View Full Version : A 110 Sqdn Sycamore taking up 'A 5 Star' rank at Changi 1962

15th Dec 2014, 16:21
Here's a photo showing 110 Sqdn Sycamore XL822 with a '5 Star' plate on the pilot's door as it takes off from Changi. I have previously dated this as May '62 and thought it was the new C-in-C, Sir Hector McDonald. However 'a five star'...that's a really 'biggy' isn't it, Marshall of the RAF or Admiral of the Fleet?
So perhaps Air Chief Marshal 'Paddy', Earl of Bandon...he was around, back in again the Far East for awhile, helping with the Malay Federation talks. Would he get '5 Star'?
I also could be wrong about the date, although I don't believe it to be later than August '62. The other Sycamore on this day with it was XE310.
I know I should get back to Kew and read through the 110 Sqdn ORB again, but I didn't spot it last time I did that.
David Taylor

15th Dec 2014, 18:13
There seem to be only a few possible candidates at the time, unless of course it's a visiting foreign dignitary or VIP with a 5 star honorary rank.
Sir Caspar John
Sir Thomas Pike
Lord Mountbatten

My guess would be the latter as I think he was CDS at the time.

15th Dec 2014, 19:26
Some things didn't change. Right up to the end in 1971 we VIP helicopter pilots used to wear white flying suits.

16th Dec 2014, 06:05
XL822 was finally written off in Borneo on 8 May 1963. During recovery operations for a Belvedere, the Sycamore was approaching a clearing when the engine suffered a partial failure. The pilot: M/P Eric Leyden, carried out a forced landing but a tree stump got in the way and a main wheel struck it, causing the aircraft to turn over.

Eric was awarded a QCVSA and was subsequently commissioned and did his QHI course in early 1966. Unfortunately, Eric was killed when a pair of Wessex collided over the airfield at Odiham. in Nov 70.

As to the identity of the five star, I suggest the 110 Sqn or RAF Changi Forms 540 will tell the story. As a long shot, ask the bloke who's saluting!

I had my last trip in a Sycamore on to that very same landing pad, when M/P Ray Rowe took me from Seletar to Changi. I was due at HQFEAF for an interview without coffee, having come over from Labuan. The interview was probably the most bizarre I have ever had. I did not see the great man who was to deliver same. I was made to stand at attention in an outer office and a Wg Cdr scuttled in and out with the words of the great man on his lips and returned to the inner sanctum with any comments/responses I made. The final words from said Wg Cdr, which were uttered after I had told him where I was to be posted, were: ' I'll get that stopped Old Duffer and shall follow your career, what's left of it, with interest - now get out'.

Sorry for drifting the Thread. My anger at being accused of something I had not done but merely revealed the situation, soon turned to hilarity, once refreshment had been taken in the Seletar bar that evening - but that's another story!

Old Duffer

17th Dec 2014, 10:11
I guess 822 would have been one of 194 Sqn's Sycamores in the late '50s at KL before they were withdrawn to Seletar after the main blade failures. She reappears in my logbooks many times from July/August 1960 (when the Sycamores re-emerged to replace the Whirlwind 4s) through to April 1962 on 110 Sqn based at Butterworth.

As an appalling further thread drift, I well remember some wild rocking snd rolling when first ground running those Sycamores at Seletar after the blade mods, trying to get the first crude tracking adjustments ...

Dave H

17th Dec 2014, 19:07
Michael Hingston wrote a book in 2011 called 'Renegrade Hero- The true story of RAF pilot Terry Peet and his clandestine mercy flying with the CIA'.
Although most of the book is about his years in the Congo, there's a fascinating chapter on his time flying Sycamores with 110. Terry spent I believe 2 tours flying Sycamores from Butterworth, starting in December 1961 and he got it extended into 1964. Pilot Officer Peet got trained on going into a difficult jungle clearing called 'Bongsu' and checked out by the squadron's training officer Bill Barrel. Once cleared he carried out all the variety trips into small LV's and casevacs that you in 110 Sqdn used to do. We all I guess know the difficulties faced doing that sort of thing in an underpowered Sycamore, also rather prone to shaking itself to pieces on it's tri-cycle undercarriage on landing!
On 9th July '62 in XJ382, he survived an engine fire over the jungle when carrying 3 Gurkhas and at the end of January '64 he lost his tail rotor and managed to make a descent by using throttle and collective, madly trying to control the helicopters wild rotation with no tail rotor. Although Terry got down, unfortunately Flt Lt Blackwood, coming to the crash site in XG519 the next day also crashed and was injured.
The last section in the book dealing with his time with 110 mentions him ferrying ACM 'Paddy' Earl of Bandon about during the Malaysian Federation talks. So that sort of links him to the photo in my post...except this can't have been 1962 when I took the photo, but later. I guess I agree that Mountbatten is the best bet for the '5 Star' VIP.
So I must get to look at the 110 Sqdn Form 540 again to sort this out.

