ISSUE NUMBER SIX                    DECEMBER 2003

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Hi Guys,

Here we go, the last newsletter before the reunion.  I may not get to two full pages this time as contributions are thin on the ground, so to speak but I’ll press on and see where it gets us.


As usual the entry was well represented at the Cenotaph and in the parade that followed.  This year there were seven members from Halton and a couple of our entry from Cranwell.  The weather this year was much better than last year but the hip flasks were still in evidence.  The excuse being “To ward off the cold”.  I think you all know the drill by now, if you want to go next year get in touch with Min Larkin on 01296-696896 any Tuesday or Thursday morning between 09-30 and 13-00. Remember, places are limited, so, as they say, book early to avoid disappointment.  I shall be there next year complete with my original hat badge suitably bulled.



The latest edition of the “Haltonian” arrived just this last week, must admit, it is the only magazine that I read from cover to cover.  I was pleased to see they included an article by Bill Howell written about the day John Derry was killed along with 29 spectators when the DH 110 he was displaying broke up over the crowd at Farnbrough.  Bill along with many other Apprentices was there on the day and he has recalled all the tragic events.  They were all co-opted (the modern word is volunteer) to stand guard around the crash site.  They finally arrived back at Halton in the early hours of the next day and of course then had to retell the story to many eager ears.  It is great to see an entry member in print even if it does recount tragic events.

Sad to say, Bill will not be able to attend the reunion as he isn’t in the best of health and the Quack won’t clear him to fly to U.K.  He obviously isn’t talking to the right people, if he could get in touch with an ex-RAF doctor he could get a chit to march to U.K.  Joking aside Bill, we will all miss you at the reunion, get well soon, we’ll all be thinking of you.


I am in the final phase of organising the reunion; the only thing left to do as we go to press is to arrange the Saturday evening meal menu.  We have a current headcount of 58.  There may be more in the New Year but sufficient to say it could be difficult if not impossible, to get latecomers accommodated.

The Association has had another good year with 5 more life members.  We have 56 association members 32 of which are life members.  The Association funds are, this moment in time      £525.45.

Can I take this opportunity to wish you and your families all the best over the festive season?  See you all in April.


 Mike Williams.



On leaving Halton I was posted to 32 MU like half the Entry, or so it seemed.  Had a great time, things that spring to mind are the many motorbikes I fell off and the legendary dance once a week on East Camp.  They used to bus all the girls in from the valleys, happy days.  From there it was off to Abingdon where I bought a guitar and a better motorbike.  I seemed to spend more time in coffee bars and folk clubs than I did on camp.

I was on the maiden voyage of the “Oxfordshire” to Singapore.  The tour consisted of 12 months at Butterworth and 18 months at Tengah, during this time I formed a group and we played lots of Gigs/ Concerts. The group’s first name was the “Venoms”, which was then changed to the “Shadows”.  We got a record deal with an Australian recording company who insisted we change our name.  Apparently there was this group in U.K. who had been called the “Drifters” but had had to change their name as it conflicted with a group in America, also called the drifters so the group in U.K. renamed themselves the “Shadows” and the rest is history.  We incidentally became the “Blue Shadows”.  The record we recorded with the Australian Company wasn’t a great hit but it was played once or twice on the Cpls club jukebox and it was,at least it was a step on the road to stardom

I completed my tour in 1958 and decided to part company with the RAF and embark on a career in music.  A year at Middle Wallop on an Army chopper Sqdn really made my mind up for me.  Having finally paid my £150 I became a civilian in March 1960.

I returned home and my Dad, God bless him, acted as guarantor on my £200 loan from the bank.  I advertised in the local paper for a drummer and others and the group was formed by the addition of 5 very ambitious young men all I might add, younger than I was.  The group was to be called ”Barron Antony and the Knights of the Round Table”, on hearing this dad said “Far to much of a mouthful, why don’t you shorten it to “Barron Knights”.

Four years and six drummers later we got “Call up the Groups” to No 2 in the charts, we were only stopped by Manfred Mann’s “Doo Wa Diddi” but it didn’t bother us too much.  The rest of the 60’s was a round of parties and recordings but by 1970 we were old news and our recording company let us go.  Fortunately we had developed a cabaret act which took us into the clubs which were springing up all over the country, this sustained us until we re-vamped our 1964 idea and sold it to CBS.  It went to No5 at Xmas 1977 and was followed by several more hits.  With our albums going “Gold” and on a much better deal financially the Barron Knights were back in the record business.  It was at this time I met my Wife/Partner and best friend RONI.  She is from Fiji and was about to return there after a 2-year walkabout.  We have been together ever since.  We stayed with CBS until 1980, by which time we had run out of ideas and they had run out of patience.  The next 5 years was a continual round of “one-nighters” and clubs.  I was now over 50, driving 100,000 miles a year and all the fun had gone so after 25 years the Barron Knights and I parted company.  I met many old friends during that time and have great memories particularly of playing for the troops on Ascension during the Falklands conflict and in Belfast during the troubles there.  Great Great Memories.

My next venture was “Marylebone Artists” a management group, not one of my better ideas, within 18 months I was broke and seriously in debt.

1988.  Roni and I are teaching windsurfing on Auckland beach during the English winter and on the Greek beaches during the summer, having a great time but getting broker and broker.  Roni got to hear of a business it involved “Health & Nutrition” and best of all, you could do it from home.  She got it started and I gradually got to understand it and gave her my full support.  We have been doing it for the past 14 years and I have to say it’s been the best 14 years so far.  We enjoy the best of health, well being and have a very comfortable lifestyle.            

It’s hard to believe I’m 6 months away from my 70th birthday there are so many things I want to do.  Right now we are still operating our business, it’s very portable we only need a lap-top and a phone line, I’m also getting a “Duo” together and we’ll be doing fun Gigs next year.  As well as learning to “Kite Surf” and sailing, Roni and I are putting our house in Ireland together. 

 Over my desk in our house in Ireland is a photo taken of some of us in civvies at a Saturday Night dance in Tring, we really were a handsome bunch.  I am still keen to stay in touch with mates from those “Brat” days.  Those last few years of our teens are probably the most important years of our lives, “Formative” years I believe they’re called.

 I still have my motorbike and could tell you a few stories about my exploits but I’ll save that for another time.

 So that’s it, 69 years went by rather too quickly but I expect all of us would say that.  See you at the reunion.



I must thank Ossie for his life saving input, it was sent to me just a year ago but haven’t used it until now, as I didn’t want to shorten it too much.  Incidentally, the photo he refers to is on the website. [ Ossie's pic] Ossie is in the middle at the front.   Seasons greeting to you all.              

John P