Apr 5th 2021: received this email from Greg Tanner, Aubrey’s nephew:
- • I am clearing out a lot of family records presently and came across my late uncle’s ‘Permanent Pass’ from HQFTC Shinfield Park. – A Pass to ‘be absent from his quarters during off duty hours with permission to wear plain clothes’. Dated 1948 – His name was Aubrey Alan Kenneth Tanner (Corporal No. 2296045 (or might be 2796045)
- • Whether this has any significance or interest to you, I don’t know, but I find it hard to just throw stuff like this away, though I know it’s of little interest to those of the next generation of the family. And it’s not as if it’s a DFC medal! A scan of the two sided card is attached. If you would like the original let me know and I’ll happily forward it to your address.
Webmaster (Andre) replied on Apr 6th, 2021:
- • Thanks for this.
- • I would be interested in recording your uncle Aubrey as a past 'late' camp member and post this on the site with your agreement. I would not need the original document, the pdf you sent is fine.
- • However, what would be useful is if you have any other information from family records on, for example, when and for how long he was stationed at HQFTC SP, where he was posted to afterwards, his role at the camp etc and any pictures or other documents pertaining to his service with the RAF. This type of information would enable me to create a separate page for him; otherwise, I will simply note your correspondence and pdf in the 'News' section.
- • Hope to hear from you soon.
Greg replied on same day:
- • Sadly I don’t have a lot more info on his RAF experience and any other family members like my dad (his brother) and their sister died also. Parents long gone, obviously. So now one to ask (it was a cold wake up call after Aubrey died to be told by a cousin that I was now the ‘go to person and head of the family who needed to answer all these questions’ – So often I think I’d give anything for just a couple of hours chat with my grandparents, parents and uncles to drag out of them what either they didn’t want to talk about or I didn’t ask them about. I’m building the family trees on Ancestry.com at the moment and would so love to be able make that easier to do with first hand accounts of what went on!
- • He was called up just after the war – my dad was a few years older and served in the RAF with a Typhoon Squadron – Aubrey’s Service & Release Book dates his service as 13-2-46 to 19-4-48. I thought post war National Service was for three years or maybe four, though I may be wrong. However he went on to work in the aircraft industry and there’s a note in his book from the Commanding Officer to the effect that he was going to work in a drawing office – he was a magnificent artist as well as a highly skilled draughtsman throughout his career, so I do wonder if maybe his active service was cut shorter to facilitate him going into the aircraft industry. He worked for De Havilland, and finished with Rolls Royce always working on Aero engines including the blades for Concorde’s engines.
- • Aubrey wasn’t Douglas Bader or Biggles, so not expecting anything much, but as I realise doing the family tree, we all leave footprints behind us through life and we all become someone else’s history. And those people might be grateful or interested in any amount of trivia recorded somewhere.
- • A lot of his stuff got thrown away when he died – he was a hoarder par excellence – magazines, newspapers, aircraft books, letters, not to mention hundreds of his drawings and paintings of aircraft. We’ve kept a few pieces and distributed to family members after the funeral what we could while they still smiled… but it’s so hard to keep everything. It’s the stories that we didn’t pay enough attention to at the time. Maybe everyone should write their life story down – my first job was working for BBC TV News – they keep ‘obits’ regularly updated for all public or newsworthy people so that when they did die the News would have something elaborate to show rather than ‘Fred died today’ reports with outdated newsreel. If we did that for ourselves every year it would make life for the descendants so much easier!
- • Long answer, but if I do find anything more useful to add, I’ll send it on to you!
- • Keep up the good work – as I regularly tell younger people – you wouldn’t have a present if it wasn’t for others’ pasts – and that’s not just about wartime service, it’s every life!
- • PS – A long shot, but do you have any access or awareness to any sources to trace ex-members of Squadron 182?. My dad’s outfit. Typhoons seemed to get a raw deal in terms of being recognised and remembered for their part in the war, particularly after D-Day. My brother and I have struggled to find much at all about the squadron apartf rom a couple of photographs in books that include who we think is dad – it disbanded after the war (Or was absorbed into another) - Highly doubtful now that we could find any surviving members but failed on all kinds of searches on an d off line. But since you are ‘in the business’… Thought I’d ask!
