, having suffered from a stroke two weeks beforehand.
Many will remember him joining 10 Squadron in its early days after his tours in the V-Force and those of more recent vintage will recall him as a 241 OCU VC10 Training Captain and then, after a move to Upavon, Eric became an ATEU examiner.
Eric in a VC10
After retirement in his Carterton, Oxfordshire home, Eric moved into a Care Home in Chippenham last year to be closer to his son’s family.
Shortly after all the family had joined the 10 Squadron Association in early 2022, the shocking news came to us that Eric’s son Robert had died following a short and unexpected fight with cancer in the autumn.
Our heart goes out to Robert’s wife Christine for this latest tragedy to befall her in less than nine months and we send her and her son Oliver our deepest sympathies.
Shortly after Robert’s death last year Christine set up a charity donation link for him and wishes any donation for Eric to likewise contribute and be sent to them:
Chris Brown - in memory of Rob ❤ (cancerresearchuk.org)
If one reads her comments on this website it will be noted that she is carrying out a ‘virtual’ walk the length of Britain to raise funds and has now more than surpassed her initial target.
Christine is also proposing to encourage donations to the RAF Benevolent Fund. - See:
Make a donation | RAF Benevolent Fund (rafbf.org)
Eric’s funeral took place on 'Midsummer Day at High Noon' (12:00 hrs on 21st June) at The North Wiltshire Crematorium, Royal Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire, and a wake was held afterwards at Sally Pussey's Inn, also in Wootton Bassett. Click on the words below to see the Order of Service:
‘A Celebration of Life’
ORDER OF SERVICE – ERIC W. BROWN
21 June 2023
Those unable to attend the funeral could watch a live feed available on-line via the link below.
(It's not known how long this will still be made available)
Info supplied by : Odette Funeral Director, 7 Phelps Parade, Calne, SN11 0HA
Tel: 01249 819972
VC10: Eric with HM King Charles (then Prince of Wales) V-Force Days -on the ladder
As the writer of the above I am particularly saddened by the news above since, not only was Eric my neighbour, living just opposite me for 10 years, from the mid 1970s, but he was also my Training Captain on the ‘Hong Kong Trainer’ at the end of my VC10 course and, six years later we flew together as two captains on my very last trip on 10 Squadron and in the RAF. RK – (Web Warden)
RIP Eric & Rob
7 April 2023
Keith Cheshire Senior Aircraftsman - 1950s Victor Ground Crew - RAF Cottesmore
Keith Cheshire’s son Nigel writes to inform us of the sad passing of his father at the Lamlash War Memorial Hospital on the Isle of Arran in Scotland on the 20th March with his wife Anne, of 67 years of marriage, by his side.
Keith had served with 10 Squadron in their Victor days at RAF Cottesmore and never failed to impress upon his family how proud he had been to serve with the Squadron. That was of course in the days when the Victor provided Britain’s Nuclear Deterrent at the height of the Cold War. In later years he lived on the Isle of Arran where he eventually became a transport coordinator to retire just a few months before his death. Keith’s funeral was held at the:
Holmsford Bridge Crematorium, Dreghorn, Irvine, Kilmarnock on 19th April.
No flowers but donations to Community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST) or Arran Cancer Society (ARCAS).
Our sincere condolences go to Anne, Nigel and all other members of the family
Further details about Keith will follow when known.
10 March 2023