Newsletter 2016 – 2


President: Wg. Cdr. John Rush MBE, BA FCIM Ieng Fraes RAF [Ret’d]
Life Vice President: Fred Knox BEM
Chairman – Vacant
Welfare Officer: Fred Knox BEM
Vice Chairman: Bill Baker
Treasurer: Peggy Reading
Secretary& Membership Secretary: Des Stewart
Entertainment Member: Ken Brown
Service Liaison Member: Position Vacant
Partners Liaison Members: Jeannette Stewart & Gillian Williams

General Secretary & Membership Secretary’s Contact Details: Des Stewart, 31 Crossmead, Watford, Herts, WD19 4JQ – Tel No. 01923 461 056; Email:

Dear Member

As you can see from the headings, there have been some changes to the committee. Fred has resigned as Chairman of the Association, but has been voted in as Life Vice President. He still retains the position of the Welfare Officer. The position of Chairman is still vacant, so we are hoping that one of the members is willing to take on that role.

Ken Brown has taken over as the Entertainment member as no one at the reunion wanted to volunteer his or her services

2016 Reunion

The reunion went very well considering that we had a change of venue due to circumstances beyond our control, as during the refurbishment of the previous hotel asbestos was found. This was also a jump in the dark for Shirley & Co, in that they had never used this hotel before. We moved to the Holiday Inn in Bromsgrove, which was directly on a main road and also much nearer Bromsgrove railway station. However, as Shakespeare once said “All’s Well That Ends Well”, which was nearly true in our case.

The hotel was fairly modern with plenty of parking space, with bar and café open as we were arriving, to quench our thirst.

Friday night was catching up night for members, to see how we had all faired over the last year! Derek & Barbara Hargreaves came with their son and daughter in law, Bill and Val Murray brought a friend, and even though he was ex army, he was made very welcome, and Bob Johnson had his Granddaughter and partner attend on the Saturday night.

Saturday after breakfast, it was aboard the coach for those going to the Severn Valley Railway, from Kidderminster. Unfortunately, it was a special weekend for Diesels, with a lot of special fans(!) taking lots of pictures and numbers or trains and carriages. Most of us managed to get from Kidderminster to Brignorth (old square bashing camp for some), have a quick cuppa before the return journey. Unfortunately, the SVR staff failed to take into account the number of people attending the weekend and service in the café was quite slow. On the return journey nearly all the fans had their heads stuck out of the windows of the compartments and corridor, blocking the views and the light from the windows. They must have thought they were in heaven, or something, as they kept their heads out the windows for the whole journey!

Saturday night started with the lightning of the candles on the Absent Friends table, followed by the President, John Rush, saying Grace. After the meal, and before the dancing began, the Chairman, Fred Knox, read out a list of names (18) of our members who have gone to the Bomb Dump in the Sky, since the last reunion. The Absent Friends toast was then made, the candles extinguished, and we made ready for the music and dancing.

The music was once again presented by John Morris, which started around 21:30 and finished at 00:30, and that was because the waitresses were waiting to set the tables for breakfast. Half way through the dancing stopped for the raffle, which resulted in raising £287.10p. There was a quick auction for a wooden Lancaster made for a Navigator flying Lancaster’s during the war, and ended up at the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, and raised £50.

We had a casualty at the end of the night when Bob Johnson fell down a flight of stairs, broke a collarbone and cracked two or three ribs. He didn’t find this out until he got home and went to A&E at his local hospital.

Sunday morning after breakfast the AGM was held (see separate heading later), and for those who stayed for Sunday, it was aboard the coach again for the cream tea cruise on the river Severn. The set down point was outside a pub called “The Armoury”. I did enquire that, as we were all armourers, that a free beer could be the order of the day. “Free beers tomorrow sir” came the reply. Ah well it was worth a try.

The boat left the mooring at 14:15 and it was booked for KEBAA members only, with the trip lasting two hours. It should have been half hour upstream, one hour down stream followed by a commentary of the last half hour back upstream. That changed due to the fact that as the river Severn is tidal, we could have gone up stream ok, and getting under the bridge(s) with ease, but returning down stream the river would have been too high to get under the bridge(s), so we made do with going down stream for an hour before the return journey. Whilst we were enjoying the tranquil journey, the food was served. It started with enough sandwiches for everyone at each of the tables, followed by large scones with a bowl of cream and a bowl of Strawberry jam, followed by large muffin cakes of various flavours. Just to show I cared, I had half a Cornish cream scone, and half a Devon cream scone! Just don’t ask which is Devon or Cornish?

