FONFA Museum Open Day and Classic Car Meeting – Sunday 23rd April

Sunday April 23rd was a ‘Red Letter Day’ for the new FONFA Museum. The Open Day hosted a Classic Car meeting, at which over forty five Classic cars visited the Museum for the first event of its kind, from 10 am to 12 Noon.Before the Classic car meet, there was a presentation of a 1:16 scale model of a WWI Sopwith Camel fighter aircraft to the Museum by professional master model maker Kip Watson, who has donated the model to the Museum, to accompany our display about the East Boldre WWI training airfield.                   We are greatly indebted to Kip, who for many years has been a member of Poole Vikings Model Club.                                                                                                  We hope that his generous donation will enable many of our young visitors to see and understand the complex and fragile construction of the First World War biplanes of a century ago and that this will inspire them to become engineers in the future.                                                                                                             Many First World War pilots were trained at East Boldre, in the New Forest, before going on to fly from the airfields in France on the Western Front.

The model was gratefully accepted by Dr Henry Goodall, Chair of Trustees, (left) on behalf of FONFA, from model maker Kip Watson (right) below.

The Classic car meet was bathed in warm sunshine. Owners and participants enjoyed a relaxed morning, plus a conducted tour of the Museum, before departing for lunch at the ‘Three Tuns’ in Bransgore and a road run in the afternoon. Several of our FONFA Members attended, acting as stewards and volunteers, to make the day go well. The Trustees are greatly indebted to all of them for helping to make the day a success.                                                                                         N.B. The next Open Days are on Sunday 21st May and on Sunday 28th May, when we will host a special ‘Spitfire Day’ and exhibition, with many related artifacts, including an original World War II Rolls Royce Merlin engine, due to be kindly loaned to us by the Rolls Royce Heritage Collection in Derby.

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Former Holmsley South WAAF visits FONFA Museum

A former WAAF who served as a Meteorological Assistant at RAF Holmsley South in 1945 visited the FONFA Museum on Tuesday 11th April. Her visiting family group, who live locally, included two of our newest members from the March Open Day.

LACW Met. Assistant Mavis J Wright, born in 1926, was welcomed by Trustee and former Chairman of FONFA Trustees, John Brooks, when she presented FONFA with a typical weather chart that was produced in 1943 and used on the station during World War II.    In addition, John accepted the family’s generous donation to our charity, on behalf of FONFA.

At Holmsley South, weather plots were taken on the hour, every day, over the 24 hour period. The WAAFs were billeted on the WAAF accommodation site, on the corner of Harrow Road and Lyndhurst Road, Bransgore. Mavis had the use of a bicycle to get from the airfield along the Lyndhurst Road to her Nissen hut billet, often in the dark, depending on what shift she was working.

After escorting her around our Musum displays, John presented her with a print of the RAF Holmsley South Airfield Plan. On leaving, Mavis promised to send us details of all the methods of recording weather patterns, which she used.

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Museum Open Days – Spring 2017 – update

The next two FONFA Museum Open Days in 2017 will be on Sundays, on 21st May and 28th May, from 10 am to 4 pm.

We welcomed sixty visitors on the first 2017 Museum Open Day, on March 19th, followed by over forty five classic cars and their owners, when we hosted a Classic Car meet on April 23rd. In addition, many other visitors swelled the crowd on April 23rd and several new members have signed up.

Local residents, interested visitors and holiday makers are all welcome. There is a small cafe facility in the Museum, so a cup of tea or coffee and light refreshments are always available, during Open Days.

We will have new exhibits on display and have recently acquired several more display cabinets to show the uniforms and other artifacts, which have kindly been donated or are on loan to the Museum.

Going forward, the Trustees plan to open the Museum on at least one Sunday a month through the summer and, in addition, will be pleased to welcome interested groups of fifteen or more on other days, by prior arrangement, via the e-mail address fonfa2010@gmail.com.

If you would like to join FONFA as a new member, please see the enrolment form under the headline ‘Join Us or Make a Donation’ above.

Now is the time for Members to renew their annual subscriptions (only £5 a year).          We hope that as many FONFA Members as possible will volunteer to attend the Museum, to support the Trustees, on these Open Days.

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New FONFA Museum – Change of Address and Postcode

Following the adoption of the road from the Heatherstone Grange estate to our new Museum, by the local council, we are pleased to advise FONFA members and our visitors that the new address and postcode will be as follows:

FONFA Museum & Education Centre, Mosquito Way, Heatherstone Grange, Bransgore BH23 8HE

N.B. In case the new postcode should not be included in all SatNav systems within a few weeks, we advise that you use the estate postcode BH23 8AU until we advise that the change has been confirmed.

The estate developers, Bellway, have kindly offered to cover the cost of the road nameplate, for which the FONFA Trustees are most grateful.

The name ‘Mosquito Way’ was chosen in memory of our late Trustee and Benefactor, Bernard Baily, who was instrumental in bringing the new Museum project to fruition. The Mosquito was Bernard’s favourite aircraft in WWII and we honour him  by so naming the road, in his memory.

