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Friends of Flt Lt RV Patchett (Deceased)

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Friends of Flt Lt RV Patchett (Deceased)

Old 5th Feb 2008, 23:21
  #1 (permalink)  
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Location: Basingstoke
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Friends of Flt Lt RV Patchett (Deceased)

I have been most inspired by Sara Bennetts thread on her father and this leads to yet another request for contact with people who may have served with my father prior to his death.

My Father, Flt Lt RV (Bob) Patchett, was killed on 13th Feb 1969 in a Meteor Crash near Blandford. At that time he was on his last sortee of his posting at Central Flying School, RAF Little Rissington where he was a QFI. After this sortee he was moving to Lincolnshire to fly Phantoms.

The plane (WL 350) itself was on lease to the Fleet Air Arm from Airworks Services and my Father was conducting the final type approval of an ex Navy pilot (Bob Woolley) who was also killed in the accident.

Through one quirk of the internet my brother (Robert) and I met Bob Wolley's son Mark. Between us we have managed to find much of the records of what happened (still missing the BOI report though) and we visited the scene of the crash last September, there was still at least one piece of the aircraft (front wheel cover) in situ even after nearly 40 years.

We are planning to get a memorial placed at the scene as our final act of rememberence but are looking to contact any former colleagues of either our fathers in case they can share any memories. If we can get a memorial organised we also want to invite people who knew them to a "commissioning ceromony" when we can organise it, we hope this will be on the 40th anniversary

I know very little of my fathers career:

He was initially a Radar Technician for his National Service commissioned on moving to Aircrew in 1961
He was stationed at Laarbruck in 1962 where he flew Canberras (he flew in the British crew for some international bomber accuracy competition in 1962.
He moved to Valley in 1964 (ish)
Central Flying School in 1967

Whilst at CFS he organised at least one airshow at another station somewhere ( I remember getting to sit in the planes on the tarmac at that one)

Names that I know who served with and knew him are:

Felix (Jock) Byrne
Mike Vickers
Charlie Slade

Sorry for imposing myself on your forum
Mike Patchett is offline  
Old 6th Feb 2008, 09:36
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Sorry for imposing myself on your forum
No imposition at all. You'll be surprised, Mike, how many folk on here you already know from elsewhere.
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Old 6th Feb 2008, 10:33
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Bob was the examiner who conducted my A2 recat in October 1968. This event was expected to be an ordeal, but his cheerful and supportive approach was a great encouragement. On account of bad weather, the test took three working days rather than the scheduled one; we had two full days in the briefing cubicles, “rather than sitting around doing nothing”, Bob explained.

I was in his company, therefore, for longer than I’d expected. Throughout this time he was unfailingly cheerful and supportive, taking pains to set his candidate at ease, so that one could perform at one’s best. I remember him as being a true gentleman and one of the finest instructors I ever met.

He really was the ultimate professional and I’ve always thought myself fortunate that he was my “trapper”.
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Old 6th Feb 2008, 11:33
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Bob Patchett

I went thru CFS (221 Course?) in early 1964 with Bob and then we both went to 4 FTS at Valley to frighten ourselves in the Gnat, as if landing one at Rissy wasn't frightening enough! He was a fine and popular instructor and a leading member of the informal Officer's Mess Saturday night Jazz band, playing trumpet/cornet as I recall. RIP and I hope the reunion at any memorial that is put in place will be well attended.
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Old 7th Feb 2008, 21:03
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Sorry for my delay in responding, it doesn't demonstrate any lack of respect for the time taken to answer simply the poor internet connectivity in Irish hotels where I find myself travelling all this week, I am most grateful for the responses.

Odie - funny how we seem to keep meeting like this

Nuther A2 - what lovely comments, that he was a gentleman is something I have heard before from people who knew him, both within and without the RAF.

A2QFI - Nick, many thanks for the comment on here and also the email, I have tried to respond to that but the technology defeated me (Odie will advise all that I am not the best with technology). My mum mentioned that you called, she was really grateful for the document you sent from the National Memorial and showed it off to us all when we met last month. I haven't seen her so proud of his memory for a long time.

