I am writing to let you know how impressed I was to be at the Pocklington memorial event on the 21st July . I drove up from Essex early in the day and eventually arrived at the lovely town of Pocklington a short while before the meeting at The Arts Centre. It was a fine introduction to be a part of the group of Association members at the meeting which included a significant core group of veterans. The meeting was most cordial and there were many heartfelt contributors to the discussions and the motion to repeat the event in 12 months time was passed unanimously. I was impressed by the very strong feeling of reverence for the outgoing chairman Tom Wingham.
There followed a short break during which I followed Harry Hughes’ advice and booked myself into the Feathers. I had intended to return to Leeds after the buffet with my daughter but she had been called to London and therefore, sadly, had to miss the event. In spite of my late request I was able to book in and started to meet up with other guests. It was all very friendly and, although it was my first appearance at a 102 squadron event, I did not feel alone or without a friendly soul to chat with for the whole of my time in Pocklington. Mr Hughes was in need of refreshment at the bar and insisted on getting in a spot of nose varnish for me also. I was availed of several very amusing stories before we set off for the buffet where, again, I felt welcomed by all and enjoyed a really good meal which was excellent value indeed. The speeches were very moving and so respectful for those poor souls did not come back.
I had seen the Bomber Command memorial film before but it was so good to see it again with all from the 102 Squadron Association and with so many who were there at the time. Once again I felt humbled to be in their presence and to hear a very small part of what they did and what they went through. How sad that the memorial had taken so long to be put up and that so many were not alive to see this wonderful tribute.
It was back to the Feathers for more nose varnish, chats with both those from the meal and with the hotel manager followed by a good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast. The breakfast was yet another chance to chat with 102 folk and much appreciated after the walk to the gliding club to re-claim my car. It was then off to the Barmby Moor church in the sunshine for the morning service which was lovely. I was able to see the Book of Remembrance and look at the page where my uncle, F/O Owen Horrigan RIP, was mentioned. We then walked along the way to two very moving street naming ceremonies. It was a wonderful tribute and a focal point for the veterans, friends and family members. The ceremonies demonstrated the continued respect for the crews who died. A chatty walk back to the church with another veteran, Larry Taylor, and it was off to the gliding club for the laying of the wreaths at the memorial there.
This final act of respect brought the most poignant moment as veteran Ron Parsons laid his wreath and the Last Post was sounded.
There followed a cup of tea and an excellent chance to chat at length with veterans and active members of the Association. Many people had photos and other memorabilia to show and it was a real privilege to see Tom Sayer’s photos of the result of the Peenemünde raid bombing and to hear how the crews were told that they had to do a complete job or it would be back again next day and the next! Too many stories to repeat but to be in the presence of such people was wonderful…..so brave and such gentlemen.
I was so impressed with the energy and devotion that both Chris and Kerenza Harper put into organizing and supporting the event….I take my hat off to them both!! I then left thinking that I had been so privileged to have been present.