Coachlines - April 2022

25.04.22 The Clerk

Banquet update

It is ironic that in the previous edition of Coachlines the late Past Master Group Captain Gerry Bunn CBE should have regaled us with tales of his time as OC 10 Squadron RAF supporting the Falklands Task Force. His sudden passing, as reported elsewhere in this edition, has been a shock to everyone who knew him, and our thoughts are with Patricia and the rest of his family.

However, on 8th June 2022 he will be remembered with other Falklands veterans with Coachmaker connections who are no longer with us. These include:

The late Air Chief Marshal Sir Peter Squire GCB, DFC, AFC, DL who in 1982 was a Wing Commander and the Officer Commanding the RAF’s No1 (F) Squadron. He saw action in the South Atlantic embarked in HMS HERMES, leading the first RAF combat sorties flown from a Royal Navy deck since World War II. Sir Peter personally flew 20 combat sorties in the ground attack role, collecting a ground fired 7.62mm bullet in his cockpit during one of those sorties. On 13th June 1982 he was the first RAF pilot to drop a laser-guided bomb in action during fighting at Mount Longdon for which he received the Distinguished Flying Cross.

The late Rear Admiral Peter Dingemans CB DSO was a Captain in 1982 in command of the Landing Platform Dock HMS INTREPID, an extremely important ship engaged in the landing of troops and stores ashore. The London Gazette of 8th October 1982 reported:

“HMS INTREPID, under the command of Captain Dingemans, was manned up and sailed at very short notice to join the Amphibious Force already on its way to the Falkland Islands. Captain Dingemans achieved all this in a remarkably short time and joined the main Amphibious Forces at Ascension Island and stayed as a vital part of it, with the exception of one brief respite, until the fall of Port Stanley. During the time of the landings, when the Amphibious Force was in San Carlos Water, the ship came repeatedly under air attack. HMS INTREPID was, on several occasions, employed on nightly escorted runs to insert or recover landing craft when the threat of attack from airborne Exocet and surface craft was ever present. Throughout this period, Captain Dingemans took the closest personal charge of his ship’s company, fought his ship magnificently, as well as providing every possible assistance to frigates, aircraft and landing ships. His example, energy and leadership were of the highest order.”

A slightly different perspective

One Coachmaker who is still very much with us was also caught out by events in 1982. Liveryman Tony Westley, Chairman of Aerotron and a generous supporter of the Coachmakers’ Company, unwittingly found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time; this is his story:

In early April 1982 I was visiting Austral Airlines in Buenos Aires to help with its maintenance programme for the DC9 and BAC 1-11 aircraft. As usual I had landed at Franco Ezeiza International Airport and moved on to Jorge Newbery domestic airport, which Austral shared with the military. It was quite usual for me to hand in my passport to gain access but on this occasion I was met by representatives of Austral and escorted into their hangar. The offices were on the top floor, and on each landing was a solder fully armed. There were blue and white Argentine flags draped everywhere saying “Los Malvinas son Argentinas” which translated as: The Falklands belong to Argentina.

I was told that the Austral aircraft had been requisitioned by the military and moved to Comodoro Rivadavia, which is geographically close to the Falkland Islands. My friends in Austral all had Spanish Christian names and Irish surnames because the British had built the railways, hence the terminal station in Buenos Aires being Victoria Station with Big Ben close by.

I was taken to lunch by Ricardo Kelly and Particio McMarney and told that Argentina had invaded the South Georgia Islands and were planning on doing the same to the Falklands. They suggested that we go directly to the airport where they both had friends at Aerolineas Argentinas. They assured me that I could get passage to Rio even though my passport was still with the sentry at the domestic airport. I was fortunate enough to get back unscathed to the U.K. but spent considerable time being asked to remember exactly what I had observed that might help in some way going forward.

On my various trips to Buenos Aires previously I had been warned to be cautious, especially walking along “Veintecinco de Mayo”, the area that celebrated independence and where numerous kidnappings had taken place. I owe my friends a huge debt for saving me from a much worse situation after hostilities were in full flow.

Banquet fundraising update

As you will all know, the intention of this year’s Banquet is to pay tribute to those who served in, and in support of, the Falklands Task Force in 1982, particularly those connected to the Coachmakers’ Company, and at the same time use the event as a fundraising vehicle.
All profits from the Banquet will be shared as follows:

50% will be donated to the Coachmakers’ Charitable Trust to support the various scholarships, bursaries and awards already provided by the Coachmakers’ Company and 50% will be shared equally between the following charities:

  • Never Such Innocence
  • The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity
  • The Hornchurch and Upminster Sea Cadets
  • 452 Squadron Air Training Corps

To enhance the fun of the event and to raise even more money, those who attend the Banquet on the night will have the opportunity to participate in a prize draw for three valuable and attractive prizes, details of which will start to be sent out with the invitation cards pour memoire in the next couple of weeks.

There may still be a few places available to attend the Banquet as not all of the earlier pledges have been taken up so should you wish to attend on the night e-mail the Clerk to get your name on the reserve list now.

Make a donation now

Should you not be able to attend the banquet on the night you can still contribute to the various charities selected to receive support this year via a donation to the Coachmakers’ Charitable Trust.

All you have to do is follow this link and make a donation via the Coachmakers’ CAF portal.

All monies donated between now and 8th June 2022 will go directly to the charities nominated above.

Thank you for your generosity.