Air Vice-Marshal BH (Barry) Newton

It was with great sadness that we received the news that Air Vice-Marshal BH (Barry) Newton had passed away at the age of 88 in hospital on 25 August after a long illness bravely borne. He had had very close links with the Reserve and Cadet Forces in general and the Royal Auxiliary Air Force in particular in which he served as an Honorary Air Commodore and then as the Force’s Honorary Inspector-General. There will be a private family cremation service and, subject to coronavirus restrictions, a Memorial Service on a date yet to be announced. For subscribers to the Daily Telegraph, his obituary can be viewed here.

The Kipper Patrol

During the war, 608 (North Riding) Squadron was part of Coastal Command flying principally Ansons, Hudsons and latterly Mosquitos. A paperback book about the Squadron during these war years has recently been written by Louise Wilkinson. Details can be found here.

Moving Video

On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of VE Day on 8th May 2020, Warrant Officer John Webster, a serving member of 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron for 45 years, narrates a moving video describing the outstanding achievements of his Squadron during the war and its vital contribution today to control the spread and effects of coronavirus. It can be viewed by clicking here.

Flight Lieutenant Terry Clark DFM AE

On 7 May 2020, Flight Lieutenant Terry Clark DFM AE passed away at the age of 101. He was a pre-war member of the Auxiliary Air Force serving with 615 (County of Surrey) Squadron and one of the very last of ‘The Few’. His biography, written by a Foundation Trustee, Wing Commander Jeff Metcalfe, can be viewed by clicking here.

 

Group Captain ‘Robbie’ Robins

It was with great regret that the Foundation learned that Group Captain ‘Robbie’ Robins, a father-figure of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, had passed away on 17th  April 2020. Following service as a radar operator in the Royal Air Force during the war, he joined the Auxiliary Air Force in 1948 becoming the Commanding Officer of No 1 (County of Hertford) Maritime Headquarters Unit and then, in 1973, the Inspector of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force. He retired from that appointment in 1983, but retained strong links with the Force until his death. A greatly respected individual, he will be missed by many. 

OBITUARY

Group Captain Leonard Edward Robins CBE AE**

2 November 1921 to 17 April 2020

Group Captain Leonard Edward Robins always known as ‘Robbie’ was born on 2 November 1921 to Louise and Joseph Robins. Joseph was a bandmaster in the Royal Marines.  Robbie grew up and was educated in Surrey and in due course joined the GPO.  When war broke out Robbie was called up and joined the RAF training as a radar plotter.  He served in a number of locations including Ceylon.  On one occasion he doggedly tracked a Japanese Kawasaki flying boat for four hours before if was shot down by allied fighters. The station from which he was discharged at the end of the war was the Chain Home radar unit at Dunkirk.  It was always a great joke that the person preparing his discharge papers failed to appreciate that this was in Kent not France, and credited him with further overseas service.   After the war he was employed in the Ministry of Health transferring later to housing and local government.  Keen to utilise his military skills he joined No 3700 (County of London) Radar Reporting Unit of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force as a reservist and was one of the first to join the newly formed No I (County of Hertford) Maritime Headquarters Unit in 1959. The role of this unit that continues to this day as No 600 (City of London) Squadron was to provide trained operations and intelligence personnel to augment the joint headquarters at Northwood.

Recognising Robbie’s skills and passion for the air force he was commissioned and rose rapidly through the ranks as an Intelligence officer.   He was promoted to the rank of wing commander and took command of the Unit from 1969 to 1973.   At the same time his civilian career was taking off and he joined the Lord Mayor of London’s personal staff initially as a researcher eventually becoming the speech writer to the Lord Mayor.  It was here that Robbie’s communications skills, sense of humour and charisma were so evident.  To receive one of Robbie’s letters, so well crafted and beautifully written in flowing text was a great thrill and these letters certainly became collector‘s items.  As if Robbie’s work in the Lord Mayor’s office and his demanding time as an active reservist were not enough, he managed to undertake various voluntary appointments.  These included positions such as the air force member of the Territorial and Volunteer Reserves Association for Greater London, the Patron of the WW2 Air Forces Radar Reporting Group, the President of Wandsworth’s Victim Support Unit, Trustee of the Grey Coat Hospital Foundation in Westminster and latterly as a Freeman of the City of London.

Robbie was appointed Inspector of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force and ADC to Her Majesty The Queen in 1974 and he held that position until 1983.  During this time he developed and introduced the appointments of Honorary Air Commodores into the Force and that of an Honorary Inspector General to oversee the on going integration of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force into the Royal Air Force.  Robbie also made much progress in positioning the Force for further expansion that now includes Regiment, Role support, Police, Air Movements, Intelligence, Flying, and Medical Squadrons.   He was appointed as a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 1983.   Typical of Robbie’s humour was his listing in Who’s Who stating that one of his recreations was ‘kipping’; this was certainly something that Robbie had little time to fit into a very busy life.  He married Jean Searle in 1949 until her untimely death in 1985 thereafter living in Cornwall with Sheila, his life-long companion. Robbie sadly passed away in hospital, a victim of COVID-19 on 17 April 2020 in his 99th year.     

Bob Kemp – 23 April 2020

Wing Commander Donald Perrens

A former wartime Spitfire pilot in the Royal Air Force and, after the war, as a member of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, the Commanding Ofiicer of 3618 (County of Sussex) Fighter Control Unit, Wing Commander Donald Perrens passed away on 17 April 2020. His obituary can be viewed in the Daily Telegraph obituary by clicking here.

Wing Commander Paul Farnes

Wing Commander Paul Farnes,  a member of 501 (County of Gloucester) Squadron and the last surviving ‘Ace’ of  the Battle of Britaiin,  died on 28 January 2020. His obituary can be seen in the Daily Telegraph article by clicking here.

Ely Cathedral Parade

The Standard of 2623 Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force Regiment was paraded into Ely Cathedral on 16 January 2020 for a Service of Thanksgiving for the life of Sir Michael Marshal. The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, The Earl of Wessex, The Duke of Gloucester and the Duke of Kent was represented at the Service. Sir Michael Marshall was a staunch supporter of many local and national charities and was knighted in 2010 for his services to business.

RAuxAF Annual Trophy Awards– 2019

The Robins Efficiency Trophy: Awarded Annually to the RAuxAF unit adjudged to have done the most to improve the good name and efficiency of the RAuxAF during the previous year: 603 Sqn  

The Inspector’s Cup: Awarded annually to the RAuxAF unit which has had a notable achievement during the past year: 606 Sqn  

The Clyde PR Trophy: Awarded annually to the RAuxAF unit which has achieved the highest standards in Public Relations during the past year: 502 Sqn  

The Kemp Dirk: Awarded annually to the RAuxAF unit which has achieved the best recruiting and retention results during the previous year: 4624 Sqn  

Inspectors Shield: Not awarded in 2019