18th Dec 2014, 05:44
The account of Terry Peat and his 'exploits' received coverage on pprune several years ago IIRC.

Terry was an instructor at Tern Hill when he decided to disappear! I returned to the base, after a detachment to Malaya, and was greeted at the O/M door with news that he was thought to have drowned on a diving trip. A cashed in railway warrant, quickly suggested otherwise but for me, the abandonment of his wife and daughters left me with little respect for him, although I always got on well with him.

I recall reading of his return in about 1973 or so.

Old Duffer

28th Dec 2014, 20:25
In fact according to my log book it was the 15th October 1964 I was the pilot assigned to Earl of Brandon and flew him each day to the meetings
Singapore airspace was cleared for us every morning at 0800 and I picked him up at air house and flew him to the barracks
H was a real gentleman
Good days
Terry Peet

29th Dec 2014, 21:59
Thankyou so much Terry for confirming the dates when you ferried Bandon about as October 64.
I've finally put all my early '60s photos together in a book and thanks to other books about the period and of course websites like this one, plus my own notes I've plenty of details to go with them. It's tying up the last few things, like the photo above that will now need to be completed.
David Taylor

30th Dec 2014, 09:18
To be fair to Blackwood and his crash in XG519 he had already carried out three successful sorties delivering personnel by hoist to the crash site and had just refuelled nearby for a return to base with two pax on board.He then struck trees whilst on his second pass overflying the crash site to show them the crashed aircraft.

30th Dec 2014, 11:49
I photographed him during his first visit to Gan in (May?) 1958.

C-in-C meets the RAF Gan SASF bods under the command of Sgt Henry Moon


.. and later has a drink with his men in the airmen's mess. He insisted on drinking without any officers present so he could hear of any complaints.
Best C-in C I ever served under.

30th May 2015, 20:36
Eric Leyden was my uncle. I knew he had flown in the Far East and died at Odiham. I believe that was his 3rd crash. Guess he tempted fate once too often. Thanks for the information.

30th May 2015, 20:47
I can't seem to access the photo mentioned in your post. My uncle Eric was the pilot, so I would love to see the picture

1st Jun 2015, 14:45
I've just seen the last two posts regarding Eric Leyden. I served with him at Tern Hill when he was doing his QHI course, having returned to UK. Ironically, I think Dick Symons was on the same course.

I went off to Borneo and thence Hong Kong and our paths did not cross again.

In November 1970, Eric and Dick were with their students and a crewman when their Wessex helicopters collided on the airfield at Odiham.

If you get the chance Sallygirl2015, you should try to visit Odiham as just inside the station is the Support Helicopter Memorial. This comprises a central feature which looks like the rotors of a Merlin helicopter and around the base are a series of stone plinths, into which are laid bronze tablets with the names of SH personnel who have lost their lives. It was dedicated in about 2006 and is deliberately made to be easily capable of being moved,as there was a fear that Odiham was to be closed and the SH force sent to Yorkshire - a very smart move given that most of their peacetime trade is on Salisbury Plain!!!

Old Duffer

14th Jun 2015, 17:55
Fond memories of "Digger" Barrell.....at North Coates calibrating the missiles with a Dragonfly.
Watching an Anson landing -his quote ..."As dainty as an elephants arse sown up with binder twine"....Of course he was a Flight Sergeant then -so not so couth as the commissioned version !

24th Aug 2015, 20:03
Many thanks, Old Duffer for your PM explaining the circumstances of the accident at Odiham in November 1970 involving my late father, Master Aircrewman David Williams. I appreciate your help.