Thursday, 10 November 2016

On Crossing The Bar

Twilight and evening bell,
   And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
   When I embark;

For though from out our bourne of Time and Place
   The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
   When I have crossed the bar.

Pat and I will not be able to attend the Remembrance Day Service this year ... it's too far and we are too old. Nevertheless, to commemorate those that gave their lives in World Wars I & II,  and those that sacrificed their lives since, in order that we can live in a free world. I republish the comments I made over the years ... including those to my little brother, who I once taught to walk and talk. 

We spent Remembrance Sunday at a Pig Farm in the wilds of North East Yorkshire. Here my Squadron flew Halifax bombers in World War 2, when the farm was RAF Station Melbourne. 

The average age of the aircrew then was 22, and over the 3 years they were here, one out of every three crews were killed. 

Because World War 2 started for Britain in 1939, many other nationalities, such as Americans, Australians, Canadian (a lot of these) volunteered to join the RAF, and many ended up on 10 Squadron. So we were remembering them too, as part of our special 'family'.

10 Squadron is always known as 'Shiny Ten' and this is reflected in the memorial.

We turned up at 10 in the morning, last Sunday. The oldest were 92 and the youngest 6 months. We paraded our Association Standard (our colours). Here the escort were Tom and Doug, both 92 and from the same Halifax Bomber crew. Doug, nearest the camera, was the pilot (DSO, DFC & bar)

Number 10 Squadron is still operating, and currently flying  the new 'Voyager' Airbus down South in Oxfordshire, mainly flying to Afghanistan these days. They sent a detachment together with the Commanding Officer and the Squadron Colour Party

We gathered around the Memorial and Remembered our fallen Brothers-in-Arms.

There was no aircraft available for a Fly-Past, but last year they flew over a VC10 on which I have over 5000 flying hours

We then went to the pub that the War Time Crews used - The Plough in the village of Allerthorpe. It is stuffed full of the wartime memorabilia of 10 Squadron.

The years rolled back and soon we were ALL there and had a ball. We ended with the Loyal Toast, and took a few moments to say goodbye to our 'mates' and they went back to their rest and we went back home.

Lest We Forget

I took a moment to toast my 'baby' brother Colin, who died a year ago almost to the day. He would have been of great use in the Philippines at the moment, hanging from the helicopter and saving them from the sea - the job he did for over 25 years in the Royal Navy.

Colin Simlett 1948 - 2012
Helicopter Crewman Royal Navy

My little brother, Colin, spent a lot of his life, risking his life, to save other people's lives. A Royal Navy Helicopter Crewman who hung from that cable in the worse  possible conditions and rescued countless people in despair..

I told him he should have joined the Air Force, "You've always wanted to fly, for goodness sake!"
He told me I should have joined the Navy, "You're a bloody Shipwright, for goodness sake!"

We both did the opposite.

They once landed in the field behind my house. First we knew was a knock on the back door. There was Colin in all his flying gear, Helmet with visor down, Immersion suit, Life Jacket etc... "Excuse me, we've lost our map, could you give us instructions on how to get to..." Great sense of humour.

Cheers Colin, Happy Landings Mate... leave a drop of Scotch for the others ... 


  1. Great post. We should never forget those who gave their lives for freedom. Valerie

  2. Well done, John. Rest assured that Colin (R.I.P.) is always on my Daily Prayer List.

    Will remember you and Pat (and Colin) when I'm On Parade, tomorrow, and on Sunday.

  3. A truly poignant post my new Friend! I shall attend services this year in your honor and I shall add you... your mates and your brother Colin to my "Minutes of Remembrance" while at the service in Brockville, my home town.

    God Bless and keep you safe... and in good health.
    Warmest regards,

    1. Thanks for the visit, Bruce, and I hope it all went well

  4. Thank you, John - your heartfelt remembrances are much appreciated and deeply honored.

  5. Blurry vision by the time I finished this post. I was lucky that my father came home from the war. A lot of my friend's dads, didn't.
    I am grateful you did.

    1. I was seven/eight when the War ended, Julie. Nevertheless we did get bombed - my school got flattened, which us kids thought was rather good news for a few days.

      I always think of ground elder plants as 'bomb-site' trees always the first trees to grown in bombed out buildings.