Regretably, I had a previous engagement on the Saturday so I was only able to make it for the Sunday events, but I'm so glad that I attended.
It was a great thrill to meet up at last with Chris, Bill and Simon after months of emailing.
Everyone was so welcoming that it really felt as though I was meeting up with old friends (old in the sense of long-standing, of course, not age !!).
I also got a warm welcome from John Williams who knew me from the Forum on the 102 website.
The Street Naming Ceremonies were excellent, and a fitting and permanent tribute to the two very young Airmen commemorated there.
The weather was fine and dry, and continued so for the Wreath-Laying Ceremony at the airfield.
This was of course the most moving and memorable part of the whole day, and I echo Chris's "Bravo!" to Ron Parsons who laid the wreath on behalf of the Association with such dignity.
In the two minutes silence which followed the Last Post, beautifully executed by Paul Dyson on the Cornet, I remembered my man, F/Lt Thomas Leithead DFM, and the Crew that perished with him in the early hours of February 26th 1944 in the cold and dark of the North Sea off Flamborough Head. I think that all of us who research, honour and keep alive the memory of an member of 102 Squadron lost in WW2, I think that we are all trying to get closer to our man, and as I met and talked to the Veterans in the Clubhouse later it occured to me that I could not hope to be any closer to my man Thomas than I was in that couple of hours.
After all, although unsurprisingly none of the Veterans actually knew Thomas personally, nevertheless they too have lived through those same dark days, had similar experiences and shown the same courage and bravery as Thomas. I feel very priviledged to have met and spoken to so many of the Veterans who were present.
My one regret is missing the chance to speak to Harry Hughes before he left ..... maybe in November, Harry?
Oh, one more regret, .... that I didn't initiate a huge vote of thanks and Three Cheers for Chris Harper for all that he has done and continues to do in setting up and running the 102 Website and for his infectious enthusiasm for this mammoth task.
And the most memorable moment (apart of course from the Wreath-Laying Ceremony)? ...... that has to be right at the very end of the afternoon when Bill Leyland and I were talking to Tom Sayer and learning how to fly a Halifax Bomber at low level ....... and I was able to get a really close look at Tom's DFM, the same decoration won by my man Thomas Leithead ..... magical stuff!!