Webmaster (Andre) replied on Apr 8th, 2021:
- • Thanks for the info you have sent and particularly the pdf of Aubrey's 'Service and Release Book'. I can now put together a page on the website for him and I will let you know when it has been completed and uploaded. Your email will be acknowledged in the 'Contacts' section and there will also be a link to Aubrey's page under 'Personnel - Beforethe 1960s'. Just a point to make on National Service (or Conscription). It was intended to be for 18 months (2 years during Korean War 50-53) with 4 years on the Reserve List and ended in 1960, so I am not sure why he served for just over 2 years - possibly by mutual agreement?
- • I am afraid your guess was correct - I have no access or source awareness of any RAF squadrons or their ex-members. I do understand your frustration at not being able to get hold of information on your family members' service information. I'm afraid there are only a few of us willing to take the time and effort to chase up people for information to put on websites such as SP while it is still possible but I have to admit that I get a great deal of satisfaction, and indeed pleasure, from both adding new information (such as yours) and browsing through the site randomly. The main gain is the fact that these memories are now committed permanently to the ether and are available to anyone who is interested in this special period and place of RAF history and the people who served.
Greg North commented on Apr 8th, 2021
- • Ron Alexander was at SP in 1951, I am not sure where he lived, but he definitely worked on the original Shinfield Park site in Pepper Lane in a building now on the university site. Could Greg's relative have done the same?
John South commented on Apr 8th, 2021
- • Hi Andre, You asked if any of us had comments regarding the interesting emails concerning Aubrey. I just thought that I would point out that an individual’s RAF record of service is available if you are related to him/her and this is available from an official site rather than from some dubious ones. www.gov.uk Is the site and RAF service records explains how to download a request. You need to know the full name, date of birth and service number and a fee of £30 is payable.
NOTE from Webmaster (Andre) : I have now put a link to the above website for Greg Tanner and others to check records. It is referenced at the bottom of the Home page and you can also get to it here.
Greg Tanner replied further on Apr 8th, 2021:
- • Wow! Thanks Andre. I’m sure he’d be honoured – I know I am. I have been looking high and low for a photo of him with 3 or 4 others all in uniform – no idea where it was taken (just bushes in the background as I recall, no landmarks or buildings) and I cannot now find it. I have cleared out a lot of old photos in the past 2 weeks, as I’ve sorted through stuff but don’t think I would have thrown that photo away, but not turned it up – hope it didn’t inadvertently get thrown out. Would be amazing if others recognised themselves – or their children doing so, perhaps.
- • Thanks for the update on Nat.Service – I might venture a suggestion that he may have stayed longer due to his drawing talents, both technical and artistic. Perhaps there was something he worked on that took a little longer to complete? Guess we’ll never know now.
- • No worries on the connections – it was a long shot as I said. My brother and I have been supporting the RB396 Hawker Typhoon project to restore it to flying condition, since my dad was in a Typhoon Squadron during the war. Always hope I can eventually get to see this one fly having only small bits of news film to refer to of their sound and form. He was a mechanic, not a pilot, but I’ve always had a fondness for the airplane. But that’s about as close as I get to RAF organisations.
- • Really appreciate what you do for the heritage here. I’m a bit similar when I get a trail of something worth preserving and like to feel that I am adding something to sustaining the past (like the area I live in is one of John Betjeman’s ‘Metroland Estates’ that grew up along the route of the Metropolitan Underground track as the suburbs were established in the 1930s. It became a conservation area some years back which helps retain much of the original architectural style, not easy in these days of selfish desires, but like you I figure if I don’t do it and maintain the records and history, relying on others may be disappointing!
- • One nice thing about doing it all online is that it is easier to store materials, takes no real space, is easier together and collate and search and is hopefully digitally preserved for all time. I’ve started on an Ancestry.com project also for similar family reasons. Which in part is how I’ve rediscovered all the mementos from Aubrey’s life.
- • If I find anything else, I’ll let you know – and I look forward to hearing when you have Aubrey’s page up! Thank you again!
Keith Freeman commented on Apr 11th, 2021
Rather than local papers (an infinite number?) what about the RAF Associations Airmail? Haven't got a copy to hand at the moment but I'm almost certain the kind of adverts you're talking about are free to RAFA members (and, yes, I am a member and could thus put one in - if you let me know what you want...