His jazz playing in the mess was a great love of his, before he entered national service he led a dance band which played the clubs across the north but jazz was his passion, one of my earliest memories of him is his putting on his jazz records on the record player of an evening, that and that we cleaned his shoes for him. I was discussing this with my uncle (his brother) who revealed that he use to have to do that as well but he used to get paid and I think we were too young for that element of bveing related to him.

I will let the forum know when we can get a memorial organised
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Old 7th Feb 2008, 21:24
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Your father's next of kin can obtain his service record from here:

Room 5, Building 248A,
RAF Personnel Management Agency
Raf Innsworth
Gloucester GL3 1EZ

Offer as much detail as possible such as complete name and service number.

If your mother is still alive she can get this information at no cost. If you apply there is a charge of £30.

The information contains alot of abreviations but most of these can be resolved on the internet by searching for 'RAF acronyms'.

I did this for my late father and it proved very useful.
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Old 7th Feb 2008, 22:59
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Try the Defence Aviation Safety Centre at Bentley Priory (soon to be Northolt). In the registry they hold the original copies of all accident reports (well they did when I was there!) and I remember reading Spitfire ones so they must go back as far as your fathers accident.

Link here:
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Old 14th Jul 2008, 09:25
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Friends of Flt Lt RV Patchett (Deceased)

Hi, I am the youngest son of SQN LDR Jock Byrne, he is still alive and kicking and living near RAF Valley in Anglesey. I was living at Little Rissington at the time of the crash but I was very young. If you wish I can contact my father and see if he is healthy enough to make the journey. Hamish Byrne
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Old 14th Jul 2008, 10:39
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Mike, Did you know this? HERE

Tragedy on Bulbarrow Hill.

On 13 February 1969 a Gloster Meteor T7, number WL350 crashed on Bulbarrow Hill (Grid 805068). Both pilots, Mr R Woolley and Fl Lt RV Patchett were killed. The cause of the crash has never been established.

Two local men Mr John Tory and Mr Donovan Browning received bravery awards for risking their lives trying to save the pilots.
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Old 14th Jul 2008, 11:16
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Hamish how wonderful to hear that your father is still with us, as we get closer to getting some plans together I'll make sure I let you know.
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Old 14th Jul 2008, 11:20
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Many thanks for the link, I had seen that on Wiki, it is good that there is a "virtual memorial" on line

As an aside we had the absolute pleasure of meeting Mr Tory last year, he still farms the land and took us to the spot and recounted his memories of that day for us.

Mr Browning passed away some time ago though
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Old 14th Jul 2008, 17:42
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Dear Mike,

I flew with your father as a student at RAF Valley on Mar 14 1967. and I encountered him the following year when I was a student instructor at the Central Flying School, Little Rissington. I remember him as an absolute gent and a fine instructor, who always did his best to get his students to relax and fly well. Best wishes with your memorial plans.
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Old 9th Nov 2008, 11:10
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Re-Flt Lt R V Patchett

Hi Mike,
I have just seen your letter about your father. Now that really IS strange because I was talking about him with a friend of mine just last night. That's what prompted me to go online to see if there was any information about his crash.
I first met your father when we were both stationed together at RAF Ahlorn in Germany (1956 to 58). I was with 256 Sqn (Meteor NF 11's) and he'd just been posted to the squadron (he was a Jnr.Tech. at the time). I remember "registering" him into the squadron and made a comment about us having the same intials (R.V.) which was quite a coincidence in itself. Then I asked him if he played an instrument and he said he played the trumpet. Great, said I, 'cause I play piano......from that meeting the Station Band was formed (about a 12 piece as I remember). I have photographs of us in the band. We used to play at the Station and also around some of the dance halls in Germany. (I could tell you some amusing stories about that too!).
I remember once when the Squadron was on detachment to Sylt (off the Danish coast) and they needed a trumpter back at Ahlorn for some ceremony or other. He was flown down in a Meteor, played his piece, and then flown back again. Also we used to visit the Casino in Sylt and one evening he won quite a bit of money - enough to fly back to UK on leave!
We sometimes used to hitchhike into Holland (I have photos of myself and your dad on one of those trips), then he bought an old Mercedes car which we used to knock around in........so many memories - perhaps it would be better if you could send me an email. I was there at the birth of your brother Robert when Bob and Della were at RAF Geldern, I sometimes came up to Yorkshire to stay with Bob at his parent's house. Also he came to my wedding.
Look forward to hearing from you.
Bob ([email protected])
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Old 9th Nov 2008, 15:52
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Wonderful to hear from you, Mum remembers you well, I have sent an email as you suggested
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Old 14th Jul 2009, 13:37
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A long time coming in an update but we are planning on laying a stone at the scene of the accident on 15th August this year.
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Old 14th Jul 2009, 20:56
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Flt Lt Bob Patchett (Deceased)