Contact with FONFA via e-mail remains the same, namely at: fonfa2010@gmail.com

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The Olivier Le Floche Newsletters – Issue No. 5

This month, a little later than planned, due both to the amount of activity on the website and in the Museum, we are publishing the fifth of these Newsletters, which chronicle the progress of the American 367th Fighter Group, through training and combat in WWII. Hopefully, you will have read the previous four Newsletters, which describe the Group’s training in California on the P-39, and the initial difficulties and operations in England, flying the P-38 Lightning, and so will be familiar with Olivier’s format and style.

This issue covers the momentous period around D-Day in June 1944, with a detailed log of the missions flown during early June 1944, all flown from Stoney Cross. In addition, there are several previously unpublished photographs and some photos of US pre-war training aircraft.

Follow the link on the Black Headline Listing above, click on ‘the Olivier LeFloche Newsletters’ headline and this will take you to the list of newsletters.

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Advanced notice of first ‘Spitfire Day’ on Bank Holiday Sunday 28th May

The FONFA Museum will stage a ‘Spitfire Day’ on Sunday 28th May, at which several new items will be on show.

We have been promised the loan of a World War II Merlin aircraft engine, through the generosity of the Rolls Royce Heritage Collection, at Derby, for both Sundays, the 21st and 28th May.                                                                                          The engine will have pride of place in the Museum’s display hall, for the week.               Peter Collins, the Rolls Royce Heritage Collections Manager, has kindly agreed to transport the engine from Derby to Bransgore at no expense to FONFA, which we greatly appreciate. Without their generosity, this opportunity would not have been possible.

We hope that local schools will take this unique opportunity to view this vintage World War II Merlin engine, close up and personal.

If you are associated with a school in the South Hampshire or East Dorset areas and would like to arrange a visit to the Museum during the week commencing 21st May 2017, please contact us as soon as possible by e-mail at fonfa2010@gmail.com.The early Merlin engines powered the Spitfire and Hurricane aircraft during the Battle of Britain, as well as the Lancaster bomber during the remaining years of World War II. The engine on loan will be one of the later production Merlin engines, a Merlin Mark 24, very similar to the Merlin XX or Mark 22, four of which powered the Coastal Command Halifax GRIIs, flying with 58 Squadron Coastal Command, out of Holmsley South airfield.       Parts of the engine have been cut away to show the internal structure and components more easily..

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New Print presented to FONFA Museum by Lt. Bob Huddleston

On Thursday 23rd February 2017, former FONFA Trustee John Levesley presented a new print to the Museum, on behalf of Bob Huddleston.  The print depicts the young Pilot Officer Carroll W, McColpin’s fourth victory, flying with the RAF’s Eagle Squadron, to which American volunteer pilots were assigned. The print was gratefully accepted on behalf of FONFA by Chairman of Trustees Dr Henry Goodall, and immediately installed in the Museum gallery, among several other Spitfire prints. mccolpin-print-23-feb-17-1-2

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The description of the action depicted reads as follows: On 2nd October 1941, RAF Squadron Leader Stanley Meares led a flight of Spitfires over the English Channel with newly assigned Pilot Officer Carroll W. “Red” McColpin as his wingman. At approximately 1340, McColpin spotted 18 2C Me-109Fs a few hundred feet below, and called out the bogies to Meares. As they dived to the attack, Meares fired on the nearest 109. McColpin followed, firing a half-second burst from under 50 yards. The German fighter burst into flames. Then, as McColpin related it, “I broke away to port and found myself in position to attack another 109, so I gave him a burst. He pulled up and dived with smoke pouring out. I thought I saw the pilot bail out. The plane was seen to hit the ground. I saw another Me-109 below, dived on him, and followed him down to 3,000 feet, where I gave him a one-second burst. He never pulled out, and hit the deck as I pulled up.”

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In 1944, Colonel McColpin (photo below courtesy of Andrew F Wilson) commanded the USAF 404th Fighter Bomber Group, flying the P-47 Thunderbolt, based at Winkton ALG, a few hundred yards from the FONFA Museum. He was later promoted to Major General. mccolpin-crpd

Lt, Robert Huddleston flew 36 combat missions, earning the Air Medal and 2 Oak Leaf Clusters. Bob served with the 506th Fighter Squadron, 404th Fighter Group, in 1944/45. He joined the 506th as a replacement pilot in the autumn of 1944. Bob doesn’t smoke a pipe any more but the A2 flight jacket still fits.huddleston

 

Bob and his wife Pepita live in a retirement community in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He has donated two signed limited edition prints to FONFA, ‘Thunderbolt Strike’ and ‘Eagle’s Prey’. He was one of four 404th Group  Veterans who visited the New Forest Airfields Memorial to present the 404th Fighter Group Memorial Plaque several years ago.

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Left to right: Bob Huddleston, Bob Bealle, Floyd Blair, Fred Varn and for FONFA, Les White.

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