Everyone on board really enjoyed the experience, as it was a very relaxing time, with children and adults alike all waving to us as they walked along the riverbank.

Everyone felt stuffed afterwards, with the coach leaving for the hotel about 16:30 and arriving back at the hotel around 17:45. Just in time to have a wash, change and get a drink before going in to eat more food at 19:00!!!!!

Sunday evening entertainment was provided by Scott Conrad singing and his brother Andy providing the music. Scott sang a selection of songs by various artistes suggested by the audience. Someone suggested Pavarotti, and towards the end of the evening he sang Nessun Dorma, and had a standing ovation.

Annual General Meeting

The AGM commenced at 10:00hrs with any apologies – none given.

Minutes of last minute were given out and agreed.

Presidents Report:

John Rush opened by saying what a great night it was Saturday night at the dinner and dance. The music was good and the dancing was even better! He had never seen so many people on the dance floor before.

He went on to say that unfortunately that as the all the members are getting older and not everyone can make it to the reunion, but we should endeavour to carry on.

He also mentioned the smooth running of the raffle, in that it only took 20 minutes or so to complete the draw and take the prizes to the winning tables. It is now part of the evening’s ritual.

Chairman’s Report

Fred Knox started by asking if we remember the start of KEBAA? It was 26 years ago that we were formed. We had various events to raise money for good causes in different places, including RAF Germany. “Mac” did the organising with many helpers – good old plumbers, always willing to give their support. Some of those members who took part are still with us.

We had a meeting at the RAFA Richard Peck House to present a cheque for £15,000 for the refurbishment of the lift, after the RAF Hospital at Halton was closed, which should have been the original benefactor. Again some of those members are still with us.

Armourers tend to become part of a family through friendship and companionship, which is the basis of an “I am an Armourer”. Also please remember those Plumbers who were given their final posting to the ‘Bomb Dump’ in the sky, especially since the last reunion, and those in ill health at the present moment.

On the Welfare front I have over the years supported members who have had problems by giving support, making telephone calls, emails and cards, etc. I am monitoring two members at present.

Looking towards the future, how can we increase the membership? A very difficult task as like all associations interest from the younger groups of armourers is hard, especially now that the TRADE has been downgraded, and therefore lose their aircraft trade pay. Remember what Trenchard said, “That without armourers there is no need for an Air Force”.

And finally, I am announcing my retirement from the position of the Chairman of KEBAA, on the advice of my medical consultant. I have enjoyed my time as Chairman, having taken over from Bryn. I will stay on in the Welfare role for the time being.

The Vice Chairman, Bill Baker, gave a vote of thanks for all that the retiring chairman has done during his term of office.

Treasurers Report

The treasurer started by saying that the accounts were in a healthy state at present, but as most of the membership consists of Life Members (LM’s), we are not having any increase in our funds. We are looking for the LM’s to consider making a donation instead of subs., which is purely voluntary.

As from the 2014 AGM, it was agreed that the Life Membership category would cease, and all new memberships would be classified as annual. There is no change for current LM’s.

From the year ending May 2016 the balance of accounts stands at £4321.99, with a copy included with this newsletter.

A reminder that Annual Subscriptions are due from the 1st January to 31st December for any given year.

General and Membership Secretary’s Report

The report started with the comment that I would be staying in post for another year if the members were agreed, but to wait for the election process towards the end of the AGM.

As the Chairman said, it is difficult to get the younger generation of armourers to join us, as that may remind them of their time in the RAF, which may not have been as good as ours. We seemed to have been in at the best time, as now moral is at an all time low as their trade structure is being downgraded.

The website has been looked at, but not followed through by the viewer to apply to come and join us.

Membership stands around 250, but is fluid in that we have lost contact with 13 members. I have tried various ways of tracing them but had no success. The numbers refer to the KEBA numbers – 31 Eddie Clarke; 49 Alec Cuthbertson; 66 Ian Gallacher; 137 Steve Stevenson; 208 Peter Jones; 233 Des Barker; 255 David Griffin; 296 Alan Pragg (NZ); 403 Victor Strange (Canada); 424 John Lusher; 476 Donald Clark; 499 Rod McGuffie. If any member has news of any of the above, please let me know.