I lurked on PPRuNe for many months and your original post forced me to try to register and break my cover. However, my ISP did not pass muster with PPRuNe Admin and by the time I finally got write authority your thread had gone cold. Your latest post has prompted me to share with you my memories of your father.

Bob was my instructor at Valley on the Gnat from Sep-Dec 65. I initially started the course with another instructor, but my progress was poor and I was given to your Dad to save my bacon. It worked! With his calm, encouraging and professional approach he restored my confidence and I was taken off review and passed the course. I was so lucky to have him as my instructor as without his expert guidance I know I would not have graduated. After Valley I went on to the Canberra and flew my first tour in Germany.

I was deeply shocked when I learned of your father's tragic accident and subsequently visited your mother on one occasion when she lived in Boston. She kindly cooked a Sunday lunch and I recall talking to you and your brother.

I owe a great deal to your father and would have wished to come to Bulbarrow Hill on 15 August, but sadly I will be out of the country.

Do please pass on my regards to your mother. Do please contact me by PM if you wish to talk further.
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Old 16th Aug 2009, 00:05
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An emotional day

Today, together with Lieutenant R Woolley's family (the other pilot of WL350), we laid a stone at the scene of my fathers accident.

We were honoured that Nick and Coral and Bob and Ann who we contacted via PPRuNe were able to join us as well as Mike and Wynne Vickers who were such good friends to my Mum after his death. we were also privileged that the local farmer who was awarded a gallantry medal for his attempt to save the pilots.

Many thanks to all at PPRuNe for their messages of support; on this thread, by private message and by email.

Always in awe of what you chaps do

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Old 16th Aug 2009, 15:28
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A moving and memorable day. I was privileged to be there. I have written a fuller report which I will post when/if it is cleared by the families

Last edited by A2QFI; 17th Aug 2009 at 16:05.
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Old 17th Aug 2009, 16:04
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Flt Lt Patchett and Lt Wooley - Memorial Stone

This was a marvellous informal occasion, to honour the memory of two
pilots. We gathered on the road by the farmhouse, the cloud was low
and it was drizzling gently. Once we were all gathered the cloud began
to break and small patches of blue sky appeared. A convoy of cars formed
and we made our way up to the site of the stone, having to make a short
steep climb, on foot, for the last one hundred yards.

Thoughtful and moving words were spoken by the sons of the two pilots, commenting how they had been so young that they had very few real memories of their fathers, of the kindness shown to their widowed mothers by their colleagues and friends, and how they considered that the event could
never have occurred without the 'power' of the internet, from which the
information was gleaned and the people found, with PPRuNe involved as

A Union Flag was lifted off the stone and we stood with our thoughts and
memories, flowing over us. Della laid a rose at the foot of the stone
and I don't suppose there was a dry eye up on the hill. It is a
beautiful peaceful location, set high in the rolling downland, with
fields of crops and sheep and perfect peace and silence.

Afterwards we went for a splendid buffet lunch that the families had organised; the sadness faded and we sat and shared our memories of two pilots, long dead but always remembered.
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Old 17th Aug 2009, 17:54
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A moving and inspirational outcome. Well done all.
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