It is with great sadness that I have to announce the death of Sqn Ldr (Retd) B E (Jimmy) James. I was informed by Mr David James, Jimmy’s son, that Jim passed away quietly in his sleep on Monday, the 4th of March.
The funeral service will take place on 29.03.2019 at 13.30 hrs
and afterwards at:
Sandy Lodge Golf Club
Sandy Lodge Lane
Anyone who wishes to contact the family should do so at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gary West 19.03 2019
A tribute to Jimmy James
Sqn Ldr (retd) Jimmy James
I first flew with Jimmy on the 2nd of December 1964 at RAF Honington on No 55 Squadron, flying the Victor B1A. At that time I was a “spare” co-pilot, but I became permanent co-pilot on the James crew in March of 1965. The Navigator/Bomb Aimer was the late Peter R Jones, Nav/Plotter was Ron Wormald, now resident in Canada, and the AEO was the late “Jock” Penman. We continued to fly together on the bomber until after the demise of the Valiant in May of 1965, when we were posted as a crew to RAF Marham on No 55 Squadron, in advance of the first Victors to be converted to the tanking role – the Victor B1A K2P – the two-point tanker. I continued to fly with the crew after my Intermediate Captain’s Course and until I had my own crew in June of 1966. Jimmy was a wonderful captain. He exuded professionalism in his work, was meticulous in everything he did, calm in times of pressure, patient and understanding of (my) youthful over-exuberance, always considerate and helpful, jolly and humorous – surely a great leader and an iconic captain. We were a very happy crew indeed, bound together as a great team on duty, and with our wives, great friends socially. He was the model to which I aspired.
After his time on Victor tankers, Jimmy flew the Comet on No 216 Squadron, and we met again at RAF Northolt when he was a VIP pilot on No 32 Squadron flying the DH 125 and I had No 207 Squadron on the other side of the airfield. I flew with Jimmy and his crew as a guest on a training trip to Cyprus. We actually only got as far as Naples because wind conditions were such that the 125 could not fly legally on the next leg to Crete! We kept in contact after we went our separate ways, but the next time I met Jimmy was when or paths crossed again in Lagos when Jim was flying a Gulfstream for Coca Cola, and we entertained him and his crew to dinner at our home. We met again later, quite by accident, in a restaurant in Nairobi. Jim was still with Coca Cola and my wife and I were visiting our daughter and family in Kenya.
Jimmy and his dear wife, Betty, attended the No 55 Squadron Association reunions regularly until the final one. Betty passed away in early 2018, and according to his son, David, Jimmy never really got over her death, and succumbed himself, less than a year afterwards.
Gary West 19.03.2019
Dear Bill and Gary,
It is with great personal sadness that I have to inform you that John Foot passed away on Saturday. Having been in the Cambridge area over the weekend, Eileen and I were able to spend a few hours with Olive, Steve and Gillian yesterday before returning home to Sussex. I am assisting the family to notify John’s former Service friends and colleagues, and wondered with your connection with squadron associations, if you would kindly forward this message to that wider audience. I do not have details of the funeral arrangements yet, but I will pass that information on as soon as I have it.
Fond regards, Bob
I tried to contact you yesterday. I’m assisting the Foot family by circulating the sad news that John Foot passed away last Saturday, and his funeral details are as follows:
Date & Time: Tuesday 16th October 2018 @ 12:15pm at the following
Venue: Mintlyn Crematorium, Lynn Road, Bawsey, Kings Lynn, PE32 1HB.
I’ve copied this email to Bill, in the hope that we might circulate these details of John’s funeral across the No.55 Sqn distribution list.
Thanks for any help you may be able to provide.
Wg Cdr William (Bill) Massey
Alistair Sutherland informs us that our member and ex comrade Bill Massey died on 8th February in Norfolk. He had not been well for several years and was confined to a wheelchair.
Those of us who were on 55 Squadron in the 60s and 70s will remember Scotsman Bill, who had been a gregarious soul as Flt Lt Nav and remained so after his very popular promotion to Sqn Ldr during an excercise - homebound from Tengah - through Gan.
Final arrangements for Bill Massey’s funeral as received from Alistair and son Kevin, are as follows:
SERVICE: Will be held in the Mintlyn Crematorium, Lynn Road, King’s Lynn PE32 1HB at 2.30pm on Wednesday 7th March.
REFRESHMENTS: Following the Service, Bill’s family would be delighted if you could join them for refreshments in the CONSERVATIVE CLUB, 7 Gayton Road, Gaywood , King’s Lynn PE30 4EA.
DIRECTIONS: The CONSERVATIVE CLUB is easy to find and is only a 5 minute drive from the crematorium. Exit crematorium – turn left towards Lynn – take second exit on roundabout into Gayton Road – pass hospital on your right – continue towards Gayton Tower – just before Tower you’ll see CONSERVATIVE CLUB on your right (opposite side of theroad).
PARKING: Is available opposite the club (your side of the road) or, if full, at Tesco’s only 2 minutes further on.
ATTENDANCE: To estimate the number to be catered for at the Conservative club, Bill’s son ,Kevin, would be grateful if you would contact me by Email email@example.com or by phone 01485-528965.
Finally, although I’ve attempted to contact all the folk who knew Bill well, undoubtedly, I will have missed quite a few. Therefore, please pass on the above information to anyone you think would like to be informed.
Look forward to seeing you on 7 March.