We also lost 17 members to St. Barbara’s since the 2015 reunion, and one whose name was left off the 2014 – 2015 list. They are –

  KEBA No Name
1.        7* Cynthia Barnes (Honorary member)
2.        9 John Batten
3. 101 Don McGuirk
4.        125 Douglas Read
5.        128 Bryn Richards
6.        160 Idwal (Taff) Jones
7.        236 Arthur Dyer
8.        252 Ronald Luck
9.        297 Des Starbuck
10.     327 John Williams
11.     417 Norman Williams
12.     430 Mel Quick
13.     452 Dave Andrews
14.     476 Donald Clark
15.     516 Frank Stackhouse
16.     523 Derek Forth
17.     531 Archie Carrick

Entertainment Report

Ken Brown stepped into the breach to take over the entertainment role left by the sudden death of Norman. As the Acting Entertainments Member, I would like to thank everyone that donated prizes for the raffle. The smooth running of the Raffle (As mentioned by our President) was very much down the team that sold tickets, folded and filled the Raffle Drum with tickets. Then there is the team of Jeannette, Gillian, Sue, Patricia and Karen, who not only numbered all the prizes but also then raced about the room, delivering the prizes. I owe a very big debt to all the ladies for the smooth running of the evening.

We must also thank every one for bidding during the auction for that lovely Model Aircraft, which sold so well. The raffle raised £283.10 and the auction raised another £50. Thanks to every one for their support.

KEBAA Merchandise

The new KEBAA blazer badges sent to Keith Reading have been sold. New ones can be ordered if members make a request to Keith.

Also there are KEBAA wall shields available at £35 plus pp. Not sure at present what the cost of post and packing would be. However, as the shields are hand painted to special order, delivery at present is in the region of 8 to 10 weeks.

Various coloured sweaters with the new KEBAA badge emblazoned are on sale at £33.50 including p&p. 10 Armourers ties reduced to £ 7.50 each; KEBA Ties reduced to £5.00 each;

All other items are free: 1 x Baseball Cap; Coasters; Car Stickers; Key chains; lapel badges; Credit Card holders. Although these items are free, there may be post and packing involved, unless you can wait until next year’s reunion?

If you would like any of these items listed, please let Keith know, either by email ( or telephone number 01526 323 885.

Motions Raised

Ken Brown – Fred Knox be made Honorary Life Vice President – unanimous agreement from the committee and the members at the AGM.

Ken Brown – that the AGM be held on the Friday evenings of the reunions, not the Sunday mornings.

  1. This would allow time for the treasurer to do their job, without rushing, plus time to sell any items as required.
  2. There would be no “rush” to close the meeting and “rush” to catch the coach.

After a general discussion, it was agreed not to implement this motion as some members do not arrive until Saturday night, and would therefore miss the AGM. However, it was agreed, that we would review this item in future AGM’s.   The AGM closed at 10:45.

However, after the closure there was an open discussion on the way forward for KEBAA, and possible ways to increase the membership numbers and to keep the Association going. A little questionnaire was given out at the weekend and is reproduced at the end of this letter.

It was also agreed to look at a possible change of name of KEBAA to the Royal Air force Armourer’s Association (RAFAA), which will mean a change to the Constitution. This possible change in name will, hopefully, attract more members. Although it was agreed in principle by the committee and the membership at the AGM, it will require further discussion before being ratified. However, any blazer badges, cheques and jumpers with the logos, would remain as KEBAA.

Quite a few potential members have looked at the existing website, but they have not taken it any further. There are a few armourers’ sites on Facebook, including the RAFA site and some members were saying that they only meet up at funerals. I have put our logo onto the various sites with our website address and info about our reunions, but had no interest to it. Maybe they think that as they are not ex Boys/Apprentices/National Service/Regular or ex Kirkham, they can’t join KEBAA. Or do they think that as we are of an older generation, we do not know how to enjoy ourselves?

St. Barbara’s

KEBA 490 Reg Leonard 1st August 2016. A few members may have come across Reg during his instructor days; mine was at Melksham 1960/61 period.

2017 Reunion

The 2017 reunion will be from Friday 19th May to check out on Monday 22nd May, at the Best Western Appleby Park Hotel, located on the outskirts of Tamworth in Appleby Magna. Located J11 M42, A444 Atherstone Road, Appleby Magna, Leicestershire, DE12 7AP


Until next time,

Yours aye

Des Stewart
Membership & Gen. Secretary