Fleet Air Arm Officers Association Garden Party in Scole
“The following is a report, which appeared in a local magazine, of a very successful Garden Party held at Andy Phillip junior’s house in Scole, Suffolk.
The members of the East Anglian FOTMM would like it to be known that they are very appreciative of Andy and Judith’s hard work in organising the party, and for allowing us the use of their lovely garden,.”
Andy Phillip (jnr) and Judith Phillip organised a Garden Party at their house in Bungay Rd, Scole on July 7th 2015.
Andy is the son of Cdr. Andrew Phillip who served in the Fleet Air Arm from 1943 to 1973. Andrew senior flew from Beccles Ellough airfield in the last year of the Second world war in a Barracuda as an observer to hunt German submarines . He also flew in the Fairey Firefly in the Korean War in 1952 from HMS Theseus. Dwindling numbers veterans of the Fleet Air Arm Officers’ Association still meet regularly at the Half Moon at Rushall every month.
Some of the members saw service earlier in the second world war, one in particular Arthur Towlson DSC flew a Fairey Barracuda as part of “Operation Tungsten” to attack the German battleship Tirpitz hiding a Norwegian Fiord. He later survived a crash and flew again to carry on the war against the Germans.
The Garden Party was planning to cater for 35 guests and required a marquee and catering tent to be erected prior to the event taking place. Local neighbours turned out in large numbers to assist with the preparation for the event, a BBQ evening prior to the Garden Party was their reward and our thanks for their assistance.
The party took place on the 7th July and fortunately the weather remained dry despite warnings of heavy showers.
In the end a total of 30 guests attended the event; six were Fleet Air Arm veterans. Also many other local guests had military backgrounds and it was an honour to have so many people at the party.
The catering was provided by Ma Hubbard and her catering team from Walsham in the Willows. They provided a wonderful buffet luncheon and all the guests were full of praise for the service and food.
The Fleet Air Arm, started life as the Royal Naval Air Service in the First World War. One of its first bases was at Great Yarmouth to provide defence against attacks from Zeppelins . Lt Cadbury DSO DFC and Lt Leckie DSO DSC DFC both of the RNAS shot down Zeppelin L70 on 5th August 1918 off the east coast near Great Yarmouth.
In 1918 the RNAS was merged with the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) To form the Royal Air Force. In the early twenties the need for a separate organisation to cater for Naval aviation was recognised and the Fleet Air Arm was created as a branch of the RAF. In 1938 the Fleet Air Arm was returned to the Navy, considered by many to be where it rightfully belonged. When the Second World War began the “The Branch” expanded rapidly. One its early successes was an attack by Fairey Swordfish from HMS Illustrious on the Italian fleet at Taranto, so successful that it was never to play an further, effective part in the War.
By the end of the second World War the FAA had 59 aircraft carriers, 50000 officers and men and 60 Naval Air stations. Unlike the United States Navy the British government did not recognise the importance of Naval Aviation to a maritime nation and the last Fleet Carrier, HMS Ark Royal, was paid off in the late seventies. Nevertheless some one in government had the foresight to order three small carriers ( called “through deck cruisers” to satisfy certain politicians) and order the Sea Harrier. The FAA was then able to play a leading and vital part in theFalklandsconflict.
The FAA is now a shadow of its former self with two air stations, two helicopter carriers and some 300 aircraft, mostly helicopters.
However, the present government is committed to re-establishing the FAA and fixed wing aircraft. Two aircraft carriers are currently being commissioned and new aircraft acquired. FAA aircrew are currently training with the US Navy and HMS Queen Elizabeth is to commence sea trials in 2016.
Let us never forget our history and heritage. We must always honour all the people who served the country and defended our nation so that several generations have now lived in peace.