We have received the following tributes to Bill:
From Alistair Sutherland
I first met Bill at RAF Marham in the early 1960s when we flew on different Valiant Squadrons and played rugby for the Station team. Incidentally, Bill was an excellent player; at school in Edinburgh he attended George Watson College (a prestigious rugby playing establishment) and there he captained their First XV and also the combined Edinburgh schools team.
In 1967, I returned to Marham as a Flt Cdr on 55 Sqn, and I was delighted to find that I had Bill by my side as a most loyal and competent lieutenant – and he never let me down. Reference, the Squadron’s overnight stop in Gan, I was there. That evening, I popped into the main Mess and there I espied the newly issued promotion list on which the name of a Flt Lt. William Massey, RAF Marham featured. Thereafter, I returned to my room, obtained a set of Sqn Ldr shoulder rank braids, got the Boss (Wg Cdr Brian Carruthers) out of bed (nice man but not a party animal) and entered a very packed and noisy Transit Mess. There a rather bemused Bill Massey was called forward, handed the rank braid and informed he was now a Sqn Ldr (these were the days before the ‘Blue Letter’). All present were delighted, the ale flowed and the mess was soon ‘jumping’. In sum, it was a night to remember.
Alas, a few weeks later I was not so pleased with Bill’s recent promotion! I was short toured to become the CGI of the newly reformed 232 OCU at Marham while Bill – bless him – replaced me as a Flt Cdr on 55 Sqn – a position in which, as a very popular and highly respected officer, he did an excellent job. Of course, like us all, he did have his off days and he could get a bit tetchy at times, but he soon reverted to the friendly, jovial fellow we all knew so well.
As many of you are aware, Bill and his wonderful wife Dawne were renowned for their hospitality – and Bill’s extremely strong home-made wine was not for the faint- hearted. Sadly, Bill truly believed his plonk was on par with the world’s finest vintages – how wrong can one be? The first glass made ones’ lips pucker and taste buds shrink; after a few more, a wonderful sense of well- being prevailed and ALL the ladies began to look wonderful; any more vino and the outcome was usually disastrous, and I can well recall meeting some very bleary-eyed, extremely fragile lads and lassies the morning after a hectic Massey ‘Do’.
In the early 1970s, once again our paths diverged and I did not see Bill again until 1979 when I returned to Marham as the Station Commander and he was in post as the Wing Nav/RadarI leader – for Bill a very undemanding appointment.. As an aside, I must mention TACEVALS. Around 1974, when I commanded 57 Sqn, the Station was subject to an extensive Taceval. Suddenly, over the Tannoy, all the station execs were told to report to the Station Commander’s office. There we were greeted by a very subdued and worried man (Gp Capt Caillard) who said: ‘Gentlemen, the Taceval has been suspended because we’ve failed to reach the requisite standard and I’ve been informed I may be relieved of my command’ Wow! a very sobering situation and one which made me declare, when I became the Station Commander, that Sqn Ldr Massey would henceforth be responsible for all matters related to Taceval. In brief, Bill tackled the task with gusto and determination and the Station emerged from two very demanding and lengthy Tacevals with glowing results. Shortly thereafter, Marham was awarded the prestigious Stainforth Trophy to indicate it had been judged the most effective and efficient station in Strike Command. Naturally, I was delighted, but I truly believe this success was, to a great extent, a reflection of Bill’s sterling endeavours in the Taceval field.
Toward the end of my time as Station Commander, I was unofficially informed that Bill was on the Wg Cdr promotion list – great news. A few weeks later, however, I received a very depressing phone call – Bill had fallen off the list. Now, knowing the system as I do, I knew that it was most unlikely that Bill would be promoted to Wg Cdr at a later date. Consequently, I sought the assistance of a very senior, Air Rank Officer. Now I never asked how he did it, but once again Bill was back on the list and I, like many others, was delighted when he was promoted to Wg Cdr – and then went on to Command the RAF detachment at Decimomannu in Sardinia – as usual with commendable results.
In retirement, Bill and I lived close bye – he in Necton near Swaffham, I near Fakenham – and we frequently socialized and made merry (along with Dave & Betty Sherringham and Larry & Pauline Blake who’d moved to Swaffham). On several occasions, we also enjoyed overseas holidays with Bill & Dawne ( Northern Cyprus, Portugal etc). Sadly, as you all now know, following the loss of his beloved Dawne, Bill never fully recovered and his health started to fail. I visited him often and he was always in good cheer. Moreover, as an expert bridge player, he spent much time playing and winning Internet bridge competitions and, I can assure you, his brain remained as sharp as ever. Nevertheless, eventually, he could no longer walk, was confined to a wheelchair, in pain and subject to hospital stays. Thus, I was not surprised when, towards his end, Bill told me ‘I’ve had enough and wish to go’, so in a way, his passing was a blessing.
Now none of us will ever learn if old Bill went ‘upstairs’ or ‘downstairs’, but what we all do know is that wherever Tartan Buddha, resides a bloody good party will soon ensue. Our Bill was a character blessed with many fine qualities and he’ll be sorely missed. I last saw him a few weeks ago; we enjoyed a dram and on leaving, I proposed a Scottish toast to an old friend and a fellow Scot, I’d known for 56 years:
Here’s Tae us –Wha’s like us? –Damn few – and they’re A’ Deid.
Finally, to all the stalwarts – air and ground crew – who served on 55 Sqn, I’ll close with the following good old Scottish toast:
Here’s to th’ smiles of the Lassies we love.
Here’s to th’ friend ever faithful.
Drink to th’ hearts so loving and true.
And never may we be ungrateful.
All the best,
Yours aye, Alistair